A multi-million dollar contract has some security agencies in the United States concerned over their ability to perform wiretaps and surveillance operations.
Since 1997, a database containing all the cellular phone numbers in the country has been maintained to ensure customers can change service providers without being forced to change their number. That list, which The Wall Street Journal reports contains roughly 680 million numbers, has been manged for nearly 20 years by Neustar Inc. Now, for the first time in its history, the contract for managing and maintaining the information is up for bid.
An advisory panel to the Federal Communications Commission is suggesting the contract be moved to a new company, Telcordia Technologies Inc., a Swedish-based company.
Neustar, hoping to retain the $446-million job, isn’t giving the contract away without a fight and has hired Michael Chertoff, a former secretary of homeland security, to assist it in holding on to the contract. Part of that includes a 45-page report to the FCC in which Chertoff states national security concerns have not been taken into account, The New York Times reported.
Chertoff says handing the contract to a European firm would mean security would be “obsolete in the face of constantly morphing threats.”
It’s not just Chertoff who is raising concerns, though.
Lawyers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement wrote a joint letter to the FCC citing their worries over the potential move.
“Law enforcement cannot afford to have a lapse in this vital service,” the letter, reported The Wall Street Journal, explains.
The FCC is to make the decision on where the contract will go, likely through a vote by the commission’s five commissioners.