Hacker snooping — think it’s just the Feds we have to watch?


No – he’s not leaving his badge number

❝ …Many members of the public first became aware of the FBI’s interest in hacking in February, when the bureau and Apple battled over a locked iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters. That spat ended abruptly when the FBI announced it had hacked into the iPhone without Apple’s assistance…

❝ The present debate around law enforcement hacking is, for good reason, focused mostly on the FBI. At present, the most sophisticated law enforcement hacking capabilities belong to the federal government and remain classified. And although state and local police certainly investigate some serious crimes within their jurisdictions, the FBI routinely handles serious crimes — child pornography, human trafficking, financial crime resulting in the loss of millions of dollars. By many measures, the gravity of the crimes the FBI investigates makes it understandable that when we consider extraordinary hacking measures used by law enforcement, we would start with the FBI.

❝ But law enforcement hacking is not just a matter for the feds, thanks to two trends in particular.

First, just like law-abiding citizens, criminals have access to legal services that allow them to encrypt communications, browse privately, and otherwise minimize their digital footprints. Smartphone encryption frequently prevents crime, but as these tools become easier to use and the commercial default, it isn’t difficult to imagine that criminals—even those who aren’t technologically sophisticated — will use them, too.

Second, state and local police departments are very interested in hacking capabilities that could, as they see it, improve their ability to fight crime. Leaked emails from the past several years show that law enforcement agencies around the country have received demonstrations of spyware being sold by the controversial Italian-based company Hacking Team, whose mission is to “provide effective, easy-to-use offensive technology to the worldwide law enforcement and intelligence communities.” Hacking Team boasts of software that helps law enforcement “hack into [their] targets with the most advanced infection vectors available.”

❝ The federal government is also sharing cybercrime-related knowledge with state and local police departments. The National Computer Forensics Institute, a federally funded center, is “committed to training state and local officials in cyber crime investigations” and offers tuition-free education on many elements of policing in a high-tech crime era. And after unlocking the San Bernardino iPhone, the FBI hastened to assure its local partners that it would share technical assistance whenever possible.

RTFA for details. Reflect upon your local coppers being as likely – more likely? – than the Feds to consider Free Speech a crime. They can expect the range of political fools from Trumpkins to FuzzyWhigs to back them up. Many of America’s conservatives look at the Bill of Rights as a failed experiment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s