Smartphone Hacking Company Has Thousands of Customers in Government

( An Israeli-based company that creates hardware and software to unlock smartphones remotely reportedly has thousands of customers within the US government, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to a recent report from The Intercept, virtually every US Cabinet-level department along with other federal agencies have purchased this hacking software from Cellebrite in the last few years.

Among the federal departments that now possess the ability to hack into smartphones are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Departments of Agriculture and Veterans Affairs, and the Social Security Administration.

Initially, Cellebrite’s products were sold exclusively to law enforcement agencies. Why would anyone from the CDC need to have the capacity to remotely unlock people’s cellphones?

A recent SEC filing reveals that Cellebrite now has over 2,800 government customers in North America and has hired members of law enforcement to train these people on how to use the technology.

What’s more, Cellebrite has also begun marketing its products to corporations and law firms as a way to “investigate” their employees.

According to The Intercept, the SEC filing also shows that six of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, along with six of the world’s largest oil refiners are among Cellebrite’s clients.

The executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, Albert Fox Cahn told The Intercept that this proves that there has to be greater oversight on the government’s use of mass surveillance technology.

Cahn said currently there are few guidelines on how government departments can use data once they get their hands on it, adding that we cannot permit “every federal department to turn into its own spy agency.”

Cahn can see no justification for an agency like Fish and Wildlife Service needing “this sort of invasive technology.”

True. Nor is there any justification for the CDC, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the Social Security Administration to have it either.

It’s as if the entire federal government has forgotten that there is a Fourth Amendment.

Big surprise here, but not one of these departments were willing to comment on The Intercepts’ story.