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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/9/17

WikiLeaks says the CIA can use your TV to spy on you. But there's good news

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From The Guardian

If these documents are genuine, then they prove that encryption still offers broad protection. That's one reason to download Signal and similar apps now

Wikileaks Hour Glass
Wikileaks Hour Glass
(Image by (From Wikimedia) Wikileaks, Author: Wikileaks)
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The latest release from WikiLeaks detailing how the CIA has allegedly stockpiled a plethora of tools to hack a variety of everyday devices -- from phones, to televisions to cars -- is a stark reminder about the fragile state of Internet security. The US government has amassed extraordinary hacking powers largely in secret -- and this leak might just force us to grapple with whether we are comfortable with that.

The most widely reported aspect of the purported leak is the allegation that the CIA has myriad ways to hack popular smartphones like iPhone and Android devices -- and that the agency could be allowing its hackers to t ake control of internet connected televisions and covertly listen in on conversations in people's living rooms. This type of attack has been the worry of many privacy advocates for years, as more and more televisions and other household devices (collectively known as the "Internet of Things") are increasingly connected to the Internet while always "listening."

There was never a doubt that the US and other governments around the world would quickly move to leverage the ability to exploit these features, as more and more consumer electronics companies have made them standard in all sorts of household items. The former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper even made clear in testimony to Congress last year. But just how often governments have exploited this type of technology is still largely unknown.

While many of the headlines accompanying these documents will send a shiver down the spine of readers, there is some good news in the WikiLeaks documents. Contrary to early reports suggesting that the CIA can "defeat" popular end-to-end encrypted messaging apps like Signal and WhatsApp, the WikiLeaks release is further evidence that encryption does work to protect people's privacy.

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Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and lawyer who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. He has contributed to  The (more...)

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