The FBI’s new surveillance techniques will eventually come for you.
Nobody should be upset that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies arrested hundreds of international gang members in the Trojan Shield operation, but everybody should concerned about the methods used toward that end. Mike Corder of the Associated Press describes them:
The seeds of the sting were sown when law enforcement agencies earlier took down two encrypted platforms, EncroChat and Sky ECC, that had been used by criminal gangs to organize drug trafficking and underworld hits. With the gangs in the market for a new means of communication, the FBI stepped in with a covertly developed app called ANOM that was installed on modified mobile phones. Over the past 18 months, the FBI provided phones via unsuspecting middlemen to more than 300 gangs operating in more than 100 countries. …
The ANOM app became popular in criminal circles as users told one another it was a safe platform. All the time, police were looking over the shoulders of criminals as they discussed hits, drug shipments and other crimes.
From the article, government agencies drove private companies out of business because criminals were using their services and then created a decoy one. (One wonders how much additional information they gathered from non-criminals who just wanted a secure messaging app.) The article does not say anything about warrants or judicial review.
The potential for abuse would be obvious even if Joe Biden weren’t reviving the Obama-era propaganda that conservatives represent the greatest terrorist threat to the country.
I’ve participated in conference webinars wherein people concerned about the privacy of their data talked about this or that app, but when I’ve looked into them, the evidence of their security was basically that they said so. Most people (including me) aren’t qualified to assess these claims, and it wouldn’t take many government “middlemen” pretending to be sympathetic to seed common wisdom that an app is reliable.
The police state looms larger.
Featured image by Chris Yang on Unsplash.