TECH
04/12/2013 04:44 pm ET | Updated Apr 12, 2013

FBI Wants $41 Million Boost To Cyber Monitoring Capabilities

WASHINGTON -- The FBI has requested more than $41 million to improve the bureau’s ability to collect and analyze cyber information and address “critical gaps” in its capability to monitor web activities.

As part of an overall $86 million budget request for a "Next Generation Cyber Initiative," the FBI wants to hire 36 employees, including 10 agents, to improve its cyber collection and analysis capabilities. The justification for that $41 million request, which includes over $33 million in nonpersonnel spending, was submitted in a classified report to Congress as part of the bureau’s 2014 budget request.

The FBI said it would use the new initiative to “help promote a whole of government approach to cybersecurity, as well as address critical gaps in the FBI’s current ability to investigate computer intrusions and identify, mitigate, and disrupt cyber threat actors."

The FBI has long had concerns that new technologies are not “wiretap friendly” and create blind spots for law enforcement when targets use certain methods of communication. Last year, the FBI privately pressured Internet companies to create backdoors for government surveillance.

A spokeswoman referred The Huffington Post to an FBI official's testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security in September, which said the agency must ensure its ability to obtain communication under a court order wasn’t eroded.

“The increasingly mobile, complex, and varied nature of communication has created a growing challenge to our ability to conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance of criminals and terrorists,” Associate Deputy Director Kevin L. Perkins testified. “Many communications providers are not required to build or maintain intercept capabilities in their ever-changing networks. As a result, they are often not equipped to respond to information sought pursuant to a lawful court order.

“Because of this gap between technology and the law, law enforcement is increasingly unable to access the information it needs to protect public safety and the evidence it need to bring criminals to justice,” he said.

The FBI, Perkins testified, would be working with the law enforcement and intelligence communities as well as private-sector partners to “find a long-term solution to this growing problem” and “ensure that the laws by which we operate keep pace with new threats and new technology.”

CONVERSATIONS