It’s no big secret that the U.S. government can use some extreme methods in order to maintain justice and security for the nation by gathering information on suspects.

Even before Snowden leaked all the NSA data, most of us had a pretty decent idea that the U.S. government has always been keeping a watchful eye over everyone. The shock from the leaks likely came from the scope and depth of all the information-gathering and spying.

If you think the government couldn’t possibly dig even deeper, guess again. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI uses custom-designed hacker tools to spy on people. Court documents have provided information to describe these techniques, which are more commonly used by criminals.

FBIThese hacker tools, some developed within the FBI and others purchased from the private sector, now give the FBI the ability to “remotely activate the microphones in phones running Google Inc.’s Android software to record conversations.” They can do the same to microphones in laptops, and the user will never ever know that it’s happening.

The FBI insists that such techniques are employed in cases involving organized crime, counter-terrorism, and child pornography. They claim they don’t use such tools against hackers “out of fear the suspect will discover and publicize the technique.” Perfect.

A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment. Google also declined to comment.

The rest of the article covers positive, successful cases where shady FBI hacking techniques were executed for the greater good. Still, it leaves many of us to wonder who is eavesdropping on our daily life. More of us may also wonder what other snooping techniques the FBI employs that we still don’t know about.

Orwell was right.

This post originally appeared on the TeleRead sister-site GadgeTell.


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