Webcams, a product that just a few years ago was a component consumers could purchase in addition to their home computers, are now ubiquitous across all technological platforms. While the inclusion of a convenient camera makes video chatting and photo sharing that much easier, it also gives the federal government another tool with which it can spy on citizens.
Although computer hackers have long been able to clandestinely access computer users’ cameras, a former Federal Bureau of Investigations official confirmed that agency is employing the same tactics to record private situations.
Marcus Thomas, who once served as the FBI Operational Technology Division’s assistant director, recently told the Washington Post that the bureau has the capability of turning on a person’s webcam without alerting the target whatsoever. Without even activating the light indicating a camera is recording, he explained agents have been able to access real-time personal activity without the consent of those being watched.
“Because of encryption and because targets are increasingly using mobile devices,” he continued, investigators have tried to stay ahead of the curve.
“There’s the realization out there that they’re going to have to use these types of tools more and more,” he concluded.
When whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency collects records pertaining to countless phone conversations in the U.S., many considered him a hero for exposing the practice. As it turns out, phone calls represent just one aspect of our intrusive government’s spying program.
Though officials have continually denied agencies maintain widespread databases containing actual phone conversations, one wonders why the FBI would need access to webcams if not to capture private conversations.
In generations past, Americans enjoyed a level of confidence that their personal data would remain as such. Technological advances combined with an ever more intrusive federal government, however, leave little room for blind trust today.
It is becoming impossible to completely disengage from the network of computers controlling our modern world, which means government spies can and will snoop on anyone they choose.
–B. Christopher Agee
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