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FBI's Unknown Eavesdropping Network 362

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 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?
  • 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, [] our proactive government security experts, [] and our craven [] enablers [] of fascism, [] nothing will ever lead to this ability being abused.
  • 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 []. 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...
  • 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 rueger ( 210566 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @09:52AM (#20397683) Homepage
    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.
  • Dictatorship? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:08AM (#20397935)
    Recently people have been saying that the U.S. government is becoming a dictatorship. That's certainly what a dictatorship needs, a surveillance system.

    People are making jokes about this! There's plenty of evidence of corruption; it's not like this is the only evidence.
  • Re:Audit findings (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:36AM (#20398337)
    The film Sneakers springs to mind. Will the CIA, NSA, HomelandInsecurity, WhiteHouse, Supremes like that the FBI can monitor them undetected?

    J Edgar Hoover would have wet dreams over this system. Spying on anyone you want without any backlash. If you cant tell who is logged in, nobody will know who is spying on who. Anyone who speaks out against government policy may find their past communications used against them.

    "Give me 6 lines written by an innocent man and I will find something to hang him" - Cardinal Richelieu
  • by deKernel ( 65640 ) <.timfbarber. .at.> on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @10:58AM (#20398643)
    You make sound like he is the only President to be forced. Clinton had the Echelon program and Roosevelt did something very similar during WWII as two notable examples.

    Personally, I HATE the idea of warrantless eavesdropping so please don't think that I am all for them. I just don't want this to turn into the typical 'W' is evil.
  • by WindowlessView ( 703773 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @11:01AM (#20398715)

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

    They only need to keep the military at bay - or overseas. Blackwater and the other private armies are more than sufficient to do the job of disarming average citizens. Google Blackwater and Katrina to get a glimpse of what went down in NOLA.

    The mercenaries only require a nice big paycheck and don't carry baggage like honor and loyalty and dedication to the country that might make them hesitate.

  • 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 []. 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 doug141 ( 863552 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:11PM (#20399873)
    I remember hearing the USSR sucked because there was no incentive to work harder or smarter... you couldn't reap the benefit of your own labor. Property wasn't yours. Making a better product that your fellow man wanted at a price he thought was fair didn't pay off for you, so innovation could only come from the gov't. The only way to improve your own standard of living in that system was to rise in politics.

    As far as your statement about us not being like the USSR yet, well, the political left is working on it, just be patient.
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @12:23PM (#20400025) Homepage Journal
    Remember the Watergate scandal? [] 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 [] 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.

  • Re:Audit findings (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SpaceLifeForm ( 228190 ) on Wednesday August 29, 2007 @01:36PM (#20401125)
    There are better wet dreams. You have the NSA program, this FBI program,
    but there is another program run by another TLA agency.

    It's a really slick program. You have one guess as to the agency.

egrep -n '^[a-z].*\(' $ | sort -t':' +2.0