December 1, 2006 2:20 PM PST

FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool

The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.

The technique is called a "roving bug," and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.

Nextel cell phones owned by two alleged mobsters, John Ardito and his attorney Peter Peluso, were used by the FBI to listen in on nearby conversations. The FBI views Ardito as one of the most powerful men in the Genovese family, a major part of the national Mafia.

The surveillance technique came to light in an opinion published this week by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. He ruled that the "roving bug" was legal because federal wiretapping law is broad enough to permit eavesdropping even of conversations that take place near a suspect's cell phone.

Kaplan's opinion said that the eavesdropping technique "functioned whether the phone was powered on or off." Some handsets can't be fully powered down without removing the battery; for instance, some Nokia models will wake up when turned off if an alarm is set.

While the Genovese crime family prosecution appears to be the first time a remote-eavesdropping mechanism has been used in a criminal case, the technique has been discussed in security circles for years.

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."

Nextel and Samsung handsets and the Motorola Razr are especially vulnerable to software downloads that activate their microphones, said James Atkinson, a counter-surveillance consultant who has worked closely with government agencies. "They can be remotely accessed and made to transmit room audio all the time," he said. "You can do that without having physical access to the phone."

Because modern handsets are miniature computers, downloaded software could modify the usual interface that always displays when a call is in progress. The spyware could then place a call to the FBI and activate the microphone--all without the owner knowing it happened. (The FBI declined to comment on Friday.)

"If a phone has in fact been modified to act as a bug, the only way to counteract that is to either have a bugsweeper follow you around 24-7, which is not practical, or to peel the battery off the phone," Atkinson said. Security-conscious corporate executives routinely remove the batteries from their cell phones, he added.

FBI's physical bugs discovered
The FBI's Joint Organized Crime Task Force, which includes members of the New York police department, had little luck with conventional surveillance of the Genovese family. They did have a confidential source who reported the suspects met at restaurants including Brunello Trattoria in New Rochelle, N.Y., which the FBI then bugged.

But in July 2003, Ardito and his crew discovered bugs in three restaurants, and the FBI quietly removed the rest. Conversations recounted in FBI affidavits show the men were also highly suspicious of being tailed by police and avoided conversations on cell phones whenever possible.

That led the FBI to resort to "roving bugs," first of Ardito's Nextel handset and then of Peluso's. U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones approved them in a series of orders in 2003 and 2004, and said she expected to "be advised of the locations" of the suspects when their conversations were recorded.

Details of how the Nextel bugs worked are sketchy. Court documents, including an affidavit (p1) and (p2) prepared by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Kolodner in September 2003, refer to them as a "listening device placed in the cellular telephone." That phrase could refer to software or hardware.

One private investigator interviewed by CNET, Skipp Porteous of Sherlock Investigations in New York, said he believed the FBI planted a physical bug somewhere in the Nextel handset and did not remotely activate the microphone.

"They had to have physical possession of the phone to do it," Porteous said. "There are several ways that they could have gotten physical possession. Then they monitored the bug from fairly near by."

But other experts thought microphone activation is the more likely scenario, mostly because the battery in a tiny bug would not have lasted a year and because court documents say the bug works anywhere "within the United States"--in other words, outside the range of a nearby FBI agent armed with a radio receiver.

In addition, a paranoid Mafioso likely would be suspicious of any ploy to get him to hand over a cell phone so a bug could be planted. And Kolodner's affidavit seeking a court order lists Ardito's phone number, his 15-digit International Mobile Subscriber Identifier, and lists Nextel Communications as the service provider, all of which would be unnecessary if a physical bug were being planted.

A BBC article from 2004 reported that intelligence agencies routinely employ the remote-activiation method. "A mobile sitting on the desk of a politician or businessman can act as a powerful, undetectable bug," the article said, "enabling them to be activated at a later date to pick up sounds even when the receiver is down."

For its part, Nextel said through spokesman Travis Sowders: "We're not aware of this investigation, and we weren't asked to participate."

Other mobile providers were reluctant to talk about this kind of surveillance. Verizon Wireless said only that it "works closely with law enforcement and public safety officials. When presented with legally authorized orders, we assist law enforcement in every way possible."

A Motorola representative said that "your best source in this case would be the FBI itself." Cingular, T-Mobile, and the CTIA trade association did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mobsters: The surveillance vanguard
This isn't the first time the federal government has pushed at the limits of electronic surveillance when investigating reputed mobsters.

In one case involving Nicodemo S. Scarfo, the alleged mastermind of a loan shark operation in New Jersey, the FBI found itself thwarted when Scarfo used Pretty Good Privacy software (PGP) to encode confidential business data.

So with a judge's approval, FBI agents repeatedly snuck into Scarfo's business to plant a keystroke logger and monitor its output.

Like Ardito's lawyers, Scarfo's defense attorneys argued that the then-novel technique was not legal and that the information gleaned through it could not be used. Also like Ardito, Scarfo's lawyers lost when a judge ruled in January 2002 that the evidence was admissible.

This week, Judge Kaplan in the southern district of New York concluded that the "roving bugs" were legally permitted to capture hundreds of hours of conversations because the FBI had obtained a court order and alternatives probably wouldn't work.

The FBI's "applications made a sufficient case for electronic surveillance," Kaplan wrote. "They indicated that alternative methods of investigation either had failed or were unlikely to produce results, in part because the subjects deliberately avoided government surveillance."

Bill Stollhans, president of the Private Investigators Association of Virginia, said such a technique would be legally reserved for police armed with court orders, not private investigators.

There is "no law that would allow me as a private investigator to use that type of technique," he said. "That is exclusively for law enforcement. It is not allowable or not legal in the private sector. No client of mine can ask me to overhear telephone or strictly oral conversations."

Surreptitious activation of built-in microphones by the FBI has been done before. A 2003 lawsuit revealed that the FBI was able to surreptitiously turn on the built-in microphones in automotive systems like General Motors' OnStar to snoop on passengers' conversations.

When FBI agents remotely activated the system and were listening in, passengers in the vehicle could not tell that their conversations were being monitored.

Malicious hackers have followed suit. A report last year said Spanish authorities had detained a man who write a Trojan horse that secretly activated a computer's video camera and forwarded him the recordings.

See more CNET content tagged:
conversation, Nextel Communications Inc., microphone, handset, suspect


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welcome to...
1984 enjoy your stay. And I only say this b/c with current domestic surveillance program this type of this is probably happening without the warrants.
Posted by dondarko (261 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I place my phone is a special pouch.
That's designed to be sound proof. Also, bluetooth is disabled. So bluebug, bluestumbler, bluejack and bluesnark can't be run against it.

And my PDA phone has monitoring software running to let me know when it's activated for no reason.

There is no reason Big Brother (FBI or Microsoft) is able to bug you. If they can, it just mean you're too stupid to protect yourself.
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Too stupid to protect myself but...
I might be too stupid to protect myself, but at least I am not too stupid to check what I write before sending it for others to read. There isn't really a question as to which is stupider.
Posted by ronreck (1 comment )
Link Flag
Pouch Not Good Enough
We don't really know for sure what the cellphone companies are recording, and as another person said, with the various governmental abuses of our communications systems going on, it's not even clear they need a warrant, that a cop off-duty could be playing with these kind of capabilities, or the cell phone carriers are.

What we need is a switch on the phones to guarantee the phones are in fact turned off.

We simply do not know what they are recording. They could be recording position information for every one of their users (even while the cell phone is powered off) for all we know.

I wrote in to Motorola for a formal response related to the RAZR phones on this.

It's funnny... a couple years ago, the cell phones could really be turned off, but then all of a sudden they stopped being truly able to turn off.

Anyway - 3 cheers for for reporting this.
Posted by JoeCrow (83 comments )
Link Flag
i have a blackberry 7250 and i need it protected is there anyway you could tell me what i need to ensure my phone will either warn me when something i have shut off activates or if something is connected to my phone? like you have i want to lock my phone down my email is spun28@gmail
Posted by Linkoln (1 comment )
Link Flag
Where can a person find information about the monitoring software you speak of?
Posted by Arnwulf01 (1 comment )
Link Flag
A pouch? Would that not prevent your phone from being heard ringing if it sound proof? Why would I bother going to the extent of being paranoid of the gov. Why would they want to listen into my phone. They would have to be really fishing for them to start looking in random peoples phones for whatever reason. Think about it unless your doing something wrong why would it matter if they tap your phone. Not like they are going to call your spouse and tell them who you call and what you said if you were cheating. That would be a waste of money that our gov. wants for themselves.
Posted by Crdhustler (1 comment )
Link Flag
Positioning, sound and images ...
Could be used for industrial espionage, to blackmail/threaten/buy political opponents ...

BTW, even if the battery is removed, a 'supercap' or small Lithium would be enough to capture voice and store it to the generous Nand Flash that cell phones now carry (to be sent later, once the main battery is connected), so people (and not only executives) should not rely on that for *really* confidential talks.

Maybe it's time for security conscious people to go back to the good old 'receive only' pager.
Posted by My-Self (242 comments )
Reply Link Flag
already is used for industrial espionage
There are a few companies I've heard of already that require cell phones to be "checked" at a lockbox before entering secure areas if they even allow you to carry, regardless of on/off status, a personal cell during your work day.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
That's one of the reasons, among others I'm sure, that you're not allowed to have a cellphone within so many feet of anywhere the government processes classified information.
Posted by matthewslaney (1 comment )
Link Flag
Fake Mozarella Cheese
The FBI has been going after organized crime for like 50 years and we still have entire sectors of the economy, trucking and waste disposal to name a few, controlled by the mob. That either means law enforcement is completely inept, or they are just as corrupt as the people they are supposed to catch. Whenever I see a "war" that costs billions of taxpayer dollars and goes on for decades, I have to ask "Why?". Also,, why is it wh never hear about the FBI going after the Russian mob, or the Chinese mob, or the Vietnames mob. They are always picking on the poor Italian mob. This seems like discrimination to me. The ACLU should file a lawsuit.
Posted by CancerMan2 (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You are badly misinformed! In aprox 1982, I heard a young prosecutor named Rudy Giuliani boast that his office was on the verge of completely eliminating the Italian mob. His subsequent success in electoral politics suggests he must have finished the job over twenty years ago! There is no "Italian mob", just a neverending stream of unrelated incidents that require drastic budget increases and additional exceptions to legal restraints for law enforcement agencies.
Posted by jbzorg (5 comments )
Link Flag
voip even worse
VOIP phone conversations may be recorded easily too.
from <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

VOIP phone data open to hacking WireShark, detects voice over internet telephone VoIP calls as they traverse a network, while another, Cain &#38; Abel, records them [digital audio files] onto a hard drive, like an MP3. [The Register] (solution: only purchase voip services which include strong encryption.)

Corporate spies and career criminals will find ways to exploit this spy tool. bummer.
Posted by marycnet5 (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Now this is a sad attempt at spam.
Now this is pathetic. Spamming on a message board for your "sky-is-fall'n" e-rag. For your info, if real information is not anathema to you, Skype encrypts all calls. Even the US government is annoyed at Skype.
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
Link Flag
U something to hide?
The only bad deal about this is telling the bad guys like the mob and [al kyda] about it is just plain stupid and irresponsable. Leave it to us to spill the beans. Boycot? duh. Sound proof pouch. duh, if it is was on vibrate sure, that would work, but so does paranoid-no-more drugs. I completely like the idea. Anyone with anything to hide won't. Think of how great this would be to bust all kinds of bad people. But now many of them are on to it. How about christal meth drug dealers? The feds could clean house, not that it would go away. Now there is a paranoid bunch. I bet they will have thier phones in "pouches". duh
Posted by dribble69 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
That's Not What Nixon Wanted this Stuff For
Nixon didn't want this kind of stuff to spy on 'Al Qaeda', he wanted it to spy on other politicians, judges, lawyers, political opponents/etc.

And given that Cheney, and 40-ish or so of the current administration are ex-Nixon people, I doubt highly their views are any different in this regard.

If people are serious about getting rid of our terrorism problem, maybe we should stop using this stuff as justification to spy on U.S. citizens and start using common sense ...

... namely stop bombing cities full of innocent people and stop imposing pro-U.S. dictators on other countries for Exxon.
Posted by JoeCrow (83 comments )
Link Flag
That's Not What Nixon Wanted this Stuff For
Nixon didn't want this kind of stuff to spy on 'Al Qaeda', he wanted it to spy on other politicians, judges, lawyers, political opponents/etc.

And given that Cheney, and 40-ish or so of the current administration are ex-Nixon people, I doubt highly their views are any different in this regard.

If people are serious about getting rid of our terrorism problem, maybe we should stop using this stuff as justification to spy on U.S. citizens and start using common sense ...

... namely stop bombing cities full of innocent people and stop imposing pro-U.S. dictators on other countries for Exxon.
Posted by JoeCrow (83 comments )
Link Flag
Trust, privacy & freedom.
If you (still) trust the government and all the lobbying groups that feed them to rule and watch your every move, sneak into every conversation you have, silently take pictures of everything you do and do it in your best interest, then it's probably ok for them to monitor you 7/7 24H

I believe in small governments without unlimited powers. Sure they first go for real criminals, but recent history showed that when the technology is here and ready to be abused, governments will.

After all, if surveillance technology worked wonders achieving their stated goal, where would Usama be ?

I have a cell phone, but outside of my work hours, I rarely carry it, and, as previously mentioned, I'm looking for a one way pager, they're smaller than a cell phone and would cover most of my real (not perceived) needs.
Posted by My-Self (242 comments )
Link Flag
if it's in the news now, they knew a year ago already
It's been my expierience that by the time something like this hits the news, it's been known already.

Consider computer security; it's all the rage in the news now but a few years ago it was just getting noticed and for many years before that geeks where shaking there heads trying to figure out why it wasn't a consideration sooner.

Bump Key (modified key that "pops" any lock it fights without damage or traces; working modern day skeleton key) HOWTO and information has been floating around the web for nearly a year and yet only a month ago, the local news stumbled across it reporting like they just invented it and the sky is falling.

SR71 Blackbird flew in the 1970s. When it was reported on in the 1980s everyone ran around like it was built the Tuesday before.

The fact that this, as an espianage technique, is in the news means its been around a while and those on either side knew about it.

I wouldn't guess that this news article is a wakeup call to organizied crime (the professionals) though it may have a few lower level crime flunkies running around with tinfoil hats.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
I use to think idiots like you were just crazy. I realized later that you have been condition to desire to give up your freedom. Most are Rhodes scholars who feel like you.
Most Americans love their privacy. It is what makes America unique. Only an idiot trust their government that much. Governments are run by people who have their own interest at heart and their interest might not benefit you.
What if hitler was running your country right now, would it still be fine to give him that power?!
Posted by BattleAce7101 (51 comments )
Link Flag
Without anything to hide? The American revolutionaries had a lot to "hide." As if they were caught, they would be named traitors and hanged as common criminals. Your reasoning only works as long as the government and law enforcement lives up to your never failing image of them. Unlawful eavesdropping has happened a lot recently. Corrupt police is hardly a myth and Bush isn't just a bad president, he is a criminal.

And what they deem "criminal activity" will decide what you need to "hide," NOT what your logical mind comes up with. So if they one day decide people like you are a problem, you will have a lot to hide.

Even if you and I won't live to see a hopelessly corrupt USA, we must do something, or our children will likely see it happen. And if they too do nothing, god help their children.

The real problem is that it's easier to be complacent than to confront a problem, and they know our own psychology is their strongest weapon against us.

Lastly, just because something is a law, that doesn't automatically make it right, that is why we have a system that allows for the modification and repeal of laws. Scrutinize laws, the police, government, its not just your right, it's a nicessity of survival.
Posted by JohnnieCage (1 comment )
Link Flag
digital ham... "tor" - how ironic
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by freq (121 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thank you so much...
for making it more difficult to catch the bad guys. I can rest easy knowing that c|net is out there protecting the interests of the mafiosi.
It ranks right up there with CNN letting Osama know he ws being tracked by his cell phone. I'm sure you folks in the news business will be thrilled when there is another major attack on innocent people... it cures a slow news day.
Posted by El Kabong (100 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You're quite welcome
We're just doing our jobs.

Of course you intended to be snide, I know. But if the Justice Department didn't want this to be known, they should have moved to seal the relevant documents.

Instead, that is, of having them posted on a public court web site where journalists are bound to see them.

But somehow I don't see you actually thinking this through.
Posted by declan00 (848 comments )
Link Flag
pull harder on the bong, this wasn't news to police or crime
If it was in the news, it's been known by both sides of the issue already. The news reports to the public, not the people involved.

CNet provides a good mass-media report on technology but I wouldn't go so far as to say they are breaking new ground and informing the criminal underworld of something they happened to "miss" in passing.

My longer reply is to the first commentor on this line of though.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
Your argument is incongruous. The very fact that government, business and criminals could use this technology against innocent people means that CNet is potentially preventing an 'attack' on such people's privacy by widely disseminating this information.

Sophisticated criminals will develop means of getting around this new law enforcement 'tool'. Unfortunately, it's the rest of us, supposedly with nothing to hide, who have to worry.

In truth, I feel sorry for people like you who blindly believe in the integrity and morality of people in positions of power.
Posted by a85 (104 comments )
Link Flag
I'd point out...
While everyone would love for the good-guys to
use this to catch the bad-guys, the fact remains
that if the good-guys can do it, the bad-guys
can too.

There-in lies the real problem for me. This is a
toll for the good-guys when they can't figure
out a better way to advance their investigation.
But, for the bad guys out there, this is a
fantastic business opportunity. Even if you make
the leap of faith that government won't ever
abuse the technology, you know for a fact that
others will.

There's no excuse for such an easy method for
subverting the security of the average person or
business to exist. You should be upset by this
for the same reason you'd be upset if you bank
stopped using SSL or passwords to protect access
to your online banking.

I bet if you searched, you could find enough
information online to turn any of your friends'
phones into wireless microphones. Heck, maybe
you could even use it to dig up a little dirt on
them, perhaps even make a small profit.
Posted by FellowConspirator (397 comments )
Link Flag
Give me a BREAK, El K!
This is just one more example of the outrageous and blatantly unconstitutional usurpation of freedom, America, and Americans that accelerates daily. Thank God we still have people like Declan and outlets like CNet who will expose this information!

The ratio of potential "bad guys" to the rest of the technology-using public is insanely low, and CERTAINLY not enough to justify the wholesale destruction of the principles this country was founded upon.

When are the sheeple going to WAKE UP and realize that we are living the real "100 Year Plan" that drove Eric "George Orwell" Blair's attempt to expose it in '1984.' It wasn't fiction, folks, and we are living it today!

Do you realize what this technology does? It allows the GOVERNMENT (you remember, the one that's of the people, by the people, FOR the people?) to remotely put software on your personal cell phone, that YOU pay for, WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE! As if that isn't heinous enough, they can then LISTEN IN on everything you and everyone around you is saying.

This is not a matter of having nothing to hide, or even simple privacy. This is a matter of the most basic question of what the Government's legal responsibilities and limits are, and who sets them.

Go read the Constitution. I mean really read it, it's very clear. It's supposed to be We The People, but we're too busy taking phone photos and downloading new ringtones to care, much less enforce it.

If we don't take action, action is taken upon us. Tick, tick, tick...
Posted by eXecuTech (15 comments )
Link Flag
flag wavers
i live in the most powerful country in the world. there is no threat.

this country has solidified that, "absolute power corrupts absolutely".they have assumed powers they do not have under the written law.

they deny my God so as to not offend. who? they have claimed that they devoured my freedoms to save my children. that's my job!

they tax my home that they can't by the written law enter. they register my gun that they cannot take away. they want my guns so they can protect me. from who? give me my gun. i will protect myself.
they force me to pee in a cup to prove i am worthy to feed my children they claim to protect.

they have put cameras on every main road. they nullify my state vote by federal authority. if i protest they arrest me. they protect the flag and burn the constitution that it represents.

who are they affraid of?

appears to be me.
Posted by nedmorlef (49 comments )
Link Flag
Being in the private sector of network security, I feel it is the honest, ethical, and undeniably the right thing to do. Your comment is ignorant and Ill tell you why... you obviously have nil knowledge of this subject therefore you should not throw your broken penny into it. Secondly without exploits, countermeasures, and security plugs being exposed and implemented - ONLY the rich, powerful, and agencies would have technology to do what they want. The electronic communication act hasn't been revised since 1984!!! think about that and then think about moores law, draw your own conclusion. Ohh and ps The cia is not legally allowed to conduct surveillance operations in the states, yet it happens every day - Who is watching overwatch??? hah not you
Posted by godalmightytoyou (1 comment )
Link Flag
aluminum foil
Couldn't you just wrap the phone in aluminum foil to keep it from transmitting? Aluminum foil should work as a makeshift faraday cage.
Posted by pyranine (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
It's more efective
if you wrap it around your head. :-)

Who are all these silly people who think they ever had any privacy to start with? The only thing that's changed is the improved efficiency of the record keepers.

"Right to privacy"? It's all in the wrist. Give it a spin and see where you land.
Posted by El Kabong (100 comments )
Link Flag
Not Atkinson Again
Stop quoting and interviewing this kook. An expert he is not
Posted by shadow116 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
another Homeland Security threat
Since this "feature" can be activated remotely, it means that it is vulnerable to being hacked.

Yet another major threat to homeland security...
Posted by W2Kuser (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Another Homeland Security Threat
How do you see this as a "Homeland security threat"?

Individuals outside of law enforcement have been able to bug our phones for years, tap them in some cases, point directional mics at us, etc., etc... Seriously, how do you see THIS new one as a "Homeland security threat"?

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
Link Flag
Not exactly new
This has been going on for years and years. This isn't exactly new.

If your that concerned about it, stick your phone in a lead lined film bag. The bag may not work for film in airports, but it works great on cell phones in normal public areas.
Posted by NYRBERRY (4 comments )
Link Flag
It isn't about that. It's about other people...
like people you work with being able to get the upper hand on you and you going crazy because you can't figure out how they are doing it.

I'm glad this info was released. I can now take measures to prevent evil people from messing with my mind.

I've already turned off my Treo and plugged the mic. I have removed all cordless phones and replaced them with corded versions that have the line unplugged. Anything with a wireless mic is disabled.

As far as the Gov. listening in on me, that doesn't bother me at all because I am a law abiding citizen and have nothing to hide. What bugs me is the few ego-maniacal guys I work with getting it over on me and ruining my life by spreading what they hear around to everyone.

It makes sense now. Every physician I seen...eye, dental and regular...have, after seeing me on the first visit, when I return for a second visit do a complete 180 in their attitude toward me.

I work with one guy who thinks of himself very highly and who can't cope with people having any form of privacy. Invading people's privacy is like a hobby with him. He has several law enforcement friends that would have access to all the latest high tech equipment for giving him the upper hand.

If this article had not been revealed he'd be getting closer and closer to defeating me. Now that I know, he'll be lucky to get anything unwittingly from me.
Posted by lewismetoo (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't want to sound cruel, but you sound like a lunatic. From this end of the conversation you sound like a person who is extremely paranoid.

My suggestion is find another job if you have somebody that is that bad working around you. I say that because, assuming you aren't crazy, it sounds like you coworker is driving you that way.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
Link Flag
Regarding privacy:
Regarding privacy:

"Why worry if you're not doing anything wrong?"

Because it assumes a trust and faith in people who are presumed to be always honest, diligent and conscientious - many times in history shows that not to be a correct approach. It also assumes that our government or bosses, etc. always have our best interests at heart, and would never seek to harm us for their own greed or avarice or other reasons.

Some more and much shorter answers:

"If I'm not doing anything wrong, then there is no reason to watch me."

"Why is there a problem with privacy?"

"Because someone might do something wrong with my information, on purpose or not."

"Because the government is the one that defines wrong, and they aren't always right."

"Because the government is the one that defines wrong, and the definitions change."

"Who watched the watchers?"

Widespread surveillance is the actual definition of a police state.

"If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged." -- Cardinal Richelieu
Posted by skipdexter (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Why don't the phone makers simply..
put a mic switch in their phones that will physically separate the mic circuit effectively removing a mic from the phone. No mic, no way of listening.

The Treo has always had a hardware ringer switch though standard cell phones use a software switch. There shouldn't be any problem with incorporating such a mic switch, though.
Posted by lewismetoo (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Improvement on Lord Acton
Lord Acton would have been more accurate if he had added. "It is the corrupt who seek power." Though some of what Lord Acton says may be true my contention is that the majority of those who are corrupt weren't corrupted by the power they wield. They sought the power because they were already corrupt. A big difference and an important point to note about some human beings' nature.
Posted by BradKC1 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Money to be made here
Anyone who can install a simple switch on the battery contacts of a cell phone could make a buck here.

I'll never buy a car with on-star installed. I'll never buy a phone made by any of the companies listed here. That's all I can do practically.

Again I have to ask, where are the lawsuits? How can it be legal for a consumer devices microphone to be enabled when the device is powered off?

How would people feel if they were told the microphone in their land line phone could be turned on at any minute even if the handset is in the cradle?

Sounds like grounds for a class action lawsuit to me...
Posted by Mergatroid Mania (8395 comments )
Reply Link Flag
it's called the infinity device
yes, the police can call your house without the phone ringing and listen to what goes on in your home with the phone on the cradle. they can also type your ss# in their computers and find out how much money you made last year.
Posted by nedmorlef (49 comments )
Link Flag
Why Would You Report This?
Alright I got a question for Fox News and every other news agency out there. Why would you report a story like this? Sometimes things are better left unsaid. It's kind of like letting the "bad guys" in on the secrets of the government. I especially love when I watch the news and they're reporting on the vulnerabilities of our country. I like most enjoy a great news story, but can you please report on issues that don't jeoardize securities. In this case not only did you blow the whisle on the FBI's technology, but you also made it aware that individuals have the same technology at their disposal. Enough is enough already, let's not give vital information to our enemies!
Posted by jonbrown117 (1 comment )
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that's paranoia!!!
you my educated friend are a sheeple. who told you that, you were ever at threat? fear controls the masses. this [bush]gov't orgasms on fear. german shepherds and german presidents. yes bush is nazi and i'm not a vote freedom.
Posted by nedmorlef (49 comments )
Link Flag
Seeing that you may be willing to trade my privacy for temporary security. This technology can be misused by a wide range of persons up to no good, the public should be made aware of it, so they can decide if they need to take preventive measures
Posted by wsks (22 comments )
Link Flag
But if you aint doing nothing wrong- U idiote!
This is the attitude of a coward! I did nothing wrong so let them take away our rights. Do you see the stupidity in this statement? what you did wrong was let your rights get taken away. Let's put a camera in your bedroom and in the shower and broadcast it 24/7 all over internet. What's the problem? You ain't doing nothing wrong. That's why we have rights. Do you want the world to see you nude or do you want to invoke your right to privacy. Rights are for everyone. Not just those who ain't doing nothing wrong. I can assure you that if they take away what little rights we have left, You will feel naked!
Posted by ssnake (1 comment )
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See me nude?
I don't think they've got the stomach for it... at least, not most of us in America.
I just don't understand what "rights" you're invoking here. Every "right" we have is outlined in the Constitution, and even then, almost every one is limited or restricted in some way. Any individual's "rights" are subject to restriction if they threaten the broader society's "rights". We have freedom of religion, but we can't become Aztecs and begin slaughtering our neighbors to appease our gods. We have freedom of speech but we have no right to slander or libel another person or even a non-person such as a corporation. We have no right to endanger our neighbors.
As far as seeing anyone naked, listening to conversations, photographing citizens unawares, that's all been happening for years. The subject is passé.
Posted by El Kabong (100 comments )
Link Flag
and the is CIA is in bed with Google
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

Use <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> instead
Posted by tx_techie (1 comment )
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US Constitution & 1984
To some this article is a big surprise; to others it is old news. Whatever one's opinion, this article should be a giant wakeup call for every citizen of this country, because it reinforces the fact that the Constitution of the United States is under attack.

Many Lemmings will say "Go ahead, listen Big Brother, I have nothing to hide!" The Lemmings with their lack of concern for their freedoms, literally tramples on them with their ignorance, and lack of energy to protect what countless Americans have fought so hard for during this countrys rich history.

I feel sorry for the Lemming, because they obviously cannot understand the big picture. For example, the 4th Amendment to the Constitution says:

4th Amendment  US Constitution:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized."

What part of this can people not understand? There is a reason that the Founding Fathers made this a fourth Amendment and not say the thirteenth!

If someone cant read this Amendment and see the legal and ethical problems either real or potential, and how they pertain to the citizen right now, then they need to spend more time studying history and then extend these lessons, principles, and logic to our present day.

This CNET article is not at all reckless; on the contrary, it is a breath of fresh air. In fact, it raises many substantial issues including but not limited to: First, how many times can the Constitution and Bill of Rights be interpreted and reinterpreted until its original intent and meaning risks degradation? Second, if one Amendment cannot be upheld to the letter, then we as a people risk setting a precedent where other Amendments are open for interpretation and reinterpretation depending on who is in power, and their will at that time. This is scary prospect, especially since this new eavesdropping tool can be very easily abused for political purposes, or for even more sinister purposes.

Finally, we live in dangerous times, I think after 9-11, everyone would agree with this. However, the Constitution and its Amendments were born at a time that was fraught with eminent danger. Some would argue, more danger than we even face right now. Did our Fathers give in to fear and give away their freedoms for security at the time of our countrys turbulent birth? No they did not! Should the US citizen give up their hard fought freedoms so that a handful of criminals can be caught every so often? No we should not. I have more confidence in the wisdom of the Founding Fathers than the ever-shifting politics of our day. We should not have to live in 1984 or even face its possibility.

May God bless America!
Posted by DigitalFuzz (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
The Constitution may or may not be under attack...
but it isn't the only thing under attack:
"Feds Arrest Man They Say Planned to Detonate Grenades in Illinois Shopping Mall"
<a class="jive-link-external" href=",2933,235518,00.html" target="_newWindow">,2933,235518,00.html</a>
May God continue to bless America... with dedicated, effective members of law enforcement.
Thank you, FBI, for keeping our families safe.
Posted by El Kabong (100 comments )
Link Flag
My God Bless America. WITH A TSUNAMI!!!!
Posted by americasliberty (3 comments )
Link Flag
Company Access - WARNING!
Something to think about! First hand knowledge that some managers at a telecommunications company CAN/AND DO listen to employees telephone conversations while employee is at HOME using they're HOME TELEPHONE. One of many ways; manager pulls up the circuit the employees home telephone number is on. Simple as that. Almost forgot - call can also be recorded.

I wonder what category that falls under:

1) ethical standards
2) moral values

FBI using cell phone to eaves drop on organized crime.

Manager at telecommunications company eaves dropping on employees home telephone lines.

Apples to oranges!
Posted by cocorudi (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Fuck the FBI
They can kiss my black ass. That's invasion of privacy. How can anyone allow this type of ********. I thought this was America! Where's is the ******* freedom. White power!
Posted by ealban04 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Cell Phones Companies
Cell phone companie managers do use this kind of device to stalk innocent employees.
Posted by LeeJones5 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
It saddens me that more americans are only interesed in whats happening with Brittany,or Paris,as opposed to diverting attention to the fact that the Constitution,and the Bill of rights,have and are being butchered right in front of our faces.I personally lived thru two years of,pulling Am Frequency transmitters and wiretaps from our home phone connector box,our cell phones being cloned for eavesdropping purposes,and all the information anyone needs to identify and recognize the signs of these previous illegal activities,are right on the web.Certain Icons that appear on cell phones are a sign of cloning,and if you look at the connectors being place in the wiring of home phones,they are small round red plastic covered discs that your telephone lines now pass thru,and also have the 3m trademark stamped into them.I can tell you there is only one place you will find these discs on 3m website,and its under THE Department of Homeland Security section,and they are listed as 3m scotchlock wiretaps.The Bill of rights,that once had meaning protected ordinary citizens from illegal search and seizure,and from invasion of privacy via electronic surveillance,phone taps,ect.Take the Time to read the patriot act,and enlighten youself as a citizen,how much it destroyed our right to privacy,and left the bill of rights in the condition that it only practical use now is to line a trashcan.Also if you read the patriot act,there is no law regarding the moitoring of your home computer,either by law enforcement,as well as other citizens.It never has been.When the bill of rights protecting citizens from government surveiilance and police state tactics was written,the home computer didnt exist,so no provions were made for them.When the patriot act of 2001 was rushed thru congress,no provision was even considered,so america, for your own future,and that of your childrens,Pay ATTENTION to what capitol hill is doing to your rights,,let your voices be heard,and open your eyes.BIG BROTHER is here,He has little or no accountability for his actions,and if you dont belive what I am saying to you,turn off the tv,read the changes in our freedoms since The patriot act was passed,and if your not convinced then,Only when it bites your ass or you see firsthand this happening to a member of your family,I promise you will get it then.I have lived it,and never charged with any crime,No matter what your opinion is on this,it is in actuality a disecting of our constitutional rights,right in front of our eyes,the foudation of our great nation is crumbling,and until americans no longer sit still and allow it,it will continue to
Posted by Calibugged (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
As a victim of the use of this technology, I can firmly state that this is an invasion of privacy. While it might be good and well to use for legitimate criminals, as stated, this assume that law enforcement is always working for the greater good of catching criminals. In my case, they are using it to try to target me, although I am not a criminal. There's too much abuse of power out there to let something like this go on.
Posted by lryan68 (1 comment )
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