Tags: War on Terrorism | cia | marshals | dirtbox | cellphones | terror | spy

WSJ: CIA Worked With Marshals to Spy on US Cellphones

By    |   Wednesday, 11 March 2015 06:40 AM

The CIA helped provide airborne surveillance technology to the U.S. Marshals Service that can identify the location of any cellphone in the country.

The existence of the technology was first reported last year but the collaboration between the CIA — which helped develop the $100 million technology that tricks phones into revealing their registration data — and the Marshals has only now come to light, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The CIA is legally prohibited from hunting terrorists inside the U.S. while the Marshals are charged with tracking down criminal suspects in the homeland.

The technology, dubbed "dirtbox," is operated from small fixed-wing planes flying over the country vacuuming up cellphone signals by mimicking cellphone towers, and tricks cellphones into revealing their unique registration. Telephone data that is not suspect is "let go," officials say, as the system concentrates on "sought after" numbers.

The technology is capable of pinpointing the location of a phone authorities are searching for within a couple of yards, according to the Journal.

The high-tech collaboration between the CIA, which is barred from conducting most types of operations on U.S. soil, and domestic law enforcement concerns civil libertarians and lawmakers.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said that the Justice Department has some explaining to do about "the legal authority agencies obtain prior to deploying these tools, the specific information they are giving to judges when requesting to use them, and what policies are in place to ensure the civil liberties of innocent Americans are protected," the Journal reported.

The Marshals Service is part of the Justice Department.

Andrew Crocker of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said that the technology raised "a lot of privacy concerns in something this widespread, and those concerns only increase if we have an intelligence agency coordinating with them," the Journal reported.

The foundation has filed suit seeking details of the airborne technology surveillance program, the Journal reported.

The Justice Department refused to confirm the existence of the "dirtbox" technology on the grounds that talking about it would help criminals and terrorists, the Journal reported.

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The Central Intelligence Agency helped provide airborne surveillance technology to the U.S. Marshals Service that can identify the location of any cellphone in the country.
cia, marshals, dirtbox, cellphones, terror, spy
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2015-40-11
Wednesday, 11 March 2015 06:40 AM
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