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MoPOP at dusk, Seattle

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Snooped

The FBI wants to listen to all of your communications.
The FBI’s "top priority" in 2013 is to modernize surveillance law so authorities can monitor in real time the Web activities of Americans suspected of committing crimes, the FBI’s general counsel said.
At a luncheon for the American Bar Association in Washington last week, Andrew Weissman said that a 1994 federal law designed to help law enforcement conduct lawful surveillance was not keeping up with modern forms of communication.
The law, known as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, applies to telecommunications companies, but does not fully apply to Web-based companies. Weissman said this distinction has prevented law enforcement from conducting surveillance on Web-based services such as Google’s Gmail service, Google Voice or the file-sharing service DropBox. He referred to law enforcement’s inability to monitor such communications as "going dark" and said it was preventing the FBI from fighting crime.
"We're making the ability to intercept communications with a court order increasingly obsolete," he said. "Those communications are being used for criminal conversations."
He added: “This huge legal apparatus…to prevent crimes, prevent terrorist acts is becoming increasingly hampered and increasingly marginalized the more we have technology that is not covered by CALEA, because we don’t have the ability to just go to the court and say 'You know what, they just have to do it.'"
Weissman said it was the FBI’s “top priority this year” to create a proposal that modernizes the law to allow law enforcement to obtain such data with a court order. 
Heaven forbid that the government doesn't have a way of snooping on our private conversations. At what point in time did we cede them this power? Crime is apparently so bad that Americans have decided to give up their privacy and civil liberties?

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From Huffpo - 3/21/13
NEW YORK -- The CIA's chief technology officer outlined the agency's endless appetite for data in a far-ranging speech on Wednesday.
Speaking before a crowd of tech geeks at GigaOM's Structure:Data conference in New York City, CTO Ira "Gus" Hunt said that the world is increasingly awash in information from text messages, tweets, and videos -- and that the agency wants all of it.
"The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time," Hunt said. "Since you can't connect dots you don't have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever."


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Feds accused of hiding Stingray surveillance from judges.
A Justice Department document obtained by the ACLU suggests that federal agents in California were using a so-called “Stingray” cellphone surveillance device without “explicit” approval. Stingray is the generic term used to describe a portable spy gadget that has been covertly used by the authorities for almost two decades to trick phones within a targeted area into hopping onto a fake network. The FBI says it uses them to help track the movements of suspects, not to intercept communications. However, by design the devices collaterally gather data on all people in a specific location—not just the suspects. That’s why rights groups claim Stingrays could be used to violate the privacy of “thousands of people.”

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