So I saw an article linked from FARK this morning that, while brief, was absolutely unhinged in its tone. Since the source article is so short, I’m only going to link it here rather than posting an excerpt. However, I do want to talk about its source article: A Washington Post report on the FBI surveillance of a suspected terrorist. The key point I wished to raise from this article, totally refuting the hysterical claims of the Gizmodo article, is here:
The ability to remotely activate video feeds was among the issues cited in a case in Houston, where federal magistrate Judge Stephen W. Smith rejected a search warrant request from the FBI in April. In that case, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, Smith ruled that the use of such technology in a bank fraud case was “extremely intrusive” and ran the risk of accidentally capturing information of people not under suspicion of any crime.
Smith also said that a magistrate’s court based in Texas lacked jurisdiction to approve a search of a computer whose location was unknown. He wrote that such surveillance software may violate the Fourth Amendment’s limits on unwarranted searches and seizures.
Notice that this is at least two cases where the judges rejected the use of this surveillance. The FBI can’t just go installing malware on anyone’s computer willy-nilly. Gizmodo has totally overblown this story into a hysterical meltdown about the FBI’s invasiveness, but just like with all dudebro complaints, it falls apart when you examine the actual circumstances of its use.