The woman was shocked when she received two nude photos of herself by e-mail. The photos had been taken over a period of several months — without her knowledge — by the built-in camera on her laptop…
The woman, identified in court papers only as C.W., later identified herself on Twitter as Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf. While her case was instant fodder for celebrity gossip sites, it left a serious issue unresolved.
Most laptops with built-in cameras have an important privacy feature — a light that is supposed to turn on any time the camera is in use. But Wolf says she never saw the light on her laptop go on. As a result, she had no idea she was under surveillance.
That wasn’t supposed to be possible. While controlling a camera remotely has long been a source of concern to privacy advocates, conventional wisdom said there was at least no way to deactivate the warning light. New evidence indicates otherwise.
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Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, said in a recent story in The Washington Post that the FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years.