Thursday, August 8, 2013

George Orwell was right.

I don't know any other way to react to this story other than to say that George Orwell was right.

From the Wall Street Journal:
"FBI Taps Hacker Tactics to Spy on Suspects" by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries and Danny Yadron
Federal agencies have largely kept quiet about these capabilities, but court documents and interviews with people involved in the programs provide new details about the hacking tools, including spyware delivered to computers and phones through email or Web links—techniques more commonly associated with attacks by criminals.
The FBI develops some hacking tools internally and purchases others from the private sector. With such technology, the bureau can remotely activate the microphones in phones running Google Inc.'s GOOG -0.49% Android software to record conversations, one former U.S. official said. It can do the same to microphones in laptops without the user knowing, the person said. Google declined to comment. 
Since at least 2005, the FBI has been using "web bugs" that can gather a computer's Internet address, lists of programs running and other data, according to documents disclosed in 2011. The FBI used that type of tool in 2007 to trace a person who was eventually convicted of emailing bomb threats in Washington state, for example.
The bureau has controls to ensure only "relevant data" are scooped up, the person said. A screening team goes through all of the data pulled from the hack to determine what is relevant, then hands off that material to the case team and stops working on the case.
Heh, you believe them, right?!