Another day, another revelation about government abuses of surveillance powers and Americans’ privacy. Now, many in Congress are pushing back against such violations.
The most recent domestic surveillance revelation comes courtesy of WikiLeaks, which describes the CIA’s efforts to hack home, business and public WiFi networks. Once wireless internet networking devices are compromised, government agents “can easily monitor, control and manipulate the Internet traffic of connected users,” WikiLeaks explained in a news release. “By altering the data stream between the user and Internet services, the infected device can inject malicious content into the stream to exploit vulnerabilities in applications or the operating system on the computer of the targeted user.”
The project, known as “CherryBlossom,” has been in operation for years, perhaps going back as early as 2006. The disclosure is the latest in WikiLeaks’ “Vault 7” releases about CIA cyberactivities, which include the creepy abilities to use the microphone from “smart TVs” to record audio in the room, while the TV appears to remain off, and to hack smartphones to take control of their microphones and cameras, obtain voice and text communications, and discover a user’s location. The agency was even attempting to hack vehicles’ computer control systems, potentially giving it the ability to remotely take control of a vehicle.
Such disclosures have led to a bipartisan revolt among many in Congress who resent the repeated trespasses of the NSA, CIA, FBI and other government agencies against Americans’ privacy and due process rights. In 2015, while considering reauthorization of provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that had allowed for dragnet bulk data collection, Congress passed the USA FREEDOM Act, which, though watered down, at least imposed some restrictions on the government’s surveillance activities.
And the lines are being drawn on another major snooping reauthorization…