FBI ordered to disclose “Going Dark” surveillance program

Law enforcement officials privately complain they are running into cases where criminals are using online communication tools that aren’t wiretap-able in real-time, because the provider had not built in that capability or was not required to build the backdoor.

The FBI has been pushing to get more powers to wiretap newer digital forms of communication — some of which are supposed to be encrypted end-to-end — for quite some time. It’s been working with various companies to try to get backdoors, while also pushing for legislation to compel companies to comply.

It is known that the FBI has a program called “Going Dark” to tap digital communications.

A federal judge ordered the FBI to disclose more information about its “Going Dark”  surveillance program, an initiative to extend its ability to wiretap virtually all forms of electronic communications.

Why shocking ?Because a federal judge just ruled that police can place surveillance cameras on private property without a search warrant and another federal judge quickly overturned a previous decision blocking the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has filed filed two freedom of information requests, in response to which they received damned little. Judge Richard Seeborg says the feds need to go back and try again.

FBI’s wiretapping system is robust and advanced, so request sought documents concerning limitations that hamper the DOJ’s ability to conduct surveillance on communication networks including encrypted services like BlackBerry, social-networking sites like Facebook, and peer-to-peer messaging services including Skype.

According to Cnet – David Hardy, section chief for the FBI’s record management division, had told the court that internal documents about a congressional briefing should not be released in full because: Publicity (adverse or otherwise) regarding any internal FBI development projects (e.g. National Electronic Surveillance Strategy), and legislative strategy to make amendments to outdated laws, that these congressional staffers, and DOJ representatives, may be requested to provide input on, may seriously prejudice their effectiveness in helping on other developmental projects, and legislative strategies…. These employees may have to give input on the development of strategy plans, like developing ways to enhance ELSUR [electronic surveillance] capabilities through legislative amendments… The publicity associated with the release of these congressional staffers involved with an FBI developmental project could trigger hostility toward a particular employee….

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