Government Surveillance: What to Do, What to Do?

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govThe CIA has been trying to hack into iOS for years. British and American agencies reportedly have collaborated to create a map of the Internet and Web users. The United States National Security Agency has, together with the UK’s GCHQ, reportedly stolen SIM card encryption keys from Gemalto. The FBI is frothing at the mouth over Google’s and Apple’s encryption of their mobile OSes. Vulnerabilities in Signaling System 7 telephony protocols let third parties eavesdrop on cellphone calls and intercept text messages, despite encryption.

Law enforcement agencies in several states in the U.S. are using Stingray devices to scoop up data from everyone’s cellphones within range, and reportedly are using private funds to purchase the devices.

And, for the third time, the U.S. government is trying to revive CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act. The latest version of the bill, filed in January, would give the NSA more access to Americans’ data and create a data-sharing program between the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense, without any external accountability and with exemption from the Freedom of Information Act.

Meanwhile, Google is fighting a proposed amendment to Rule 41 of the U.S. Criminal Code that might allow the U.S. to hack into computers abroad, GCHQ has used fake LinkedIn pages to target telecom engineers, and the NSA has forced U.S. high-tech companies to include back doors in their hardware and software.

President Obama has insisted — not quite truthfully, it turns out — that the U.S. government is not conducting surveillance on Americans. Despite trumpeting the president’s strong support of privacy, the White House has just come out in support of the renewed CISPA bill.

“Hacking is like a gun or any other dangerous tool,” said Jonathan Sander, strategy and research officer for Stealthbits Technologies.

“People who use it will argue that it’s the intention and the results that matter ethically. The difference is that murder is a well understood evil, and stealing information is still morally vague,” he told TechNewsWorld.