The F.B.I has promised not to use malware to hack into your computer if it needs to because… insert drum roll here… the F.B.I. says ‘we’re the good guys‘ so it’s not called malware or hacking or breaking into anything unlawfully. Apparently, with government spooks, intentions matter, and whatever means the F.B.I. uses to traverse your Mac is for good, therefore, is not malicious.
Buy My Bridge, Please
Personally, I do not agree with what Edward Snowden did by releasing a gazillion classified government files, but I understand the sentiment, and I can see the justification. What Snowden did revealed that the U.S. government was a bigger snoop than anyone outside ever realized, and, was, indeed doing what it promised it was not doing.
Whether you think of Snowden as a hero, whistleblower, dissident, patriot, or a simple traitor, the revelations he publicized mean we should consider carefully any government statement regarding our security.
A good example of government overreach, Big Brother style, centers on the Operation Playpen case. Government operatives broke into a website and deployed hacking tools to identify the site’s users (who were using Tor, the anonymity network). The government’s actions were considered by the courts to be illegal. The government’s operatives did not.
The government argued that its illegal activities should be considered legal and the software it used to track and round up the bad guys was not malicious because the F.B.I. are the good guys.
Does anyone see a problem with that perspective?
Allowed to continue without court intervention, that means the F.B.I. could hack into our Macs if they suspected wrongdoing, leave what amounts to malware running in the background that reports back to the government whenever we’re online. And that’s not to mention turning on the Mac’s iSight camera and microphone without our knowledge (I haven’t seen it, but I keep hearing that it’s possible).
Yes, I understand that one man’s hamburger is another man’s steak, and much of life is about perspective, but I see a problem with fishing for information in a potentially criminal case, and the government’s ability to leave malware on our devices as part of that fishing attempt.
How is that acceptable?
A couple of other related items to the case above. The F.B.I. appealed its methodology to the Supreme Court and those restrictions to how it conducts surveillance were lifted, which means it can use malware anywhere in the world it chooses, and with little impunity.
The problem also may lie in the definition of malware. Mac users do not encounter much malware, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Malware, by definition, is any software that interfere’s with a computer’s normal functions. It’s malicious software, hence malware. But it’s only malicious if you’re not the F.B.I.
If you believe we’re not in danger of government overreach in an exaggerated attempt to save us from ourselves, then I have a bridge here in Brooklyn that I would love to sell you.