Here’s What Happens When the Feds Monitor Someone’s Internet Activity

Former Democratic Senate candidate and CEO of XMission, Pete Ashdown, continues to speak out about the NSA monitoring of his customers.

BuzzFeed talks with Ashdown, who tells the story about what happened when he got a Foreign Intelligence Service Act warrant in 2010, which let the federal government monitor one of his customers’ internet activity.

They came in and showed me
papers. It was a court order from the FISC (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court) for the intercept, with the agent’s name… and the court’s information. I think it was three or four pages of text. They wouldn’t let met me copy them. They let me take notes in regards to technical aspects of what they wanted to do.

We had to facilitate them to set up a duplicate port to tap in to monitor that customer’s traffic. It was a 2U (two-unit) PC that we ran a mirrored ethernet port to.

[What we ended up with was] a little box in our systems room that was capturing all the traffic to this customer. Everything they were sending and receiving.

I didn’t facilitate the install at the time; another engineer, who no longer works for me, did. I’m not sure it had any access to the internet, so they could manage it remotely, but if they requested that, we would have facilitated them. I’m sure it was just capturing the entire stream to hard disk for later analysis. After the initial install, they didn’t come in again until it was removed.

It was open ended. I called six months into it and said, “How long is this going to go on?” and they said, “I don’t know.” I went on for nine months. If it were still there, I would have probably smashed it by now. There have been no [related] arrests that I have heard of.