Meet the FBI’s secret cellphone surveillance team

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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A batch of newly released documents reveal fresh details about the FBI’s cellphone monitoring activities.

A recent 400 page FBI document dump in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Electronic Privacy Information Center unearthed the existence of a “a specialist cellphone surveillance group” called Wireless Intercept and Tracking Team (WITT), Slate reports.

While the team’s activities are certainly clandestine, the team’s existence is not entirely secret. The documents, however, according to Slate, show that the team came into existence as early as 2003.

In April, Wired reported that the San Francisco FBI’s WITT worked with agents from the FBI, IRS, and the U.S. Postal Service on an investigation in July 2008 in attempting to locate accused identity thief Daniel David Rigmaiden.

The WITT helped the agents “conduct the real-time tracking,” reported Wired.

The team is also mentioned in the Department of Justice’s, “A FBI Program Resource, and Service Guide for Chiefs and Sheriffs,” hosted on the National Sheriff’s Association website.

Sheriffs are told in the guide that “experienced and highly trained FBI Field Office Agents are available to assist state, local, and campus law enforcement partners with historical cell data, conduct in-depth historical cell phone analysis, as well as track cell phone data in real time to identify locations of a suspect(s)’ or a victim(s)’ cell phone.”

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