US: Establishment of Network Monitoring Department in FBI

In May of 2012, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) established a dedicated network monitoring department in Virginia – Domestic Communications Assistance Center (DCAC), the members of which include the agents and engineers from US Marshals Service and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The members in DCAC are responsible for proposing better technological approaches and solutions and intervening and monitoring the online communications on Internet, mobile telephone websites and IP phones. FBI officials believe that the development of the technologies will boost US law enforcement agency’s capability to monitor the communication over Internet.


DCAC, with the broad authorization from FBI, monitors all communication approaches which include the intercepting and decoding Skype calls, building special wireless monitoring hardware, analyzing mass data of mobile phone operators and requesting social websites to provide related data according to the court ruling. Another task of DCAC is to provide assistance when the states, local and federal police listen to and monitor the networks.


FBI requires the Internet companies not to object to new laws concerning the establishment of monitoring backdoor, i.e. the laws require the aids of social networks, IP phones, instant messaging, emails and other services providers for government’s building of network monitoring backdoor. FBI officials think that it is necessary to formulate new laws concerning the social networks, IP phones and instant messaging and identify the special solutions.


The idea to establish DCAC came from a proposal on network monitoring raised by the US Senate Committee, which decided to appropriate US$54 million to develop the latest and the most advanced network monitoring technologies. When lobbying the US Congress for appropriation, FBI was successfully helped by law enforcement departments favoring the e-monitoring. According to the Department of Justice, DCAS will be helpful to share the sophisticated technologies and methods among the federal, state and local departments of justice and will be welcome by the telecommunication companies which expect the standardization and integration of e-monitoring technologies. As for DCAC establishment, FBI received financial aid of US$15 million from DEA to improve the new e-monitoring capability. International Association of Chiefs of Police(IACP) also asked the US Congress and White House to provide support to FBI's network monitoring.


In recent years, US has been trying to strengthen the monitoring capability over the Internet and making efforts to improve the network monitoring and governance level. In February of this year, FBI Strategic Information and Operation Center (SIOC) recruited software companies to develop the network monitoring software by way of request for bids. The aim is that the police will have prompt access to information regarding terrorism, cyber crimes, emergencies and severe incidents through automatic scanning of social networks including Facebook and Twitter together with information from news websites like CNN.


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