The FBI Can Remotely Activate The Microphone In Your Android Phone


The Wall Street Journal reports on the amazing capabilities of your smartphone:

The FBI develops some hacking tools internally and purchases others from the private sector. With such technology, the bureau can remotely activate the microphones in phones running Google Inc.’s Android software to record conversations, one former U.S. official said. It can do the same to microphones in laptops without the user knowing, the person said. Google declined to comment.

Court documents and interviews with people involved in the programs provide new details about the hacking tools used by federal agencies, including spyware delivered to computers and phones through email or Web links—techniques more commonly associated with attacks by criminals.

The FBI has been developing hacking tools for more than a decade, but rarely discloses its techniques publicly in legal cases.

22 Comments on "The FBI Can Remotely Activate The Microphone In Your Android Phone"

  1. It’d be a hell of a thing if all of this surveillance led to the death of the smart phone due to customer concerns over privacy.

    • BuzzCoastin | Aug 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm |

      there is likely to be no decline in sales
      since anyone who really cared about privacy
      already knew this
      and those that don’t care
      really don’t care

    • Jonas Planck | Aug 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm |

      This mess is already killing the cloud. Nobody wants to remotely host anything when they find out that their security is pre-compromised by design. The laughable excuse about “national security” isn’t assuaging the fears of anyone except paid trolls and astroturfers…. Real humans instinctively realize that right now, the single greatest threat to national security IS the massive collection of information being hoarded by these short-sighted fools.

    • If people were really concerned about privacy Mark Zuckerberg wouldn’t be a billionaire 😉

  2. emperorreagan | Aug 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm |

    This is all a ruse.

    The government doesn’t give a shit what you look at.

    FBI agents just want to be able to “review” youporn all day.

  3. Anarchy Pony | Aug 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm |

    I always knew smartphones were a trap.

  4. BuzzCoastin | Aug 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm |

    all cellphones can be remotely activated, even when off
    this has been public info since about 98
    all gps enabled phones broadcast your location, on or off
    all phone email programs have location info
    all google phone products contain location info
    the illusion of privacy is often shattered by reality

    • emperorreagan | Aug 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

      Yeah, I can remember spending many late nights as a freshman in college in 97-98 reading about that stuff on the internet.

      In the TV show Alias which my wife convinced me to watch with her a few weeks ago, they were openly talking about tagging phrases with Echelon, tracking phones, etc. in 2001-2002. You didn’t even have to spend time lurking around strange corners of the internet – it was openly play-acted on ABC for public consumption.

      • Anarchy Pony | Aug 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm |

        Like I said after the Snowden leaks first came out; nobody who was paying attention is surprised.

        • rhetorics_killer | Aug 6, 2013 at 1:26 am |

          Yes, but these still count just a few people. This is why Snowden hits world-wide fame: he coercively opened everyone’s eyes!

        • True, but he offered hardcore proof of some things. You would be called conspiracy theorist if you talked about mass wiretapping.

  5. kowalityjesus | Aug 5, 2013 at 5:42 pm |

    among factors compelling me to keep my flip phone…

  6. InfvoCuernos | Aug 5, 2013 at 8:38 pm |

    And the punch line is that they get us to pay a premium for it! I’ve been telling people about this for years. I forget which political scandal clued me in to this, but it came out that some DC politician always left his cell phone at his office when he was going somewhere and meeting with people he didn’t want anyone to know he was meeting( I want to say it was that Chandre Levy disappearance, but I’m not sure). It would be easy to write it off as some paranoid politician, except for the fact that those guys actually see information gathered that way so its always a good idea to heed their cautions( remember Bill Clinton telling Monica that he wouldn’t come in her presence because he didn’t know her well enough?-he should have stuck to that plan).

  7. Howard Beale | Aug 6, 2013 at 1:26 am |

    Smile, it’s the camera and all the info stored on the device as well. That’s why the battery can’t be removed on all the new phones. The latest Motorola’s main feature is that it’s always listening.

  8. rhetorics_killer | Aug 6, 2013 at 1:28 am |

    Everything is said as early as in David Cronenberg’s ExistenZ: when the pinkphone is thrown out of the car.

  9. Will Coles | Aug 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm |

    That you care enough about your privacy & security to not use certain technology put you in a small minority. Most don’t care, they don’t understand the implications to them, that the data won’t just be used by ‘law enforcement’ agencies but also in advertising. When used in advertising they will be offered fewer options than before as their demographic is tightened, essentially making their world smaller & their choices more limited.

  10. Angela Monger | Aug 6, 2013 at 10:35 pm |

    Nice to see that our so called law enforcement agencies engage in criminal behavior. I can’t seem to distinguish between them and run of the mill criminals.

  11. Ubelsteiner | Aug 6, 2013 at 11:27 pm |

    any device that you connect to any public network should immediately be considered insecure. cell/smart phones are great, and google services (among others) are so convenient and better our daily lives in many ways… but what sort of idiot would go plotting evil schemes or communicating confidential information with them and just assume privacy? these things are designed to take in and broadcast information through so many sensors and radios, of course those capabilities can be used against you. and i think everyone at this point should be well-aware of the governments willingness to invade any amount of privacy you would like to think that you have, especially digitally.

  12. Laced713 | Aug 7, 2013 at 7:12 am |

    I still carry a candy bar phone nothing smart about it. They can’t activate the mic on it or anything. When it’s off it’s off and untraceable. However it has an emergency dial feature that cannot be turned off but for turning the phone off and it occasionally dials 911 in my pocket then they’ll call me back and tell me where I’m at. It’s nice to have a cheap old phone with that safety feature but the ability to cut the leash if I want.

  13. This is one reason why I never use anything Google. Their sole purpose for anyth8ing is to collect as much personal information as possible to sell to anyone that asks. Or, give to any government that asks. The new Google motto is now, “How evil can we be?”

    I am sure the government can do much the same with nearly any cell phone and it certainly does demand, and get, any information from any company it pleases.

    It isn’t as if any rational person still believes the USA is a free country. Think about it. No-warrant wire taps, indefinite detention of citizens without charges, approval of rendition of prisoners and torture, stop and frisk without probable cause, search and seizure without a warrant, no-knock entry, confiscation and destruction of cameras that might have been used to film police acting illegally, police brutality, police shootings that go without investigation, managed news, and the civil-rights destroying “Patriot” Act.

    Acts of police behaving illegally, with shootings, Tasers, and unwarranted violence now appear almost daily. Rarely are these offenses punished. Most often “an investigation” is claimed, but soon forgotten.


In addition, the USA, with 5% of the world population, has 25% of all of the prisoners in the world. That means the USA has the most people in prison of any nation in history. Even by percentage of residents incarcerated, not just sheer numbers. USA is # 1!

 Does any of that sound like a free country?

    As Dwight D. Eisenhower said about communism, “It’s like slicing sausage. First they out off a small slice. That isn’t worth fighting over. Then they take another small slice that isn’t worth fighting over. Then another and another. Finally, all you have left is the string and that isn’t worth fighting over, either.

  14. Michael Colby | Aug 9, 2013 at 1:12 pm |

    armchair experts, i laugh at you all

  15. Bo Treat | Aug 9, 2013 at 2:43 pm |

    i’m just an artist/philosopher. stop ruining life, paranoia is a disease our country exhibits daily.

Comments are closed.