FBI Establishes Center to Monitor all Wireless Communications
The Federal Bureau of Investigations has decided recently that it’s going to try to branch out to other forms of monitoring: they cave implemented a new department that will dedicate itself to the invention of new technology that will allow law enforcement to eavesdrop on all kinds of wireless communications.
The new department is currently based in Quantico, Virginia, and has staff members that include several agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Marshalls service. It has been said that the creation of this new department is a result of the belief that communication technology has become too advanced for law enforcement to successfully monitor.
The FBI has been quiet about the creation of their Domestic Communications Assistance Center, as it’s been named. For example, there still has been no official statement about who exactly is in charge of the center or what methods they plan to use to implement their strategy.
DCAC’s range of work is going to be broad. They plan to monitor every form of wireless communication, including cell phone communications and even trying to crack the security codes for web camera calling companies like Skype. Additionally, it will also serve as a kind of help line or technical support line for local, state, and federal law enforcement who require assistance monitoring their targets.
The center represents the technological component of the bureau’s “Going Dark” Internet wiretapping push, which was allocated $54 million by a Senate committee last month. The legal component is no less important: as CNET reported on May 4, the FBI wants Internet companies not to oppose a proposed law that would require social-networks and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail to build in backdoors for government surveillance.
During an appearance last year on Capitol Hill, then-FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni referred in passing, without elaboration, to “individually tailored” surveillance solutions and “very sophisticated criminals.” Caproni said that new laws targeting social networks and voice over Internet Protocol conversations were required because “individually tailored solutions have to be the exception and not the rule.”
Caproni was referring to the DCAC’s charge of creating customized surveillance technologies aimed at a specific individual or company, according to a person familiar with the FBI’s efforts in this area.
An FBI job announcement for the DCAC that had an application deadline of May 2 provides additional details. It asks applicants to list their experience with “electronic surveillance standards” including PacketCable (used in cable modems); QChat (used in push-to-talk mobile phones); and T1.678 (VoIP communications). One required skill for the position, which pays up to $136,771 a year, is evaluating “electronic surveillance solutions” for “emerging” technologies.
“We would expect that capabilities like CIPAV would be an example” of what the DCAC will create, says Steve Bock, president of Colorado-based Subsentio, referring to the FBI’s remotely-installed spyware that it has used to identify extortionists, database-deleting hackers, child molesters, and hitmen.
Bock, whose company helps companies comply with the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and has consulted for the Justice Department, says he anticipates “that Internet and wireless will be two key focus areas” for the DCAC. VoIP will be a third, he says.