Does leak of NSA's full iPhone hacking validate critics' call to reign-in administration's over-reach and abuse?

Has Apple played any role in helping or allowing the NSA to obtain its backdoor access to the iPhone?
NSA spyware called DropOutJeep can access almost everything on the iPhone (Photo: CNet)

Can law enforcement handle a shadowy, constantly morphing enemy on the Internet - without further eroding privacy protections?

Forbes contributor, Erik Kain reports: NSA Intercepting Laptops Ordered Online, Installing Spyware
Spy agencies are, by design, bankrolled to spy on allies and enemies abroad. When it comes to domestic spying, however, we run into problems.

The latest report, this time via Der Spiegel and based on internal NSA documents, reveals that the NSA, in conjunction with the CIA and FBI, has begun intercepting laptops purchased online in order to install (quite literal) spyware and even hardware on the machines. The NSA terms this “interdiction.” Agents divert shipments to secret warehouses, carefully open the packages, install the software and/or hardware, and send them on their way.

The spy agency reportedly has backdoor access to numerous hardware and software systems from prominent tech companies such as Cisco, Dell, and Western Digital, among others. The NSA can even exploit Microsoft Windows error reports to find weak spots in compromised machines in order to install Trojans and other viruses.
Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer of Finnish company, F-Secure, addresses "How much can Google and Facebook attribute to you personally? Who else gets to know it?"

NSA spyware gives agency full access to the iPhone -- report

by Lance Whitney in CNET 12/31

Leaked documents shared by Der Spiegel show that a piece of NSA spyware called DROPOUTJEEP can access pretty much everything on the iPhone.

The US National Security Agency can reportedly sniff out every last bit of data from your iPhone, according to leaked NSA documents published by German magazine Der Spiegel.

Known as DROPOUTJEEP, the spyware is said to be one of the tools employed by the NSA's ANT (Advanced or Access Network Technology) division to gain backdoor access to various electronic devices. On Sunday, leaked documents obtained by Der Spiegel showed how these tools have reportedly been used to infiltrate computers, hard drives, routers, and other devices from tech companies such as Cisco, Dell, Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, and Samsung.

Those same documents reveal how DROPOUTJEEP can infiltrate virtually all areas of the iPhone, including voice mail, contact lists, instant messages, and cell tower location. The tool's abilities are revealed in the following description from one of the apparently leaked NSA documents published by Der Spiegel.
Read full article by Lance Whitney in CNET

San Francisco Chronicle journalist, Seth Rosenfeld, spent years fighting to get information in government records (supposed to be available under the Freedom of Information Act or "FOIA") for the book "Subversives" he was writing. 

When the Society for Professional Journalists honored him this summer, Mr. Rosenfeld expressed dismay that President Obama's administration has not upheld his pledges to support the FOIA - "that the Justice Dept. and the FBI have, in fact, continued certain policies that are contrary to the FOIA and which undermine public accountability and transparency."

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