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Former Employee Claims FBI Able to Secretly Activate Webcams on Computers 

A former FBI employee has raised further concerns about just what authorities can do and have done in regards of monitoring people through the internet. Marcus Thomas has revealed that the FBI can – and have – switched on webcams of people under surveillance, and can do so without any indicator being seen or heard by the user. If the claims from Thomas are to be believed, the FBI has had the ability to do this for a number of years.

Marcus Thomas was an assistant director at the FBI’s technology division, so there is little or no reason to doubt the veracity of his claims. The ability to do this was developed to catch one specific but unnamed suspect. Thomas has said that it has been used further, both to monitor suspects and to avert terrorist incidents. Usually the programme that allows the FBI to do this is hidden in a login for a website or service the suspect regularly uses.

Unlike the National Security Agency (NSA), whose illegal and questionable methods of monitoring have been revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, it would seem that the FBI used this monitoring technique within the limits of the law and with the full co-operation of tech companies. The tone of Marcus Thomas suggested that he was sharing this information with the public more to assure the world that there was “no hiding place” for those on the FBI’s famous ‘most wanted’ list rather than expressing concern about the methodology used.

Thomas justified this approach by the FBI, saying it was necessary when data was subjected to high levels of encryption and suspects were using mobile devices and cloud computing, both of which are all but impossible to monitor and trace by standard, conventional means.

Reaction to this news has so far been more a case of US citizens apparently trusting the FBI to behave within the law a lot more than they do the NSA, but still a number are expressing concern at the growing ways in which the government and authorities are monitoring people.

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