“It’s no secret that under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the feds can easily obtain archive copies of emails. When it comes to spying on emails or Gchat in real time, however, it’s a different story, writes Ryan Gallagher of Slate.
From the perspective of law enforcement, the data that passes through email, cloud services and chat is difficult to monitor in real time. As Gallagher notes, “That’s because a 1994 surveillance law called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act only allows the government to force Internet providers and phone companies to install surveillance equipment within their networks.” For newer forms of communication, the FBI’s spying power is restricted.
Gallagher summarizes a recent speech by the FBI’s general counsel, Andrew Weissmann, and reports that the agency will push a proposal this year to expand their “Internet spy powers.”