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Cellphones Government Your Rights Online

Cell Phones: Tracking Devices That Happen To Make Calls 196

An anonymous reader writes "An article in the NY Times argues that the devices we call 'cell phones' should instead be called 'trackers.' It would help remind the average user that whole industries have sprung up around the mining and selling of their personal data — not to mention the huge amount of data requested by governments. Law professor Eben Moglen goes a step further, saying our cell phones are effectively robots that use us for mobility. 'They see everything, they're aware of our position, our relationship to other human beings and other robots, they mediate an information stream around us.' It's interesting to see such a mainstream publication focus on privacy like this; the authors say that since an objects name influences how people think about the object, renaming 'cell phones' could be an simple way to raise privacy awareness."
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Cell Phones: Tracking Devices That Happen To Make Calls

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  • Only smart phones? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cvtan ( 752695 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @07:01PM (#40651773)
    I assume this only applies to smart phones where people have paid extra for enhanced tracking "features".
  • Exocortex (Score:4, Interesting)

    by VoidEngineer ( 633446 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @07:13PM (#40651865)
    Can anyone say 'exocortex'? The only thing missing are the right apps and software stack.

    accelerando []
  • Re:Nope (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Saturday July 14, 2012 @07:38PM (#40651989) Homepage Journal

    Honestly you really think they aren't putting tracking devices in disposable phones?

    No, I don't think they're putting tracking device in disposable phones, but using DTOA from a single sectored antenna is enough to place your location in a pretty narrow arc, and with two antennae you can be located within 30 feet or closer even in very crappy conditions. The phone plus the network is a tracking system whether there's any tracking-specific hardware in the phone.

    However, super-crap phones like the LG I got from tracfone don't have a camera, magnetic sensor, or a lot of other things, so the only things they can do are track my location and maybe listen in on me whether I'm using the phone or not. That's offensive enough, but it doesn't leak as much information as a cleverer phone could.

  • Re:Nope! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sipper ( 462582 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @07:44PM (#40652027)

    The cellular network has to know where you are to route calls to you. Back when they first came out, someone published an article about using cellular information to locate a person with his cell phone to within 36 feet.

    Yes... additionally, last I recall this information is saved for a period of 7 years, which means not only does the phone system know where you are now, but it also knows where you've been. This means that you can be profiled based on the places you go, and thus there's a chance someone can predict where you're going to be at any given time.

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday July 14, 2012 @08:38PM (#40652329) Homepage Journal

    Turning off may not be enough. Pulling the battery, would be. Or a 'Faraday' bag in your car to drop it in

  • Re:Nope (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Sunday July 15, 2012 @08:17AM (#40654823)

    What exactly are you doing that you're so worried about people knowing your location?

    I don't really care if people know where I am. What I care about is if they try to contact me or interfere with my movements. Simply having knowledge of my location doesn't really amount to much.

    Why should you be worrie about people knowing your location? Ask the kid in Long Island, NY, who, after leaving a party one night, was 'tracked' by thugs who used easily purchased 'tracking apps'. He was shot and killed on a highway miles away from that party. All those thugs had to do to track him was to enter his phone into a $30 app. Oh, you can ask that kid, but he can't answer you, because he's DEAD. Dead because he somehow pissed off some thug with an app and a gun somehow. What if one day that kid is you, will 'ease of tracking' still be a non-issue for you?

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984