FBI pays for malware so it can spy on us with our phones and computers


People familiar with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s programs say that the use of hacking tools under court orders has grown as agents seek to keep up with suspects who use new communications technology, including some types of online chat and encryption tools. The use of such communications, which can’t be wiretapped like a phone, is called “going dark” among law enforcement.

That, coupled with what I see as being implied by the information in the article; that it is already (an admitted) standard practice for security agencies to intercept and record the data, not just meta-data, of our communications and personal information, makes for a troubling thought.

If there are efforts underway to catalog and store data on anyone who falls under the broadly encompassing category of ‘suspicious’, then might not ‘going dark’ be considered suspicious in and of itself?

Just yesterday:

Preparing for a trip, I thought I’d download some news-podcast-related “apps” on my new tablet. I started with NPR’s.

When I hit the Install button, a little window popped up explaining the facilities the app would need to access. Most of them were common sense, but . . . my phone calls?

Now, ignoring the fact that this isn’t a phone tablet, why would a news streaming app need to know about who was calling me and vice-versa?

I checked a bunch of other news apps. Fox News, NBC, the local NPR station’s app. All required “Phone Calls” access.

For cripes sake, WHY?

Android’s app permissions aren’t very fine-grained. It’s so when a call comes in, the app knows to pause the audio and when you hang up it knows to resume playing.

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Yesterday had a story about how the NSA is redefining words like surveillance. Today beings news of the FBI redefining bugs as features.

“Whatta country!”

If someone would make a basic smartphone with a hardware switch for the mic, I’d buy it.

You didn’t explicitly mention the risks to all of us inherent in the undermining of the rule of law. If the FBI are abusing their power and refusing to be bound by their laws, it destabilizes the struggles for fair and honest policing worldwide.

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