Print 76 comment(s) - last by Nemisisorama.. on Dec 10 at 8:53 PM

They can see us, read our emails, watch our IM conversations, and now even hear us whether we want them to or not

It seems as though George Orwell hit it the bullseye again when he wrote about Big Brother and the government's way of keeping track of the general public. It has been recently revealed that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has a way of tapping a cell phone and using the microphone to listen in on nearby conversations.

The method used for listening in on conversations held by alleged members of Cosa Nostra is called a "roving bug" and was ruled to be a legal method of wiretapping by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. The bug was alledgedly used on two Nextel phones. It looks like all cellular phones are vulnerable to this sort of wiretapping according to CNet's findings:

The U.S. Commerce Department's security office warns that "a cellular telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone." An article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can "remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner's knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call."

Kaplan further added that the functionality of the roving bug was in place even when the phone was powered off -- or at least when the phone looked to be powered off.  One possible method that the FBI used to tap into the two Nextel phones is by getting the network to install a rogue firmware update which gave the agency access to such features.

Such capability has long been rumored to exist in Motorola phones after it was discovered how the 9/11 terrorists used cellular phones to coordinate most of their activities.

Still there are some skeptics who believe that this method does not exist and that the FBI had to have physically planted a bug into the cellular phone to monitor conversations. But with the recent boom of PDA phones and devices that support custom software it was only a matter of time before hackers, or the government found a way to exploit similar features.

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By Goty on 12/2/2006 6:07:31 PM , Rating: -1
I know I'm going to get rated down for this comment, but my belief on this is that I don't have anything to hide, so why should I care if the government listens in on my conversations?

RE: So?
By Brainonska511 on 12/2/2006 6:10:43 PM , Rating: 5
Why should the government have a need to listen in on people's conversations without probable cause?

Who says you have nothing to hide? Maybe something that you do normally now suddenly becomes illegal? Maybe instead of just looking for terrorists, they'll start listening on people who don't like the government or are just of a different party affiliation than the party in control of the executive branch.

RE: So?
By FITCamaro on 12/2/06, Rating: -1
RE: So?
By joust on 12/3/2006 12:22:10 AM , Rating: 5
You should care because of the potential for abuse in the future. What if your employer gets a hold of such a system? What if one political party hires agents to 'silence' outspoken critics?

Some might respond by saying that tyrannus/abusive behavior will never happen here in the USA. I think that's a very dangerous and imprudent assumption to make. As citizens we must keep a vigilant watch against encroachment.

Allowing the government to enter the private sphere and spy on its citizens on a broad scale without clear and present danger is the first step towards tyranny.

RE: So?
By joust on 12/3/2006 12:26:29 AM , Rating: 3
Keep in mind, of course, that I am a conservative who supports Bush. I think his programs do have merit, are exaggerated in scope, scale, and impact, and are justified on a short-ternm timeperiod.

Despite this I believe conservatives and liberals alike ought to keep a constant guard on liberties.

RE: So?
By Tyler 86 on 12/3/2006 5:08:55 AM , Rating: 2
Here's to flexibility, concern, and justice served where justice due.

But forget not, lifting the blind-fold on our lady of swift justice has it's consequences.

Now it lies in the hands of our children, and our children's children, and so forth, to learn from what has been accomplished, and what has been damaged, and to take away what vengful abundance of authority has been granted in the name of our now-visionary lady of justice.

We can only pray that it does not fall on deafened or distracted ears.

Ya'll know the edumakashun system's gonna f*** it up... F***ing "So?"'ers.

RE: So?
By mino on 12/3/2006 7:07:20 PM , Rating: 2
Well, ask some of your older friends(if you have any) from the former eastern bloc what it feels like when gov snoops on its citizens regularly.

You know, the so much heralded FREEDOM (those countries paid for hugely by made-up economic crisis in the 90's) IS ABOUT GOV _NOT_ SNOOPING on its citizens.

RE: So?
By OddTSi on 12/3/2006 1:00:00 AM , Rating: 3
You're overlooking the hugely important fact that this was pre-approved by a judge. The FBI agents didn't do this "without probably cause" as you imply. Perhaps next time you'll RTFA.

RE: So?
By Brainonska511 on 12/3/2006 1:42:15 AM , Rating: 1
I did RTFA. Maybe you should RMFC. I was answering the first comment which stated (and I paraphrase here): "I don't mind the government listening to what I do since I'm doing nothing wrong."

RE: So?
By Shining Arcanine on 12/3/2006 9:07:48 AM , Rating: 2
Probable cause means that they have a reason to believe that something illegal is happening and thus do not need a judge's warrant. An excellent example would be if they hear screaming and gunshots coming from a building; they are not going to need a judge's warrant to break into the building to investigate, which is what is known as probable cause.

RE: So?
By Tyler 86 on 12/3/2006 11:23:46 PM , Rating: 1
Lifted from the Grand Wikipedia;

In the context of warrants, the Oxford Companion to American Law defines probable cause as "information sufficient to warrant a prudent person's belief that the wanted individual had committed a crime (for an arrest warrant) or that evidence of a crime or contraband would be found in a search (for a search warrant)."

Screaming and gunshots prompting immediate lethal reaction is to witnessing unaccounted-for containers handled by suspicious persons as warrantless probable cause is to warranted probable cause.

Different smell, same crap.

RE: So?
By Shining Arcanine on 12/3/2006 9:05:49 AM , Rating: 2
Who said anything about the government havinga need to listen to people's conversations without probable cause? If they find that they need to listen to people's conversations, they have probable cause, period. This like the police, where if they hear what sounds like a rape inside a home, they will break open the door, forceably entering the premises to investigate.

RE: So?
By UnFaZeD on 12/3/2006 9:07:17 PM , Rating: 2
"Any society that gives up a little liberty to gain a little security deserves neither and will lose both."

maybe the cosa nostra need to watch The Wire, and give up on cell phones altogether...

RE: So?
By ChoadNamath on 12/2/2006 6:26:34 PM , Rating: 5
How about a tap on your homephone? Tracking all the websites you visit (which is probably already done)? Why not install cameras in every room of your house, including the bathroom and bedroom? It's not about whether you are afraid of getting caught doing something, it's about the principle of privacy.

RE: So?
By HueyD on 12/4/2006 8:55:44 AM , Rating: 3
Project Echelon has been going on since the early '90s.

RE: So?
By feelingshorter on 12/2/06, Rating: 0
RE: So?
By yacoub on 12/2/06, Rating: -1
RE: So?
By feelingshorter on 12/3/2006 2:08:19 AM , Rating: 2
Well this is off topic but i must respond. Last time I herd on the news, an Israeli soldier can kill innocent people and get only two weeks detention. Last time I herd the news, the ambassador from Israel was caught lying. No buddy, if there is an animal that wants to hurt you, I question why we are putting it in a cage. You speak of religion as though Muslims is the only violent religion? Crusade? If you read the bible, it says that everyone who doesn't believe in it will go to hell.

The Jews have committed just as many atrocities as the Muslims. What I'm trying to say is that privacy is necessary for our safety, and not the other way around. I don't want anyone disappearing after discovering the "truth." Whatever that may be. There are tons of conspiracy theories about there how Jews are controlling this country and such. Lets agree to disagree but I feel privacy protects us more than the other way around.

Like I said, if there is a terrorist that the FBI needs to monitor, they will do it illegally anyways. What I don't want is some Enron or a World Comm witness disappearing and such.

RE: So?
By Chillin1248 on 12/3/2006 3:27:07 PM , Rating: 3
I hope you can put your money where your mouth is.

I live in Israel, and there is no law that says a Israeli soldier who kills a innocent person gets two weeks.... So maybe he didn't kill someone innocent, except to your political viewpoint? And which Israeli ambassador was lying about what?

Please show me all the "atrocities" the Jews have committed, I want some hard facts here, cause I have a very long list starting off with recent atrocities the Muslims have done to the Christians and other Muslims here in the Middle East just recently:

Or how about we take just three (3) simple days in Israel in populated civilian centers, sounds nice doesn't it? Not if your "peace loving 'Syria Palistina' friends have anything to say about it:

But I guess you have lived under the threats of rocket attacks and everything and fully comprehend the situation here don't you?


RE: So?
By rykerabel on 12/4/2006 3:10:25 PM , Rating: 4
so, when a car bomber bombs your guards, its a good idea to demolish peoples homes?

terrorist reaction to a terrorist act. you are no better than your enemy.

RE: So?
By nunya on 12/3/2006 2:44:34 AM , Rating: 4
I was with you 110% until you brought race into it, then you lost all credibility.

RE: So?
By MobileZone on 12/3/2006 9:15:43 AM , Rating: 3
Even worse. He's not talking about race, he's talking about religion and beliefs. That's ignorance to the extreme.

By the way, this phone tapping thing looks like old USSR, communism, anti-democracy and so on. A few years more and the US will be as democratic as China.


RE: So?
By mino on 12/3/2006 7:16:43 PM , Rating: 2
He was citing facts. Dot.

We may not like them, but that US heavily sponsors Israel(which IS a Jewish state whether we like it or not) IS a fact.

That this sponsoring does NOT benefit US is a fact.
That this sponsoring has its reasons, some of them undisputed is a fact.

RE: So?
By Chillin1248 on 12/3/2006 11:41:23 PM , Rating: 5
Fact 1:

Israel recieves $3 Billion a year in both Military and Economic aid. Saudia Arabia recieves $3 Billion a year just in military aid alone.

Fact 2:

U.S. gets no returns on aid to Saudia Arabia. Aid to Israel gets returned in the form of technology. Ever heard of Raytheon? Guess where that new Anti-Missile laser was developed? Guess who gave NATO the first look inside a MiG-21? Or how about all the details on the T-xx series of Russian tanks? Now name me one return from Saudia Arabia that you know of?

The U.S. sponsors a country like Saudia Arabia far in excess of Israel, yet I don't see you complaining about them; guess your second paragraph says why, cause they are not Jews while Israel is.


RE: So?
By mino on 12/3/2006 7:44:51 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't read second part of your post ...

Yes it does look EXACTLY like the policy our gov(Czechoslovakia) forced on its citizens in the 50's. Even the arguments - "imperialist agents" (now "terrorists"), "its for your protection"... - were pretty much of the same kind.

FIY it took the society 15!!! yrs to become aware of the direness of the system.
And another 30!!!yrs(AND with external help) to get rid of the system.
Also _average_ education level in the population was higher than is in the US now(no offence, just a fact).
Also no such effective systems as FoxNews were available to the gov back then...

RE: So?
By Tides on 12/2/2006 8:03:59 PM , Rating: 2
knowledge is power my friend and with all the knowledge comes all the power

RE: So?
By ira176 on 12/3/2006 4:26:43 AM , Rating: 3
A wise man once told me that total power corrupts totally.

RE: So?
By InsaneScientist on 12/2/2006 8:50:35 PM , Rating: 2
Admittedly, I don't really care if they listen to my phone calls, as long as they're actually confining that power to actually looking for people like terrorists. (Whether they are or not is an entirely different discussion.)
I, too, have nothing to hide....

This, however, irritates the heck out of me. So they can turn on my phone at any time they like and activate the microphone?
Presumably that means that it's sending the audio stream to the cell network, just like it does when I'm talking on the phone normally.

Well, I don't know what kind of phones or batteries they're using, but phone (with a full battery) goes from 6 days of uptime when it's on standby to a measly 3 hours when it's active.

So if they excercize their "rights" to listen in to someone on my phone for a couple hours, and my phone has already been on for, oh, say, a day... all of a sudden my phone has no power.

What happens then if I need to use my phone? Not 'need' as in jabber with a friend (though I like to do that), no I'm talking about the sort of need that occurrs when you're having an emergency. (i.e. Car died in the middle of nowhere, you broke your leg on a hike, if you're a woman... you're going into labor, etc...)

There are reasons that people have cell phones. Many will talk to friends on them, but most at least view it as a fallback if something happens: then can call someone, be it a friend, an ambulance, or the police... whatever.

Now you're telling me that they've effectively taken that security blanket and thrown it out the window?!?!?

I'm not saying that this will be common, but all it takes is for this to happen at the wrong time, with the wrong person, once, and they've just indirectly killed someone.

Forgive my little rant, but does this thought scare anyone else as much as it does me?

RE: So?
By MrBungle on 12/2/2006 11:26:09 PM , Rating: 2
It baffles me to think of how many people share this point of view. What's at stake with these kinds of issues is not "having anything to hide," but having the right to privacy, freedom from government intervention in your private life (eavesdropping is a form of intervention), and ultimately, the security of you and others around you.

While this may not offend you personally, this subject is not limited to you - and I think you should therefore approach it on a more macroscopic scale. Would you be comfortable with the FBI listening in on your spouse's private life? Your children's? Though it's a hypothetical question, where do you draw the line between privacy and the ultimate rule of law? Should every petty crime committed privately, that's audible to the FBI, be prosecutable?

What makes this particular technology so dangerous is not its practicality (there are nowhere near enough FBI agents to monitor the level of cell phone traffic in this country) but its power. Without proper legislation and oversight, this kind of technology could be used for just about any purpose against just about any individual.

RE: So?
By copiedright on 12/3/2006 12:19:38 AM , Rating: 2
The key argument is that even though you may have nothing to hide, without privacy you can be exploited more easily.

Information is power and every person should have a right to keep there private information secure to prevent people from having power over them.

RE: So?
By Nemisisorama on 12/10/2006 8:53:25 PM , Rating: 2
So hacking into my ex girlfriends email account to read her private emails because I am insanely jealous about her new boyfriend is a no no? damn.......

RE: So?
By msva124 on 12/3/2006 2:10:38 AM , Rating: 2
Because you are in the minority. Most people do have something to hide.

RE: So?
By shortylickens on 12/3/2006 8:12:30 AM , Rating: 2
Its a fair question, but if you really want to know why you should read things like 1984 and Brazil or heck just about any movie or book where the government has slowly strangled the will of the people.

And before anybody says its fantasy, keep in mind we are currently seeing things that people back in the 50's thought was fantasy.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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