Security

Warning: Police spyware detected!

SpywareIn a recent case that was decided earlier this month, federal agents used a keystroke logger to record the typing of a suspected ecstasy manufacturer who has been using encryption to thwart the police.

In the wake of that, CNET's News.com did a survey of 13 leading anti-spyware vendors and found none have cooperated (or acknowledge doing that) unofficially with government agencies. Still, some of them did indicate that if so ordered by a court to keep quiet, they would obey and not alert customers to the presence of government-planted spyware.

Spyware chartThe entire question of whether police spyware should be allowed is becoming more urgent given that the use of keyloggers, especially, are becoming increasingly necessary, and as a result, they are frequently used. This is due in large part to the prevalence of encryption used both in hard disk and network communications. Microsoft's Windows Vista and Apple's OS X, for example, both include built-in encryption features.

According to the article Will security firms detect police spyware:

Because there has only been two known criminal prosecutions n the United States involve police use of key loggers, important legal rules remain unsettled. But key logger makers say that police and investigative agencies are frequent customers…

Unfortunately, it remains unclear if police have the legal authority to do so under current law.

Kevin Bankston, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation who has litigated wiretapping cases says:

The government would be pushing the boundaries of the law if it attempted to obtainsuch an order. There's simply no precedent for this sort of thing.

You can read more at CNET News.com: Security firms on police spyware, in their own words

What is your opinion on this matter? What measures do you take to ensure that your security and privacy is not compromised?

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About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

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