Contract Reveals FBI Paid Thousands for Network Data

The FBI spent over $70,000, according to the contract.

  • A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Vice’s Motherboard revealed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had a contract with Team Cymru, a company that collects online data.
  • Team Cymru collects network traffic from an internet service provider (ISP) by offering threat intelligence in exchange for network data.
  • The FBI used Team Cymru to obtain NetFlow, a protocol for gathering IP information and network data.
  • The contract between the company and the FBI’s Cyber Division was made in 2017 for $76,450.
  • According to the contract, the FBI purchased “Commercially provided net flow information/data” over “2 months of service.”
  • In September 2022, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) revealed whistleblower information showing that the U.S. Naval Investigative Services (NCIS) was involved in the “warrantless purchase and use of netflow data.”
  • NCIS has a subscription with Team Cymru known as “Augury,” a tool providing “access to ‘petabytes’ of network data ‘from over 550 collection points worldwide’ and ‘is updated with at least 100 billion new records each day,'” the letter reads.
  • The data stems from the government contractor Argonne Ridge Group, according to the letter, which reportedly has “the same corporate address and overlapping corporate officers” as Team Cymru, Senator Wyden noted in the letter.
  • “Government contracting records also confirm that in addition to NCIS, Argonne Ridge Group has contracts with U.S. Cyber Command, the Army, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Secret Service,” the letter adds.
  • During a March U.S. Senate hearing, FBI Director Christopher Wray claimed the FBI does not “currently purchase commercial database information that includes location data derived from Internet advertising.”
  • “I understand that we previously – as in the past – purchased some such information for a specific national security pilot project. But that’s not been active for some time,” Wray added.