FBI Wants More Power To Spy On Americans On The Internet


His timing isn’t so great, but FBI Director Robert Mueller told lawmakers last week that Federal agencies must be given expanded powers of surveillance with regard to Americans’ electronic communications for the government to protect the Nation against possible terror attacks in the future.

Despite lawmaker skepticism of the Constitutionality of the Federal government’s surveillance efforts and growing public concern, Mueller contends that the Internet and electronic communications should be subject to increased government scrutiny because criminals can use them to thwart court-ordered wiretaps.

“The rapid pace of advances in mobile and other communication technologies continues to present a significant challenge for conducting court-approved electronic surveillance of criminals and terrorists,” Mueller said.

“Because of this gap, law enforcement is increasingly unable to gain timely access to the information to which it is lawfully authorized and that it needs to protect public safety, bring criminals to justice and keep America safe,” he added.

Federal agencies were pushing for increased power to spy on Americans’ electronic communications before news of the National Security Agency’s policy of widespread collection of phone records broke. Last month, FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann told a gathering of the American Bar Association that government investigators faced a “going dark” problem — asserting that the rise in popularity of online chat services, video communications and cloud-based document services are making it difficult for the government to spy on Americans in real time.

Currently, the government can require Internet providers and Internet companies to install surveillance equipment, pursuant to the 1994 Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). Alleging that criminals are increasingly taking to Skype, Google Voice, Dropbox and even chat functions on popular online games to communicate, the Feds are lobbying for the power to conduct real-time surveillance on those services.

Basically, the Feds want to assign any electronic communications activity the same diminished threshold for expectation of privacy as an audible, private conversation in a busy public square.

At present, CALEA can be used only to make Internet and phone providers build surveillance into their networks. And a separate provision granted in the “Wiretap Act” can be used by authorities to request “technical assistance” in snooping through Americans’ emails and chat communications. But it simply isn’t enough, according to Fed officials. They contend that government investigators essentially need the ability to compel Internet and electronic communications companies to effectuate wiretaps on customers in the name of government surveillance.

Bottom line: Even as Americans are up in arms over the idea that Federal officials have access to a complete list of private phone records, the Feds continue to double down on efforts to spy on all other forms of electronic communication.

Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

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  • vicki

    They want to do more wiretapping? the NSA is recording everything now. What more do they think they can get?

    • TIME

      Dear Vicki,
      They will,not be happy until we are all in camps that are wired for sound, so they can pick and choose who gets their head cut off first.
      Thats how much more they want.
      Peace and Love be with you.

      • podunk1

        The problem is a hate and fear mongering government that has no moral or ethical boundaries. If we could trust them, I’d have no problem with a highly controlled version of surveillance. We have subversives running our most sensitive agencies. The issues in the FBI, IRS, CIA, state department, etc.etc…are mind numbing.

        We don’t need new laws, we need law enforcement & prosecution. All executive-legislative officers are oath bound 24/7 – as long as in office. If a citizen lies to them it’s arrest, jail, bond, & unrelenting prosecution. If they lie to citizens it’s either nothing happens or in rare cases get sent home with full pay until it blows over, the promotion to new duties in a more sensitive area!

        An average Dec. 2012 BLS wage adjusted from 34.4 hours to 40 with 30% employer taxes is $64,300/yr. If jobless citizens receive the same many different subsidies as illegal aliens ($402 billion/11 million) then that added $36,546 means each unemployed jobless citizen costs the economy $100,845, using Government’s numbers & basic math! If we ad the $36,546 government subsidy paid to the criminal alien that takes the citizen job, the number (rounded) is $137,391 for each alien replacing a citizen job!

        At that same 12-2012 time we had 12.5 million unemployed, an additional 6.4 million looking for work, and another 6.9 million who ran out of U/C & scrubbed from the work force – 25.8 million citizens! At the same time we have 11??? to 30 million illegal aliens working for tax evading criminals who pay $6/hr cash (same as $8 taxable) ($12,480/yr) while our criminal government gives the alien another free $36,546.

        Bottom line, the criminal alien gets $$49,025, $11,929 more than the $64,300 legitimate citizen who takes home 37,096 after taxes! As true in all averages, individual cases vary significantly, but the overall end result is what it is!

        Obama, the CBO & OMB, Schumer, Rubio, Reed, and endless other oath bound officials are deliberately not including the cost of 11 to 30 million criminal aliens taking citizen jobs and throwing citizens out of work in a sub culture of tax evasion and looting of the US treasury! All of this is facilitated and protected by those officials who refuse to enforce the Constitution and existing law! When the financial result is national bankruptcy and collapse of Constitutional government, motive doesn’t matter – it’s treason, and it must be stopped!

        The cost per year is $1.5 trillion @ 11 million invaders to $2.7 trillion @ 20 million! A 46 year working lifetime total is $69 to $114 trillion! Government officials are at war with our free government and citizens! Stop amnesty and hold the deceivers to the same legal and prosecution standards
        as they hold citizens!

  • Warrior

    Well, it looks as though we’re heading back to whispering so the “children” can’t hear us! Progress? FORWARD!

  • fullyalive

    Take the Boston bombing and the terrible loss there. These boys – if they even did it, which is a bit clouded if you look at the REAL evidence, to say the least, considering how we are always fed pablum from the government from the controlled media – supposedly said they wanted to make a statement about our illegal wars and illegal they were (although they might have snuck in a legal provision at midnight into 2000 pages of a road-construction thing in Fresno to make sure no politician could even read it). We were lied to so they could promote their money and oil agenda and rub each other’s back and laugh while we pay and cry. That’s more of the plain fact. Would we even NEED to be surveilled “for our own good” if they hadn’t dirtied our nest with their war-mongering and intrusive, imperial attitude causing resentments in the first place? Watch the Democracy NOW video with the decorated war veteran testifying how they shot up (illegally) their holy prayer towers and regularly killed innocent people for fun and their personal rages (illegally, but dead is dead, just like surrendering and then the government deciding, without us, that we are in for life.) No wonder we get resentments from their poor relatives. A friend of mine filmed undercover in Iraq during the bombing and it did NOT look like the thing we were being told over here. The soldier said, they would act differently with the – controlled – media there. (Private Manning?) The saddest thing is they still LOVE the American people, just not our government. Is violence or wrong laws ever going to fix anything?

  • ChuckS123

    Aren’t the feds forbidden from doing surveillance on mosques?

    • fullyalive

      …and shooting at them unprovoked. They are supposed to be protected by law, too, but that is obviously NOT what is going on behind our back. I saw it on film – being shot full of bullets, unprovoked, and “just for fun”, as the veteran said. (He is not that monster any more, he said, but…again….dead people and angry families crying is what we get!) Meanwhile, we are busy torturing Private Manning for telling us that ugly truth and we are encouraging everyone else to “come let us get you too!”)

    • david kite

      Yes, those are off limits, “King’s” orders!!!!!!!