American Law Enforcement Agencies Have Been Spying on Facebook and Google Users, Here’s How

Facebook has been successful in a really wide range of ways, but one thing in particular that the social media platform has been quite successful with is collecting data and information about billions of people all around the world. Most major tech companies, Google included, have managed to amass this data, and most governments would definitely want to get their hands on it because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up giving them the chance to acquire information that they can’t obtain themselves.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that several American law enforcement agencies including ICE and the FBI have been hiring a Nebraska based company known as PenLink to spy on Facebook and Google users through wiretapping. Some people may have heard of this company a long time ago when it helped law enforcement apprehend a man who killed his wife and child, but their journey has changed quite a bit since then.

The way that the company operates right now is that it helps law enforcement agencies in the US essentially spy on people, although they might justify this by saying that they only help out if the target of the surveillance is someone that is suspected of wrongdoing. This has allowed the company to earn around $20 million dollars a year just from their clients who are government agencies, and there are very few agencies in the US that haven’t utilized PenLink’s services.

This information is coming out of leaked video that was recorded at a conference in Washington where an employee of the company was talking about all of the services that the company was capable of providing. The recording was made in secret by the founder of Tech Inquiry, Jack Poulson, and it shows just how deep the operation runs as well as the high level of detail that is included in the information that police officials and other law enforcement authorities can easily acquire by hiring the company in question.

The company started out in 1987 and it was initially focused on sorting through and organizing call records, but all of that started to change when the internet revolution came into play. They started offering wiretapping services in 1998, and not long after that PenLink extended their wiretapping services to social media as well which has now become the most common way for police and law enforcement to spy on people so long as they have a warrant that justifies this surveillance in a legal manner.

One concerning thing to note is that PenLink can offer things like live tracking if the authorities require it. Social media companies are required to give information when they are given a warrant, but they are often slow to do so and PenLink acts as an intermediary whose sole purpose is to speed things up as much as possible. It is truly intimidating to know just how easily people can end up being tracked in this modern day and age, and it is a strong indication of how much information these companies actually have on their users.

H/T: Forbes.

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