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FBI Can Turn On Your Webcam Without You Knowing It

computer webcam fbiThe FBI apparently has the ability to take over your computer’s webcam and your smartphone’s camera and use them to spy on you, according to recent reports. To make matters worse, you probably wouldn’t realize that you are under surveillance via your own devices, because the agency also can watch without your webcam light even turning on.

The FBI has had the ability to take over webcams, microphones and camera phones for several years, The Washington Post discovered. The Post’s reporters stumbled upon the bureau’s capabilities when they were working on a story about the bureau’s search for a man in Iran who was making threats against Americans.

The story uncovered some frightening FBI capabilities euphemistically called “network investigative techniques.” The techniques utilize software that enables the bureau to turn computers and smartphones into surveillance devices.

What the FBI’s network investigative techniques can do

Some of the capabilities that network investigative techniques give the FBI and other law enforcement agencies include:

  • The ability to covertly upload files from computers and other devices including photographs, documents and stored emails.
  • The ability to activate cameras and microphones that are connected to computers.
  • The ability to collect real time photographs and videos from the cameras activated.
  • The ability to record sound using microphones.
  • The ability to send malware via email and instant messages that can literally take over smartphones and computers.

The FBI says it only uses this technology when it gets a warrant from a federal judge, although the federal judges may not understand what the FBI is doing or the true scope of the surveillance.

Discover The Only Way Back To True Freedom And Liberty In America…

The FBI has tried to use network investigative techniques in cases that don’t involve terrorism or national security. The Wall Street Journal reported that the bureau tried to deploy such surveillance in a bank fraud investigation, but Federal Judge Stephen W. Smith said the techniques could violate the Fourth Amendment’s ban on warrantless searches and seizures.

“We have transitioned into a world where law enforcement is hacking into people’s computers and we have never had public debate,” Christopher Soghoian, the chief technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told The Washington Post. “Judges are having to make up these powers as they go along.”

The Post didn’t say whether other federal law enforcement agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) or the IRS have access to network investigative techniques.

Surveillance for sale

The FBI’s surveillance is just the tip of the iceberg. There are now a number of companies actively selling software with capabilities similar to the network investigative techniques to law enforcement. One of these, FinSpy, from the British Gamma Group International, can actually take over smartphones and other devices and turn them into surveillance tools.

Gamma Group will train law enforcement officers how to use its technology. There’s even a marketing video uncovered by WikiLeaks that shows exactly how FinSpy, sometimes called FinFisher, can be used to spy on suspects.

Private hackers also can also get their hands on such technology. As Off The Grid News reported, there was a terrifying case in Texas in which a man hacked into a baby monitor and used it to make sexually explicit remarks to a two-year old girl.

How to protect yourself from video surveillance

There are a few steps that you can take to protect yourself from this kind of surveillance. Fortunately they don’t involve any sort of advanced technology.

Here’s to protect yourself from webcam surveillance:

  • Simply don’t use a webcam.
  • Put a piece of tape over the webcam when not in use. It’s an easy and cheap fix.
  • If you use a webcam for activities such as Skype, simply unplug it when you’re not using it.
  • Get a computer that does not have a webcam.

It’s easier to beat webcam and camera surveillance than you think. A little common sense can protect you from such invasions of privacy.

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