Governmental Surveillance Agencies
1 – Russia
Russia has at least two official surveillance agencies. One agency, the Federal Security Service (Federal’naya sluzhba bezopasnosti, or FSB) not only possesses investigatory powers, but even has its own troops. FSB also is authorized to conduct intelligence operations inside and outside Russia to enhance “the economic, scientific-technical and defense potential” of Russia. Thanks to regulations such as SORM (System for Ensuring Investigated Activity), FSB essentially has the power to monitor Internet transmissions coming in and out of Russia.
In addition, the Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information (Federal’noye agentstvo paravitel’stvennykh svyazi i informatsii, or FAPSI) apparently has unlimited technical capabilities for monitoring communications and gathering intelligence, including monitoring of private networks. It too has its own troops (estimated at 54,000).
2 – People’s Republic of China
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) created a Ministry of State Security in 1983. Not surprisingly, one of its chief tasks is to stop “enemy agents, spies and counterrevolutionary activities designed to … overthrow China’s socialist system.” As a part of this effort, a special Internet police agency was started in 1998, which has launched several cybersurveillance initiatives to track dissidents as well as conduct espionage on foreigners. In addition, Chinese authorities are planning to build more advanced Internet monitoring systems that rival those of the West, including the United States’ Carnivore.
3 – Germany
Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) has been engaged in intelligence gathering for nearly fifty years. Their official website is in German. Their official website is in German (Deutsch).
4 – Israel
Israel actually has at least three official intelligence-gathering organizations, commonly known as Mossad, Shin Bet, and Aman. Mossad handles surveillance outside of Israel, while Shin Bet conducts surveillance inside the country. Aman is charged with military intelligence. Israel receives its information from a variety of sources, including a growing spy satellite program.
Reports indicate that 2 subdivisions of France’s SGDN (Secretariat General de la Defense Nationale), the DRM (Direction du Renseignement Militaire) and the DGSE (Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure), have created a French equivalent of ECHELON, or “Frenchelon.” Some observers have charged that this system not only conducts surveillance, but also passes pertinent information along to French private companies. These allegations are documented in an article from ZDNet France. Further information in French (Francais) is available in an article from Le nouvel observateur.
5 – India
India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is tasked with “preservation of values in public life” as well as “ensuring the health of the national economy”. Besides national security matters, CBI also coordinates investigations with Infopol.
- United States – National Security Agency (NSA)
- United Kingdom – Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)
- Canada – Communications Security Establishment (CSE)
- Australia – Defense Signals Directorate (DSD)
6 – New Zealand
Government Communications Security BureauOther Surveillance Systems
United States – Total Informational Awareness
A project of the United States Department of Defense, Total Informational Awareness (TIA) is designed to gather personal data on a grand scale, including emails, phone calls, financial records, transportation habits, and medical information. Its proponents believe that by scanning and analyzing this massive pile of data, government agents will be able to predict and prevent crime.
Many specifics concerning this plan have yet to be determined, including methods to protect the security of the warehoused information and other prevent unauthorized access. It is known, however, that the U.S. government is already funding projects to develop tools that could be used as part of this system, including software to predict an individual’s behavior based on what that person does online. Reportsindicate the state of Florida (with Federal support) is developing a system (called the MATRIX) that is broadly similar to TIA.
7 – United States – Carnivore
This Internet surveillance program, which is currently being used by the United States government, is somewhat similar to ECHELON. Contrary to prior assertions, a subsequent government-commissioned review panel found that Carnivore is indeed capable of collecting all communications over the segment of the network being surveilled: “The results show that all TCP communications on the network segment being sniffed were captured by Carnivore.” Moreover, the default configuration is to do just that: “When turning on TCP full mode collection and not selecting any port, the default is to collect traffic from all TCP ports.” Carnivore is now being replaced by an even more powerful system, known as DCS 1000 or Enhanced Carnivore, which reportedly has higher capacity in order to deal with speedier broadband networks. The United States government also has issue
8 – United States – Oasis & Fluent
United States intelligence officials have developed two programs which many experts believe may be used to enhance ECHELON’s capabilities. One of these programs, Oasis, automatically creates machine-readable transcripts from television and audio broadcasts. Reports indicate that Oasis can also distinguish individual speakers and detect personal characteristics (such as gender) then denote these characteristics in the transcripts it creates. The other program, FLUENT, allows English-language keyword searches of non-English materials. This data mining tool not only finds pertinent documents, but also translates them, although the number of languages that can currently be translated is apparently limited (Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, Korean and Ukrainian). In addition, FLUENT displays the frequency with which a given word is used in a document and can handle alternate search term spellings.
9 – European Union – Enfopol
Enfopol is a special document created with the blessing of a special European Union council. It lists various “technical requirements” that essentially would make it easier for law enforcement officials to wiretap European communications networks. Efforts are now underway to implement these standards in the telecommunications systems of EU member countries.
10 – United States – CALEA
The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) generally requires telecommunications carriers both to modify their existing networks and to design and deploy new generations of equipment (including software), all to ensure that carriers can meet certain specified “capability” and “capacity” requirements related to the ability of authorized government agencies to engage in wiretapping.
11 – United States – TEMPEST
Reports have indicated the existence of another NSA project that is designed to capture computer signals (such as keystrokes or monitor images) through walls or from other buildings, even if the computers are not linked to a network. Details about this project, which is apparently codenamed TEMPEST, are only just becoming available. One NSA document, entitled “Compromising Emanations Laboratory Test Requirements, Electromagnetics”, was prepared by the NSA’s Telecommunications and Information Systems Security group. It describes test procedures for measuring the radiation emitted from a computer — both through radio waves and through telephone, serial, network, or power cables attached to it.
A second document the NSA released describes the agency’s “Technical Security Program,” which is responsible for assessing electronic security and providing “technical security facility countermeasures.” Two subsequent research articles how the blinking patterns of LEDs and changes in the light intensity of cathode-ray tube displays, even from a distance, can allow someone to eavesdrop on the data passing through a given computer.