<blockquote class=’posterous_long_quote’><p>Four years and $54 million later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is finally ready to launch a surveillance unit capable of spying on Skype conversations and other Internet communications.</p><p>The Domestic Communications Assistance Center (DCAC) is a collaborative effort between the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, and the Drug Enforcement Agency. All three agencies will build customized hardware to enable wiretapping on wireless and Internet conversations per court order requests.</p></blockquote>
Investigators at the FBI supposedly aren’t happy that social networks like Facebook or Google+ don’t have the same kind of facility for wiretaps that phones have had for decades. If claimed industry contacts for CNET are right, senior staff at the bureau have floated a proposed amendment to the 1994-era Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) that would require that communication-based websites with large user bases include a backdoor for federal agents to snoop on suspects.
Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.
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