Covert listening device

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A covert listening device, more commonly known as a bug or a wire, is usually a combination of a miniature radio transmitter with a microphone. The use of bugs, called bugging, is a common technique in surveillance, espionage and in police investigations.

A bug does not have to be a device specifically designed for the purpose of eavesdropping. For instance, with the right equipment, it is possible to remotely activate the microphone of cellular phones, even when a call is not being made, to listen to conversations in the vicinity of the phone.[1][2][3][4][5]

Remotely activated mobile phone microphones[edit]

Mobile phone (cell phone) microphones can be activated remotely, without any need for physical access.[1][2][3][4][5][6] This "roving bug" feature has been used by law enforcement agencies and intelligence services to listen in on nearby conversations.[7] A United States court ruled in 1988 that a similar technique used by the FBI against reputed former Gulfport, Mississippi cocaine dealers after having obtained a court order was permissible.[8]

Automobile computer systems[edit]

In 2003 the FBI obtained a court order to surreptitiously listen in on conversations in a car, through the car's built-in emergency and tracking security system. A panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals prohibited the use of this technique because it involved deactivating the device's security features.[9][10]

Examples of use[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Schneier, Bruce (5 December 2006). "Remotely Eavesdropping on Cell Phone Microphones". Schneier On Security. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  2. ^ a b McCullagh, Declan; Anne Broache (1 December 2006). "FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool". CNet News. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 14 March 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Odell, Mark (1 August 2005). "Use of mobile helped police keep tabs on suspect". Financial Times. Retrieved 14 March 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Telephones". Western Regional Security Office (NOAA official site). 2001. Archived from the original on 6 November 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "Can You Hear Me Now?". ABC News: The Blotter. Archived from the original on 25 August 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  6. ^ Lewis Page (26 June 2007). "'Cell hack geek stalks pretty blonde shocker'". The Register. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  7. ^ Brian Wheeler (2 March 2004). "'This goes no further...'". BBC News Online Magazine. Archived from the original on 27 March 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2008. 
  8. ^ FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool., CNET News.com, 1 December 2006
  9. ^ Court Leaves the Door Open for Safety System Wiretaps, The New York Times, 21 December 2003 Archived 1 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Court to FBI: No spying on in-car computers. CNET News.com, 19 November 2003
  11. ^ Operation Dew Worm. Described by Peter Wright in Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer, Stoddart (paperback), 1987. pp. 79-83
  12. ^ "Fumigating the Fumigator". TIME Magazine. 25 September 1964. Archived from the original on 23 August 2013. Retrieved 6 June 2009.  (subscription required)
  13. ^ Hyde, Hon. Henry J. (26 October 1990), "Embassy Moscow: Paying the Bill", Congressional Record: E3555, archived from the original on 26 November 2012 
  14. ^ AUSTRALIAN SECURITY & INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION (ASIO) at the Wayback Machine (archived 3 May 2009) "In 1990, it was learned, that the ASIS, along with the help of 30 NSA technicians, had bugged the Chinese embassy. The story had originally been picked up by an Australian paper, but the ASIS asked them to sit on the story. Shortly thereafter, the Associated Press also picked up the story, but the ASIS also got them to sit on the story. However, the story somehow made its way to Time magazine, where it was published, compromising the operation."
  15. ^ Johnston, David; James Risen (10 December 1999). "U.S. Expelling Russian Diplomat in Bugging of State Dept.". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2008. 
  16. ^ Damien McElroy and David Wastell (20 January 2002). "China finds spy bugs in Jiang's Boeing jet". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. 
  17. ^ "UK embassy 'bug' angers Pakistan". BBC News. 10 November 2003. Archived from the original on 14 November 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  18. ^ "Vajpayee govt tried to bug Blair's bedroom in Delhi". IBNLive. 20 July 2007. Archived from the original on 29 September 2012. 
  19. ^ "Delhi clumsily bugged Blair's room". The Times Of India. 30 July 2007. 
  20. ^ Moore, Matthew (25 November 2008). "Russia's teapot gift to Queen 'could have been bugged'". The Daily Telegraph (London). Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 

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