FBI spyware documents show depth of surveillance

Electronic Frontier Foundation obtained documents after a FOIA request

The FBI uses special spyware to track the online actions of suspects, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has learned in secret documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

According to the documents obtained by EFF, the FBI uses a Web bug, known as a Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier (CIPAV), that continuously logs data whenever the targeted computer is online.

The existence of the spyware was first reported by Wired magazine in 2007 and prompted the foundation to file the FOIA request.

Some of the information collected by CIPAV includes IP addresses, Media Access Control addresses, lists of running programs, user names, registered company and computer names and operating system types, versions and serial numbers.

Initially, the FBI wasn’t certain which legal process was needed for spyware authorization but it has since developed a two-part process for deployment – a search warrant to authorize tapping into the computer followed by a Pen/Trap order to authorize the surveillance. 

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