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Most foreign governments don’t maintain an organization with the depth and breadth of snooping capabilities as America’s NSA.

That is not to say these nations don’t employ spymasters, just that they have limited budgets and hence limited capabilities. So what’s a poorish country to do? How does it keep pace with the technological prowess of the Unites States?

Simple – its bids out the work to one of its national companies.

An obscure federal contract for a company charged with routing millions of phone calls and text messages in the United States has prompted an unusual lobbying battle in which intelligence officials are arguing that the nation’s surveillance secrets could be at risk.

The contractor that wins the bid would essentially act as the air traffic controller for the nation’s phone system, which is run by private companies but is essentially overseen by the government.

And with a European-based company now favored for the job, some current and former intelligence officials — who normally stay out of the business of awarding federal contracts — say they are concerned that the government’s ability to trace reams of phone data used in terrorism and law enforcement investigations could be hindered…

The F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies said that while they had “no position” on who should get the contract, they did want to make sure that their professional needs were adequately addressed and that there would be no disruption in access to call-routing data “in real time or near real time.”

“Law enforcement cannot afford to have a lapse in this vital service,” the agencies told the F.C.C. in a letter.

The agencies expressed particular concern that a contractor with access to the phone system from outside the United States could mean “unwarranted, and potentially harmful” access to American surveillance methods and targets…

The phone-routing system grew out of a 1997 law that allowed cellphone and landline users to keep the same number even when they switched carriers. These so-called portability standards made things easier for consumers but created potential complications for intelligence and law enforcement officials in tracing phone calls and determining which numbers were tied to which carriers.

The routing network that was put in place, with Neustar as its administrator, was designed partly to allow the government nearly instant access to the data on where calls were being routed.

To us the most (inadvertently) hilarious aspect of this news item is the emphasis on the putative damage that would be caused to our own spy agencies if a foreign company won the phone routing contract.

It’s hard to imagine a more blatant admission that the U.S. government has spied, is spying and intends to spy indefinitely on its citizens on a daily for the foreseeable future.

Wake up, sheeple.
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