Wednesday, July 18, 2007

FBI Unit That Lied To Get Phone Records Now Wants $5 Million To Pay Snooping Telecoms

Ryan Singel writes on Threat Level:

An FBI unit reportedly facing a criminal investigation for abusing the Patriot Act is asking Congress for $5.3 million in 2008 to continue paying three telecommunications companies to store Americans phone and internet records for years and to provide instantaneous access. The Justice Department has long been pushing telecommunications companies to retain phone and internet records for longer periods of time, and the contracts largely achieve the FBI's goals.

The contracts, which originally included AT&T, Verizon and MCI, were first revealed after the Justice Department's Inspector General put out a report showing that a key anti-terrorism office were getting phone records from telecoms with letters that included knowingly false statements. Verizon purchased MCI in 2006, and the identity of the third phone company is not public. The Justice Department has refused to respond to Wired News' open government request for the contracts.

The Telecommunications Data Collection Center now wants to pay each company $1.8 million annually to develop databases that keep "at least two years' worth of network calling records." Additionally, the funds would guarantee that each company would "provide a dedicated on-site employee to process the exigent lawful requests for data."

More here.


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