An interesting story crossed my desk this morning and kicked my spidey senses into overdrive. Why? Big Brother (aka the FBI) was caught spying on us regular folk yet again.
FBI Agent Christopher Stangl (semi-famous for an FBI recruiting video he made a few years back) had his laptop hacked by one or both of the hactivist groups Anonymous and Antisec.
Is it just me or is it somehow just the tiniest bit ironic that the FBI's recruiter for cyber security experts is hacked so easily?
The hactivist groups gleefully posted some of what they found to the internet: over 12 million iPad and iPhone AppleIDs (Unique Device Identifiers or UDIDs) in a database.
The hacker groups also made it clear the FBI agent’s computer database also contained complete personal information for each one of the UDIDs including usernames, full names, addresses, zip codes and phone numbers.
"During the second week of March 2012, a Dell Vostro notebook, used by Supervisor Special Agent Christopher K. Stangl from FBI Regional Cyber Action Team and New York FBI Office Evidence Response Team was breached," claims the group.
The group said they found a file called "NCFTA_iOS_devices_intel.csv" which contained a list of 12,367,232 Apple iOS devices. The .csv file contained Unique Device Identifiers, user names, names of devices, types of devices zip codes, cell phone numbers and address, according to the group.
Setting aside the notion that hacking an FBI laptop could be labeled cyber-terrorism (perhaps “public service” is a better term in this case?), just what is the FBI doing with this information?
More importantly, why are they keeping tabs on over 12 million Americans with iPads and iPhones?
"The FBI is aware of published reports alleging that an FBI laptop was compromised and private data regarding Apple UDIDs was exposed," said an FBI spokesperson. "At this time there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data."
Before the statement was released the FBI Press Office tweeted: "Statement soon on reports that one of our laptops with personal info was hacked. We never had info in question. Bottom Line: TOTALLY FALSE."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) did some digging through information it received earlier this year through Access to Information requests and what it found wasn’t reassuring.
July 26, 2012
Of all of the recent technological developments that have expanded the surveillance capabilities of law enforcement agencies at the expense of individual privacy, perhaps the most powerful is cell phone location tracking. And now, after an unprecedented records request by ACLU affiliates around the country, we know that this method is widespread and often used without adequate regard for constitutional protections, judicial oversight, or accountability.
The ACLU discovered the federal government routinely purchases cell phone user data from companies every year, and spend millions of tax dollars doing so.
[T]he American Civil Liberties Union revealed a trove of documents it had obtained through Freedom of Information Requests to more than 200 police departments around the country. They show a pattern of police tracking cell phone locations and gathering other data like call logs without warrants, using devices that impersonate cell towers to intercept cellular signals, and encouraging officers to refrain from speaking about cell-tracking technology to the public, all detailed in a New York Times story. But at least one document also details the day-to-day business of telecoms’ handing over of data to law enforcement, including a breakdown of every major carrier’s fees for every sort of data request from targeted wiretaps to so-called “tower dumps” that provide information on every user of certain cell towers.
To quote the Political Outcast story:
If you’ve got Facebook and an iPhone, the FBI and local law enforcement likely know everything about you. This may or may not bother you depending on what you’ve said or where you’ve been on the internet or your iPhone. But just remember what our government considers criminal behavior these days.
That truly is the scary part.
The various alphabet soup of American law enforcement agencies believe practically everyone is a criminal.
Homeland Security, for example, labels those evil people who believe the United States Constitution is the highest law in the land as terrorists in their report "Right-Wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment".
Even military veterans are not safe from the lunatics at the US Department of Homeland Security:
DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists—including lone wolves or small terrorist cells—to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned, or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today.
Merely believing you have the right to privacy, for example, or the right to record police performing their jobs is enough to brand you an anti-government zealot, despite both activities being upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Absolutely, but that doesn’t stop federal agents from harassing and investigating the likes of Ron Paul for potential terrorist activities.
Eight TSA goons told the Paul entourage they would need to be screened before they would be allowed to leave because Mitt Romney might be nearby.
Ron Paul is now a terrorist threat? These people have absolutely no shame whatsoever.
As a wise man once said,
“It doesn’t have to make sense. It’s government policy.”