The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has shared its indigenously developed snooping technology with the United States Department of Justice. It has been reported that the CIA handed over technology developed by the organization to the DOJ for tracking criminals in the U.S. Homeland. It resembles an airborne mobile phone tower using covert mechanical and electronic equipment which are flying in the U.S. skies.
As per the report, the DOJ has stated that the use of such equipment has become necessary in the digital world today for tracing, following, and catching lawbreakers and felons. It was also clarified, that the DOJ uses this technology to trace and shadow citizens of the United States while trying to catch criminals. This sophisticated device used to catch the criminals across the U.S. has been developed by the CIA and the US Marshals Service of Department of Justice. However, it must be noted that these devices can also track and gather data randomly from thousands of other U.S. citizens. The CIA has decided to authorize sharing of its snooping technology with the United States Department of Justice referred to as dirtboxes by the officers of CIA and the law enforcement.
The analysts and the operators of this program are said to have installed the devices on jetliners flying between five major cities across the United States. This, they say would cover almost the entire civilian US population. These electronic devices then act as stand-in mobile phone towers and then record the distinct ids and registration details of various devices such as smartphones, tablets, and other mobile phones. It also records the unique IMEI code of each device. The IMEI number is of 15 decimal digits or the IMEISV number which has 16 digits is unique for every device ever made. It includes information about the origin, model, and serial number of the device.
At this moment, information about the snooping device of CIA is scarce. It logs the details of mobile phones that are owned by civilians living in the U.S. Reportedly, the device can also interrupt connectivity during phone calls or with the network. The report stated that the CIA has authorized sharing of a number of its devices developed indigenously for responsible use by other law enforcement agencies in the United States. However, it would not keep a watch on the manner in which these devices are used by other agencies.
The Department of Justice and the CIA have informed that the use of such devices would be in accordance with the federal law. They also said that the Marshals Service abilities are allowed after approval from the court. The CIA further clarified that it does not indulge in any kind of snooping or espionage activities inside the U.S. homeland.
Litigation has been filed against this transfer of technology from the CIA to the Department of Justice in a U.S. court by Electronic Frontier Foundation asking that more information be shared about the implementation of this program and the use of devices. The foundation has said that the public concerns about safety and privacy will increase if an intelligence agency like the CIA starts providing technical and logistical support to the domestic law enforcement agencies.
By Ankur Sinha