FBI can remotely turn on microphones in laptops and Android devices, according to WSJ


From the very moment you bought a smartphone or sign up to a social network, you are no longer safe from being spied on by the government. The Wall Street Journal has recently reported how the FBI is capable of switching on the microphones found in laptops and Android devices from a remote location, and spying on/recording conversations.

It should be noted WSJ specified Android as the operating system for smartphones that this remote-mic-access works on but did not specify the operating system for laptops on which this trick works. We presume they are Windows laptops, seeing as there aren’t many Android laptops out there.

From what we understand, an anonymous former U.S. official leaked the information to the WSJ, but despite that, neither Google nor the FBI were willing to downplay whether or not such activities are taking place. Due to the recent Snowden leaks, we have little reasons to believe this information is not 100 percent true and has been going on for a long time.

The source also claimed the FBI’s ‘Remote Operations Unit’ sometimes install trojan software remotely to activate the ability to hack user devices. In addition, the unit can also plug in a USB device into a computer to get the hack up and running. In order to calm your nerves, the source also claims only relevant data are collected at any given time, but who are we to believe that to be true?

In our minds, such an activity is illegal and an invasion of privacy on a large scale if it isn’t accompanied by relevant warrants. No longer is it possible for us to have a conversation with our loved ones over the phone line about a special secret recipe without wondering if some government official is on the other line trying to steal it. We recommend Mr. FBI guy to get his own secret recipe in other ways that do not involve spying… or breaking and entering, that’s illegal too.

[via WSJ, image via Android Noodles]

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  • DoktorThomas™

    This mic invasion may not even pass judicial scrutiny when a warrant is issued, based on similar cases wherein the gestapo employed GPS devices.

    While these personal rights transgressions may not appear to be affecting you directly or they may seem small in comparison to other every day problems, they and thousands others the government and its agents engage in daily are eroding fundamental rights of every citizen.

    Common citizens, not unlike you, in the past died to establish these rights. Be forewarned that these rights are guaranteed only to extent that The People demand that they retain them. That is an established axiom of law in the government’s assault on individual rights. Absent such demand, they fail . . .

    Once any generation acquiesces to an infringement however small, that right is lost for eternity. And as clearly demonstrated by the NSA transgressions, when breaking the law the US government recognizes no boundary–not even for persons over whom (foreign governments, for example) they have no jurisdiction. The fed.gov is a fraud run by criminal Royalty dispensing fiat freedom, fiat liberty, fiat money and deception.

    You need not trust these words; do your own research and abhor your representation and the present day sham called “representative government”. When actual citizens ran the government, it was not this way. Check out Iceland’s federalism since 2008; citizen government works. ©2013

  • Ashraf

    [@Tony] The idea isn’t that we specifically do it but rather that there are people out there that do it. Of course, I’m not saying it is impossible to sneak malware/spyware code into Android; I’m saying it is extremely hard due to Android’s open source nature.

  • J.L.

    [@Tony] More than enough to notify everyone else.

  • Tony

    How many of us can view the source code and locate the compromised ?

  • Ashraf

    [@Hamza] There is a difference between having spy code built-in and exploiting a weakness in code to spy. The former would be very difficult on Android. The latter? All operating systems have bugs, unfortunately — including iOS.

  • Hamza

    I though that Android can’t be used for spying because it is an open-source software ! for Windows, there is nothing special.

  • J.L.

    [@Darcy] Boycotting a single brand is useless, taking action directly against the U.S. government is the best way. The article clearly states far more than just Android, which is the only mobile OS revealed so far.

    In fact, it’s dumb to specifically avoid an open-source OS where you can see the code, have the freedom to flash your own ROM, etc. Android actually has the most potential for privacy due to its open nature: http://shadowdcatconsulting.com/blog/2013/2/13/guardian-rom-secure-android-rom.html

  • Seamus McSeamus


    Eventually, it won’t matter what sort of phone you have. There will be cameras installed all over your house, just so the government can keep an eye on you. This way, if they see you about to do something potentially harmful – like say use a steak knife to cut a piece of steak – they can dispatch a bunch of jackboots to your house, who will then kick in your door and wrestle that dangerous knife from your hands before you hurt yourself with it.

  • No more android phones for me

  • oldtimer56

    Take the battery out or check your phone at the door for them “important meetings”.

  • Dave

    I wondered why my built in camera light has been turning on by itself! Here I was blaming it on Windows 8!