Because many years ago my laptop camera light kept coming on inexplicably, I have had a piece of post-it note stuck over the lens of my camera lens long before I learned from Edward Snowden that the NSA and other people can commandeer the camera and use it to observe you and, since they can disable the light, with you being none the wiser.
Since then I have seen this form of spying depicted in many places, such as in the film Snowden and in the TV series Mr. Robot and Black Mirror and written about in articles here and there. In those cases, hackers are doing it for evil purposes, such as to blackmail people.
Hence I am still surprised that the need to cover the lens does not seem to be widely known. This is important. Even if you think you have nothing to hide, all of us do many things unconsciously as we go about our day, and perfectly innocent ordinary activities can be edited to make us look ridiculous and embarrass us enough that we would hate to have it widely disseminated.
Meanwhile, today Glenn Greenwald has an article about revelations, lost in the news about the presidential race, of illegal mass surveillance activities in the UK and Canada that have further vindicated Snowden’s actions.
So just this month alone, two key members of the Five Eyes alliance have been found by courts and formal investigations to be engaged in mass surveillance that was both illegal and pervasive, as well as, in the case of Canada, abusing surveillance powers to track journalists to uncover their sources. When Snowden first spoke publicly, these were exactly the abuses and crimes he insisted were being committed by the mass surveillance regime these nations had secretly erected and installed, claims which were vehemently denied by the officials in charge of those systems.
Yet with each new investigation and judicial inquiry, and as more evidence is unearthed, Snowden’s core claims are increasingly vindicated. Western officials are indeed addicted to unaccountable, secretive, abusive systems of mass surveillance used against their own citizens and foreigners alike, and the more those systems take root, the more core liberties are eroded.
Today, Snowden warns us that these government agencies and hackers can also get at our phones and audio and other forms of electronic communication.
But the least we can do is block the lens. Pass it on.