FBI pursuing real-time Gmail spying powers as “top priority” for 2013

Slate: Despite the pervasiveness of law enforcement surveillance of digital communication, the FBI still has a difficult time monitoring Gmail, Google Voice, and Dropbox in real time. But that may change soon, because the bureau says it has made gaining more powers to wiretap all forms of Internet conversation and cloud storage a “top priority” this year.

Last week, during a talk for the American Bar Association in Washington, D.C., FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann discussed some of the pressing surveillance and national security issues facing the bureau. He gave a few updates on the FBI’s efforts to address what it calls the “going dark” problem — how the rise in popularity of email and social networks has stifled its ability to monitor communications as they are being transmitted. It’s no secret that under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the feds can easily obtain archive copies of emails. When it comes to spying on emails or Gchat in real time, however, it’s a different story.

That’s because a 1994 surveillance law called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act only allows the government to force Internet providers and phone companies to install surveillance equipment within their networks. But it doesn’t cover email, cloud services, or online chat providers like Skype. Weissmann said that the FBI wants the power to mandate real-time surveillance of everything from Dropbox and online games (“the chat feature in Scrabble”) to Gmail and Google Voice. “Those communications are being used for criminal conversations,” he said. [Continue reading…]

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1 thought on “FBI pursuing real-time Gmail spying powers as “top priority” for 2013

  1. Norman

    Doesn’t the N.S.A. already do this? Why does the F.B.I. need to do this, especially to the everyday person? All things considered, IMO, the various Government agencies have been taken over by “Perverts”. This crap of having to listen/read everything, goes beyond the common sense. We are being treated as if we were criminals, up to no good, but all these agencies let those real criminals go free. They aren’t satisfied with searching “babies/grannies diapers, now they want to stick their noses into everything else. Our country has sunk to the lowest depths imaginable, how sick can it get?

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