Feds form secret ‘Net surveillance unit

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is reportedly in the process of forming a “secretive” surveillance unit in Quantico, Virginia.

The Domestic Communications Assistance Center (DCAC) is slated to be staffed by agents from a number of federal agencies, including the US Marshals Service and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). 

According to CNET, the unit will ultimately be tasked with optimizing electronic surveillance to intercept online data transmissions and wireless communications. 

Unsurprisingly, DCAC’s mandate is currently defined as rather “broad,” as it covers everything from decoding Skype conversations to designing custom wiretap hardware. 

Most disturbingly, however, DCAC is apparently being structured to serve as a general surveillance “help desk” for state, local and federal officials.  

“The big question for me is why there isn’t more transparency about what’s going on?” asked Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group in San Francisco. 

“We should know more about the program and what the FBI is doing. Which carriers they’re working with – which carriers they’re having problems with. They’re doing the best they can to avoid being transparent.”