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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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...

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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