On March 8, 2017, The Daily Mississippian published an opinion piece titled, “The CIA, your smart TV and you,” that is riddled with fallacies and inaccurate assumptions. While many portions are problematic, this letter focuses on the article’s demonstrable lack of understanding for the CIA’s mission abroad in protecting the country.
The article’s primary argument is that “the CIA is allegedly hacking televisions to spy on us.”
Unless the “you” referenced in the title and the “us” referenced in the conclusion are a “foreign person,” as defined by 22 CFR §120.16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, operating outside of the U.S. and requires the intelligence scrutiny of the CIA, the argument made about privacy concerns for U.S. citizens is moot given the surveillance techniques leaked cannot even be used on a U.S. citizen or person by the CIA.
Unlike the NSA and FBI, who typically apply for specialized warrants under FISA to surveil U.S. citizens and persons who have met probable cause thresholds for counterterrorism and counterintelligence purposes, the CIA can only utilize the tools disclosed to WikiLeaks for foreign surveillance purposes.
Additionally, CIA’s response on March 8 saying they are “legally prohibited from conducting electronic surveillance targeting individuals here at home, including our fellow Americans, and CIA does not do so,” nullifies the author’s under-researched argument.
The article misconstrues the CIA’s mission and who can be targeted by its surveillance.
The author’s misplaced outrage, within the context of the recent leaks, over the agency’s technical surveillance capabilities is based entirely on misinformation.
Simple research could have prevented a factually flawed article from being published.
Rest assured, you can continue to have discussions with your microwave because the CIA certainly isn’t listening.
Alex Crouch is a sophomore public policy major from Glen Ellyn, Illinois.