Amazon playing ball with NSA ?
Programmer goes public four months after company failed to fix exploit
Paul Joseph Watson
January 23, 2014
January 23, 2014
A whistleblower who privately informed Google four months ago that their Chrome browser had the ability to record conversations without the user’s knowledge has gone public after the tech giant failed to fix the issue.
In the video above, the programmer explains how Google Chrome’s speech recognition function remains operational even after the user has left the website on which they gave permission for the browser to record their voice.
“When you click the button to start or stop the speech recognition on the site, what you won’t notice is that the site may have also opened another hidden pop under window. This window can wait until the main site is closed, and then start listening in without asking for permission. This can be done in a window that you never saw, never interacted with, and probably didn’t even know was there,” writes the whistleblower.
The video shows a pop-under browser window recording and typing the programmer’s words as she speaks. The window can be disguised as an advertising banner so the user has no indication that Chrome is listening to their voice, whether that be on the phone, talking to someone on Skype, or merely having a conversation with someone near the computer.
The exploit is a “serious security breach” that has compromised the privacy of millions of Google Chrome users, according to the programmer, who warns, “as long as Chrome is still running, nothing said next to your computer is private.”
The exploit turns Google Chrome into an “espionage tool,” adds the programmer, noting that the recording function can be activated by the use of sensitive keywords and be passed on “to your friends at the NSA.”
The programmer reported the exploit to Google on September 19 last year and was met with assurances that it would be quickly fixed. However, despite apparently fixing the bug within two weeks, the update was never released to Chrome users, with Google telling the programmer, “Nothing is decided yet.”
As far back as 2006, we warned that computers would use in-built microphones to spy on users. We also revealed how digital cable boxes had embedded microphones that had the capability of recording conversations since the late 1990′s.
As we have previously highlighted, terms of agreement for both Android and iPhone apps now require users to agree to allow their microphone to be activated at any time without confirmation before they can download the app.
Facebook’s term’s of agreement also allow the social network giant to record your phone calls, read your phone’s call log and “read data about contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed or communicated in other ways with specific individuals.”
We are now fully ensconced in a world that even George Orwell would have laughed off as inconceivable. Embedded microphones in everything from Xbox Kinect consoles to high-tech street lights that can record private conversations in real time represent the final nail in the coffin of privacy.
THE DAILYCALLER REPORTS:
Google CEO Larry Page has rapidly positioned Google to become an indispensable U.S. military contractor.Google recently purchased Boston Dynamics, a robotics pioneer that produces amazing humanoid robots for the U.S. Defense Department.This development invites attention to Google’s broader military contracting ambitions — especially since Boston Dynamics is the eighth robotics company that Google has bought in the last six months.Just like drones are the future of air warfare, humanoid robots and self-driving vehicles will be the future of ground warfare according to U.S. defense plans.There are many other reasons why the U.S. military is on path to become Google’s single largest customer. Likewise these reasons indicate Google has a closer working relationship with the NSA than it acknowledges publicly.First, consider the military value of Google’s research and development efforts and the military contracting pipeline revenue it could represent.Page created Google X, which is Google’s secretive research and development lab tasked with pursuing “moon-shot” technology breakthroughs. So far, Google X is best known for its earth-bound self-driving cars and Google Glass.Tellingly, the purpose of the original “moon-shots” by the Soviet Union and America was military. The two Cold War superpowers were in a “space race” to publicly showcase the technological and military supremacy of their rival ideologies.Simply, America’s Cold War “moon-shot” was about winning the military space and arms race with the former Soviet Union.Even more tellingly, the greatest application for most all of Google X’s “moon-shot” technological efforts — are military. Like drones, self-driving vehicles, and robot soldiers could enhance military surveillance and payload delivery while reducing risks to military personnel.Google Glass’ advances in wearable augmented reality could offer American soldiers tactical advantages over enemy combatants. Google’s Project Loon could quickly provide a supplemental battlefield bandwidth advantage in remote areas.Second, Google’s personnel hiring signals its aspirations for a closer Google-military relationship.In 2012, Google hired Regina Dugan, the head of DOD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), DOD’s in-house “moon-shot” idea factory. At the time a Google spokesperson said: “Regina is a technical pioneer who brought the future of technology to the military during her time at DARPA. She will be a real asset to Google.”Simply, few people could have a better insider knowledge of the U.S. military’s future technology needs that Google could exploit than Ms. Dugan.Third, Google has a long history of working for, and with, the NSA and the other U.S. intelligence services.In 2004, Google purchased satellite mapping company Keyhole, which was strategically important enough to be funded by the CIA’s investment fund In-Q-Tel.Google turned the aptly-named “Keyhole” surveillance capability into the wildly popular Google Earth and Google Maps service used by over a billion people and over one million websites.In 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that U.S. spy agencies use “Google equipment as the backbone of Intellipedia, a network aimed at helping agents share intelligence.” The article also reported that Google had a support contract with the NSA.In 2010, the Washington Post reported that Google worked with the NSA to figure out how Chinese hackers broke into Google. The New York Times later reported that those Chinese hackers stole Google’s entire password system called Gaia.Fourth, Google has too many unique capabilities and metadata sets that are of strategic value to the NSA to believe Google’s denials that it does not work closely with the NSA.Snowden’s NSA revelations have underscored the high value the NSA puts on collecting the metadata of who is communicating with whom, when, where, and how much.Remember Google is metadata central. It is veritable surveillance catnip for the NSA.…In summation, the accumulating evidence indicates that the U.S. military is on path to become Google’s single largest customer.Page’s strategic positioning of Google’s biggest investments to strongly align with future U.S. military needs is no coincidence. It is likely tacit confirmation of a much stronger relationship than Google has acknowledged to date.
Today, Facebook revealed that the US government accounts for the vast majority of the requests for information it receives about its subscribers. The social network said that it was legally required to comply with 79 percent of the 12,000 requests it received from the US government about 21,000 individuals who have profiles on the website.
The US government is not the only guilty party though, as the UK government submitted about 2000 requests on over 2300 Facebook users, which it was obligated to turn over 68 percent of the requests. On the lower-end of the spectrum, Australia requested info on 601 users, of which 64 percent were granted. Facebook chose to release this information in an effort to be transparent after accusations of being close partners with the NSA in the infamous PRISM scandal.
In a blog post, Facebook's general counsel, Colin Stretch, wrote: "As we have made clear in recent weeks, we have stringent processes in place to handle all government data requests... We believe this process protects the data of the people who use our service, and requires governments to meet a very high legal bar with each individual request in order to receive any information about any of our users."