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Wikileaks claims Samsung smart TVs and other devices used by CIA to gather information on individuals


By Laurie Fullerton, Freelance Writer

March 7, 2017 | 3 min read

WikiLeaks has released documents today that imply that the CIA used Samsung smart TVs to spy on consumers.

With a batch of documents released Tuesday, WikiLeaks claims that the CIA worked with U.K. intelligence officials to turn microphones in TVs into listening devices, according to a report by CBS News.

Samsung smart TVs have microphones so viewers can use voice commands to pick a movie or the like but it is not considered something that could be transmitted outside the home. But WikiLeaks states that through a program called 'Weeping Angel,' the targeted TV appears to be off when it is actually on -- and listening. "Weaping Angel" according to the CBS article is able to target Samsung smart TVs, in part because they come with an always-on voice command system.

The television can “operate as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server,” WikiLeaks claims.

Today’s release is one of the few WikiLeaks publications to include redactions, erasing the IP addresses and other identifying information of many devices targeted by the CIA.

“While we are aware of the imperfect results of any approach chosen, we remain committed to our publishing model,” the post explains, “and note that the quantity of published pages in ‘Vault 7’ part one already eclipses the total number of pages published over the first three years of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks.”

WikiLeaks says the audio goes to a covert CIA server rather than a party authorized by Samsung. In such cases, audio isn’t limited to TV commands but could include everyday conversations.

The authenticity of the documents published by Wikileaks have yet to be confirmed.

CBS interviewed Mike Baker, a CIA spokesman Mike Baker who explained indirectly that "checks and balances are important and we have procedures and protocols in place but in the real world we have to understand how nasty and aggressive the world can be and a lot of nations out there have no connection or intersection with ours. We are being proactive offensively and defensively to protect our interest. Technology is extremely important and the CIA has led the way in the development of technology."

Samsung did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment.

The ongoing issue of privacy has been the center of debate recently within the FCC and FTC, with increasing demand by consumer for more privacy prompting more regulation proposals going forward.

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