Cell phone cameras now authorized for recruiters

Pentagon’s Spies Want to Upgrade Their Secured Cellphones

by ROBERT BECKHUSEN, Wired.com  |  published on April 22, 2013

The Pentagon has big plans for its spy agency. But first it’s going to upgrade its secret agents’ cellphones.

That’s the gist of a recent request for information from the cryptic Virginia Contracting Activity (or VACA), the public face for the Defense Intelligence Agency’s secretive contract business. According to the request, the DIA is looking for a company with the “ability to work and store classified information at the SECRET Collateral Level” to design custom “cellular phone point-to-point communication systems.” In other words, a private communications link.

It even sounds like the DIA wants someone to build it a bespoke cellphone. This is not for certain, as the request uses broad language. The agency states the contractor must be proficient in designing “custom packaging and advanced miniaturization for communications” – in addition to a “high level of proficiency programming and testing cell phones.”

Among other specifics, the designers will need to have “a high level of proficiency in the manufacturing and production of custom transmit systems” from the design and integration stage to programming the firmware. The DIA also expects industry to develop and deploy a “functional prototype and operational evaluation,” and to eventually train people how to use the tool for operations. An addendum to the solicitation is classified, but the agency says it expects to award a multi-million-dollar, three-year contract sometime in the fall for the project.

The “cellular communications capabilities” are “for intelligence,” the request notes vaguely. But this kind of project isn’t exactly a surprise coming from the DIA, which has increasingly shifted towards a kind of old-school spycraft under the direction of Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was picked to head the agency last year after heading up intelligence in Afghanistan and for the Joint Special Operations Command.

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