WASHINGTON -- A communications circuit giving U.S. authorities access to personal cell phone conversations is a serious privacy concern, critics say.
The FBI is linked to a database that allows monitoring of the parties involved, the time, the place and duration of calls made on cell phones and a wants to expand those surveillance capabilities, The Washington Post said Tuesday.
A 1994 law mandated telecommunication companies build surveillance capabilities into their networks allowing the FBI to link field offices and its headquarters in Quantico, Va., to national telephone companies and Internet firms.
Babak Pasdar, a security consultant, said in a statement to congressional leaders he worked on a network called "the Quantico Circuit" that allowed "unfettered" access to wireless networks.
The FBI can then share that information with national law enforcement and intelligence agencies, like the CIA.
Modern technology allowing point-and-click access to conversations is a concern to privacy advocates who worry the ease of use is an open invitation to abuse.
Al Gidari, a lawyer who handles wiretap issues, said the expansion into "an automatic feed" of telecom data to the Quantico Circuit translates to "full tracking capability." And that, Gidari says, is "a scary proposition."
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