By Shane Nicholson
In our follow up to Sunday’s lapse of some core previsions to the Patriot Act, I pointed out that there are plenty of other ways the government can collect information on its citizens (that bit is nearer the bottom of the story).
The program focused on was the FBI’s use of front companies to fly planes over metropolitan areas, collecting video, photos and cell phone data as they trawl the skies.
Well, one such company identified by various media outlets has pushed back. Regrettably, as it turns out.
“FVX Reasearch,” which describes itself via its newly created Twitter account as a “Logistics Research Group,” threw up all the red flags one would expect from a fictitious company set up by a government agency to act as a front for data collection.
FVX pushed back late Tuesday night with this statement on their website:
Our dear valued customers and visitors, after monitoring activity on the following website,Reddit, we are shocked from the overwhelming amounts of email and phone calls being received.
Let us make this clear, we (FVX Research) are not associated in any way, shape, or form with the Federal Bureau of Investigations or commonly known as (FBI) or any governmental entity.
Our brand and identity is being used in slanderous allegations, and we are working closely with our legal resources to combat this.
-FVX Research Staff
Problem is, of course, that FVX isn’t real and that it is in fact a front that the FBI uses on FAA logs to fly data collection flights over U.S. cities.
Some sleuthing on the image sharing site Imgur by user pixelbat laid bare just how the FBI and (evidently) the NSA go about creating stock websites for beige companies to hide their activities behind.
Let’s start with FVX CFO Jennifer Weinstein, who also happens to be…
…all of these people. Not to worry, though; she has company in her multi-personality issues. Here’s CEO Dan Lindley:
…who also happens to be…
…all of these people. He’s even given recommendations to HVAC companies in Nevada!
It’s amazing what a made up company can do with stock images, isn’t it? But wait, there’s more.
If you look through the WHOIS data for FVX’s website you see that its registrant organization is listed as NSA.GEN.IN. Pop that into your browser and you get this:
So you run away, go back, try with the WHOIS data again and get an address in Bluffdale, Utah. And what might one find in Bluffdale, Utah you’re wondering?
The Utah Data Center! Otherwise known as the Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center, operated by the NSA.
Upshot: The FBI is using fake companies to fly planes around U.S. cities harvesting data and doing a really bad job of lying about it.