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Android phones, a number of Blackberries and smartphones running older Microsoft operating systems are all vulnerable to FinSpy, a spyware from one of the world’s most prominent surveillance companies Gamma Group, but one thing the company is still unable to do is to hack into a typical iPhone.
According to an article by The Washington Post, this is exactly why most surveillance companies hate Apple’s smartphone.
The source reveals that FinSpy spyware can turn a vulnerable smartphone into a potent surveillance device. Users of the spyware are capable of listening to calls on targeted devices, stealing contacts, activating the microphone, tracking your location and more. But for FinSpy to hack into an iPhone, the device must be jailbroken. “No jailbreak, no FinSpy on your iPhone”, shows a leaked Gamma document dated April 2014.
“This is good news for people with iPhones, and perhaps for Apple as well. But at a time of rising concern about government surveillance powers, it’s ironic that a different mobile operating system – Google’s Android – has emerged as the global standard, with a dominant share of the world market. Android phones have more features. They come in more shapes, sizes and colors. And they’re cheaper. But, it’s increasingly clear, they are more vulnerable to the Gammas of the world, and from the police and intelligence services that use their tools.”
The report concludes that users willing to pay a premium for an iPhone or an iPad, perhaps for their design elegance or ease of use, are also getting disk encryption by default, and an OS that even powerful surveillance companies have trouble hacking.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation about the National Security Agency. On Sunday, the German publication Der Spiegel revealed new details about secretive hacking—a secretive hacking unit inside the NSA called the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO. The unit was created in 1997 to hack into global communications traffic. Still with us, Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, and Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who first broke the story about Edward Snowden. Glenn, can you just talk about the revelations in Der Spiegel?
GLENN GREENWALD: Sure. I think everybody knows by now, or at least I hope they do after the last seven months reporting, that the goal of the NSA really is the elimination of privacy worldwide—not hyperbole, not metaphor, that’s literally their goal, is to make sure that all human communications that take place electronically are collected and then stored by the
Part 1 of a two part interview with WITNESS senior archivist Yvonne Ng. Part 2 can be viewed here
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We end today’s show with a guest who has advice for the growing number of people filming police abuse with their smartphones and video cameras. Over the years, such footage has helped fuel demands for police accountability in the United States. In 1991, Rodney King became a worldwide symbol of police abuse and racial conflict after homemade video emerged of Los Angeles police officers brutally beating him. Eighteen years later, cellphone footage caught the death of Oscar Grant, who was shot to death on a subway platform in Oakland by a transit police officer.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this summer, a resident of Staten Island, New York, filmed the death of Eric Garner, an African-American father of six who died July 17th after police placed him in a chokehold when he was accused of selling loose cigarettes. Garner can be heard repeatedly saying, "I can’t breathe," and eventually stops moving.
POLICE OFFICER 1: Put your hand behind your head!
ERIC GARNER: I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!
RAMSEY ORTA: Once again, police beating up on people.
POLICE OFFICER 2: Back up. Back up and get on those steps.
RAMSEY ORTA: OK.