A creepy report posted by Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima at the Washington Post yesterday has received quite a bit of attention for a nasty tidbit buried on the third page.
"The FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years, and has used that technique mainly in terrorism cases or the most serious criminal investigations..."
The disturbing bit of information is not a surprise, but it again calls into question the integrity of the federal government's domestic surveillance program.
The authors pointed out that in at least one case, a federal magistrate, Judge Stephen W. Smith, denied the FBI's request to spy on a suspect in a "bank fraud case" in Texas. The judge said that the use of such technology
"was 'extremely intrusive' and ran the risk of accidentally capturing information of people not under suspicion of any crime."
But that is just one judge in one case.
And unlike other spy programs such as PRISM, which the Obama Administration assures America is only used to target people outside of the United States, as reported by the NextWeb, it is clear that in the case of spying on people through their webcams, the FBI is perfectly capable of targeting "terrorists" within the United States, or those who commit "bank fraud."
It would be interesting to find out how many times this technology has been used, and how many "terrorists" or other "serious criminals" were captured.
This ability to spy on people through their webcams is not limited to the federal government, unfortunately.
As the Examiner reported in September,
"Hackers use Remote Administration Tools, referred to as 'RAT' to access their victim's computers. The hackers freely discuss their criminal activity in places such as HackForums, and post images of their victims on YouTube and online message boards."
It seems that if the technology exists, it will be used. The question is whether Americans are indeed willing to give up their civil rights under the guise of "safety."