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NSA Not Alone In Spy Game

By: Matthew Ensor

The NSA is not the only organization hell-bent on going through your emails and personal data.

Recently, documents have been released that prove the FBI spent $775,000 on hacking software from the private Italian spying agency Hacking Team. According to Wired Magazine, this agency is also known to do business with the likes of the Sudanese and Bahrainian governments.

The first product to be purchased by the FBI is known as RCS, or Remote Control Service, otherwise known as ‘Galileo’. RCS is hacking software that has in the past been used by the Ethiopian government to target journalists based in Washington D.C.

RCS works by infecting a target computer, stealing data and listening to communications before they are able to be encrypted. The tool can also be used to “…record Skype calls, emails, instant messages, and passwords typed into a Web browser” (Wired). It is also capable of activating web cameras and microphones remotely.

This is no surprise, as the FBI has been known to spy on citizens in the past. The agency has been using malware since the early 2000’s to infect personal computers. This is just a footnote in a long history of trampling individual rights. Books like “Enemies: The History of the FBI” by Tim Weiner show just how far the FBI is willing to go to target individuals.

Earlier this year, the DEA was also found to be doing business with Hacking Team.

Agencies such as these have used blanket statements as their standard operating procedures with little to no oversight. These types of hacking programs undermine individual liberties and civil rights, trample the right to free press, and put individuals, especially those who disagree with governmental policies, at risk.

If you thought the fight for the Fourth Amendment rested solely with the NSA, think again.

Stopping NSA spying is essential to dismantling the unconstitutional surveillance state, but we can’t focus on that agency at own. The NSA, DEA, CIA, FBI and other federal agencies, along with state an local agencies work together and form a tangled spy web. By addressing programs such as stingray devices, drones and automatic license plate readers at the state level, we can take tools away that the feds tap into and use. The OffNow strategy focuses on the state level where we have more potential impact to undermine the surveillance state from the bottom up.

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