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News Link • Government

NSA to Spy on Critical Infrastructure, Says WSJ

• Ryan Singel via WIRED

The NSA has a new program called “Perfect Citizen” that lets it monitor the networks of utilities and other “critical” infrastructure to identify potential electronic attacks, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Under the $100 million program, the nation’s top spying group will embed surveillance probes in privately owned networks to look for suspicious behavior, the Journal’s Siobhan Gorman reports. The NSA, which has the dual responsibility for eavesdropping on other countries and defending .mil networks, has no authority to order companies to install its spying software, but cooperation can be achieved through a bit of arm-bending, according to the paper.

The NSA, part of the Defense Department, is getting around a broad prohibition against the military operating on U.S. soil by pairing with Homeland Security on the program. The move to expand the NSA and government computer-security defenses beyond the government’s own networks is unprecedented, but not unexpected. Nor is the creepy, Orwellian name “Perfect Citizen” unusual, following the trail blazed by the ostensibly defunct Total Information Awareness project.

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