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FBI's Unknown Eavesdropping Network 362

Posted by Zonk
from the hiya-big-bro dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Building off the design mandates of CALEA, the FBI has constructed a 'point-and-click surveillance system' that creates instant wiretaps on almost any communications device. A thousand pages of restricted documents released under the Freedom of Information Act were required to determine the veracity of this clandestine project, Wired News reports. Called the Digital Collection System Network, it connects FBI wiretapping rooms to switches controlled by traditional land-line operators, internet-telephony providers and cellular companies. It is intricately woven into the nation's telecom infrastructure. From the article: 'FBI wiretapping rooms in field offices and undercover locations around the country are connected through a private, encrypted backbone that is separated from the internet. Sprint runs it on the government's behalf. The network allows an FBI agent in New York, for example, to remotely set up a wiretap on a cell phone based in Sacramento, California, and immediately learn the phone's location, then begin receiving conversations, text messages and voicemail pass codes in New York. With a few keystrokes, the agent can route the recordings to language specialists for translation.'"
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FBI's Unknown Eavesdropping Network

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  • by kalpol (714519) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:31AM (#20397405) Homepage
    This is the government - and the FBI. Somehow I can't believe it actually works as smoothly as that.
    • by trybywrench (584843) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:41AM (#20397523)
      This is the government - and the FBI. Somehow I can't believe it actually works as smoothly as that.

      exactly right. Frankly, i just don't think our gov. has it together enough to pull of something of this magnitude secretly. All the different people, organizations, and physical locations that would have to be in on the project just makes it unreasonable to expect the whole thing to stay under wraps. If this system exists at all then props to them for a pretty impressive piece of software/hardware (even if it lends itself to being used illegally).
    • Especially not if Sprint is administering the program for it.

      Well, actually, that's not true. Sprint has pretty good technology, but plain suck at billing. But triple-billing the government isn't such a big problem.
    • Audit findings (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kalpol (714519) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:54AM (#20397721) Homepage
      I posted, then actually RTFA....Page three lists some findings from an audit of the program - password problems, no individual logon IDs, a few other issues. This is what I do for a living, and it's been my experience (especially with government IT programs) that if you find problems such as these with logical access, it's likely there will be more general control problems such as developers with access to production environments, active IDs of terminated or transferred employees, and so on. The financial fraud element is probably not as much a concern with the FBI but there are other risks.
    • by Sunburnt (890890) * on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:58AM (#20397779)

      Hey mods: how, exactly, is this comment "insightful?" All it does is parrot standard /. groupthink ("Everything the government ever does sucks and doesn't work") without taking into consideration the fact that one of the highest-paying users of contract labor just might be able to afford top-notch engineers when they really care about results.

      I mean, it's not surprising that they keep fucking up some things, [disasterhelp.gov] but surveillance of American citizens? Sadly, that's something I trust my government to do quite well.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by thomas.galvin (551471)

        Hey mods: how, exactly, is this comment "insightful?" All it does is parrot standard /. groupthink ("Everything the government ever does sucks and doesn't work") without taking into consideration the fact that one of the highest-paying users of contract labor just might be able to afford top-notch engineers when they really care about results.

        Everything the Government does does suck and fail to work. And the FBI has a history of sucking out at tech projects; Google around for the Virtual Case File system. $170 million essentially piled high and lit aflame.

        • by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:31AM (#20398267) Homepage Journal
          >Everything the Government does does suck and fail to work.

          I'm not quite sure I'd be as strong as to say "everything", but I'll take advance issue when someone comes along and says the private sector can do it better. I've spent enough time working in big business to know that the government has no monopoly on ineptness and stupidity.

          Quite simply:

          In government, the punishment for ineptness and stupidity is supposed to be replacement by the ballot.
          In the private sector, the punishment for ineptness and stupidity is supposed to be replacement by a competitor.

          IMHO, we have a situation now where *both* remedy methods are impaired. In essence, the root cause of both failures really come down to monopolies or duopolies. In the former case, the duopoly is a 2-party system restricts our ability to select a real replacement. In the latter case rampant consolidation has restricted our choices, so there's little selection available. In both cases, parties are acting to restrict the information necessary to make an informed decision.
        • by Sunburnt (890890) * on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:31AM (#20398275)

          Everything the Government does does suck and fail to work.

          Really? [wikipedia.org]

          Really? [wikipedia.org]

          Really? [wikipedia.org]

          parrot standard /. groupthink ("Everything the government ever does sucks and doesn't work")

          Everything the Government does does suck and fail to work.

          Squawk!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by yoyoq (1056216)
            all those links to successes are projects that
            are more than 40 years old.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kalpol (714519)
        In my personal experience, government IT projects (especially social welfare systems) tend to have a higher problem rate than commercial projects due to conflicting political goals, pork-barrel spending, and faulty oversight. *shrug*
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sunburnt (890890) *

          In my personal experience, government IT projects (especially social welfare systems) tend to have a higher problem rate than commercial projects due to conflicting political goals, pork-barrel spending, and faulty oversight. *shrug*

          Hey, I know what you mean, having been on the receiving end of some government IT projects [dfas.mil] before. Still, I bet a lot of these problems are minimized when the government is paying for something it really wants (as opposed to something mandated by Congress or military-industria

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by UncleWilly (1128141) *
      INT CUBE FARM FBI BUILDING AGENTS SMITH JONES

      Agent Smith
      "Okay, Abdul must be on this one"

      Smith clicks mouse.

      "..can't believe Sheila had the nerve to.."

      Agent Smith
      "Okay, Abdul must be on *this* one"

      "..then my man Mafu, he gave dat bioch wat for.."

      Agent Jones ROLLS EYES.
    • by jamie (78724) * Works for Slashdot <jamie@slashdot.org> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @02:35PM (#20402109) Journal

      This is the government - and the FBI. Somehow I can't believe it actually works as smoothly as that.

      If libertarianism leads to slavery, the road runs through the state of denial.

      As the last two free Americans are being herded onto the train for the concentration camp, the Republican will turn to the Democrat and say "don't worry, we'll be fine. Public transportation never works."

  • Hollywood? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Durrok (912509) <calltechsucks.gmail@com> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:31AM (#20397407) Homepage Journal
    Are you kidding me? The Bourne Ultimatum and The Simpsons Movie were actually on to something?
  • by kalirion (728907) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:32AM (#20397425)
    Am I the only one surprised the government was able to pull a project like this off? Or is this just propaganda to make us think they are more competent than they really are?
    • I'm actually convinced that the "dumb" government we see is just a front for the secret "smart" government working behind the scenes somewhere.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      That government is ineffective is the biggest lie ever sold to the American people. Government can do a great job of just about anything if competently managed, same as any other organization.
  • You'll never get it attached to my top-of-the-line tin can and string system!
    • by Tango42 (662363)
      They managed it in the Simpsons...
  • hmmm (Score:2, Funny)

    *Dusts off tinfoil hat* Are we supposed to cower in fear because of this supposed interior spy network? Remember: we answer to the government and the government answers to Smith & Wesson.
    • Re:hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sunburnt (890890) * on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:47AM (#20397605)

      Remember: we answer to the government and the government answers to Smith & Wesson.
      Unfortunately for the handgun enthusiasts, when the government answers, they get to use the real [wikipedia.org] weapons. [wikipedia.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by faloi (738831)
        Unfortunately for the handgun enthusiasts, when the government answers, they get to use the real [wikipedia.org] weapons. [wikipedia.org]

        Only if they convince the military to go along with it. If the military, or enough of it, says what the government is doing is wrong... But the military has been ordered to do, and done, a lot of things [reason.com] I wouldn't have done when I was in.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Sunburnt (890890) *

          Only if they convince the military to go along with it.

          Hasn't been that [wikipedia.org] difficult [wikipedia.org] before, and I can't see why it would be now.

      • Re:hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Magada (741361) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:08AM (#20397927) Journal
        Yea, those F-16 sure work like magic against IED's and snipers in gutters. A citizen militia on its home turf is damn nigh unbeatable - even Mussolini's early successes against the the Camorra and the 'ndrangheta only served to push them further underground. Such organisations can only be defeated by being wiped out entirely, all at once, along with the population that supports them. The other alternative is to deprive them of a reason to exist as paramilitary orgs by involving them (for real) in the above-board political game, like the Brits did with the IRA, i.e. to grant them at least a partial victory.
        • by Sunburnt (890890) *

          Yea, those F-16 sure work like magic against IED's and snipers in gutters. A citizen militia on its home turf is damn nigh unbeatable

          I'm not arguing that. If there was a widespread insurrection of handgun enthusiasts against the government, it would be a bloody stalemate, not a victory for the government or the revolutionaries.

          It's one thing to assert that an armed populace can foil a government's operations away from its centers of power, but it's quite a step to assert that said populace can actually st

          • by Magada (741361)
            Look real hard into the history of the mafia, then come to speak to me about centres of power. You do know what JFK's daddy did for a living, no? The army is damn-nigh inconsequential in such cases. Only the secret police and their goon squads matter somewhat - until/unless they are infiltrated, of course, at which point you get Northern Mexico or the Guatemalan highlands, with (ex)-goons basically running the insurgency [niemanwatchdog.org]. Such are the woes of empire.
  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:36AM (#20397461) Homepage Journal
    would be proud. To think they spent all those decades defending their spying on their citizens to promote stability and security and here we are following their example.

    What's really funny is I distinctively remember Reagan boasting to the world how open our society was, how our citizens could move about freely without presenting papers and didn't have to worry about their conversations being recorded by the state and used against them.

    Oh well, it's for our security so it must be good! After all, if you have nothing to fear, then this won't affect you. If you complain, the terrorists win. We can't have that, can we?
    • Exactly! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FatSean (18753) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:43AM (#20397539) Homepage Journal
      The same generation of people who shoved anti-USSR pro-USA propaganda down my throat in school are the ones trying to make the USA like the 1980s USSR they hated so much. "The USA is the best country because we have freedom of speech, and the government doesn't spy on you." they said. Now-a-days political speech at conventions is squealched and the government lackies can spy on the people with no need to get a warrant or create any other paper trail that could help a wrongfully-targeted citizen defend themself.

      We're not USSR yet, but we seem to be trending in that direction.

      If we give up all our freedoms, will the terrorists stop hating us?

      • Re:Exactly! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:51AM (#20397667) Homepage Journal
        The FBI has been tapping phones since day one. In the US they must have a court order to do it. The fact that they use modern technology to do it just seems logical. This network shouldn't be a shock or frankly all that scary as long as they still require a court order to do it.
        As far as any restrictions on political speech? Not that I have seen. I am not fond of the patriot act but your rant is a little over the top.
        • by dc29A (636871) *

          This network shouldn't be a shock or frankly all that scary as long as they still require a court order to do it.
          Where have you been the last 5 or so years? Bush can listen to your phone without a warrant.

          (bold emphasis is mine)
          • by LWATCDR (28044)
            "Where have you been the last 5 or so years? Bush can listen to your phone without a warrant."
            I love people that just rant on.
            I said that I didn't like the patriot act and that it should still require a warrant.
            Wire tapping without a warrant is a problem. This wiretap network isn't a problem.

        • Re:Exactly! (Score:5, Informative)

          by soren100 (63191) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:01AM (#20398705)
          The FBI has been tapping phones since day one. In the US they must have a court order to do it.

          The FBI has also been abusing our rights since day one. They have been doing many illegal things in the name of "suppressing communist activity". Just check out operation COINTELPRO [wikipedia.org]

          from the linked article -- these are the methods the FBI used to suppress domestic political activity:

          " 1. Infiltration: Agents and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt. Their very presence served to undermine trust and scare off potential supporters. The FBI and police exploited this fear to smear genuine activists as agents." [5]

          2. "Psychological Warfare From the Outside: The FBI and police used myriad other "dirty tricks" to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists." [6]

          3. "Harassment Through the Legal System: The FBI and police abused the legal system to harass dissidents and make them appear to be criminals. Officers of the law gave perjured testimony and presented fabricated evidence as a pretext for false arrests and wrongful imprisonment. They discriminatorily enforced tax laws and other government regulations and used conspicuous surveillance, 'investigative' interviews, and grand jury subpoenas in an effort to intimidate activists and silence their supporters."

          4. "Extralegal Force and Violence: The FBI and police threatened, instigated, and themselves conducted break-ins, vandalism, assaults, and beatings. The object was to frighten dissidents and disrupt their movements. In the case of radical Black and Puerto Rican activists (and later Native Americans [citation needed]), these attacksincluding political assassinationswere so extensive, vicious, and calculated that they can accurately be termed a form of official 'terrorism.'". [7]

          The FBI also conducted "black bag jobs", warrantless surreptitious entries, against the targeted groups and their members.[8]

          Supporters of the FBI argue that the Bureau was convinced that there was such a threat of domestic subversion posed by radical groups that extraordinary efforts were required to forestall violence and revolutionary insurgency. Hoover was willing to use false claims to attack his political enemies.

          As far as any restrictions on political speech? Not that I have seen. I am not fond of the patriot act but your rant is a little over the top.

          That's because you have only been listening to the corporate media. If you actually do the research on the published activities of the FBI (and CIA as well) you will be shocked.

          Here's what an official congressional committee that was tasked to study domestic intelligence activities said in 1976:

          "Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that...the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence."

          You haven't "seen" any of this stuff because our corporate media gets huge amounts of money in tax breaks and other forms of special treatment from the government, so the media is not wanting to upset the government in any way, shape or form. You w

        • by spun (1352)

          As far as any restrictions on political speech? Not that I have seen.

          Free Speech Zones. [wikipedia.org]

          In the US they must have a court order to do it.

          Warrentless Wiretapping [wikipedia.org]

          This network shouldn't be a shock or frankly all that scary as long as they still require a court order to do it.

          But they don't need a court order, and you know it, yet nowhere do you say that. Why don't you mention that fact? I mean, criminal psychopaths wouldn't be all that scary if they needed a court order to kill you. It sounds like you are trying to write a propaganda piece, carefully worded so that you can claim you weren't really saying what you're actually saying. People will read what you wrote and many of them will come away with a mistaken impression about wh

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689)

        If we give up all our freedoms, will the terrorists stop hating us?
        Which terrorists?

        If you're talking about foreign Islamic fundamentalists, then no.
        Their main problem is decades of USA foreign policy.

        If you're talking about domestic Christian fundamentalists, then yes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Pentavirate (867026)
      Of course everyone realizes that there are legal uses of wiretapping, right? This just makes it quick and convenient when they get the court authorization.

      My livelihood is based off of making it easier for the government (specifically the military) to get information. There should be no doubt that the government could develop such a system because the govenment doesn't really develop it. They contract it out to companies that have the expertise, in this case Sprint.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by grassy_knoll (412409)
        You make a good point.

        From TFA:

        With new CALEA-compliant digital switches, the FBI now logs directly into the telecom's network. Once a court order has been sent to a carrier and the carrier turns on the wiretap, the communications data on a surveillance target streams into the FBI's computers in real time.


        So it seems wiretaps can't be initiated at will by the FBI; someone at the telcom has to enable access.
    • What's really funny is I distinctively remember Reagan boasting to the world how open our society was, how our citizens could move about freely without presenting papers and didn't have to worry about their conversations being recorded by the state and used against them.

      Oh well, it's for our security so it must be good! After all, if you have nothing to fear, then this won't affect you. If you complain, the terrorists win. We can't have that, can we?

      Perhaps Reagan could make that bost with a straight

  • Brilliant! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sunburnt (890890) * on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:37AM (#20397475)
    What a great functionality to build into America's communications systems. I'm sure that with the vigilant efforts of our brave corporate defenders of freedom, [wikipedia.org] our proactive government security experts, [wikipedia.org] and our craven [wikipedia.org] enablers [wikipedia.org] of fascism, [wikipedia.org] nothing will ever lead to this ability being abused.
  • by EWAdams (953502) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:38AM (#20397495) Homepage
    Forgive me for being old-fashioned and naive, but I was under the impression that law enforcement had to present a judge with probable cause before somebody could be wiretapped in the USA. Or is that, like, SO 20th century? Do we now have one-click warrants? Maybe Amazon should sue.

    You realize, of course, the majority of the time this facility will be used to obtain free service from phone sex lines...
    • by Sunburnt (890890) *

      I was under the impression that law enforcement had to present a judge with probable cause before somebody could be wiretapped in the USA.

      Still do, at least according to TFA:

      Randy Cadenhead, the privacy counsel for Cox Communications, which offers VOIP phone service and internet access, says the FBI has no independent access to his company's switches. "Nothing ever gets connected or disconnected until I say so, based upon a court order in our hands," Cadenhead says. "We run the interception process off of

      • I say good for them. If they have a legal right to tap someones phone and have obtained a warrant from a judge, then I'm glad that they're able to do the wiretapping as efficiently as possible. It's the warrantless wiretaps that I have a problem with.
    • by Da Fokka (94074)
      No problem the system is also equipped with the AutoFrame (TM) option. With one click, it can insert the word 'Mohammed' into any phone conversation.
  • Poor man's Echelon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pegr (46683) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:39AM (#20397499) Homepage Journal
    I wrote a quick n dirty guide to building your own Echelon system here [slashdot.org]. It's amazing how easy it is.

    My take is this: Privacy is dead. The only way to keep the playing field level is to make sure everyone has access...
    • Privacy is dead? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Joce640k (829181)
      Don't we have encryption...?

      I guess the main problem is getting everybody to use it.

      This being slashdot I guess I should mention a certain monopolist who stands in the way of mass adoption of pretty much anything.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rueger (210566)
      Um, setting up one PC to record one phone line, and then speculating that maybe you could run the audio through NaturallySpeaking to generate keywords is rather a long way from building a "poor man's" Echelon.

      When you've managed to capture your whole neighborhood's phone traffic and can pick keywords out of fifty or a hundred people's phone traffic, (which NaturallySpeaking won't do without training) call me.
      • by pegr (46683)
        When you've managed to capture your whole neighborhood's phone traffic and can pick keywords out of fifty or a hundred people's phone traffic, (which NaturallySpeaking won't do without training) call me

        Sure, I can do that... That is, if I don't mind the risk of a felony conviction. (FBI types don't have that issue, obviously...) I bet you could do it with a single PC as well.

        The point was not how to build a large scale system. The point was that building a large scale system is fairly easy to d
    • Privacy is dead. The only way to keep the playing field level is to make sure everyone has access.

      This is exactly the point made by a book by David Brin: The Transparent Society [davidbrin.com]. As bugging gets cheaper and easier, maintaining current standards of privacy is going to become increasingly unrealistic. What we really should be doing, he argues, is enabling people to "spy" on their supposedly publicly accountable government.

      • Self replies are lame, I know - but there's an important corollary to this trend: If fighting for privacy is doomed to be a losing battle, then you should instead be fighting for a society in which you have an unchallenged right to whatever political thought or harmless-but-embarrassing habit you think you need privacy for.

        In short - a culture in which people who have done nothing wrong really don't have anything to hide.

    • by robably (1044462)

      My take is this: Privacy is dead. The only way to keep the playing field level is to make sure everyone has access...

      Your take is wrong. Just because privacy is hard doesn't mean it's dead. If you're going to fight "to keep the playing field level" then it is better to fight FOR privacy, not against it. The government will always have more eyes and ears, more computing power, and more political power than private citizens, so even if everyone has access to everything the government still "wins" and you sti

      • by pegr (46683)
        Your take is wrong. Just because privacy is hard doesn't mean it's dead.

        Privacy is dead... For Joe Sixpack. Bruce finally got that somewhere between Applied Cryptology and Secrets and Lies. The Powers-That-Be will never allow common privacy measures for the masses. On the political side, they just trumpet terr'sts and baby-rapers, and the great majority will hand them the keys (sometimes literally).

        Does that mean you can't keep your secrets? Not at all! You know how. Just don't come up on the
  • Whats google doing with their darknet purchases again?
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:41AM (#20397529) Homepage

    I think it's safe to say most everyone knows about it now. As long as a warrant is required to set up the bugging, I don't have a big problem with it.

    I just can't shake the nagging suspicion they've gotten a little slack on the warrant thing lately. Bugging someone's phone without a warrant is spying. Spying on Americans, regardless of the perceived justification, is not protecting the public, it's undermining everything this country stands for.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by will_die (586523)
      It has been known about for a long time, thing has been in place since the mid-1990s. Heck the FBI even runs a site [askcalea.net] where you can ask them questions about it and produce a newsletter.
      What is new is all the technical information and the advanced state the software is in.
  • Warrant? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Apocalypse111 (597674) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:42AM (#20397531) Journal
    I note that the description of how the system works does not have anything about "Insert Warrant Here", or "Oversight occurs here". In fact, the words "warrant" and "oversight" are conspicuous only by their absence in the article.
    • by Sunburnt (890890) *
      If you read as far as page 3 of TFA, it does. The companies in question would leave themselves wide open to suit otherwise:

      Randy Cadenhead, the privacy counsel for Cox Communications, which offers VOIP phone service and internet access, says the FBI has no independent access to his company's switches. "Nothing ever gets connected or disconnected until I say so, based upon a court order in our hands," Cadenhead says. "We run the interception process off of my desk, and we track them coming in. We give instr

      • Well, technically my statement was correct in that the word "warrant" isn't in there... but you are right, there is a provision for oversight there. I read to about the end of page 2 and pretty much gave up, then I just ctrl-f'ed for the words I mentioned. Still, I'm not exactly thrilled at how easy this makes it seem.
  • On the one hand, this is great. The more a law enforcement officer can get done with their time, the better. Plenty of crime goes unaddressed because it is "too small". The FBI, for example, won't talk to you about interstate computer crime unless you can prove a minimum of $10k of losses. And because they're busy, the effective threshold is much higher.

    On the other hand, the US government has recently been a little cavalier about my rights, and there are historical periods where they've been a fair bit wor
  • Who cares (Score:3, Insightful)

    by packetmon (977047) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:47AM (#20397615) Homepage
    Really who cares. Americans have been too busy watching America's Next Top SomethingOrOther to give a rats ass about their civil liberties. Started off small and now its escalating. While I doubt the FBI is using this for the nightmare scenarios depicted by those who can't see a need for it (not I said CAN'T see a need for it) I dislike the thought, but I do see where there would be a need for it. The potential for abuse from a system like this is what's scary to me, not the fact that its in use. So while everyone cries foul AFTER the fact, remember there have been many rambling on about this for years. I did it in 2000 when Carnivore was released [64.233.169.104], I rambled on about CIPAV [infiltrated.net] and always take the time to support the efforts of groups like EFF and EPIC. One person like a little privacy maniac some would say. For me means little, I'm aware of what can be done to my privacy, but I'm also aware of how to truly retain a portion of my privacy. Its when this becomes outlawed as it has been done in Germany [darkreading.com] will I truly get fed up and move out the US. While the rest of normal America focuses on the important things in life like Bratney Spears, Americas Next Stupid Reality Show, Whats Oprah Doing Now crap.
  • by Henry V .009 (518000) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:47AM (#20397617) Journal

    FBI wiretapping rooms in field offices and undercover locations around the country are connected through a private, encrypted backbone that is separated from the internet. Sprint runs it on the government's behalf.
    My god, the expense. Hang the surveillance. Why the hell is a private backbone necessary for something like this?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    FTA;
    T"he law that makes the FBI's surveillance network possible had its genesis in the Clinton administration."

    Another reason why a pass on Hillary might be a good idea.
  • by boyfaceddog (788041) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:01AM (#20397823) Journal
    Its official. The US of A is now an Official Police State (TM). Soon you will all be given your Federal IDs and fingerprinted at birth. This will stop the terrorists.

    That's right you sheep, just stand there and take it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by couchslug (175151)
      "Time to move"

      You first.
      Post when you do.
      These /. "time to move" posts are tedious.

      Wake me when some of you actually DO bug out and become expats because your feelings were sufficiently hurt by goverment actions that don't affect you. Be brave and lead by example. Given the many overseas employment opportunities it's not that difficult, and my expat buddies make good bank.

      As society becomes more Balkanized and the US population grows, effective surveillance options will be required to protect against intern

      • Wake me when some of you actually DO bug out and become expats because your feelings were sufficiently hurt by goverment actions that don't affect you. Be brave and lead by example. Given the many overseas employment opportunities it's not that difficult, and my expat buddies make good bank.


        Kinda throws a light on what the Jews went through in Germany. One of the difficult questions old surviving Jewish grannies and grandads are asked is, "Why didn't you do something? You should have known!" --Well they
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:03AM (#20397863)
    Col. Mustard: What is J. Edgar Hoover doing on your phone?
    Wadsworth: I don't know! He's on everybody else's. Why shouldn't he be on mine?
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:09AM (#20397943) Homepage
    ...and is greeted by a recording saying

    "I'm sorry. All of our Arabic language specialists are busy assisting other agents. Your call is important to the nation, so please do not hang up. Stay on the line and you will be assisted by the next available language specialist. The estimated waiting time for this call is six months and twenty-seven minutes"

    followed by an overcompressed .mp3 of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons."
  • Where's OSAMA? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:09AM (#20397945) Homepage Journal
    All this spying on Americans, justified by "the hunt for Osama bin Laden". But instead of catching him, Bush invaded Iraq. Said he doesn't spend much time thinking about Osama, doesn't think catching him is important. 6 years since 9/11/2001, and where's Osama?

    It's more important to Bush to spy on Americans than to catch Osama, because catching Osama might mean the "temporary suspension" of American rights (including Habeas Corpus [wikipedia.org], when Bush says so) could end, leaving Bush with less power.

    Now let's watch the trollMods try to suppress me for telling the simple truth.

    WHERE'S OSAMA?
  • I have no problem with this system. I think it is GREAT that those charged to protect our interests (our government) has the ability to catch criminals efficiently. What I DO have a problem with is the lack of an independent judiciary to oversee the use of this power, and the absurd lack of transparency with its existence and use. Without these, this is simply another tool for enabling tyranny.

  • I hope... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spikedvodka (188722) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:20AM (#20398103)
    ... That they have accurate records as to who has been tapped, by whom, on who's authority, Who accessed the information
    and the warrant under which such actions were taken
  • Sheesh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Cervantes (612861) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:36AM (#20399303) Journal
    Sheesh, you americans can never make up your mind, can you?

    "The government is too big and wasteful. There's so much paperwork and useless red tape and hoops to jump through to do one simple little thing. There's so much money just thrown away! I wish they'd fix that."

    "This new system is slick and efficient. It scares me. I wish they had lots of red tape, paperwork, and hoops. That would slow them down and protect my liberties."
  • by Catbeller (118204) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:41AM (#20399373) Homepage
    Yes, let the million "tinfoil hat" and "conspiracy theory" snarkers hold forth. Lemme explain:

    YOU'RE WRONG. They are using cellphones as tracking devices and bugs, they ARE capable of listening to your phones and watching your surfing and building databases of everything you are and do. They will build profiles and scoop up people they don't like. They can and are using their new powers to punish the opponents of their new powers. And we're just getting warmed up.

    As for the "so what?" crowd: if a tool for oppression is built, it will be used. It HAS been used. Innocent people are going to never-never land. Torture (solitary is torture, first, and the rest is just gravy) is now accepted and lauded. Thousands of verified innocents have been kidnapped, tens of thousands of people can't fly, and now they are sealing the borders. "Conspiracy" my ass, they are doing it out in the sunshine. Cheney just had federal arrest warrants issued for some college students that mooned him last April. I don't believe that that is a crime warranting federal involvement, but apparently we have a king now, and he makes up whatever law he likes. How did they find those kids? Supersekrit police state tech.

    Children, if it can be done, it will be done, IF you don't grow some backbones and insist that they don't do it. They take your massive silence as assent. Put down the game controllers and pay attention before they castrate you all.

  • What should we do? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ardeaem (625311) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:52AM (#20399549)
    The last time I looked at changing cellphone carriers, my PRIMARY concern was looking for a carrier that wasn't involved in the NSA illegal wiretapping. ATT/Cingular were, of course, up to their necks in it, and other carriers admitted to being involved. But, at the time, I couldn't find anything about Sprint being involved and they had denied it. So, even with their horrible customer service, I stuck with Sprint. After seeing this article, I decided to start snooping around for more information. It isn't necessarily bad that Sprint runs a private network for the government, as long as it isn't abused. But then I found this: Sprint implicated in illegal NSA program [teleclick.ca]. So, combined with my previous research, this means that EVERY MAJOR CELL CARRIER was involved in the NSA program. Conservatives will tell you that you have to vote with your wallet to change companies' behavior. Support the ones that don't allow illegally wiretapping, right? Well, when every major cell carrier is involved, and then, to make matters worse, they keep MERGING with one another, where do you turn? If the Constitution doesn't stop them, and the law doesn't stop them, and we can't select a company that is good because one doesn't exist, what are we to to? Our elected officials aren't listening. Just in terms of a cell carrier: is it possible to find one that probably wasn't involved in this crap?
  • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:23PM (#20400025) Homepage Journal
    Remember the Watergate scandal? [wikipedia.org] Sent a bunch of people to prison and led to President Nixon's resignation? He would have been prosecuted had Gerald Ford not pardoned him.

    The five gentlemen who were busted after an alert security guard noticed several locks tape down were installing wiretaps [wikipedia.org] in the Democratic National Commitee's headquarters during the '72 presidential election.

    How low-tech! They actually had to go attach wires to physical telephones!

    Now, I'm not saying that this newfangled system would really be used to affect the outcome of the '98 election, but if it were done, it would be undetectable. No amount of alert security guards would catch the perpetrators.

    I'm old enough to have lived through Watergate; the whole nation was in crisis.

  • by necro2607 (771790) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @02:30PM (#20402011)
    "The network allows an FBI agent in New York, for example, to remotely set up a wiretap on a cell phone based in Sacramento, California, and immediately learn the phone's location, then begin receiving conversations, text messages and voicemail pass codes in New York. With a few keystrokes, the agent can route the recordings to language specialists for translation."

    Why can't we have this kind of inter-protocol communication in the public sector? I'm not talking about tapping peoples' conversations. I'm talking about interconnectivity of our own communication devices. You know, my cell phone can synchronize calendar dates and contacts with my computer at home. My iPod will also load that same data. The thing is, I have to manually type these items into my Calendar program or my Address Book software for the data to be there. Well, I also use Facebook a lot and am regularly viewing Events on there. Why are we still stuck in the stone age, where I can't take this "Event" and just load it into my Calendar and thus have that all synced up? And, maybe some details on that facebook Event changes, and it just automatically syncs that up to my Calendar software and thus my cell phone and iPod? ....

    Whatever, don't know why I'm wasting my time typing about it, but I'm just tired of the slowness of functionality advancements in the tech industry. We have all this new tech, and we're not even scratching the surface of advanced communications that we're fully capable of implementing.
  • The secresy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jandersen (462034) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @06:02AM (#20409275)
    What I don't like about this is the secrecy. Yes, it's not the privacy issue that concerns me - our privacy has long been an illusion, but the fact that they slink around in the background, outside democratic control. It smacks too much of secret laws; like being forced to play game where you are not allowed to know the rules.

    It should not be necessary in a democratic society to have that much secrecy - it should be an exception rather than the main principle for what the government does. In this case - what is the point of secrecy? It wouldn't hamper the FBI's work one bit that people were told from the start that this is going on, it is simply because it has become a habit to keep the people in the dark. This is a very serious trend that endangers our democracy - democracy can't work if people don't know what is going on.

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