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FBI Illegally Tapped Phone Phreaks In 1969 296

xmedar writes "In his talks about the history of Apple, Woz has often recounted how the 1971 Esquire article 'Secrets of the Little Blue Box' set him on the road to phone phreaking. Now someone has obtained the FBI file of one of the phreaks, Joe Engressia (who later changed his name to Joybubbles), via Freedom of Information requests. The file reveals that Engressia was illegally wiretapped by the FBI and the phone company back in 1969. J. Edgar Hoover considered the blind college student a national security risk and wrote a memo about him to John Ehrlichman."
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FBI Illegally Tapped Phone Phreaks In 1969

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  • by FlyingSquidStudios ( 1031284 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @12:06AM (#24011597) Homepage
    The current wiretapping scandal has to do with violating FISA which was not passed until 1978.
  • by fyoder ( 857358 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @12:15AM (#24011677) Homepage Journal

    Not to mention that flagrant law breaking by law enforcement agencies may allow the bad guys to walk free. There's a fascinating documentary about the Weather Underground [] wherein it is stated that many of the members got off simply with fines because the FBI routinely went way across the line in conducting their investigations. These were terrorists essentially, with a penchant for bombing public buildings.

  • Joe was amazing! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Newer Guy ( 520108 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @12:55AM (#24011905)

    Though I never met him personally, I know that he had perfect pitch. In other words his ears WERE a frequency counter! Rumor was that he could whistle MF tones-he didn't need the blue box that the rest of us used.

    My BB was made with 555 timers in a calculator box and keypad bought from Poly Paks (anyone remember them?). I used a simple 1N914 diode matrix on the back of the keypad (with all its traces hacked away so it was just a bunch of SPST pushbuttons) to apply power to the different 555's configured as astables. For example, pushing the #1 powered on the 700 and 900 Hz oscillators, etc. The astables were all summed by a 741 opamp and then fed an old telco earpiece with the clipping diode across the back removed. Though everything was square waves, the switching equipment didn't seem to care at all and the box worked GREAT! I'd simply acoustically couple it to a handset mouthpiece and call anywhere I wanted.

    The display on the unit lit up: 'FUCH BELL' when the CE keypad button was pressed. I couldn't make a K with an 8 segment display :)

    I came very close to being busted-a NET security person came to my apt. about 3 months after I left school. Apparently they had a pen tracer on our dorm telephone there and heard my name mentioned. I called his bluff by confronting him ("How did you HEAR my name if all you had a court order to do was use a pen tracer?") and he went away. That day I stopped MFing.

    I never met Woz-though we had some common friends. John Draper (AKA: Captain Crunch-called that because he discovered that a small whistle that came with in some Captain Crunch cereal boxes whistled 2600 hz-the main frequency that the entire tandem long distance system ran on) did come to visit me for a few days-he was ok but socially inept. If they illegally wiretapped Joe, then I'd be sure there's also an illegal file on John D. as well-he was HUGE in the phreaking scene at the time.

    Ahh, the good old days-today it's too not worth phreaking because VOIP and other technologies make things so cheap that it's not worth the risk any more.

  • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Tuesday July 01, 2008 @02:37AM (#24012471) Journal

    Can you see world's population assembling under that cliff, chanting "Jump! Jump!"?

    Hell, I could see quite a few people giving them a nudge in the 'right' direction...

    Here's your chance to nudge. In the primaries, Barack Obama said he'd fight giving the telecoms retroactive immunity for their illegal wiretaps over the last eight years. Now that he's got the nomination sewn up he's losing some of his spine.

    But the fasted growing group on his social networking site was specifically set up to nudge him in the right direction. All you have to do to add to the momentum is sign up and join the group.

    Putting a little fear of the voter's wrath in a politician's heart is a patriotic duty.


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