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FBI Quietly Forms Secretive Net-Surveillance Unit

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the indefatigable-declan dept.

Privacy 130

An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from CNET: "CNET has learned that the FBI has formed a Domestic Communications Assistance Center, which is tasked with developing new electronic surveillance technologies, including intercepting Internet, wireless, and VoIP communications. 'The big question for me is why there isn't more transparency about what's going on?' asks Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group in San Francisco. 'We should know more about the program and what the FBI is doing. Which carriers they're working with — which carriers they're having problems with. They're doing the best they can to avoid being transparent.'"

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130 comments

Ummm (5, Insightful)

globalist (1332141) | about 2 years ago | (#40104741)

Just a guess, but maybe they want the unit to remain secretive?

Re:Ummm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40104813)

Just a guess, but maybe they want the unit to remain secretive?

Or that it doesn't really exist. And this is just another bit of PR to keep the paranoia levels above minimum.

P.S. Captcha for this post: afraid

Re:Ummm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40104895)

P.S. Captcha for this post: afraid

Hehehe with thousands and thousands of posts with captchas at least some of them will seem spooky and apropos.

Duhhh I R clever so I gotta mention that everytime it happens to remind ppl that random things happen randomly. Duhhh ah-yuk.

hilarity ensued!

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40105477)

Captcha for that post: idiocy.

Re:Ummm (1)

mapfortu (2567463) | about 2 years ago | (#40104825)

Computer technology is not new. Copy protection from the 70s and 80s was, essentially, the same mathematical practice as rootkit. Consider installing Linuxfromscratch on a Playstation--a hardware exploit (over or undervoltage applied to a circuit due to an unexpected value placed in an unchecked buffer which is later connected to a circuit which was calibrated to operate in a defined range). These hardware exploits are not one in a million, or thousand, or hundred. These hardware exploits are not even exploits--they are alternate operating modes. Nearly every chip on your motherboard accomplishes a set of mathematical functions per clock cycle at a given applied voltage. Most chips have various sets of functions which they perform which are available at different operating voltages. A buffer overflow, causing the applied voltage to be unexpectedly shifted according to the desires of the knowledgeable user, may be used to cause chips to operate with different sets of functions than the set they were designed to operate on. Sometimes the new set overlaps with the old set, sometimes it doesn't. The nature of security research is tracking down the attackers who have designed concurrent sets of instructions. The technique is so well refined that, in many cases, a skilled attacker is able to cycle the targetted chip between running the function set that the user (and the operating system) expect on timings necessary to maintain operability, and then shifting the chip into the alternate function set on timings which are left open by the overall design of the motherboard and operating system.

The FBI's decision to form a net-surveillance unit now, in 2012, is somewhat antiquated (deprecated) by nature. The people who studied copy protection mechanisms thirty years ago are well ahead of the game. They already know all about the methods of fitting their data in between the data that you (and your Fast Hack'em, Q-Copy, or Mr. Nibble) have available to you.

Simply accept the fact that, if your computer is attached to a network, or even if it isn't but has any manner of wireless card (with proper oscillating transceiver crystal on any potentially active circuit), then there quite likely is some aging engineer whose job it is to monitor your online activity and the contents of your media.

Next time... learn that the doubled three prong AC adapter on the back of your PSU is not only a power supply passthrough--it is the simplest connector for an imaging technique. Similar to quantum cryptography: what is the simplest method for making this magnetic field (the entirety of your computer system) look exactly like that magnetic field (the entirety of the computer system which I am going to attach to your power supply passthrough).

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40106781)

LOL!

This is hilarious.

One of Redmond's astroturf bots has malfunctioned and is spewing gibberish.

Typical Microsoft crap.

HEY! LOOKIT OVER HERE!!! Secret Internet Agents! (1)

flyneye (84093) | about 2 years ago | (#40104919)

Apparently ,if the newsclowns know about it they just want to put the word out. "Beware, we are gonna find out what you're doing and bust you"
Pretty stereotypical of them. Kind of like a narc with long hair, a moustache' and white dress shoes expect them to speak real l33t in the forumz and show off their "hep" attitude toward mp3z, warez, and kiddie pr0n.
How obvious could they be?

Re:HEY! LOOKIT OVER HERE!!! Secret Internet Agents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40105431)

...just lumping together "mp3z, warez and kiddie pr0n" outs you as a federal agent.

Re:HEY! LOOKIT OVER HERE!!! Secret Internet Agents (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#40107431)

The extra z was accepted lingo in the piracy scene.

Fifteen years ago.

Just a little out of date, that's all.

Re:Ummm (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40105405)

Just a guess, but maybe they want the unit to remain secretive?

Which is fine when you're conducting foreign intelligence operations. However, the FBI's charter is to investigate private citizens within the United States. Given their track record, I don't think anything they do should be opaque:

They consider anyone who protests the government a terrorist, recently helped bust protesters for terrorism in Chicago -- which in actuality they were busting them for making beer. In their own home. They break federal laws so often that they had to change the laws so the FBI could continue to get convictions -- they still conceal evidence from defense attorneys to this day, and increasingly call such evidence off limits "due to national security". The FBI was instrumental in the passage and current use of the Patriot Act, which prevents citizens from even knowing the evidence presented against them, as the Constitution prescribed. I could go on, but really, I think you get the point: The FBI is one of the most corrupt law enforcement agencies in the world. The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country worldwide. The Innocence Project routinely finds people who have been sitting 20 or 30 year prison terms for crimes they can prove beyond reasonable doubt they did not commit. The FBI's response has been to open case files and monitor everyone who comes in contact with the project. Anyone who shows the FBI as a corrupt organization quickly finds themselves facing trumped up charges of tax evasion, drugs, or even copyright infringement: Whatever it takes to silence their critics.

I mean, I could go on... it's not hard to find examples of FBI agents engaging in activities that in any other civilized country would be grounds for imprisonment... and that was pre-9/11. Since then, they've enjoyed practically blanket-immunity for civil rights violations, and it shows. Any citizen of this country that thinks the FBI is anything but a bunch of thugs with a huge budget and no ethical constraints is deluding themselves.

Re:Ummm (1)

qu33ksilver (2567983) | about 2 years ago | (#40106721)

The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country worldwide.

From what I understand, you are trying to say that the FBI takes up matter in their hands and they take in anyone who tries to defy the rules. Well, in some places the common people will be very happy if their police atleast tried to do this. You see, in some countries the administration is so lackadaisical, they don't even care to enforce any rules as long as they get their share of the bribes. The entire country goes haywire. I know it is stretching the topic to a different direction because spying on people and incarcerating people are two different things but I can't help but comment on your statements. Peace.

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40106749)

So does this mean you are a terrorist?

Re:Ummm (0)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40107197)

Just a guess, but maybe they want the unit to remain secretive?

Which is fine when you're conducting foreign intelligence operations. However, the FBI's charter is to investigate private citizens within the United States..

I hate to break it to you but many "private citizens within the United States" are Muslims, and have a self-avowed aim to destroy the democratic state. Iyman_Faris [wikipedia.org], who plotted to destroy the brooklyn bridge, Faisal_Shahzad [wikipedia.org] who plotted to bomb time square, Jose Padilla [wikipedia.org] who plotted with Al Quaida to set off a dirty bomb, Nidal Malik Hasan [wikipedia.org] the Fort Hood shooter .... I could go on but you probably get the idea.

FBI recruits,plans,funds& thwarts OWN terror p (2)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 2 years ago | (#40107267)

Your examples are comically ironic considering you are trying to justify FBI actions, given that the weight of evidence is in: "Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out — only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI."

http://www.salon.com/2011/09/29/fbi_terror/singleton/ [salon.com]

Re:FBI recruits,plans,funds& thwarts OWN terro (0)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40107385)

Your examples are comically ironic considering you are trying to justify FBI actions, given that the weight of evidence is in: "Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out — only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI."

http://www.salon.com/2011/09/29/fbi_terror/singleton/ [salon.com]

Oh yea, sure they planned the For Hood shooting. Maybe they were also behind Little Rock recruiting office shooting [wikipedia.org], the Seattle Jewish Federation shooting [wikipedia.org], and the Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar SUV attack [wikipedia.org] too - all of which were carried out by Muslim American Citizens. You know, you appeasers make me nearly as sick as Muslims do themselves. Next I expect the equivocation of "but Christians draw nasty cartoons", or US soldiers shot a terrorist so we should be allowed to blow up your citizens.

Re:FBI recruits,plans,funds& thwarts OWN terro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40108447)

The battlefield today is in the mind. With acts like the patriot act the only way to subdue dissent is to give a reason to fear what is going on. Its called the problem-reaction-solution model and the powers that be have used it for generations. Its ok you're too ignorant to see it happening, a solid third of the public is in the same boat as you, the other third have 'identification with the aggressor' tendencies, and the remaining third are seen as killjoys of the enterprise of aggressive incompetence and all the ego boosts and emotional pacifiers it affords.

Re:FBI recruits,plans,funds& thwarts OWN terro (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about 2 years ago | (#40109309)

Both of you are being blinded by your preconceptions.

None of the examples of terrorist plots given by Chrisq were FBI instigated plots (not sure about the Brooklyn Bridge one though). On the other hand, the FBI does have a long track record of borderline entrapment (e.g. the Christmas Bomb plot in Portland, OR in 2010(?)).

But, and this is the crucial part, all of those plots were carried out by Americans, just like the OK City bombing, the Unabomber bombings, and the stand-offs at Ruby Ridge and Waco. The FBI, as a law enforcement agency tasked with investigations on US soil, as subsequently overwhelmingly of US citizens, has a duty to the people to uphold the Constitution. There are legitimate threats*, but that doesn't mean we need a secret police.

*I happen to think our perception of these threats is wildly exaggerated. We are far more scared of, and devote far more money to, terror attacks than their frequency and lethality deserve.

Re:Ummm (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40108497)

I mean, I could go on... it's not hard to find examples of FBI agents engaging in activities that in any civilized country would be grounds for imprisonment...

And Obama supports every single one of those acts. Don't forget that.

Also, FTFY.

Re:Ummm (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#40105437)

Just a guess, but maybe they want the unit to remain secretive?

How "secretive" can it be if we're here talking about it?

If the FBI wanted it kept secret, I'm pretty sure they could have pulled it off. Look how long they've been able to keep the secret that Barack Obama was the 2nd gunman in the Grassy Knoll and that Ronald Reagan used to poop his pants in the Oval Office?

[Note: one of the above is a true fact.]

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40108777)

"[Note: one of the above is a true fact.]" ... and the other one is a false fact? REALLY?!?

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40106007)

It's obviously an act of a benevolent government. Just like a big brother. What other kind of governments would spy on their oown citizens? Besides the obvious Hitler and Kremlin references. Anything Obama wants, Obama gets.

Re:Ummm (2)

joocemann (1273720) | about 2 years ago | (#40106293)

When government acts and hides its actions from its citizens, is when that government is not Democratic.

Land of self justified intelligence operations, like before the Intel Oversight Act of 1974, which mattered for a good 25 years and is now regularly ignored thanks to out governmental failure to do its job.

Word to the offended: Don't buy a gun, you cant win that even in your wildest dreams. And gold is for stupid people from 2000 years ago. Inform your peers, resist with peace, and call for a new way. Iceland just pulled off a constitution, bank, and politician, reboot ---- peacefully. The reason the last thing you heard about Iceland was bankruptcy 3 years ago is because a peaceful revolution of the people was happening and corporate media fears pure democracy and its examples when visible.

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40109417)

The Nazi's loved it when the Jews in Poland "resisted with peace".
Sometime it works, sometimes the bully just keeps hitting you.

Re:Ummm (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 2 years ago | (#40106389)

No shit. SNARK ATTACK-->Why can't they tell everyone what they're doing and how it's going and where its weaknesses are! We deserve to know! We paid for it!

Its amazing to me how many people are so paranoid about their pirated shit that they FEAR the FBI doing what it's supposed to do because it might be turned against their pirate p0rn collection and Jay Zee rips.

I have a solution. Stop prosecuting people for ripping shit and tell the makers of digital shit to figure out another business model but don't look to law enforcement to prop them up. No more law enforcement resources or court resources dedicated to prosecuting RIAA suits and such like. Just fucking deal with it.

If a terrorists plot gets through do we really want it to be partially because they had the accidental cooperation of people who were trying to sneak Game Of Thrones around online?

We need a clear separation in mandates between the FBI et al using advanced technology to capture real threats and pirating teenagers and the parents who love them.

We just can't care about that shit and we have to make it known the FBI et al are not going to be interested in that shit so people don't have this anti-law enforcement attitude on account of they themselves being technically engaged in some stupid low level criminal activity.

Re:Ummm (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#40107453)

There was a time when copyright was a purely civil matter, and the FBI wouldn't have been involved at all. That was before the NET act.

Re:Ummm (1)

WolfTheWerewolf (84066) | about 2 years ago | (#40108413)

Exactly this. The FBI surely has better things to do than crack the whip on some kid copying a movie - aren't they supposed to be out catching the legitimate Top Ten Wanted guys? Somehow the so-called justice system got hijacked by media controllers and they even managed to drag INTERPOL in as well. Amazing. Just amazing.

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40106849)

Secretive like a secret police? Intersting idea. Germany used to have a secret police, too, and is a pretty good country now.

Re:Ummm (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about 2 years ago | (#40109327)

Secretive like a secret police? Intersting idea. Germany used to have a secret police, too, and is a pretty good country now.

"Used to" being the operative phrase.

Re:Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40108731)

I can see it now ...
"Ma'am, Sir, please give me your net info ... I am DCACA (pronounced dee-caca), a Domestic Communications Assistance Center Agent. Don't tell me I ain't shit, I'm DCACA!"

Government response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40104781)

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Marielaina Perrone DDS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40104789)

They want to remain secret which is fine but it makes most people leery to have the big gov't snooping on them.

http://www.drperrone.com

Transparency. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40104793)

'The big question for me is why there isn't more transparency about what's going on?' asks Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group in San Francisco.

What are you talking about? This is the most transparent administration in history! (Source [youtube.com] )

Re:Transparency. (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | about 2 years ago | (#40104959)

Speaking of big questions, I have a small one.

What do they hope to learn from this new super-secret surveillance unit ... that's so very important ... that they can't just get a warrant for?

Why all the secrecy and all the cloak-and-dagger bullshit when you could have the full force (and legitimacy) of a court of law backing you up? What is the need for "new surveillance technologies" when you can present a court order to the ISP and capture everything to and from your suspect at the source?

This sounds more like CIA/NSA territory.

Re:Transparency. (4, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | about 2 years ago | (#40105039)

Imagine if you were a fisherman, and in your application for a fishing license you had to identify the specific fish ("Charlie Tuna" or "Mr. Limpet" or "Wanda" or "Moby Dick") you were going after.

It wouldn't be fishing anymore. It would be more like hunting in California, or, perish the thought, detective work.

Re:Transparency. (4, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | about 2 years ago | (#40105059)

Because it's easier to take, and apologize later, than it is to ask permission.

Hence the basis for all governmental / corporate / law enforcement / union activities -> for example, if an officer of the law demands something, even if the written law / case law is unclear, people will typically give it to him / her; later on, when sued, the officer can explain to the court that 'he / she didn't know they couldn't do that,' and is let off with the legal equivalent of a love tap. The damage, however, has already been done; and the people are now subject to 'jurisdictional creep,' where it is the burden of the common man to prove his rights / privileges in court, while simultaneously disproving the rights / privileges of his offenders (many of whom occupy higher places than the offended, with greater resources and connections).

The current rules for the small guy are "DO NOT, unless explicitly told to"; the current rules for everyone else are "DO, unless explicitly told not to." I imagine such legal disorder preceeded the fall of many of the larger governments throughout history.

Re:Transparency. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40107427)

Because their remit is "To protect and serve" .... their corporate sponsors.

It's not about warrants, or lack thereof (4, Informative)

sirwired (27582) | about 2 years ago | (#40105087)

This center isn't about obtaining intelligence without a warrant, it's about executing a warrant that the FBI has obtained. An old (and I mean old) wiretap involved nothing more than a wire recorder and a pair of alligator clips at Ma Bell's central office. This center appears to be tasked with devising ways to execute surveillance warrants when the suspect is using technology that doesn't currently have "hooks" to tap.

What good is a packet trace if you can't turn the hex into useful data? How do you handle roaming VOIP? Are there currently "hooks" in the system for intercepting cellular data? You get the idea...

Now, none of that means that this technology won't be put to nefarious ends after it's developed, but the stated intent is benign enough.

Re:It's not about warrants, or lack thereof (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40105327)

One of the basic principles of SIGINT [wikipedia.org] is that knowing whether, when, and for how long individuals or groups of people are communicating with each other is valuable, even without knowing the contents of the communications. Therefore tracing packets is useful even if you do not know their contents. Think the Tor button will save you? Check this email out [pastebin.com] and let me know how safe you feel using Tor now that the FBI has all of the source code as well as the complete cooperation of a now-former member of Anonymous.

The FBI and other elements of the U.S. Government have the capability of intercepting a wide range of communications with superior technological capabilities. Roaming VOIP, you say? Check out this article [cnet.com], which is from way back in 2006, and my other comment in this thread [slashdot.org] and let me know whether you think the Bureau or other agencies have solved the roaming VOIP problem by now.

Yes there are hooks in the system for intercepting cellular data. It's called make secret agreements with Telcos that are authorized under classified annexes to federal laws.

The technology is being put to nefarious ends all the time, like spying on U.S. citizens who have committed no crimes. Regrettably, I can't go into details. You would not believe the full scope of their capabilities or my experiences with them if I told you.

Re:It's not about warrants, or lack thereof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40106801)

Think the Tor button will save you? Check this email out [pastebin.com] and let me know how safe you feel using Tor now that the FBI has all of the source code as well as the complete cooperation of a now-former member of Anonymous.

You seem to mostly know what you are talking about, but this is just FUD. Tor works and is open-source. That e-mail references the source to a modified version of TorButton that apparently had a trojan that ran anon's LOIC DDOS tool. It has nothing to do with the security of Tor or TorButton.

Of course, Tor is vulnerable to attack by simply having one party control most of the exit nodes. The US government almost certainly runs multiple Tor exit nodes, but probably not enough to control the entire network.

VOIP security is pretty much non-existent, and the need for a constant low-latency stream of data between the two parties makes it very difficult to secure. Just encrypting the traffic does pretty much nothing because if the encrypted traffic uses a variable bit rate codec, the words can be recovered just from the changes in the bit rate.

Re:It's not about warrants, or lack thereof (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#40107455)

Couldn't that be solved just by using a CBR codec, or padding the stream with random data?

Re:It's not about warrants, or lack thereof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40109109)

> You seem to mostly know what you are talking about, but this is just FUD. Tor works and is open-source. That e-mail references the source to a modified version of TorButton that apparently had a trojan that ran anon's LOIC DDOS tool. It has nothing to do with the security of Tor or TorButton.

Thanks, that answers some of my questions.

I really don't feel safe using Tor, in part because it was invented by the Naval Research Laboratory [onion-router.net] and one of its creators has clarified USG interest in the project [cryptome.org], so I'll just leave it at this [cam.ac.uk], which is a paper presented on some of its weaknesses. Perhaps some of these weaknesses have been resolved by now; perhaps not.

I don't claim to be an expert, I just think that anyone who really believes that Tor is secure might want to consider whether they have underestimated the capabilities of the government. The USG is really amazing when it wants to be.

Re:It's not about warrants, or lack thereof (1)

sacrilicious (316896) | about 2 years ago | (#40106301)

What good is a packet trace if you can't turn the hex into useful data?

Isn't that what they said to Neo in the Matrix?

Re:Transparency. (4, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40105103)

You mistake whats going on.

This is to get technology so when they get a warrant they can gain access. A warrant to get into the new fizzjingle device does no good if you can't get the data of the new fizjingle device.

They don't want people to know that can now access what had been the super secure fizjingle device.

Re:Transparency. (4, Insightful)

Ghostworks (991012) | about 2 years ago | (#40105171)

What do they hope to learn from this new super-secret surveillance unit ... that's so very important ... that they can't just get a warrant for? ...
This sounds more like CIA/NSA territory.

This sort of surveillance does sound more like what what you would expect out of the CIA -- which is hampered by federal laws limiting them to spying on international communications and foreign nationals -- or the NSA -- which has invested in a huge new facility after admitting that there's just not enough power to come close to breaking a significant amount of encrypted traffic. The big question is why the FBI would jump into something it's never been a major player in before.

Best guess: they're trying to update wiretapping. They've been getting increasingly alarmed and vocal about just how little wiretapping actually buys you now. If you really want to keep something secret, you can just use an https encrypted connection to any one of numerous services that keep no records and have no mechanisms for spying on their users.

They recently floated the idea of requiring backdoors be installed into such service, the way telecom hardware is legally required to support conventional wiretapping. that idea had no real support in technical or public circles. Even if you trust your government, it's much hard to game a system that requires someone to go to a location within the your country and physically connect to equipment owned and operated by a someone else than it is to find an exploit in a protocol that can be prodded by anyone online and which would have to be implement by everyone from Facebook to Club Penguin.

With no widespread support for spying-as-a-service, they're stuck traffic-tapping the hard way: inspect every packet for the start of an HTTPS handshake so you can break the connection, or somehow crack an encrypted stream with incomplete knowledge. They still have no idea how they would reliably accomplish either of these. However they do it, it will probably require new laws to make it feasible. It sounds like the program casts a wide net in an attempt to find something that works, and is trying to keep it quiet because they don't know what solution will rise to the top, or how knowledge gained about the process now could be used to defeat it technically or legally later.

Re:Transparency. (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#40105465)

They recently floated the idea of requiring backdoors be installed into such service, the way telecom hardware is legally required to support conventional wiretapping. that idea had no real support in technical or public circles.

For good reason, there is no such thing as a "secure back door" - just ask the prime minister of greece - they even ordered the equipment without the backdoor featureset, and they were still vulnerable. [ieee.org]

Re:Transparency. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40106039)

What do they hope to learn from this new super-secret surveillance unit ... that's so very important ... that they can't just get a warrant for?

Because like all corrupt government agencies they DO NOT WANT any kind of judicial oversight.

Re:Transparency. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40106061)

What do they hope to learn from this new super-secret surveillance unit ... that's so very important ... that they can't just get a warrant for?

For instance, if they notice you are considering voting for a Republican, Obama can call out the IRS on you. It's all standard SS methodology. Why do you think they are hiring all those additional IRS agents? It's not for a health plan.

Submitted by an Anonymous Reader (5, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#40104807)

Who is, I suspect, no longer anonymous to the FBI...

In formerly free America (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40104969)

Uncle Sam is watching YOU.

Re:In formerly free America (1)

bughunter (10093) | about 2 years ago | (#40105129)

To hell with ceiling cat.

Uncle Sam is watching YOU masturbate on the internet.

Fixxord.

Re:Submitted by an Anonymous Reader (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40105021)

> Who is, I suspect, no longer anonymous to the FBI...

Neither am I. For real. Here's one product they use to monitor internet traffic on targets: Narus Insight [narus.com].

They already have all the capabilities discussed in the article, which is itself overly dramatic. Take a look at the product page for that software and see for yourself.

why so secretive? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40104859)

The basic problem, of course, is that if they were to do this out in the open so that people knew what was being monitored and how, they would do something to maintain their privacy and, according to the latest FBI Local Terrorist pamphlet, anyone who is overly concerned about their personal privacy is likely a terrorist. Add to that anyone who uses cash for their purchases, who questions authority and who claims their rights under the Constitution and you can lock up the majority of the public as local terrorists. They don't need to be charged, just detained long enough to put them into one of the hundreds of thousands of pre-made plastic coffins stacked up in FEMA yards for "just such an emergency."

Re:why so secretive? (2)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#40105517)

Duh. I fail to understand why so many are tricked into focusing on "why so secretive" and distracted from why net surveillance at all

It's like saying: "yeah, I have no problem in being spied on as long as I know that I might been under surveillance!" (and I'm saying this as one that was born and grew up under one of East European communist regimes, with their secret police present in the shadow. What good its to know that Big Brother is watching you if you can do nothing?)

Re:why so secretive? (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | about 2 years ago | (#40105925)

The basic problem, of course, is that if they were to do this out in the open so that people knew what was being monitored and how, they would do something to maintain their privacy and, according to the latest FBI Local Terrorist pamphlet, anyone who is overly concerned about their personal privacy is likely a terrorist.

So far so good...

Add to that anyone who uses cash for their purchases, who questions authority and who claims their rights under the Constitution and you can lock up the majority of the public as local terrorists.

Stay on target, stay on target...

They don't need to be charged, just detained long enough to put them

Uh oh, anomaly detected ahead, hold course...

into one of the hundreds of thousands of pre-made plastic coffins stacked up in FEMA yards for "just such an emergency."

Shit, shit, abort post, ABORT POST! Emergency reverse! [xkcd.com]

Re:why so secretive? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40106155)

Careful. Police charge people according to set laws and in accordance with rights that have to be applied. Once the DHS have declared you a terrorist, you have no rights. Not even if you are a US citizen. The first assassination of a US citizen for joining a foreign terrorist group has already happened. Why do you think it would be impossible for it to happen to a local terrorist?

Well, duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40104867)

'The big question for me is why there isn't more transparency about what's going on?' asks Jennifer Lynch.

There's no point in being part of a secret organization if you tell everybody about it.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40104893)

Because #^â& you! Obama is el presidente for life. That's why.

Police Corruption (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40104899)

Since one of the FBI's mandates is stopping police corruption, I assume that they will be monitoring the personal communications of police officers rather than the personal communications of persons with unfavorable political opinions.

That would be reasonable, wouldn't it?

Re:Police Corruption (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40108655)

You seriously buy that shit?

How many cops have you seen prosecuted, even with clear cut murder charges?

We see no knock raids resulting in civilian deaths all the time. We see officers killing family pets, disabled people, drunk on the job, hitting people with their cruiser... its absolutely unreal how much the police get away with given the supposed "checks and balances" that are in place.

Who cares? (1)

Fishbulb (32296) | about 2 years ago | (#40104903)

Who cares? They're about 30 years too late to the punch compared to the NSA. Their entire office is going to be staffed by a single ticker-tape machine being sent whatever the NSA deems useful to the FBI.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Fishbulb (32296) | about 2 years ago | (#40104967)

Wait, I take that back; the NSA will set the FBI up with an Xbox and Forza Motorsport and tell them they're driving around the 'net in virtual Corvettes, just like in Tom Clancy's Net Force.

Justice Department Budget request (5, Informative)

kb1cvh (88565) | about 2 years ago | (#40104931)

This appears to be the Justice department budget request for the project.

http://www.justice.gov/jmd/2012factsheets/docs/fy12-national-security.pdf [justice.gov]

Time to spend more time improving Tor

https://www.torproject.org/ [torproject.org]

Re:Justice Department Budget request (1)

steelfood (895457) | about 2 years ago | (#40106105)

Improving? How about making sure there's no hidden backdoor in the code first?

Re:Justice Department Budget request (2)

retroworks (652802) | about 2 years ago | (#40107641)

Have tried Tor, found it promising but buggy. I think it would be cheaper and easier to have my computer auto-search random words from the dictionary when it's on idle. If 15% of people start using Tor, they'll either find a way to stop it or bug it or take it away. But no one can stop me from showing random interest, and no one can get me for surfing a specific site if my browser searches millions of sites randomly.

Re:Justice Department Budget request (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40107883)

But no one can stop me from showing random interest, and no one can get me for surfing a specific site if my browser searches millions of sites randomly.

FAIL. They will have millions of reasons to get you.

FBI Quietly Forms Secretive Net-Surveillance Unit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40104983)

Would this be their "Whisper Net?" ;)

Avoid? (2)

Qubit (100461) | about 2 years ago | (#40105055)

They're doing the best they can to avoid being transparent.

Being opaque/translucent would suck. Wouldn't they want to be transparent, so that users don't see them or their effects on the network?

I can see it now -- suspect gets a text that says "WE'RE IN YOUR VoIP PHONE, MONITORING YOUR PHONE CALLS, LOVE, THE FBI." Oh yeah, gonna catch a lot of crooks that way.

Re:Avoid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40107169)

no need to catch crooks, they're already running the banks and government

This is for cracking down on THE PEOPLE.

Who wants them to be transparent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40105107)

And why would you want them to be transparent?
Do people not realize that the mafia and other corrupt people and institutions likely have their dirty fingers poking into any organization looking to take them down.
Of course, there is the problem with corruption within these organizations being a possibility as well.

We need saints running these things!

VoIP encryption? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40105139)

Are they any VoIP providers that offer SRTP or other encrypted protocols? I have never seen a provider that offers encryption in any form (well, except for crappy Skype).

The thing is, encryption is actually more important over VoIP than a hardline because VoIP has no laws whatsoever protecting privacy (line taps, etc).

Re:VoIP encryption? (2)

generica1 (193760) | about 2 years ago | (#40105475)

It's not practical for VoIP providers to offer encryption most of the time, because their connections to the real POTS/PSTN is still just regular, wiretappable PRI/T1s at some point along the line. They have to interconnect with the real phone network at some point to be useful, and all calls therefore are still tappable.

However, you could just use Zphone [zfoneproject.com] with ZRTP (or run your own PBX using FreeSWITCH [freeswitch.org] to accomplish what you are looking for from a VoIP provider).

Re:VoIP encryption? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40105515)

But there are laws and rules against wiretapping a PSTN hard line. No such protection exists for Internet based calls.

Re:VoIP encryption? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40108543)

Why would you rely on your VOIP provider for encryption? Any encryption is going to have to be end to end or you can expect the government to compromise the middleman.

No, this won't end badly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40105149)

Why not give them even more power? I'm sure they'll be responsible and won't abuse it.

This idea might work (2)

Walt Sellers (1741378) | about 2 years ago | (#40105295)

If the FBI wants to watch all the data, then:

- They should just pay for all the hosting, backups and bandwidth.
- Include surveillance in the terms of service.
- Then offer the services to everyone for free.

Re:This idea might work (1)

Bobakitoo (1814374) | about 2 years ago | (#40105857)

Or they can follow the 'small government' fad and externalise these cost to the private sector using fascist laws.

Re:This idea might work (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40106435)

Ironically, if they did it that way you would have more rights, and good avenues from recourse. Unlike the private sector.

"quietly," "secretive", ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40105507)

What's so quiet or secretive about this? It was in the public budget request, the FBI has confirmed its existence, they've posted public job announcements. You want a press release?

because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40105627)

we are the enemy

What's the next step? (2)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#40105697)

So after they establish this bit of nonsense are they going to be empowered to put netizens on double secret probation?

Who's gonna pay for all this shit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40106613)

Who's gonna pay for all this shit?

Servailance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40106627)

Anybody would think that the USA is the only country doing this, The UK government is years ahead of the states in citizen surveillance. How do you think they caught the London underground and bus bombers so quick in the 90's, all this came from UK experience they had with the IRA Bombings of Manchester and other cities in the 80's The only thing the UK government are sort of now is cameras inside peoples homes, then they can do a 24/7/365 surveillance on every citizen.

Quietly ? Hardly ! LoL XD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40106633)

Not a too US President administrations ago we saw on ABC-CBS-NBC the FBI Director of the time walking and talking of their newest 'CyberSecurity Terminals' which at the time were Commador PET terminals that were already some 20 years old. The sceen staged for the folks in Omaha, show the C-PETs with K-Mart Business Suit clothed FBI agents 'maning' the C-PET terminals. Only this was, the C-PETS were powered, as in, 'turned on' but without a hard drive or ethernet connection were just glowing blue screens. I guess that the 'K-Mart Business Suit' clothed FBI agents had 'super secret vision' to peer through the blue haze to see the bad guys and evil doer 'lectroids lirking on the edge of the 8th dimension.

FBI is a farce ! XD

LoL

Telephone (1)

Dunge (922521) | about 2 years ago | (#40108453)

How long did it takes before they stop trying to listen all telephone calls? Oh wait they still do

What Do We Know (1)

ARTIKMONKEY11 (2645309) | about 2 years ago | (#40109259)

The FBI has no need to let leak information of any of their projects, and when information is leaked that story is probably a mere percentage of the truth and intentionally leaked so we don't focus on the big picture of what they are doing. The jurisdiction and rights granted to the FBI give them more power than most law-abiding citizens could not handle responsibly/logically if they tried. I have great respect for an agency such as the FBI and am very grateful for the services they provide for our country, but the fact that I have accepted that I will never know what is going on behind closed doors there led me not to trust them (And all the negative stories don't help). I would not doubt if this "Net-Surveillance" has been going on for years behind closed doors and will continue to do so, their knowledge and power will simply keep growing and they will never release the full story as to what it is they do. I will always be mindful and respectful of authority, but not when that authority has almost no authority. Just a thought. By no means am I certified to talk about what the FBI does, even if I knew what it was they do. Apologies for any offense.
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