Pete Ashdown, the CEO of small Utah ISP XMission, says that in 2010 he received a Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) warrant that allowed the federal government to monitor the Internet activity of one of his customers. Ashdown was also given a gag order, preventing him from talking about key details relating to the warrant. In an article on BuzzFeed, he explained how the government “wanted to come in and put in equipment on my network to monitor a single customer.” Federal agents came in and set up a duplicate port that tapped into the customer’s traffic and allowed the government to see everything the person sent and received. The executive noted that the ending result was “a little box in our systems room that was capturing all the traffic to this customer.”
Naturally, employees were curious about the random black box. Ashdown couldn’t reveal details, however, and said that it was something he was “dealing with.” The box was in place for nine months, after which time Ashdown doesn’t believe any related arrests were made.
The executive revealed that his company has “received lots of federal requests,” adding that he doesn’t think people realize “just how much information is transmitted in the clear on the Internet.” While he isn’t against federal agents monitoring suspected criminals, Ashbown believes that the FISA court should be a public one that after a set period of time releases its documents to the public domain to allow citizens to audit the government’s spying practices.