Congress Looks Into FBI's Telecom Spying

Pipeline for intercepted data raises red flags
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2008 12:00 PM CDT
Eliot Spitzer was taken down thanks to a variety of post-9-11 security measures, including data transfer information   (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin, FILE)
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(Newser) – Congressional Democrats are questioning the cozy relationship between the FBI and telecom companies, the Washington Post reports. Thanks to a 1994 law, all telecom firms have “Quantico circuits”—little-known electronic lines straight to the FBI technology office in Virginia. Telecom technicians can instantly send data over those lines, telling investigators who’s calling whom and from where.

Three Congressmen are demanding more information about the Quantico circuits, citing possible privacy concerns and one security consultant’s testimony that they allow “unfettered” access to a carrier’s network. But the Bush administration wants to make circuit transfers faster and more detailed, including the beginning and end of any communication. “It’s full tracking capability,” said one industry lawyer. “It’s a scary proposition.”