...And Track you.
If you own a cell phone, you might as well kiss your privacy goodbye. Cell phone companies know more about us than most of us would ever dare to imagine. Your cell phone company is tracking everywhere that you go and it is making a record of everything that you do with your phone.
Much worse, there is a good chance that your cell phone company has been selling this information to anyone that is willing to pay the price – including local law enforcement. In addition, it is an open secret that the federal government monitors and records all cell phone calls. The “private conversation” that you are having with a friend today will be kept in federal government databanks for many years to come. The truth is that by using a cell phone, you willingly make yourself a prisoner of a digital world where every move that you make and every conversation that you have is permanently recorded. But it is not just cell phone companies and government agencies that you have to worry about. As you will see at the end of this article, it is incredibly easy for any would-be stalker to hack you and track your every movement using your cell phone. In fact, many spyware programs allow hackers to listen to you through your cell phone even when your cell phone is turned off. Sadly, most cell phone users have absolutely no idea about any of this stuff.
Your phone company knows where you live, what websites you visit, what apps you download, what videos you like to watch, and even where you are. Now, some have begun selling that valuable information to the highest bidder.
So who is buying this information?
We just don’t know.
But we do know that local law enforcement agencies all over the country are increasingly using cell phone data to nail suspects, and often it is the cell phone companies that are the ones selling them the cell phone data that they need.
According to a recent New York Times article, many local police departments are doing this without getting a warrant first….
“Law enforcement tracking of cellphones, once the province mainly of federal agents, has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight.”
That same article says that cell phone companies have standard prices that they charge to local law enforcement officials for information that they request….
“Cell carriers, staffed with special law enforcement liaison teams, charge police departments from a few hundred dollars for locating a phone to more than $2,200 for a full-scale wiretap of a suspect.”
So if you are breaking the law, your cell phone may be used to gather evidence and to track you down. In the United States, cell phone companies are required by law to be able to pinpoint the locations of their customers to within 100 meters. So if you are a criminal, your cell phone could be leading the police right to you even as you are reading this article.
Sometimes the police don’t even use the cell phone companies. Recently, the Wall Street Journal ran an article that discussed the capabilities of the “stingray devices” that many local law enforcement agencies are using now.
A “stingray device” acts like a cell phone tower and it can gather any information that a normal cell phone tower can. The following is how a recent Wired article described these “stingrays”….
You make a call on your cellphone thinking the only thing standing between you and the recipient of your call is your carrier’s cellphone tower. In fact, that tower your phone is connecting to just might be a boobytrap set up by law enforcement to ensnare your phone signals and maybe even the content of your calls.
So-called stingrays are one of the new high-tech tools that authorities are using to track and identify you. The devices, about the size of a suitcase, spoof a legitimate cellphone tower in order to trick nearby cellphones and other wireless communication devices into connecting to the tower, as they would to a real cellphone tower.
The government maintains that the stingrays don’t violate Fourth Amendment rights, since Americans don’t have a legitimate expectation of privacy for data sent from their mobile phones and other wireless devices to a cell tower.
Isn’t that just great?
The attitude that law enforcement agencies seem to have is that once we use a cell phone we are essentially willingly throwing our Fourth Amendment rights out the window.
In some areas of the United States, police are physically extracting data from cell phones any time they want as well. According to the ACLU, state police in Michigan have been using “extraction devices” to download data from the cell phones of motorists that they pull over. This is taking place even if the motorists that are pulled over are not accused of doing anything wrong. The following is how an article posted on CNET News describes the capabilities of these “extraction devices”….
The devices, sold by a company called Cellebrite, can download text messages, photos, video, and even GPS data from most brands of cell phones. The handheld machines have various interfaces to work with different models and can even bypass security passwords and access some information.
Fortunately these “extraction devices” are being challenged in court. Let us hope that they will be banned.
But what local law enforcement officials are doing pales in comparison to what federal agencies are doing.
For example, the FBI claims that it can demand to see your cell phone data whenever it would like to.
Not only that, the FBI has also been remotely activating the microphones on the cell phones of suspects that they want to listen to. This can be done even when the cell phone is turned off….
Full Story Here