Trickle Down Intelligence?


The FBI recently announced some minor changes to policy that will allow the federal law enforcement agency to work together with the National Security Agency to “look into” Americans (for whatever reasons they deem necessary.)

So, if the NSA and the FBI are working together on domestic law enforcement, it follows that the feds would also be working closely with local law enforcement.

If you know a thing or two about law enforcement, you know that the FBI has an enormously poor track record in this area.

The Boston Globe had some great articles on this back during the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers.

Anyway, now that the tech-challenged FBI has hired a third-party vendor to hack the San Bernardino shooter’s county-issued iPhone, some are asking if the police will also be able to hack the phones or ordinary criminal suspects.

That would be gigantic “nope.”

“A technical option developed for a particular computing device may not work on other devices,” an FBI official said. “The effectiveness of these lawful methods may be limited by time and resources, and may lack the scalability to be a viable option for most investigations.”

But here’s what some might suggest—the FBI shares information like an Oxycontin addict shares pills.

And because the FBI and local law enforcement are both looking for high-profile arrests leading to convictions, the bureau’s unlikely to give anyone an advantage that might kill the “FBI Makes Massive Bust!” headlines.

There’s the pipe dream of “interoperability,” where LE agencies share info and intel and work together effectively, and then there’s the reality of “stove-piping.”

Throw in the commercialization of LE coms in general (see D-Block), and we’re no closer to effective information sharing among agencies than we were in the summer of 2001.


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