FBIsearches FBI petitions for more access to your private real time data

It is common knowledge that the FBI and other police agencies can gain access to our private data with court issued search warrants or NSLs; the FBI says they need access to our 'real-time' Internet data.  The real-time data FBI wants includes real time chat, Skype, Google services and cloud-based services like Dropbox.

The FBI says they are behind the times and need real-time data being transmitted in order to catch modern day criminals.  While we all know the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) can issue a search warrant for Internet data.  The real problem for the agency is that by the time they get the information it may simply be too late to use it.

Andrew Weissmann, who serves as the general counsel for the FBI, recently spoke before the American Bar Association (ABA) and told the listeners that the FBI will be seeking greater power to monitor Internet data in real-time.  This real-time data would include chat programs, Skype, Google services and any manner of cloud-based data storage.

Speaking to the ABA’s Standing Committee on Law & National Security program, Weissmann told the crowd that the FBI is using 20th century style intelligence gathering in a 21st century world.

This new age of new technology, according to Weissmann, is hindering the FBI’s ability to catch criminals that are committing major cyber crimes, which can include attacks on major financial networks.  “It is now possible to commit crimes in seconds that would have really taken years of planning to do in the real, 3-D physical world,” Weissmann said.

Weissmann further explained that current search warrant regulations actually hinders the FBI's ability to access information because the laws do not help solve the problem of dealing with geography or victim protection in the cyber world.  

Citing ‘Rule 41’ of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, he said search warrant laws do not address how they are to be issued since a location is needed.  Criminals now hide in a non-physical location where improved and continually updated technology hides their every move.

“For a typical search warrant, you need to go to the magistrate, who is located in the place where the search is going to occur,” Weissmann said. “For most cyber cases, and there is one exception, that is not possible; it’s not a single location, it’s multiple locations, and sometimes you don’t even know where the search is actually occurring because you don’t know the locus of the computer in the panoply of cyberspace.”

In the very near future we can expect to see more bills brought before lawmakers in regards to allowing the federal government to gain easy access to our Internet data.  

It is clearly understood that law enforcement agencies need a greater ability to monitor criminal elements on the Internet.  There must also be a way to limit the amount of information a police agency can see without violating the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.