In the past few years, it seems the government has been attempting to see what the people are up to online. Through various bills, proposals and acts by politicians and government officials, the public has been battling their rights on the internet. Now the FBI has their sights set on the sites. A new team of e-spies have been recruited to spy on everything from Skype calls to instant messaging. The Domestic Communications Assistance Center is designed and staffed to assist law enforcement in wire-tapping the internet.
As the communication abilities of the public increases, law enforcement can’t keep up. With limited budgets, technical knowledge and personnel, law enforcement agencies are finding it hard to monitor communications over the internet.
The DCAC is their new attempt at closing the gap between the government and communications. In the past wire-tapping was easy as the technology was basically just phone service. As cell phones, mobile gadgets, and the internet become the preferred methods of communication, law enforcement are powerless when surveillance is needed.
Compliance from service providers to court orders has taken too long for law enforcement to effectively step in and stop crimes. The new DCAC staff will assist in wire-tapping after receiving proper court orders, rather than waiting for service providers to respond. The positions are described as “assisting” law enforcement with knowledge and procedures to effectively and quickly intercept communications and not actually intercept the conversations themselves.
As basically a spy tech support office for law enforcement, their primary function will be to show local and federal law enforcement how to tap the conversations of suspects. Although the DCAC has kept the release of details about the project to a minimum, USAjobs.gov shows their job posting for 2 DCAC positions.
Possible Privacy Issues:
As internet privacy and freedom of speech is primary concern for the public, creating a team of e-spies may endanger that. Even with the need of a court order to allow law enforcement to intercept online communications, there is still a threat to the personal privacy of US citizens.
The question will really be what would qualify as a reason for a court order? As most wire-tapping is used to gather evidence of a suspected crime in progress, there must first be speculation that the suspect is about to commit a crime. As with any law enforcement agency, should the FBI be permitted to spy on Americans via the internet? The past few attempts of censorship, internet governing, and infringement on public privacy have been met with backlash. This may just be another case of the government having too much access to US citizen’s personal information, communications and activities.
John Deschamp is a network administrator and writer for highspeedinternet.net, a site offering information on wireless internet and how broadband connectivity works.