Wikileaks Strikes Again
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Politics and Activism

Wikileaks Strikes Again

Not even the CIA is safe.

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Wikileaks Strikes Again

This past Tuesday, Wikileaks released a series of confidential documents about the CIA’ s hacking capabilities. Now obviously, the idea of the government spying on people through electronic devices is nothing new. It was only four years ago that Edward Snowden leaked classified information about the NSA’s phone data collection, after all. So what makes this any different?

Well there’s a lot to break down here, so let’s just get right to it. Wikileaks calls this most recent leak “Vault 7,” and its first series of documents, nearly 9,000 in total,“Year Zero.” Wikileaks preceded Vault 7 by releasing information last month that showed how the CIA infiltrated all major political parties in France before the 2012 French Presidential Election. But since this information didn’t really affect Americans, most of us didn’t hear or even care about it. Vault 7 is a different case, however.

According to Wikileaks’ analysis of Vault 7, a software development group within the one of the CIA’s directorates created malware designed to attack smartphones, devices using Microsoft Windows, Apple products, and even Samsung Smart TVs. Most of the companies whose products were targeted by this malware have already issued statements. However, perhaps a more notable revelation that Vault 7 contained was the CIA’s ability to covertly use the microphone and camera on people's smartphones. A few years ago, this would be considered a crazy conspiracy theory spouted by people who wear tinfoil hats and live in underground bunkers. But let’s just hope they stay in their underground bunkers so we don’t have to hear them say “I told you so.”

However, I personally find it hard to be surprised about any of this information. It just may due to the fact that I’m a cynic, but I already assumed the government was able to access some of the most popular electronic devices out there, and could easily use my phone’s camera or microphone without me noticing. Of course, there’s always that knee jerk reaction of referencing George Orwell’s “1984” whenever the topic of government surveillance comes up in conversation or the news. While that’s not to say dystopian fiction has no relevance when discussing government surveillance, I think we have to consider why the government would take such measures before simply labeling them “Big Brother.” But by considering the reasons behind the government surveillance, you are often told that it is for the sake of “national security.” While there is no doubt that protecting a country requires monitoring its populace, there’s a point when the amount of government surveillance outweighs the potential threat that an unmonitored populace presents. The only, albeit incredibly difficult question is where that point lies.

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