Feds Can’t keep up with ISIS on Social Media

By Faye Higbee

“There are 200-plus social media companies. Some of these companies build their business model around end-to-end encryption…There is no ability currently for us to see that communication…We’re past going dark in certain instances. We are dark.” Michael Steinbach, head of the FBI’s counterterrorism division

In the recent investigation in the Boston area involving Usaama Rahim, officials say he was about to go “operational.” His original target was Pamela Geller, who organized the Draw Mohammad Contest in Texas, but changed his mind and decided Boston police should be his target instead. But the FBI is concerned that they can’t keep up with the volume of ISIS communications.


ISIS goes to “dark spaces” on the social networks in order to communicate with followers

“Even if we have coverage by, let’s say, a warrant or a wiretap, they can then jump into a message box and then to another platform that’s called dark space that we can’t cover and we don’t know what those communications are.” Michael McCaul, R-TX, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee

What is the agenda behind these remarks?

The statements were made before the House Security Committee. And what came after them was the statement that “evolving” technology is outpacing the laws that allow law enforcement to monitor those communications.

So the plan is….?  Shall we allow law enforcement to breach encrypted communications because of the threat of  ISIS? Will the fear of ISIS cause us to give up even more of our right to privacy?

Law enforcement already is capable of monitoring private chats on Facebook, Google, MSN, Twitter, etc. Few places are totally secure from government snooping, yet here we see that they are concerned about anyplace they can’t get to. What will their concerns foster and when?

ISIS is a threat, there is no doubt about it. But what are we willing to give up to chase them down? What kind of controls would be placed on this desire to have new laws? Something to think about…