FBI's Sought Approval for Custom Spyware in FISA Court
The FBI sought approval to use its CIPAV spyware program from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in terrorism or foreign spying cases, THREAT LEVEL has learned.
Officials processing a Freedom of Information Act request from Wired.com have turned up some 3,000 pages of FBI documents about the CIPAV, according to an FBI FOIA official. They date back to at least 2005. Some 60 - 75 percent of them are internal e-mails. Others are technical documents and legal filings.
Among the legal filings are affidavits submitted by the FBI in other criminal cases, and affidavits submitted to the secretive FISC, a court based in the Justice Department's headquarters that approves surveillance orders and covert entries in cases involving national security, including terrorism probes. The court was created by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
FISC hearings are closed and the decisions secret.
As first reported by Wired.com, the software, called a "computer and internet protocol address verifier," is designed to infiltrate a suspect's computer and collect various information, including the IP address, Ethernet MAC addresses, a list of open TCP and UDP ports, running programs, operating system type and serial number, default browser, the registered user of the operating system and the last visited URL, among other things.
That information is sent covertly to an FBI computer in Quantico, Virginia. The CIPAV then monitors and reports on all the target's internet use, logging every IP address to which the machine connects.
The FBI's use of the technology surfaced in July when Wired discovered an affidavit in an investigation into a series of high school bomb hoaxes in which the bureau traced the culprit using the program.
An FBI spokeswoman then invited Wired to submit a list of questions about the technology, but hasn't gotten back to us.
While the FBI FOIA official did not remark on the quantity or details of the CIPAV affidavits, it's likely the surveillance requests were granted Through the end of 2004, the court approved 18,761 warrants, and rejected only five. It approved 2,072, in 2005, and 2,181 in 2006, rejecting none. Five were withdrawn before a ruling.
In a rare published opinion in 2002, the court accused the FBI and Justice Department of supplying "erroneous information" in more than 75 affidavits.
It's unclear when Wired.com will see the FOIAed documents, and the FISC affidavits will almost certainly be withheld in their entirety.
Click here for our a list of unanswered questions about the FBI's use of spyware.
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