NSA's Perfect Citizen Program: What You Need to Know

14/08/2011 11:16

NSA's Perfect Citizen Program: What You Need to Know

The Wall Street Journal released a spook from under the sheet this week when it revealed that the super-secret U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) was going to spend $100 million on program called "Perfect Citizen" to monitor and protect key elements of the nation's infrastructure. Here are some things you should know about the program.

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What is Perfect Citizen?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Perfect Citizen will create a system to monitor vital agencies and private utilities against cyberthreats. According to the NSA, the program is purely a vulnerability assessment and capabilities development contract, a research and engineering effort.


How will the program work?

The Journal reported that the program would install sensors throughout domestic computer networks, including those of private utilities, that would raise alarms during a cyberattack on them. The NSA said the program does not involve the monitoring of communications or the placement of sensors on any utility company systems. The program, it noted, is designed to give the agency a set of technical solutions that help it better understand the threats to networks that affect national security.


Is Perfect Citizen a power play by the NSA to intrude into domestic affairs?

The Journal reported that Perfect Citizen has caused concern in some government and military circles where it is believed to be a bold attempt by the NSA to carry out massive, automated surveillance of American companies and citizens. The newspaper quoted a memo from the main contractor on the project that said, "Perfect Citizen is Big Brother." The NSA denies that it is embarking on any illegal or invasive domestic activities. It vows that it strictly adheres to both the spirit and the letter of U.S. laws and regulations.


Who will be working on the Perfect Citizen contract?

The Journal reported that the Raytheon Company, of Waltham, Massachusetts, a prominent defense contractor, would be running the show. Neither the NSA nor Raytheon has confirmed that, and they're not likely to do so in the future because of security restrictions surrounding the project.

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