Comey: ‘There is No Such Thing as Absolute Privacy’

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“There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America,” FBI director James Comey declared after the disclosure of a range of hacking tools used by the CIA, reports The Guardian. Comey was speaking at a cybersecurity conference in Boston, but his assessment has deepened privacy concerns already raised by the details of CIA tools to hack consumer electronics for espionage published by WikiLeaks on Tuesday. “All of us have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our homes, in our cars, and in our devices. But it also means with good reason, in court, government, through law enforcement, can invade our private spaces,” Comey said yesterday. “Even our memories aren’t private. Any of us can be compelled to say what we saw … In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any of us to testify in court on those private communications.”

Fresh concerns over personal privacy arose when WikiLeaks published what it called the first tranche of a larger body of data about CIA hacking, which it says was provided to the organization by a whistleblower seeking to trigger a debate on the issue. The CIA noted it was legally prohibited from using such surveillance tools in the U.S. There is anxiety in Washington that the WikiLeaks release of what it called its “Vault 7” trove of data would make the hacking tools available to criminal or terrorist organizations, or foreign governments. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) called for a congressional investigation into how the data came to be stolen and the wisdom of the intelligence agencies in withholding knowledge about vulnerabilities in consumer software from manufacturers. Cybersecurity analysts said it would not be hard to find out how the more than 500MB of data was stolen.

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