The F.B.I. can turn on your webcam without you even knowing

mac_fbi

Not only can the FBI activate cameras on civilian computers, but the agency has been doing so for several years. That’s according to Marcus Thomas, a former assistant director with the bureau, who spoke to the Washington Post about the controversial computer hacking technique used by law enforcement in the United States.

Most webcams come equipped with an indicator light, which alerts users when they’re being recorded. However, the FBI supposedly has the ability to disable this feature.The tactic has been utilized “mainly” against suspected terrorists but is also used in non-terrorism related investigations.

Legal limitations placed on online surveillance have long been considered a hindrance to the FBI. Compared to the National Security Agency, the FBI has been extraordinarily vocal about its intentions.The agency’s primary goal in 2013, as stated by Andrew Weissman at the American Bar Association, was to expand wiretapping capabilities to include all forms of real-time online communication, such as conversations that take place over Google chat.

Valerie Caproni, a former FBI general counsel, previously outlined the agency’s concerns before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. “The challenge facing our state and local counterparts is exacerbated by the fact that there is currently no systematic way to make existing federally developed electronic intercept solutions widely available across the law enforcement community.
Caproni’s testimony included descriptions of two criminal investigations, which she said illustrated the need for increased surveillance powers. The first case cited involved a narcotics investigation; the second, the distribution of child pornography. Both of these crimes, while serious violations of the law, do not constitute a threat to national security.

New wiretap technologies developed by The Domestic Communications Assistance Center (DCAC or NDCAC), are implemented through the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a law that requires telecommunications carriers—including Internet service providers—to accommodate government surveillance by retrofitting their equipment. In coordination with other agencies, the FBI has continuously sought to expand the authority granted to it by CALEA.

The debate over state surveillance powers isn’t likely to end anytime soon. If you’d prefer to not get shy while standing in front of your appliances, you can always slap duct tape over your webcam.

Via: Daily Dot

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