Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

All Wiretapping, All the Time!

Cutsey DCS 3000 Logo

This is a banner month for the monitoring of the communications of American citizens by their own government. Wired News has posted the story today that the FBI apparently has a “point and click” system for monitoring the communications of U.S. citizens in realtime. This was discovered in documents accessed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). This system connects FBI offices on a dedicated network to the various telephone and telephony (VOIP) hubs for traffic. As Wired News states:

The FBI has quietly built a sophisticated, point-and-click surveillance system that performs instant wiretaps on almost any communications device, according to nearly a thousand pages of restricted documents newly released under the Freedom of Information Act. The surveillance system, called DCSNet, for Digital Collection System Network, connects FBI wiretapping rooms to switches controlled by traditional land-line operators, internet-telephony providers and cellular companies. It is far more intricately woven into the nation's telecom infrastructure than observers suspected. It's a "comprehensive wiretap system that intercepts wire-line phones, cellular phones, SMS and push-to-talk systems," says Steven Bellovin, a Columbia University computer science professor and longtime surveillance expert. DCSNet is a suite of software that collects, sifts and stores phone numbers, phone calls and text messages. The system directly connects FBI wiretapping outposts around the country to a far-reaching private communications network.

Hey, do you think they got warrants for all of these wiretaps under Attorney General Gonzales?

The EFF documents are available online here. I note our good friends at AT&T are helping the government by doing their part as well:

AT&T and the FBI

Take a look for yourself and think about the potential for abuse and how much you’ve grown to trust our government (or its inheritors in the future, for that matter). Now you know why I’ve begun to enter the “Crank” stage of considering encryption and the like for basic things like e-mail or web surfing.

I am happy to note (sarcasm here) that the FBI makes both excellent use of Powerpoint in their materials and of the Windows operating system in these efforts.

Read the entire story with much more detail at http://www.wired.com/politics/security/news/2007/08/wiretap.