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Photo: digitaltrends.com

A report by the Wall Street Journal on the FBI’s use of hacking tools claims that the Bureau has the capability to remotely switch on the microphones in Android handsets.

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 … 

It’s a single anonymous source, so it’s difficult to know how much weight to give to the kind of claim we might normally expect to hear from wearers of tin-foil hats, but even before PRISM we did get occasional glimpses into the surveillance capabilities of government agencies.

Earlier this year, a federal warrant application in a Texas identity-theft case sought to use software to extract files and covertly take photos using a computer’s camera, according to court documents.

A  SIM card vulnerability recently discovered showed that a simple two-minute hack could allow an attacker to listen to phone calls, as well as take wider control of a handset, though CNN reports that five major carriers have pushed out patches to solve the problem.

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