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American Targeted By Digital Spy Tool Sold To Foreign Governments

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the upping-the-stakes dept.

Security 85

An anonymous reader points out a report in Wired of an American woman at a "renowned academic institution" who received targeted malware from what was most likely a foreign government. "... analysis of [the downloader] showed that it was the same downloader that has been used in the past to install Remote Control System (RCS), a spy tool made by the Italian company Hacking Team and sold to governments." What's significant about this malware is that it is made by an Italian firm who claims they sell it only to government and law enforcement bodies, and it isn't of much use to your standard botnet operator. "The RCS tool, also known as DaVinci, records text and audio conversations from Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk and MSN Messenger, among other communication applications. It also steals Web browsing history and can turn on a computer’s microphone and webcam to record conversations in a room and take photos. The tool relies on an extensive infrastructure to operate and therefore is not easily copied and passed to non-government actors outside that infrastructure to use for their own personal spy purposes, according to a Hacking Team spokesman." There's no solid proof indicating who is responsible, but the malware email contained a link to a website in Turkey. "Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance. If authorities there were behind the hack attack, it would mean that a NATO ally had attempted to spy on a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, presumably without the knowledge or approval of U.S. authorities, and for reasons that don't appear to be related to a criminal or counter-terrorism investigation."

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Popular Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913293)

Sounds like this [threatpost.com] and this [threatpost.com] and this [threatpost.com] and many others targeting individual groups or nationals such as Tibetans, Pakistanis and others.

Re:Popular Idea (2)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#43913473)

It's sad that the people who created Stuxnet a few years back probably thought they were doing a noble thing. But the first thing I thought when I read about it was "How long before someone turns this back against us?"

It's like the atomic bomb. Creating it was beneficial in the short term for the U.S. But, in the end, its main result was a nuclear arms race that came all-too-damn-close [wikipedia.org] to causing a nuclear apocalypse (and may yet).

Re:Popular Idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913647)

It's sad that the people who created Stuxnet a few years back probably thought they were doing a noble thing. But the first thing I thought when I read about it was "How long before someone turns this back against us?"

... STUXNET targets SCADA systems. Unless she running a reactor or dam equipment from her laptop I don't think this has anything to do with STUXNET.

Re:Popular Idea (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#43913771)

"... STUXNET targets SCADA systems. Unless she running a reactor or dam equipment from her laptop I don't think this has anything to do with STUXNET."

So I am not allowed to run Uranium Enrichment in my garage? Yet more rights taken from my 2nd amendment!

Let me guess, they are against my building of an ICBM in my back yard as well.....

Re:Popular Idea (1)

filthpickle (1199927) | about a year ago | (#43915463)

Goddamn Obama.

Re:Popular Idea (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43915029)

Because of the nature of this spyware (targeting social contacts and trying to snoop in on private life) it sounds more like a a colleague asked their buddies (or stole) a copy to spy on her because they lack any interpersonal skills. After RTFAing though it seems like it was a completely unprofessional job or just someone phising at random who's got worse spelling than I. Also the article neglects to mention her area of research. It could be something completely unimportant to "spies".

It could have also been part of a program run by a US agent to spread fear and spook people to spying from foreigners, hence the deliberate exposure and sloppiness.

Sounds a bit like getting worried about kids peaking into each others windows. Nothing to see here... slap their asses and move along. Not even news.

There is not enough information to make this any more noteworthy than just normal malware looking for personal information or financial information.

Re:Popular Idea (1)

rioki (1328185) | about a year ago | (#43915179)

Actually stuxnet targets the PCs that run the engineering software for SCADA systems (like mine). It then alters the SPS' program, if it is a of a special configuration. The next regularly scheduled download into the SPS will then ensure then the altered program gets executed. This worked quite well, since you don't see what you are compiling and downloading, but I am currently working on a feature that would have made that more obvious... maybe... if you can see the three little changes under the thousands others.

But I think GP's post was not about stuxnet but about cyber "weapons" in general and in that case I totally agree with him.

Re:Popular Idea (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43915871)

That was just the payload, that with the appropiate sources [thehackernews.com] could vary. Bricking your laptop [pcworld.com] could be the less harmful thing it could do, you will still be free and have money in the bank to buy another.

Re:Popular Idea (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#43916529)

from what i recall stuxnet also shared a lots of code in common with another pernicious computer virus conficker that has infected computer all over the world

Re:Popular Idea (1)

cangrejoinmortal (1315615) | about a year ago | (#43915133)

I believe no one in Stuxnet's dev team feel they were doing a good thing, they were smart people and smart people doing smart things for the warmongers always feel guilt and shame, even if only a little. Only very stupid or malicious people feel war efforts are noble.

Re:Popular Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43916139)

I believe no one in Stuxnet's dev team feel they were doing a good thing, they were smart people and smart people doing smart things for the warmongers always feel guilt and shame, even if only a little. Only very stupid or malicious people feel war efforts are noble.

How about all of the new technologies produced/popularized by war efforts that you enjoy? To make your point you should never use antibiotics again! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antibacterial

Re:Popular Idea (1)

Jockle (2934767) | about a year ago | (#43917569)

That makes zero sense.

Re:Popular Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43919019)

I believe no one in Stuxnet's dev team feel they were doing a good thing, they were smart people and smart people doing smart things for the warmongers always feel guilt and shame, even if only a little. Only very stupid or malicious people feel war efforts are noble.

How about all of the new technologies produced/popularized by war efforts that you enjoy? To make your point you should never use antibiotics again! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antibacterial

Oh, well that makes it worth the killing.

Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913323)

The poor USA is getting spied on. The audacity! A country that's always on its best behavior and has NEVER spied on allies, ever! Besides, are you sure that this isn't rebound spying, where the US lets others spy on US citizens to get information that they wouldn't be allowed to acquire directly themselves?

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (1)

telchine (719345) | about a year ago | (#43913341)

rebound spying, where the US lets others spy on US citizens to get information that they wouldn't be allowed to acquire directly themselves?

This was my first thought when I read it.

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913483)

It is the job of any national government to protect its citizens, so I would hope the US government would make a big stink about this. It wouldn't be doing its job otherwise. As for rebound spying, while I wouldn't put it past certain US agencies of doing that, it is unlikely, and to automatically assume this is the case is to reveal a skewed worldview where the United States is the sole cause of evil in the world.

The way things are going... (3, Insightful)

alexo (9335) | about a year ago | (#43913801)

> It is the job of any national government to protect itself from its citizens

FTFY.

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (1, Flamebait)

sir-gold (949031) | about a year ago | (#43914097)

The US IS the sole cause of all the current evils in the world. (not counting the crazyness that is North Korea)

Every enemy that the US currently faces was created by US foreign policy. The Arabs wouldn't be pissed at the US if it wasn't for the US support of Israel, Mexico and South America wouldn't be in a constant state of civil war if it wasn't for the US war on drugs, and Asia wouldn't be the garbage pile that it is if US Trade Policy favored US labor instead of corporate profits.

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (1)

tibman (623933) | about a year ago | (#43914993)

craaaazzyyy

F'ing Mods need to read Mod rules! (0)

s.petry (762400) | about a year ago | (#43915741)

Please explain to me, oh person that modded this flamebait, how an opinion which is rather common (especially outside of the US) is flamebait? Perhaps a rational person with mod points will correct the rating? I have no mod points today, or would do so myself.

As a side note, more and more Americans are beginning to see the validity of these opinions.

Re:F'ing Mods need to read Mod rules! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43917025)

Although I did not mod this as flamebait, I will explain a possible rational.

The statement, "The US IS the sole cause of all the current evils in the world. (not counting the crazyness that is North Korea)" is sufficiently detached from reality as to constitute flamebait. Think about it, the SOLE cause of ALL the evil. Do people actually believe that if the United States was to cease to exist that humanity would join together in a peaceful paradise? Do they think that if the global hedgemon was Russia or China we would all live in peace and freedom and prosperity?

Re:F'ing Mods need to read Mod rules! (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about a year ago | (#43921809)

Just because China or Russia would do it too (given the chance) doesn't make it right. The US needs to stop interfering with the rest of the world's affairs. The US especially needs to tell Israel to go get stuffed. They have been wasting money (and making enemies) for over 60 years, protecting a bunch of people who most definitely don't need (or deserve) protecting. The Jews need to either make peace with their neighbors, or go find someplace else to hide, preferably somewhere that isn't someone else's ancient holy land.

I can't imagine what those people were thinking when they set up Israel where they did, were they TRYING to piss off the Arabs?. It would be like a bunch of Gaelic Pagans suddenly deciding that the Vatican City now belongs to the Irish, and staging a permanent hostile takeover (backed up by the most powerful military in the world).

Re:F'ing Mods need to read Mod rules! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43917555)

Please explain to me, oh person that modded this flamebait, how an opinion which is rather common (especially outside of the US) is flamebait?

Know what else is rather common (especially outside of the US)?

Being extremely fucking stupid.

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (1)

Muros (1167213) | about a year ago | (#43918223)

As for rebound spying, while I wouldn't put it past certain US agencies of doing that, it is unlikely, and to automatically assume this is the case is to reveal a skewed worldview where the United States is the sole cause of evil in the world.

Can I say false dichotomy?

fuck you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913551)

Innocents who have no interest in this sort of crap are getting caught in the bullshit "cyberwar"

How about we round up all the spies, all the fundamentalists on both sides, all the cyber criminals and even those who would write posts like yours and shoot them into the sun on a rocket. Then the rest of us can go back to enjoying a decent life.

Re:fuck you (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year ago | (#43914113)

Do let me know how you'd like your Darwin Award Nomination Phrased :)

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914395)

The poor USA is getting spied on. The audacity! A country that's always on its best behavior and has NEVER spied on allies, ever! Besides, are you sure that this isn't rebound spying, where the US lets others spy on US citizens to get information that they wouldn't be allowed to acquire directly themselves?

So since I obviously missed this memo, when did two wrongs start making a right?

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (1)

rioki (1328185) | about a year ago | (#43915241)

Did you not read it. The CIA issues it sometime in the 80s

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914585)

The poor USA is getting spied on. The audacity! A country that's always on its best behavior and has NEVER spied on allies, ever! Besides, are you sure that this isn't rebound spying, where the US lets others spy on US citizens to get information that they wouldn't be allowed to acquire directly themselves?

There's information they're not allowed to acquire themselves? Are you serious?

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (1)

RoknrolZombie (2504888) | about a year ago | (#43914625)

Technically yes - it's against US law for the US to spy on it's own citizens without due cause.

That being said, the US doesn't pay much attention to what's actually "legal" anymore, opting for "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission"...the same model that's gotten us so far in the last 30 years.

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#43914733)

I assure you that the people being spied upon are not the people who were spying on citizens of other countries. So I don't see the hypocrisy.

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43915369)

The poor USA is getting spied on. The audacity! A country that's always on its best behavior and has NEVER spied on allies, ever!

You can replace the words "USA" with the name of damn near any other nation on the planet and the statement will remain accurate.
In other words, get over yourself. Every government gets sanctimonious about that kind of stuff, it's called politics.

And no, the US citizen was not sold overseas after being spied upon, which is what the summary claims.

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (1)

Jockle (2934767) | about a year ago | (#43918625)

You can replace the words "USA" with the name of damn near any other nation on the planet and the statement will remain accurate.

And... that makes it okay somehow? I don't see where he mentioned other countries not doing any of that at all.

Re:Don't be so goddamn sanctimonious (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43915917)

Feeling in their own skin what they are doing to others (via their "representatives") is a good first step. That antivirus could not [slashdot.org] detect that kind of things because government orders adds a bit of spice. But anyway, they won't know how widespread this will become, whoever [washingtonpost.com] could warn them will be considered an enemy of the state, and prosecuted no matter where in the world they are.

Turns out that software can be copied. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913375)

Who'd have thought that possible?

Turkey, why you hate freedom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913409)

Turkey wasn't happy attacking their own people, and is now attacking our citizens in our homes and businesses?

Slavery... (1, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#43913413)

If we sell all the Americans targeted by spy tools to other governments then that might close the budget gap!

Re:Slavery... (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43913445)

It seems to work for Facebook. Let's just hope the US Government doesn't have an IPO, it could shatter the illusion of what it's actually worth.

Re:Slavery... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914255)

Can you imagine how funny the promos for this thing can be...

Are you a government autocrat? Do you find yourself wondering at night "do my people love me or want me dead like Gaddafi?"
Well here is your chance : BUY our brand new super-duper spy tool and find out for sure who loves you and who loves thinking about you dead!
Our tool can intercept anything AND more .. see live cams from unsuspecting hot women in you country ! Hear teenagers as they listen to BIeber! And much more!
Buy now and get a 25% discount!
Don't let thous pesky subjects bother you any more with our state of the art auto "to - do list" ! (in app purchase) .
Eliminate thous viral ideas just as easy as using an antivirus!

*hardware not included**
**requires 100,000 core super computer

Davinci? Hack the Gibson! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913459)

Hack the Planet!

GTFO (0)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43913467)

> a report in Wired of an American woman at a "renowned academic institution"
>
> can turn on a computer’s microphone and webcam

TOIDH

"If ... would ... presumably ... don't appear to" (4, Insightful)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a year ago | (#43913527)

There's no solid proof indicating who is responsible

Thanks, all we really needed to know, I guess.

but the malware email contained a link to a website in Turkey.

Let me send you one with a link to a website in Mexico. Sorry, make that Sweden. Germany? Italy? Take your pick.

"Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance. If

And there the subject line finds its origin. I love a good tinfoilhat story, but this is not even that. This is pretty much wild guesses.

Re:"If ... would ... presumably ... don't appear t (1)

pellik (193063) | about a year ago | (#43913569)

I'm inclined to believe that Turkey may be responsible here. Remember, these aren't actors capable of writing their own spyware. They simply bought a package from someone else and, presumably, put in their email address where it called for an email address in configuration. Hanlon's razor.

Re:"If ... would ... presumably ... don't appear t (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#43914119)

Re: "these aren't actors capable of writing their own spyware" - Italy has had its SISMI military intelligence agency using the telco 'network' in very creative ways.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SISMI-Telecom_scandal [wikipedia.org]
If that is the quality of the systems created/used/requested over time in the EU, the ability to enter one computer network seems not too hard?
ie if you have a simple domestic surveillance program covering 1000's of people, whats one US network in 2013 with that skill/support set?
You also had http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_wiretapping_case_2004 [wikipedia.org] –2005
~ 100's Greek government and top-ranking civil servants ....
Any state friendly with the NSA (the USA used Turkey eg Karamursel as the UK GCHQ used Cyprus) - generations going back to Adana flights, U2 from Turkey, generations of sigint collection. That help will not be forgotten by the USA when requesting access to top level US software/hardware telco vendors and cleared any export issues.
As for "without the knowledge or approval of U.S. authorities" - the NSA would have understood this event, how much they felt/had to tell other "U.S. authorities" about ongoing foreign operations is ???
The CIA had Operation CHAOS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_CHAOS [wikipedia.org] to spy on people protesting the Vietnam War/Cuba/antiwar issues, perhaps groups in the US gov are just helping EU/friendly govs do the same with people of interest around the world as they protest?

Re:"If ... would ... presumably ... don't appear t (2)

Technician (215283) | about a year ago | (#43913717)

If you read the article, the researcher did not download or examine the payload. They used a honeypot to view the downloader, but not the payload. The payload could be anything, but the downloader was used by a known software vendor.

Though investigators didn’t obtain the file that the downloader was supposed to install, analysis of it showed that it was the same downloader that has been used in the past to install Remote Control System (RCS), a spy tool made by the Italian company Hacking Team and sold to governments. A digital certificate used to sign the downloader has also been used in the past with Hacking Team’s tool.

Re:"If ... would ... presumably ... don't appear t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913789)

It's all a fiendish plot to eliminate the meal of dinner.

Spies Exist ?!?!! *clutches pearls* (1, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | about a year ago | (#43913601)

Whoa! Stop the presses!!! You mean to tell me that countries that are nominally allies sometimes carry out covert intelligence operations against each other?

If this comes as a shock to anybody, anywhere, you need to crawl out from under the proverbial rock. It happens all. the. time.

And "a link to a website in Turkey" is hardly proof of anything. At all. And if it came from a GMail account, would there be dark aspersions that Google was behind it all?

Re:Spies Exist ?!?!! *clutches pearls* (1)

auric_dude (610172) | about a year ago | (#43913703)

Is Turkey now the new China?

Re:Spies Exist ?!?!! *clutches pearls* (4, Funny)

OolimPhon (1120895) | about a year ago | (#43915409)

Is Turkey now the new China?

I don't know. Why don't you try making me a pot of tea in a turkey and tell me how it tastes?

What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913609)

The US not only spies on it allies, but uses their citizens, as well as their own, in human experiments such as hacking the brain with radio and teaching an AI how to manipulate humans.

The US ceased being a true allied nation a long time ago and is treated with suspicion right across the world. At present, the US can be best describe as in a state of cold-like war with its own allies.

Re:What do you expect? (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about a year ago | (#43913897)

I was with you right up until you said "hacking the brain with radio",

Unless by "radio" you really meant "television", and by "hacking the brain" you really meant "turning it into mush with mindless reality TV shows", in which case you would be totally correct.

Re:What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914199)

Nah,men .. I know two guys who swear that they are being hacked (in the brain) with radio... They don't agree by who, one says NSA the other MI5 .. but they know it ... it's in their dreams... then they see the truth ...

Re:What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914571)

I take it you guys are from the US...a damning inditement of the US mis-education program. The human body absorbs RF energy, as do nerve endings. By controlling the parameters of an RF signal, it is possible to selectively fire nerve ending in patterns that are translated to information and motor control.

Perhaps you should correct that state-controlled propaganda you guys get as an education...you know the one that tells you AI is 20 years away, rather than being a 40 year old solved problem.

Re:What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43917739)

AC, you are insane.

Expect Everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43922033)

"I was with you right up until you said "hacking the brain with radio"

I guess you don't keep up to date with mind control technology. A lot of techiemilitary and government (news) sites have this info as well as civ sites. Google an old pub "The mind has no firewall".

(Some of) Our minds are being targeted as experimentation.

With all of the published violations against human rights by governments and corporations experimenting on them, it's laughable to believe that beast has been chained.

Stay current with gov+corp news on the subject, don't just follow stories about people playing games with their mind.

Re:What do you expect? (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about a year ago | (#43915343)

You do realize that the US's allies spy on the US as well. It's not a new phenomenon either. It's been going on for a very long time. I hate to break it to you but the US didn't invent all of this evil shit.

THIS FP FOR GNaA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913651)

very own shhiter,

Holy leap of logic, batman! (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year ago | (#43913653)

Though investigators didn’t obtain the file that the downloader was supposed to install, analysis of it showed that it was the same downloader that has been used in the past to install Remote Control System (RCS), a spy tool made by the Italian company Hacking Team and sold to governments. A digital certificate used to sign the downloader has also been used in the past with Hacking Team’s tool.

So because a difference piece of software has been used in conjunction with RCS in the past, this use of that software must also have something to do with RCS?

At least they didn't shoot her with a missile from (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913655)

Gotta put these things in perspective...

Editors, bang up job. (4, Funny)

Taibhsear (1286214) | about a year ago | (#43913733)

Came here wondering how an American woman got sold to a foreign government. Great job as always, editors.

Re:Editors, bang up job. (1)

Racemaniac (1099281) | about a year ago | (#43913889)

Same here, took me ages before i understood what the title was supposed to mean.

Re:Editors, bang up job. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913905)

I hope that the Dice Holdings jobs listing includes "grammar and usage checker" for Slashdot soon.

Re:Editors, bang up job. (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about a year ago | (#43914839)

In their defense, if the editors didn't make the headlines confusing, most ./ readers wouldn't RTFSummary either.

It must be a real burden to edit a text-oriented website for people who hate to read.

Re:Editors, bang up job. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918929)

I didn't bother to read the summary once I got past the first sentance and learned that an American wasn't sold to a foreign government. I probably would have kept reading if the story was about well, an "American targetted by digital spy tool [has been] sold to [a] foreign governments"

Re:Editors, bang up job. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43915115)

Fuck you. Go rant at Wired -- it's their title.

Dual standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913739)

How shocking anyone should spy on the US when we spy on everyone, all the time, world wide.
If the traffic is a signal of any type we are scooping all of it up. The US empire at work, we will tolerate no near peer rivals, any means are legit.

Hmmm ... (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43913833)

If authorities there were behind the hack attack, it would mean that a NATO ally had attempted to spy on a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, presumably without the knowledge or approval of U.S. authorities, and for reasons that don't appear to be related to a criminal or counter-terrorism investigation.

I'm pretty sure the US already does this -- possibly not for reasons other than criminal or counter-terrorism though.

But, really, since we know with Carnivore and pretty much everything else the US spies on NATO allies as well.

Unless we're meant to believe the US only does this on NATO allies with their express approval and oversight. Because, a t a minimum, we know the CIA has kidnapped people in Italy, a NATO member, without telling anybody.

Does anybody really think countries don't actively spy on their allies if they feel the need?

Re:Hmmm ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43915493)

What would be more interesting is what "extensive infrastructure" they need to operate a simple trojan horse on a windows box... I call BS!

The first 3 times I read it (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about a year ago | (#43913841)

The headline parsed as "(American Targeted By Digital Spy Tool) Sold To (Foreign Governments)."

"without the approval of U.S. authorities" (3, Interesting)

lee n. field (750817) | about a year ago | (#43914125)

it would mean that a NATO ally had attempted to spy on a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, presumably without the knowledge or approval of U.S. authorities

Why in the world would anyone think this?

"Renowned academic institution" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914239)

Ph.Ds are just as clueless as the rest of us when it comes to using their computers.

An American was sold to foreign governments? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914251)

grammer

America is not getting spied on (2)

kruach aum (1934852) | about a year ago | (#43914501)

A woman at an academic institution in the US is getting spied on. This is an important distinction sadly ignored by the attention grabbing headline; not everything every person does in a country should count as a direct proxy for that country. If it did, the act of spying would be a logical contradiction.

Punctuation (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about a year ago | (#43914687)

Americans should not be sold to foreign govt, irrespective of whether these Americans are targeted by Digital Spy Tools or not. It's like throwing the baby out with the bathwater or something.

What's the big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43915053)

Hey America, didn't you get the memo that you wrote? National sovereignty and international law means nothing any more! Someone in another country pissing you off? Just shout "terrorism" and have them harassed and extradited on phony rape charges, or you can abduct them for torture, or kill them with a drone, or send in a team of seals. Shit, what's a bit of spying between friends? Chill out bro.

William Gibson called it (2)

idontgno (624372) | about a year ago | (#43915253)

The street finds its own uses for things.

-- William Gibson, "Burning Chrome" [wikipedia.org]

Of course it's of no use to hackers (1)

pseudorand (603231) | about a year ago | (#43915521)

...because hackers have better tools they get for free from the Interwebs. Of course, if it does turn out to be hackers, this Italian firm could always stick a EULA on it and have the BSA enforce. Hackers aren't afraid of the government, but BSA lawyers scare everyone.

Say what? American sold to a foreign government? (1)

Prune (557140) | about a year ago | (#43915763)

How hard would it have been to reword the title to the equally concise, yet unambiguous, "Digital Spy Tool Sold To Foreign Governments Used to Target American"?

Re:Say what? American sold to a foreign government (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43915975)

((Digital Spy) Tool) Sold To (Foreign Governments Used to (Target American))? Foreign governments accustomed to a Target American were sold a digital spy named Tool?

Re:Say what? American sold to a foreign government (1)

Prune (557140) | about a year ago | (#43930271)

Re:Say what? American sold to a foreign government (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#43930499)

Just pointing out (pedantically) that your "unambiguous" version of the sentence is not perfectly unambiguous: there are multiple different grammatically correct ways to interpret the phrase.

For example, "used to" might be taken in the sense of "a spoon is used to eat soup," or as in "he is used to being correct"; in the latter case, "Target" might be an adjective modifying "American," rather than the verb form "to Target". It might be the "Foreign Governments" that are "used to target American," rather than the "Digital Spy Tool," etc. etc.

Language is a tricky thing --- and most human languages are not especially well structured to produce purely unambiguous statements. A large amount of context (that you naturally and easily fill in) is necessary; one of the big problems that makes "natural language" computer control or automated translation extremely difficult.

Subject verb fun (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43916391)

If the subject is "American Targeted By Digital Spy Tool" the story is funnier.

what i really wanna know (1)

cripkd (709136) | about a year ago | (#43916579)

... Is how much was the american that was first spied upon sold for and to what foreign government? Is the spied americans a market worth getting into?

Re:what i really wanna know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918945)

Get in early before the speculators.

*Not* McAfee? (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#43917231)

Damn, reading the title of the submission I thought for sure I'd be reading another lurid tale of John McAfee being singled out for persecution by TPTB. What a disappointment!

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