Privacy Archives

Mobile tracking devices on trial

Is your cell phone is spying on you?

There’s now services available that allow you to be tracked by way of that handly little cellphone.

Mobile tracking devices on trial

By Spencer Kelly

Your mobile phone is a beacon – a radio transmitter in a box.  Therefore it is possible to trace the signal and work out where it is.

There are now several web companies which will track your friends’ and family’s phones for you, so you always know where they are.

But just how safe is it to make location details available online?

There are several reasons why you may want to track someone. You may be a company wanting to keep tabs on employees during work hours, or a parent wanting to check up on a child’s whereabouts.

These sorts of tracking services, now available in the UK, get information from the network about which cell your phone is currently in, and, for a small fee, display the location on an online map.

Full Article:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/4747142.stm

This article is talking about paid services where the owner of the phone to be tracked has to consent to the tracking but this raises questions.

You see, not only can cellphones be tracked by what cell tower they’re connecting to and by triangulating their position from several cell towers based on the direction and strength of the phones signal from each of them. But now more and more of them are equipped with GPS technology that allows their positions to be determined to within a few feet.

It’s not at all unreasonable to imagine circuits built into a cellphone that would allow it’s GPS chip to be queried remotely without the person carrying the phone being aware. It’s also possible for that same kind of silent remote control to activate the phone’s microphone and turn it into a open transmitter, again without the knowledge of the person carrying the phone.

The first response to this suggestion is naturally “Then I’ll just turn the phone off.” There’s two problems with that.

1) If the phone is off, you miss incoming calls.

2) Just because you press a button that says ‘Off’ and the display turns off does not mean that the phone is disabled or rendered incapable of receiving silent remote commands to activate it’s microphone or query it’s GPS chip.

I’m not saying that this sort of thing is even going on right now.  Simply that it’s possible and given that possiblity, how would you defeat it?

Total Information Awareness still Running

Another slashdot item:

gordm writes “National Journal reports that, instead of being shut down 2 years ago, the Total Information Awareness program is still datamining away. Must be effective. What else could explain Morrissey’s latest adventure?” Just posting this story probably puts me on their radar.>

Total Information Awareness still Running

The problem with things like TIA, Patriot Act, Homeland Security act and other little gems like it is that once the Djinn is out of the bottle, you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to put him back in.

Another thing is that the mere existance of things like these shows that we are indeed living in the last days.

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