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Government Privacy Security

FBI's Hacks Don't Comply With Legal Safeguards 64

An anonymous reader writes: The FBI hacks computers. Specifics are scarce, and only a trickle of news has emerged from court filings and FOIA responses. But we know it happens. In a new law review article, a Stanford Ph.D. candidate and privacy expert pulls together what's been disclosed, and then matches it against established law. The results sure aren't pretty. FBI agents deceive judges, ignore time limits, don't tell computer owners after they've been hacked, and don't get 'super-warrants' for webcam snooping. Whatever you think of law enforcement hacking, it probably shouldn't be this lawless.
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FBI's Hacks Don't Comply With Legal Safeguards

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  • Surprise? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 21, 2015 @10:27PM (#50157175)

    Is there anyone in the world who does not believe the American CIA/FBI/NSA don't spy on whoever they want without regard to the legal process? When you have that kind of power and secrecy, you use it. And you don't let some pesky 200+ year old document stop you. Warrants are a mere formality; by the time they get around to getting one they already have the info they want. All the warrant is for is to make it legally admissible in court.

    • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday July 21, 2015 @10:29PM (#50157189) Homepage Journal

      And why shouldn't they? Do you think a single person will see a minute in prison for this?

      Knowledge is advantage is power - of course they will abuse their position - they have no incentive not to.

      • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2015 @10:58PM (#50157309)

        Do you think a single person will see a minute in prison for this?

        I think a lot of people will see prison for this. Just not the people you're thinking of.

      • Re: Surprise? (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is the same FBI who massacred innocent children at Waco. Why should they care? We did nothing about it then, we'll do nothing about it now because the American public doesn't care about anyone or anything as long as they get their cheap imported goods and television entertainment. We've become a fucking disgusting joke of a culture. If ever there was a time to kill your television, it is now. If ever there was a time to burn down the establishment, it's now, because it will only get worse from here on.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Exactly. An until they are held personally accountable for their actions and one of them spends time in prison, nothing will change.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Also if you don't directly use the illegally as evidence in a court case the chance of CIA/FBI/NSA getting caught is very small. You can use the illegal surveillance to go on a fishing trip. Obtain the same evidence from a legal source and never mention the illegal spying. This is a very old trick well over 20 years maybe as long as there have been phones. Where did the democracy go?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Parallel Construction" they call that.

    • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dcollins117 ( 1267462 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2015 @11:36PM (#50157449)

      When "law enforcement officials" break the law it makes it hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

      Unwarranted surveillance means we are all considered suspects. We are not citizens anymore, we are suspects. What incentive do we have to cooperate with LEO?.

    • Tons of people still don't believe we are all being spied on. No matter how much proof you give them, they still sit back and go "lol conspiracy theorist".

      Nobody seems to care.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2015 @10:27PM (#50157179)

    Only that they have those in power behind them. When law enforcement is not bound by law anymore, that is a police state, the precursor to a totalitarian state. The signs are well-known from past occurrences, as is the further story: Unless constrained very tightly by the law again, these people will eventually cause a total catastrophe. Checks and balances are not fluff, they are essential to keep the likes of these people in check.

  • SHOCKING! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2015 @10:28PM (#50157185)

    Haven't we been reading about this for a few years now? LEO's not following the law when it comes to wiretaps and obtaining information from companies about customers they believe are connected to crimes they are investigating.

    There's one thing missing in all these stories -- people at those agencies being held responsible for their actions.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re "Haven't we been reading about this for a few years now?"
      Considering the decades of early cell phone like devices, pagers, consumer desktop computers, smart phones, personal digital assistant/handheld PC, tablets?
      Thats a lot of easy, court free access over many, many years :)
      One pubic example found in the press would have been constant pressure on the US from the UK over Ireland/US connections in the 1970-90's over emerging computer and advanced phone use.
      Very old ideas that got tested on every US n
  • FBI: "So What!" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 21, 2015 @10:32PM (#50157197)

    The FBI doesn't give a shit about the law or the rules. Who's going to stop them?

    You can't sue, because you can't prove you have standing. They use their illicitly gathered evidence to parallel-construct a case without ever revealing whatever hacks they used. They classify volumes of information to hide evidence of their own wrongdoing. They use secret tools like stingrays to gather secret evidence which they attempt to present in secret, sealed and off the record. And in the event that an "activist judge" calls them on it, they withdraw the evidence so as not to have it revealed, and then re-file charges a month later to go shopping for a different judge.

    The police state is strong in America. Hoover is jizzing in his grave, I'm sure.

    • Re:FBI: "So What!" (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tokolosh ( 1256448 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2015 @11:03PM (#50157327)

      This is inevitable when the checks and balances are absent. And the checks and balances are completely AWOL. The judges have completely collapsed in the face of their duty to uphold the law and the Constitution.

      Yes, the FBI is comprised of a bunch of kids from Lord of the Flies, but the judiciary must be called out, too. Some naming and shaming of judges is in order. I'm looking at you, SCOTUS, for starters.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @03:49AM (#50158319)

      Giving it a fancy name like 'parallel construction' is to conceal its nature. That is perjury, that is falsification of evidence, an officer goes into court and lies about the evidence trail, in front of a judge and denies the defense the chance to cross examine the TRUE evidence trail.

      Quit calling it "parallel construction" can call it what it is and that's typically falsification of evidence (a police officer lies about "bad driving" or whatever reason he invented to justify a stop), followed by perjury to back that lie.

      And it gives the spooks leverage over the police too, they know the police officer lied, they know the crime that was committed, so don't expect the police force to police the military spooks. General Alexander lied to Congress and they practically wiped his ass they were so afraid of him.

      Thanks god for Snowden, because Alexander was doing a tour like he was planning a Presidential bid. Snowdens revelations squashed all that. We'd have a Putin figure running for president with access to a file on his opponents. Snowden put a stop to that.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Our law enforcement in this country has become such a joke it almost isn't worth mentioning. I would not trust them to protect me. I would not trust them to save me. I would not trust them to do what is right. I would not report anyone to them out of fear that I would also get taken down also due to their incompetence. I wonder if FBI agents and the rest lie to their families about what they do for a living because they don't want to let their moms and dads down.

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Tuesday July 21, 2015 @11:00PM (#50157319) Journal
    With the NSA and other nations providing total network access its hard to then undo the vast parallel construction effort with local malware on one computer to build a multi year case.
    The problem for the use of digital and voice product in court is the mentioned "reasonable ex post notice to a computer’s owner" in an open court.
    Soon the entire US judicial system and the press would be aware of methods, law enforcement friendly US developed operating systems and antivirus issues, malware providers and their experts in open court testimony.
    Everyone of interest would quickly understand privacy and anonymity cannot be found on any US network or device designed or sold that connects to a US network.

    Over the years many efforts have been made to support law enforcements own understanding that some networks and phones are 'safe'.
    Even local, state and low level federal officials then understand and help propagate the no trapdoor, back door cover stories they saw in a local tech demo
    The cover story that some brands, generations or easy to buy products are totally secure is often positioned as random talking points in the national media and on computer related sites.

    The UK had many issues with advance phone tracking methods leaking from the court system in the 1970-80's as computer, phone and cell phone technology was been made public.
    The US wanted to ensure the same would never happen with its cell phone tracking so it uses IMSI-catchers and light aircraft with dirtbox like units well outside the US court system. Every wifi, cell device and other signals over vast areas per year.

    Onion router like networks face the same constant mapping and software/network OS layer issues.
    Collect it all is the new cheap, easy way to map entire local communities every year. The real magic is keeping methods away from courts, the press, citizen journalism with walk in FOIA requests at a city or state level or other legal teams.
    The hardware paper trail still exists in some city and regional bureaucracies just waiting for a correctly worded in person FOIA request.
    The UK was much smarter as it centralized its expert help to law enforcement well beyond the courts, press.
  • Amusing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @12:10AM (#50157551)

    I find it odd that we're supposed to follow the rule of law, yet the very ones in charge of enforcing those laws seem to have no qualms at all about breaking them whenever it suits their needs. All under the guise of "protecting" us from $evilplot of course. :|

    In the end, Orwell was right I guess. Some animals are more equal than others.

    • by ihtoit ( 3393327 )

      that's because in some jurisdictions, the only time a public authority such as the FBI or the Metropolitan Police can be pulled up legally is by direct intervention of a judge. Said judges are more often than not paid out of the very same purse that the police are paid from. They will not shit in their own hand, in that case, even when the violation is blatant and life-changing - such as perjury.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2015 @04:46AM (#50158541)

    Just as we get to see for us plebs. Some people are unfit for handling certain responsibilities, so it gets taken away. From chemicals to electronic devices to fireworks and even certain kinds of ammunition and weapons. Outlawed because there have been some idiots who can't handle the responsibility.

    So the FBI has shown that it cannot handle the responsibility to use the tools provided sensibly. Then they should have to do without them. Yes, that makes your life a bit harder and your job a bit more complicated, but sorry, it seems you are unfit of using the better tools, so get used to the inferior ones.

    And be glad that we don't take that shit away too!

    That's what would happen if the FBI was some sort of private organization or even a private person. Sadly, they are part of the government, so they are allowed to be as incompetent, obnoxious and destructive as they please without any repercussions.

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