The U.S. Government has decided to expand a program that scans Internet traffic in and out of defense contractors to include more private, civilian-run operations. Now more private sector employees will have their emails and Internet activities scanned. Those affected include big banks, utilities and transportation companies.
Under last month’s White House executive order on cybersecurity, the scans will be driven by classified information provided by U.S. intelligence agencies — including data from the National Security Agency (NSA) — on new or especially serious espionage threats and other hacking attempts. U.S. spy chiefs said on March 12 that cyber attacks have supplanted terrorism as the top threat to the country.
The Department of Homeland Security will gather the secret data and pass it to a small group of telecommunication companies and cyber security providers that have employees holding security clearances, government and industry officials said. Those companies will then offer to process email and other Internet transmissions for critical infrastructure customers that choose to participate in the program.
This is a great way for the Obama administration to use DHS as a middleman in this whole operation. This brings these types of intelligence gathering tactics closer to the average American, but it is far enough under the radar that most likely we won’t see a huge outcry from privacy groups asking about this program.
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