Saturday, November 26, 2011
Tracking you with your cell phone...
If you regularly carry a cell phone around with you, you might as well say goodbye to your privacy. The truth is that any cell phone you buy is going to track you wherever you go 24 hours a day. Just as you leave "footprints" wherever you go on the Internet, so also your cell phone is constantly recording wherever you go in the physical world. Most people do not realize this, but the reality is that cell phones are tracking devices that governments, law enforcement authorities, big corporations and even stalkers can use to easily track your movements. If you do not know about this yet, then you are going to be absolutely amazed by what you are about to read. Not only do cell phones track you wherever you go, they can also be used to listen to your private conversations even when they are turned off. We live in a brave new world, and there are a lot of control freaks out there that love to monitor where we go and what we do. Unfortunately, it seems like every time technology advances, we lose a little bit more privacy. Eventually, we may wake up someday in a world where there is absolutely no privacy left.
On Black Friday, two U.S. shopping malls started actively using the FootPath Technology tracking system to monitor their customers.
This system captures the unique identification number that is assigned to each phone, and thus it enables the malls to constantly monitor what stores their customers enter.
The malls are putting up signs that warn customers about this system and that instruct them that they can "opt out" by turning off their cell phones.
But should we really have to "opt out" in order to maintain our privacy?
A new article posted on CNN described the "test" that will be running for the rest of the year at these malls....
Starting on Black Friday and running through New Year's Day, two U.S. malls -- Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va. -- will track guests' movements by monitoring the signals from their cell phones.
While the data that's collected is anonymous, it can follow shoppers' paths from store to store.
The goal is for stores to answer questions like: How many Nordstrom shoppers also stop at Starbucks? How long do most customers linger in Victoria's Secret? Are there unpopular spots in the mall that aren't being visited?
It is being argued that since our movements on the Internet are tracked, we should not object when our movements in the physical world are tracked.
But if we say this is okay, where will it all end?
Will we eventually live in a world that makes the movie "Minority Report" look tame by comparison?
So exactly how intrusive is the FootPath Technology tracking system?
A Time magazine article recently explained how the system functions....
It works like this: A network of monitoring units are set up across a mall to track shoppers’ cellphone signals, locating them within a couple of meters. The data is then fed to a central processing center. Afterwards, management can gain insight into their customers’ shopping habits, letting them know which stores complement each other or which pathways have the most foot traffic so they can allocate their maintenance crews and ad posters accordingly.
It is not as intrusive as it could be. But the thing is, once you give these control freaks an inch, eventually they will take a mile.
In fact, governments all over the world are already using cell phones to track down "enemies of the state".
For example, a recent Bloomberg article described how the government of Iran is aggressively using cell phones to crack down on dissidents....
The Iranian officers who knocked out Saeid Pourheydar’s four front teeth also enlightened the opposition journalist. Held in Evin Prison for weeks following his arrest early last year for protesting, he says, he learned that he was not only fighting the regime, but also companies that armed Tehran with technology to monitor dissidents like him.
Pourheydar, 30, says the power of this enemy became clear as intelligence officers brandished transcripts of his mobile phone calls, e-mails and text messages during his detention. About half the political prisoners he met in jail told him police had tracked their communications and movements through their cell phones, he says.
Christians in Iran have learned that they must take the batteries entirely out of their cell phones before they gather at their secret meeting places. Otherwise, the secret police are likely to show up and drag them off to prison.
Eventually, most of the governments on earth will be utilizing these kinds of capabilities.
In the United States, cell phone companies are actually required by law to be able to pinpoint the locations of their customers to within 100 meters. Of course most cell phone providers are able to track their customers much more accurately than that.
Law enforcement authorities all over the U.S. are already using cell phones to track the locations of criminal suspects and to listen to their conversations.
Even if a cell phone is completely turned off, law enforcement authorities can still listen in on the conversations that a suspect is having. All that is necessary is for the battery to still be in the cell phone.
According to CNET News, the FBI can remotely activate the microphone on your cell phone and listen to whatever you are saying....
The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.
The technique is called a "roving bug," and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.
When you make a telephone call, it is never private. The reality is that the NSA has been monitoring all phone calls for years and years. According to USA Today, the NSA intends "to create a database of every call ever made"....
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
Isn't that a bit sobering?
But it isn't just the federal government that is using cell phone information for law enforcement purposes.
In some areas of the United States, law enforcement authorities are pulling data out of cell phones for no apparent reason whatsoever. According to the ACLU, state police in Michigan are now using "extraction devices" to download data from the cell phones of motorists that they pull over. This is happening even if the motorists that are pulled over are not accused of doing anything wrong.
The following is how an article on CNET News described 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.
Would you want the police doing that to you?
Sadly, it is even incredibly easy for hackers and stalkers to tap into your cell phone these days.
The following short excerpt comes from a news story posted by WTHR....
Spyware marketers claim you can tap into someone's calls, read their text messages and track their movements "anywhere, anytime." They say you can "catch a cheating spouse", protect your children from an evil babysitter and "hear what your boss is saying about you." And while you're spying on others, the Spyware companies say "no one will ever know" because it's supposed to be "completely invisible" with "absolutely no trace."
Security experts say it's no internet hoax.
"It's real, and it is pretty creepy," said Rick Mislan, a former military intelligence officer who now teaches cyber forensics at Purdue University's Department of Computer and Information Technology.
Mislan has examined thousands of cell phones inside Purdue's Cyber Forensics Lab, and he says spy software can now make even the most high-tech cell phone vulnerable.
For even more on what hackers and stalkers can do to your cell phone, just check out this amazing video.
This is just another sign that we are rapidly becoming a "Big Brother" society where virtually everything that we do is watched, listened to, tracked or monitored.
For much more on this dramatic transformation of our society, check out this article: "Every Breath You Take, Every Move You Make – 14 New Ways That The Government Is Watching You".
But even with the advanced capabilities that they now have, the control freaks that run things are going to want to push things even further in the future.
For example, not all of us carry a cell phone with us wherever we go.
So how will they track the rest of us?
Implanting a microchip in all of us would make identification and tracking of the population so much easier.
How soon will it be before that idea starts getting pushed to the forefront?
We can all see where all of this is headed.
When George Orwell wrote "1984", a lot of people believed that it was impossible for our world to end up like that.
Well, the technology for a world that is far more repressive than "1984" is being put into place. Every single day, we lose a little bit more privacy. We are constantly being told that we need to sacrifice just a "little bit" of liberty and freedom for the good of national security.
The world is changing. All of us better wake up.
For most of human history, the vast majority of people have lived under repressive governments.
Today, liberty and freedom are being pushed back in every corner of the globe.
Unless this trend is reversed, most of humanity will once again end up living under deep tyranny. Only this time, the "authorities" will be equipped with "Big Brother technology" unlike anything that the world has ever seen before.
Do not take liberty and freedom for granted.
Once they are gone, they will be incredibly difficult to get back.