Ryan Singel has a long article in Wired: “Point, Click … Eavesdrop: How the FBI Wiretap Net Operates.”
I was pretty stunned at some of the numbers:
FBI endpoints on DCSNet have swelled over the years, from 20 “central monitoring plants” at the program’s inception, to 57 in 2005, according to undated pages in the released documents. By 2002, those endpoints connected to more than 350 switches.
Today, most carriers maintain their own central hub, called a “mediation switch,” that’s networked to all the individual switches owned by that carrier, according to the FBI. The FBI’s DCS software links to those mediation switches over the internet, likely using an encrypted VPN. Some carriers run the mediation switch themselves, while others pay companies like VeriSign to handle the whole wiretapping process for them.
This isn’t about a few wiretaps. This is a large scale surveillance process management infrastructure.
Go read it, and then call your Congressman for comment.