If you weren’t particularly worried about privacy before, it may be high time for at least a little concern. An alarming new allegation in a Washington Post article about the search for a bomb suspect warns that the FBI has had the capacity to spy on people by turning on their built-in computer cameras “without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording” for years.
According to Marcus Thomas, the former assistant director of the FBI's Operational Technology Division, this kind of stealth spying is restricted to investigations that involve terrorism and/or the “most serious” criminal cases. But even if innocent civilians aren’t being targeted, just knowing that the agency has the technology to carry out this kind of spying is a terrifying prospect.
The newspaper also claims that the FBI uses malware to introduce surveillance software to targets’ computers. The practice was given the OK in at least one case by a federal magistrate. The same judge, however, nixed the use of sneaky camera spying on the grounds that it was “extremely intrusive” and could represent a violation of the Fourth Amendment.