Cell Phones: Personal Tracking and Bugging Devices


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roo_ster
August 12, 2005, 06:41 AM
OK, so maybe the guys who hack their phones to run a version of embeded linux on them aren't just super-geeked out hobbysts who have never had a date.

Anybody know one? I'm willing to set one up to go on an actual date with an actual girl in return for a favor...


http://www.guardian.co.uk/mobile/article/0,2763,1542338,00.html
Knowing me, knowing you

George Orwell would be shocked at the popular support for the spread of surveillance technology, writes Victor Keegan

Thursday August 4, 2005

There is not much doubt now that the world has entered the age of surveillance - with the UK at the leading edge. Britain now has over 4 million CCTV cameras in operation, the guardian angels of a secular society. If a referendum were to be held in the wake of the terrorists' attacks recommending cameras on every street it would probably be carried overwhelmingly. This is slightly surprising, not just because of the long-term implications for civil liberties, but because video cameras do not seem to have acted as a deterrent to terrorists, even though they have made it easier to identify them afterwards, whether dead or alive.

The main means of tracking terrorist suspects down has been the monitoring of mobile phone conversations. Not only can operators pinpoint users to within yards of their location by "triangulating" the signals from three base stations, but - according to a report in the Financial Times - the operators (under instructions from the authorities) can remotely install software onto a handset to activate the microphone even when the user is not making a call. Who needs an ID card when they can do that already?

On top of all this official scrutiny, there is a growing fashion for mutual personal surveillance from the millions of "smart" phones with built-in cameras and video functions that are getting more powerful by the week. It won't be long, doubtless, before miniaturised cameras will be embedded in spectacles enabling footage to be sent on the hoof to a remote website for archival purposes.

Technology has undoubtedly helped terrorists get organised. The internet is a source for fundamentalist proselytising, information about activities such as bomb making and links to like-minded people, while mobile phones provide constant communication and, in some instances, detonators.

Technology also offers unprecedented ways to track criminals down. But each advance in technological detection produces a counter-reaction from terrorists. Just as there has been a move away from laundering money through the international banking system (towards cash transactions) because of improved governmental monitoring, so the events of the past month could persuade terrorists to abandon mobile phones in favour of more primitive forms of communication such as one-to-one conversations.

As technology continues to advance at a breathtaking pace, the future scope for finding out who we are is quite awesome. The current issue of Business Week lists the ways in which we can be uniquely identified from DNA and radio frequency identification tabs (RFID) to body odour, breath or saliva. There are even scientists working on "gait recognition" so future video cameras can pick us out from the way we walk in a crowd.

The danger from all this is that few people will object as long as there is a serious threat of terrorism. But once (if?) the threat subsides, the infrastructure of surveillance will remain. Then it might not be the police reconstructing a fuzzy image from a crowd to catch a terrorist but an employee of the imaging company extorting money from someone found in a compromising position. As one Business Week contributor observed: "We get most of our security from liberty." If George Orwell were alive now (21 years after the London he depicted in 1984) he would be astonished by the fact that the sort of surveillance he feared is supported not by a government imposing it from above on an unwilling population but by a groundswell of popular support. That's not a problem at the moment. But it will be in future, either if we sign away civil liberties permanently in response to a temporary emergency or if the cost of installing the infrastructure becomes so huge that it erodes our personal prosperity. Either way, Bin Laden would have won.
(Bold face is mine)

Kinda makes the whole bug-placing operation moot when your subject carries a the bug/tracking device for you.

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rms/pa
August 12, 2005, 06:52 AM
oh my.

as for me ,i have managed to lose two cell phones and a beeper before my wife got the hint.

rms/pa

NukemJim
August 12, 2005, 07:03 AM
I do not know about the cell phones but I do know that the US .gov can and has done it with "OnStar" in vehicles. There was a court case about it and the .gov won.

NukemJim

1 old 0311
August 12, 2005, 07:38 AM
The same holds true for cable TV. MOST new sets also have a sending capability. This can be activated with a court order. My brother works for a cable company and said this has been around for a few years.

Kevin

Echo Tango
August 12, 2005, 08:01 AM
I am sorry to say, this is something that actually can be done. There are several documented occasions where lost hikers have been "saved" because they were able to be located via their cell phones. Its a transcevier, its going to broadcast a signal, short of turning it off they are going to be able to locate your where abouts. As for turning on the speaker, no clue about that, can't imagine that would be to hard to do however.

Ukraine Train
August 12, 2005, 08:27 AM
Most phones advertise GPS capability so that if you call 911 an equipped dispatch center can figure out where you are. I'm no computer geek but I'm sure you can make it send your location with the phone just sitting there.

RaggedClaws
August 12, 2005, 08:49 AM
My cell phone is for outgoing calls only. I keep it turned off and in my backpack most times (these days it's turned on and in my pocket, but that's because my wife is very pregnant). If someone calls me on my cellphone, I don't answer it. I listen to the message and then call them back on a land line or send them an email. Suffice it to say, nobody calls me on my cell phone anymore unless it's an emergency.

Bacchus
August 12, 2005, 08:49 AM
Ukraine Train: Most phones advertise GPS capability so that if you call 911 an equipped dispatch center can figure out where you are. I'm no computer geek but I'm sure you can make it send your location with the phone just sitting there.

Exactly right. My phone has the option to turn the GPS on or off. I have specified that the GPS will only be activated if I dial 911, but who knows....

cuchulainn
August 12, 2005, 09:09 AM
No offense, but so what?

Look, I agree that it's annoying in a Big Brother sort of way that the authorities have the ability to track me because I carry a cell phone. But, again, so what?

They have the ability to track me because I use credit cards. They have the ability to track me because I have a license plate on my car. The list goes on.

The question is: Are they tracking me? Nope. I'm pretty boring. Thus I can "safely" use all the modern conveniences.

If I ever decide to do something for which I'd expect the authorities to track me, I'll get rid of the cell phone, the credit cards and a bunch of other things. Until then, I'll even leave open some of the blinds on my windows so the police can, gasp, look into my house if they want.

No, I'm not using the copout, "If you aren't doing something wrong, why are you worried about it?" I'm simply saying that it's an acceptable risk to me -- right now, getting rid of the acceptable risk of my cell phone or my credit cards (which I pay off in full every month btw) would be as silly as getting rid of the acceptable risk of my guns or my car.

Control Group
August 12, 2005, 09:35 AM
The question is: Are they tracking me? Nope. I'm pretty boring. Thus I can "safely" use all the modern conveniences.
To sort-of quote Bruce Schneier, "security through obscurity isn't."

Still and all, you are, of course, right. There's nothing to do about it aside from ditch the cell phone. And, for both you and I, the convenience of the cell phone outweighs the cost in privacy violation, so it's something we just put up with.

That doesn't mean that it's not a fundamental violation of our traditional privacy rights and Constitutional search and seizure protections. It might be a violation that we can't do anything about and have to resign ourselves to, but that's not the same thing as accepting it. While you're right that we can be tracked by credit cards and licenses plates, there is (at least, IMHO) a basic difference between this cell phone tracking and those. Credit cards are discrete and obvious, you know when you conduct a transaction that it's being logged. Moreover, tracking you via credit card use is, of necessity, a post-event activity. Some time after the card is swiped, someone can see that it happened. Since you're not constantly using your card, it's impossible to get real-time intelligence on your activities. The license plate, on the other hand, is real-time while you're driving, but can't be accessed by remote (yet).

The cell phone bugging (I'm tempted to say "buggery"), however, is both at-a-distance and real-time. It really is a significant step further towards total surveillance than credit cards and license plates. Is it the end of the world, the death of freedom, or the spark that will start The Revolution? No, of course not. It's something almost everyone will just shrug their shoulders over and say "yeah, well, it doesn't really affect me, so it's no biggie." And almost all of them will be right.

Of course, that's the whole key to incrementalism, isn't it?

Preacherman
August 12, 2005, 09:38 AM
That's why a pay-as-you-go cellphone is a handy thing: it's not registered to your name. You can buy one, use it for a few days, dump it, and get another one. Terrorists do this all the time.

On the other hand, since I doubt that my perambulations would be of any great interest to anybody, I won't bother...

Control Group
August 12, 2005, 09:48 AM
That's why a pay-as-you-go cellphone is a handy thing: it's not registered to your name. You can buy one, use it for a few days, dump it, and get another one. Terrorists do this all the time.
Yep. And once again, efforts to stop bad things from happening to good people don't hurt anyone but the good people.

The theme is so repetitive it's almost boring.

cuchulainn
August 12, 2005, 10:13 AM
That doesn't mean that it's not a fundamental violation of our traditional privacy rights and Constitutional search and seizure protections. No. It's a potential violation. It's a doorway, but until the doorway is breached, there is no violation.

I agree that the Big Brother potential is a tad annoying, but it's an acceptable risk, IMHO.

And as someone has noted, cell phones have the option to turn off the GPS except for 911 calls. Assuming the option works (anyone know?), that's like having curtains on your house windows -- you control whether people can look at you.

The remote bugging is something different, but that's not unique to cell phones. It goes for landlines too, not to mention other communication devices. Yes, it’s easier with cells.

And speaking of windows, in most jurisdictions, you're required by fire codes to have a certain number of windows on your house (especially on bedrooms). Yep, the authorities are requiring you to have devices on your house that might facilitate their breaching your privacy. But until they do something, there's no violation.

It doesn't bother me.

DelayedReaction
August 12, 2005, 10:25 AM
Arguing that being able to track people via cellphones is a breach of privacy is like arguing that possessing a gun makes you a murderer. Both technologies have the ability to perform those actions, but neither is valid until it occurs.

And to be honest, this isn't the kind of thing that was intentionally developed. Cellphones emit electromagnetic radiation in the same way that radios do. By having two cell phone towers determine the direction of that radiation, you can determine the location of the source. It's a function of the technology.

WT
August 12, 2005, 10:37 AM
This capability has been around for awhile.


In 1992 NJ prosecutor Michael Chertoff (name sound familiar?) prosecuted a couple who kidnapped and murdered Exxon executive Sidney Reso. The state and feds found the couple by tracking their cell phones.

It took a little time because the couple kept moving and the police usually arrived at their previous location only a minute or two after the couple had left.

The couple is now enjoying the hospitality of a NJ state prison.

"Improvements" to cell phone tracking were made after this case.

cuchulainn
August 12, 2005, 10:39 AM
this isn't the kind of thing that was intentionally developed Actually, the GPS capabilities were prompted by the government to facilitate response to 911 calls.

Read this about FCC's E911 (Enhanced 911) rules -- http://www.fcc.gov/911/enhanced/

But you're absolutely correct, it's a potential, nothing more. And I'll add that no one is forcing us to accept this potential. We do so freely, knowing the potential (and remote) risks. There's no violation.

Zundfolge
August 12, 2005, 10:44 AM
The same holds true for cable TV. MOST new sets also have a sending capability. This can be activated with a court order.
I'm sorry, but unless you back that one up with a reliable source I'm calling shenanigans :scrutiny:

If its true, is it the TV or the cable box? I don't believe that manufacturers installed microphones on either, but hey, if I'm wrong I'll be cutting into my TVs to remove them :)


As for the Cell Phone thing, the simple solution is to remove your battery when you're not using the phone (or, if you're really mechanically inclined, you could wire in a switch that manually cuts off the battery)

mtnbkr
August 12, 2005, 10:50 AM
MOST new sets also have a sending capability.
What exactly would they send and how?

Chris

taliv
August 12, 2005, 10:50 AM
Ukraine Train: Most phones advertise GPS capability so that if you call 911 an equipped dispatch center can figure out where you are. I'm no computer geek but I'm sure you can make it send your location with the phone just sitting there.

Exactly right. My phone has the option to turn the GPS on or off. I have specified that the GPS will only be activated if I dial 911, but who knows....


Are you sure you're not talking about GSM? GSM is a technology like CDMA that allows you to do some spiffy extra stuff on your phone.

When 911 locates a phone, they do so by triangulation. i.e. your signal is picked up by three different cell towers, and they measure the times the signals were received and figure out where you are.

They do not, to my knowledge, install GPS in phones, which would require your phone to have another antenna and to receive and process info from the satellites, and then send that info to the 911 PSAP.

If you're turning the GSM option off on your phone, you're probably just disabling the digital part and forcing yourself to use analog signals (if you have a dual or triband phone) which does nothing but sound crappier and run your battery out faster.


(edit: just to be clear, if the e911 stuff worked using GPS, it would ONLY work on phones that had GPS built in. in fact, it works on all phones, including old analog phones. (recall the chechnyan terrorist over 5 years ago who got whacked by a missile after they called his cell phone to locate him)

Control Group
August 12, 2005, 10:56 AM
No. It's a potential violation. It's a doorway, but until the doorway is breached, there is no violation.
Point taken; I think we disagree on what qualifies as a violation. In my view, a video camera in my bedroom is, in itself, a violation of my privacy, whether or not anyone is watching or recording what it sees.

I suspect I'm about to be blasted for a slippery slope fallacy. ;) Bear in mind, however, that I'm not arguing cell phone tracking is bad because of bedroom video cameras, I'm simply illustrating my opinion that a potential avenue of privacy violation, if I am required to provide the avenue, equates to a violation of privacy to me. I draw no conclusions from this statement; it is simply a statement of personal opinion.

And speaking of windows, in most jurisdictions, you're required by fire codes to have a certain number of windows on your house (especially on bedrooms). Yep, the authorities are requiring you to have devices on your house that might facilitate their breaching your privacy. But until they do something, there's no violation.
"Many jurisdictions require you to have windows in your bedroom. Cell phone tracking is analogous to windows in your bedroom, therefore cell phone tracking is not an invasion of your privacy." The argument is sound, as long as one agrees that requirements for bedroom windows are not an invasion of privacy; I don't accept that premise. It's not an invasion of privacy that I particularly care about (since I would have bedroom windows regardless of statutory requirements), but I would be on the side of someone who didn't want to have bedroom windows because he didn't want people able to look into his bedroom.

Control Group
August 12, 2005, 11:08 AM
Arguing that being [i]able[/b] to track people via cellphones is a breach of privacy is like arguing that possessing a gun makes you a murderer. Both technologies have the ability to perform those actions, but neither is valid until it occurs.
Fair enough. My problem is that I trust individuals, I do not trust governments. I would not be bothered if every homeowner in my city set up a video camera on his front lawn and taped everything that went on. I would be bothered if the government set up a video camera on every corner and taped everything that went on. I admit to holding a double standard in this regard.

And to be honest, this isn't the kind of thing that was intentionally developed. Cellphones emit electromagnetic radiation in the same way that radios do. By having two cell phone towers determine the direction of that radiation, you can determine the location of the source. It's a function of the technology.
Traingulating location is a side effect of the technology, true. But that's not the part that bothers me; if nothing else, that only works when my phone is communicating with the network. The ability to remotely activate the microphone and have my phone transmit sound into the network without me knowing it is the part that bothers me. Analogously, reconstruction of my speed after an accident (via skid marks, impact analysis, etc) is a side effect of car technology, and doesn't bother me. A mandatory "black box" under the hood which records the same information does bother me.

cuchulainn
August 12, 2005, 11:11 AM
In my view, a video camera in my bedroom is, in itself, a violation of my privacy, whether or not anyone is watching or recording what it sees. Not if you freely and willingly put the camera there yourself with full knowlege of the potential for breach of your privacy and with 100% control over whether it was on.

You freely and willingly opt to use a cell phone with full knowledge of the potential for breach of your privacy and you have 100% control over whether it is on (take the battery out).

If you were forced to put a camera in your bedroom or to carry a cell phone, you've have a point.

:) btw

geekWithA.45
August 12, 2005, 11:19 AM
I don't believe that manufacturers installed microphones on either, but hey, if I'm wrong I'll be cutting into my TVs to remove them

Any speaker can be coerced into being a microphone, it's just that most aren't all that great at that task.

One of the old cold war spy tricks was to co-opt radio speakers for that purpose.

Re: Cable...most modern set top boxes are full blown computers under the hood, and they engage in 2 way communication with the cable provider's network. Essentially, for high channels, the STB has a built in cable modem that sets up a tcp/ip circuit to shuffle the media around.

Greg L
August 12, 2005, 11:24 AM
What exactly would they send and how?

The shows that you watch/record (if Tivo/DVR). They can then directly target market to you. In my case an offer from the History Channel would get much more attention than one from the Soap Opera Channel.

The information is sent out through the receiver via the phone in my case. In theory the outgoing call is only to let them know if I've authorized pay per view movies (never have but I still have to have the phone line hooked up), however I have no doubt that there is a database somewhere that total the # of viewers per program.

Control Group
August 12, 2005, 11:28 AM
Not if you freely and willingly put the camera there yourself with full knowlege of the potential for breach of your privacy and with 100% control over whether it was on.

You freely and willingly opt to use a cell phone with full knowledge of the potential for breach of your privacy and you have 100% control over whether it is on (take the battery out).

If you were forced to put a camera in your bedroom or to carry a cell phone, you've have a point.
Touché. I still feel there is a point to be made in that the choice to carry a cell phone was made prior to the possibility of it being used as an audio surveillance device activated by remote without my knowledge, and the potential violation was built into the system after a degree of dependence on the system had been created. To return momentarily to the bedroom window, this is rather like the introduction of a technology which could somehow use the window to see every corner of your home, regardless of curtains. The window is still voluntary, but the risk associated with it has been greatly increased after your decision to have the window.

Nonetheless, I have to concede the argument about whether it is, in itself, a violation of privacy - after all, you could always board up the window, and you can always ditch the cell phone. I'll downgrade my opinion from "violation of privacy" to "significant threat to privacy which makes me generally displeased."

BenW
August 12, 2005, 11:28 AM
They do not, to my knowledge, install GPS in phones, which would require your phone to have another antenna and to receive and process info from the satellites, and then send that info to the 911 PSAP.
Actually, my nifty new Nextel i355 has a GPS antenna on it. Nextel offers a service for businesses to track employees as well for things like services and deliveries. The GPS is not as accurate as say, a WAAS consumer GPS, but still accurate to around plus or minus 100 feet (I did a comparison a few days ago against my differential GPS at work). You can deactivate it, but then you can still be located via cell towers.

Even my old Verizon phone had the "pseudo-GPS" (I'm sure just using the cell towers) tech that you could turn off, but it wasn't really off as it remains active on any 911 call.

cuchulainn
August 12, 2005, 11:41 AM
"significant threat to privacy which makes me generally displeased." I'd quibble over the word significant, but c'est la vie.

The question now is why we're both using French. ;)

Too Many Choices!?
August 12, 2005, 12:08 PM
It is in most newer sets from what the commercials say(of course it is the cat's meow in the commercials, just like on star):uhoh: ...Don't know if the "V-chip" can send anything or not, but with today's world, you really never can tell what the TRUE purpose of,"New Technology" is until it has been abused. By then it is too late :cuss: ...

PS: How soccer moms got anywhere before the invention of on star is beyond me :rolleyes: ...My thing is this,if you need a "CO-pilot" to help navigate the perils of suburbia, you probably shouldn't be driving :neener: Back to the topic...

cuchulainn
August 12, 2005, 12:18 PM
Of course, for the savvy runner, a trackable cell phone actually is a wonderful diversionary tool. Juice up the battery to 100% and get on a cross-country bus. Hide the phone on the bus and get off at the next stop (or even before the bus leaves). Go somewhere else. To the cell phone trackers, you're still on the bus.

Heck, tape it under some stranger's car. Push it under the backseat of a taxi. Hide it in a trash can at the busiest pedestrian area available -- to them, for awhile, you're among the crowd, and when the trash gets picked up, you're on the move.

Duct tape it to an alley cat. ;)

taliv
August 12, 2005, 01:03 PM
BenW, i should have clarified GPS for use by 911. If you call 911, they will still locate you via triangulation, not by the GPS in your phone.

that is a cool feature though.

DeseoUnTaco
August 12, 2005, 01:23 PM
This type of surveillance is definitely possible with cell phones. A plain old landline telephone has a physical switch that interrupts power from the microphone when it is placed on the hook. There's no such switch in a cellphone. It's all software. It has long been assumed that it's possible to turn the microphone off and on from remote. Remember, the landline phone can't do this because when you hang it up the physical circuit is interrupted, but that switch doesn't exist on mobiles. It's all done in software.
The danger from all this is that few people will object as long as there is a serious threat of terrorism. But once (if?) the threat subsides, the infrastructure of surveillance will remain.
Ah, excuse me, but there is no serious threat of terrorism. Terrorism is not now and has never been a serious threat in the United States. What are the odds? (http://www.anxietyandstress.com/sys-tmpl/terrorismandyouwhataretheodds/) Not very high, it turns out. There are real dangers to worry about, like car accidents, ordinary criminals, over-eating, and all the other things that do put us at risk. Terrorism doesn't even make the list. How could anyone claim that terrorism is a serious threat? The only thing it is is a seriously great way to get citizens support laws, policies, wars and politicians who should never have come to be.

roo_ster
August 12, 2005, 04:15 PM
For a speaker to be used as a mic, it must be UNpowered, I believe.

Gary H
August 12, 2005, 04:23 PM
You mean that the government not only knows that I watch Spongebob, but actually listens to me singing the intro?

One relevant issue.. It takes time and resources to follow your daily movement and conversations. I'm rather bored with my life, so I doubt that any government sort would find it amusing. Now back to Spongebob.

BostonGeorge
August 13, 2005, 11:15 AM
BenW, i should have clarified GPS for use by 911. If you call 911, they will still locate you via triangulation, not by the GPS in your phone.

that is a cool feature though.

I believe all phones are mandated to have GPS capability in the next few years for exactly that reason. It's called e911 (enhanced 911) and has been around for at least the past 2 years or so. AFAIK 911 operators never had the capability to use triangulation on thier own. In a situation such as a lost hiker, they would have to work with the cellular provider to obtain this information. Anyways Google e911 and GPS and you can read all about it.

Chrontius
August 15, 2005, 01:45 AM
But you're absolutely correct, it's a potential, nothing more. And I'll add that no one is forcing us to accept this potential. We do so freely, knowing the potential (and remote) risks. There's no violation.

Pardon me?

I use Verizon and would love to upgrade to a Bluetooth-enabled Motorola Timeport. But since it came about between the introduction of Bluetooth and E911, Verizon refuses to activate it, citing their mandate to have 95% penetration of E911 phones. My phone is now crapping out. If I am to have the 'luxury' of a cellphone (and that's a condition of going to college in my family) then I will have a GPS-based homing device on my person. And it probably won't even tell me my ICBM address if I want to know it myself.

DRZinn
August 15, 2005, 02:20 AM
Quote:
In my view, a video camera in my bedroom is, in itself, a violation of my privacy, whether or not anyone is watching or recording what it sees.
Not if you freely and willingly put the camera there yourself with full knowlege of the potential for breach of your privacy and with 100% control over whether it was on.

You freely and willingly opt to use a cell phone with full knowledge of the potential for breach of your privacy and you have 100% control over whether it is on (take the battery out).

If you were forced to put a camera in your bedroom or to carry a cell phone, you've have a point. Your analogy works until they make it so there is no bedroom anywhere that does not have a camera. Then, when you decide to sleep in the kitchen, you find that there are also no camera-free kitchens....

DeseoUnTaco
August 15, 2005, 02:57 AM
For a speaker to be used as a mic, it must be UNpowered, I believe.
Doesn't matter, the phone (obviously) has a mic and they can turn that on from the base station, without any indication on the phone that that has been done.

For those saying, "They can't pinpoint where it is because the phones don't have GPS", sorry, wrong. a) A lot of phones are now shipping with GPS, but regardless of that b) the phone is constantly saying "hello" to towers nearby. They can easily track the phone to the nearest tower, which gives a fairly small radius. Furthermore, they can triangulate the phone using multiple towers, by seeing what the signal strength is to the different towers. As a first approximation, if a phone is "visible" to towers A, B and C, pick the midpoint of those three towers and that's a more accurate location of the phone. If they use signal strength to each tower as a weight in the triangulation, it's even more accurate, accurate enough that GPS is irrelevant. GPS is a satellite technology (obviously) and it only works when the receiver has a clear view of a good chunk of the sky. Cell phone technology is more powerful and it works indoors and out. My point is that GPS is not relevant to phone location tracking because it would only have a chance of working outdoors in places with an unobstructed view of the sky.

All this stuff is standard in all the modern base station equipment.

So yes, they can use your phone as a listening device as long as it's on. Nothing on the phone would indicate that that is happening, except that it would burn its battery faster than expected. And they can get quite an accurate position on the phone, too, as long as it's on. They can't do anything if the phone is turned off, because then there is no power to the radio unit of the phone.

Whether you believe it or not, that's how it is.

DRZinn
August 15, 2005, 12:04 PM
I'm wondering just how accurately they could track a phone using only triangulation. If each tower only shows that it's receiving the signal, then they'd be able to limit it fairly easily to the area covered by all three towers, but do the individual nodes on each tower make any difference? That could make it even more accurate.

In any case, some areas only have coverage from one tower, which wouldn't help much. Where I live, for example.

R.H. Lee
August 15, 2005, 12:14 PM
Not to be contrarian, but I don’t really care if somebody knows where I am. My life is more or less an open book. What I do object to is the resources and money required to track everybody with a cellphone, if this is done on a wholesale basis by government. Such an endeavor would be useless anyway, as the gps or tracking device could be individually disabled by terrorists and other perps using cellphones.

OTOH, if a record of positions are kept, and the information is not real time only, that record could serve as exculpatory evidence should someone be accused of a crime. “I wasn’t anywhere near the crime scene. Look at my cellphone record.”

DeseoUnTaco
August 15, 2005, 01:28 PM
In any case, some areas only have coverage from one tower, which wouldn't help much. Where I live, for example.
Right, in a situation like that they will only know that you're coming from one particular tower. In a low-density place which is served by only one tower, that could be quite a wide radius. They would know the signal strength at that one tower so they could have an idea of how far you are from that tower, but that's not as accurate as GPS or triangulation.

But in a more dense area, they can pinpoint the phone quite accurately.

Marshall
August 15, 2005, 01:51 PM
I'm still sceptical on the cable TV deal. Blow off the phone, I saw no mention of a phone, just cable TV. Lets say I don't have a phone, just a cell and I have cable and a TV without a V-chip. How is it done?

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