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FBI Wants More Power To Spy On Americans On The Internet

June 24, 2013 by  

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.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • Random Erik

    Obviously, a lack of “authority” hasn’t stopped this type of surveillance this far. Mueller’s request isn’t just poorly timed, it’s ludicrous and somewhat baseless, given that terrorists avoid communicating via these unsecure technologies, and that to date, security agencies have failed to demonstrate that such widespread surveillance can be used to effectively prevent terror attacks. Indeed, even with sufficient information that was literally handed to them, the FBI and NSA have proven to be largely impotent in terms of preventing these attacks.

    Moreover, it is widely recognized that cellular communications and email are considered to be private and confidential. There should be no question about this in Congress. If its password protected – it’s obviously private – and it requires a specific warrant supported by specific evidence. The change in our modes of communication does not constitute a change in the nature of our communication. The only thing the Congress should be deliberating with regard to this matter, is a resolution reaffirming our fourth amendment protections – especially given the recent so-called “revelations” that government has in fact been trespassing against these rights.

    • Tommy cunningham

      Reminds me of a song, private eyes are watching you, their watching your very move……..we now have a country where a citizen can tell the people that the goverment is violating their 4th amendment rights and the goverment yells treason and he must seek asylum from the USA?

      • shadow1776

        The Government says, ( why go to china, and russia.?) There is an old saying. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. . So when they called him a traitor, for following the constitution. They were basically saying, he wasn’t gonna get a trial. Not a leagal one. So I say, run Snowdan, run. God bless ya for having the courage to stand up for the people.

  • shadow1776

    The Government gets caught with there fingers in the cookie jar. So they come out and say we want this, and will have it. The Government is way out of control.

  • Don miller

    I agree with you shadow 1776 150% but now it’s up to us we the people to put this tyrannical government out of business before they put us out of business the line has been drawn now it’s our job to make sure they don’t push any further it’s time to push back we can do it if we show up in masses and armed just because we’re armed doesn’t mean we have to use them unless of course they draw first blood then it’s win lose or draw we don’t stop till our constitution and rights are restored where are all my brothers in arms

    • shadow1776

      Don miller, I understand your anger, but showing up with weapons would be doing them a favor. Then the Government would declare Marshal law. Bring in troops and send everyone to those Fema camps. Which I believe were built just for an occasion. Careful how you say something. Big Brother is listening, and looking for any and all reasons, to lock up free thinkers.

      • Brent black

        I agree Don. If we give them an excuse, they will take it gladly. But they will surely make one up if we dont-then all bets are off. With nearly all of both houses of congress already committed to total control.(and it goes without saying the pres.) I fear it may be too late. We dont have enough people in this country with the absolute conviction and knowledge of the constitution. –which was what the progressives were waiting for no doubt.

        • shadow1776

          Most people don’t know the difference between an American and a U.S. citizen. They will let anyone become a citizen, but an American is taught how important the constitution is, and to respect ones beliefs even if they are not there own. The schools don’t teach the important things anymore, and the Government don’t care about the people. Wreck the economy and give jobs to foreigners who dont speak english. This is not what my ancestors wanted or faught for

  • Robert Weber

    Government regulations should be simplified.

    Government powers to spy on U S citizens without criminal cause should be ceased. This use has been for political interests & should be abandoned. These are powers that I have seen in communist countries to restrict personal freedoms.

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