The FBI's "top legislative priority" this year is a push to make tech companies comply with agency wiretapping standards in order to keep up with the changing way persons of interest — including, perhaps, the Boston bombing suspects and their family — communicate. The latest legislative proposals coming out of the FBI's Next Generation Cyber Initiative would threaten the likes of Facebook and Google with legal inquiries and fines if they don't allow access to real-time social media updates, reports the Washington Post's Ellen Nakashima.
Currently, social networks either don't have the technology to conduct extensive surveillance on their users, or they have been able to avoid cooperating with officials. So, no, Facebook is not spying on the wall posts of people on watch lists. But that's mostly because the government's ability to link up with major communications companies (under a 1994 law known as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act) has not kept up with its escalation in secret wiretapping legalese (famously build under the Bush administration). Now the FBI would like to change that, because of what they call periods of "going dark," during which the intelligence community doesn't have the means to gather "valuable evidence" from Internet communications.