Comments: Threatwatch - tracking you, tracking me, tracking us all

Apologies if this comment duplicates.

With respect to the system detailed in the Guardian article, the vendor should tweak it so that it sends a warning text to the phone owner at random periods say twice an hour. That would be irritating but bearable to someone who agrees to be tracked and would stop it being used for nefarious purposes.

Posted by Jane Adams at February 5, 2006 02:03 PM


finally found it with google...

Still, technology marches on. If you ask us, the real future
is in *massively parallel peer-to-peer* elves. Take FLEET
ONLINE. This Dutch business-oriented service was introduced
a month ago to the UK. It's a pay-as-you-go site that lets
companies instantly locate their employees' mobile phones,
to a granularity of the nearest cell (ie 50m in urban
areas). Positioning costs 25p a shot. Here's the real
gimmick, though: you can sign up yourself, and then add any
mobile phone you'd like to be geolocated. Oh sure, your
victim will get an initial "Do you want to be tracked?"
opt-in message, and then another in two weeks. But think of
all the phones you can get physical access to long enough to
say yes to that original text. Friends! Spouses! Potential
stalking fodder! And what you could do in two weeks.
Supposing you're a burgling elf: you could nick that phone,
sign it up, give it back, find out where they live via the
geolocator. And then *find out when they're out*! It's a
RISKS Digest all of its own!

Posted by fm at February 5, 2006 02:20 PM

oh and Google ads also gave:

Posted by fm at February 5, 2006 02:20 PM

Since the services all charge per sms transaction for low volume usage - I see it as somewhat Utopian to expect them to do two transactions an hour just in case their customers are either unaware of what they, or their employers, have signed up to.

The onus should be on the employer to inform employees what they are doing rather than the service provider.

If you are using if for say tracking your kids, aged granny etc do you really want the kidnapper alerted to the fact that they have a tracking device within 15 mins of them disappearing? Would within 60 minutes be an acceptable risk or would you rather you could find them before the police got around to taking their absence seriously?

This is not a new risk - it has been around since May 2003, if you leave your phone unattended you run many risks, not including being geolocated by the state, which has been able to do it for a while.

So why is this the service comany's problem? This is a competitive market space - it is price sensitive, so no company is going to load their cost base by accusing customers of using them for illegal or immoral purposes.

If you really want to stop it happening get the phone companies to stop selling your data to other commercial operators without more consent than you acknowledging a text sms.


Posted by fm at February 5, 2006 04:05 PM

Meanwhile, this was seen elsewhere:

Members of the US House of Representatives promised yesterday that they would "take fast action" to outlaw sales of telephone and mobile phone logs to third parties. This call to action comes in the wake of multiple media stories on phone log sales.


There is another aspect of the whole issue to consider. Science-fiction author David Brin has written that "Privacy is over. Get over it." He argues that our society actually has more to gain by the loss of privacy, as long as the information is made available to everybody, and not just an elite few. Are we ready for a world in which everything you do can be known by anyone who cares to find out? Some would say we are already there.

Copyright 1998-2005 Ars Technica, LLC

Posted by Iang at February 6, 2006 04:30 AM

World Tracker turns anyone into a cellphone spy
Posted Jan 20th 2006 3:10PM by Marc Perton

Forget those piddly wiretaps. The next frontier in warrant-free surveillance is upon us, and it's open to everyone. A UK service called World Tracker apparently uses cell tower data (or GPS, when available) to track the location of just about any GSM cellphone. Just enter the number you want to track into the service's handy Google Maps-based interface, and you'll be able to zoom in on the device's location, with accuracy somewhere between 50 and 500 meters. The first time you try to track a phone, a text message is sent to the owner, who must reply in order to enable tracking (we'll leave it to you to figure out how to work around this if you need to track a spouse, kid or employee). The service is currently compatible with O2, Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, and has plans to expand to other markets including Germany, Spain, Norway and the US. If, that is, privacy advocates don't shut it down first.

All contents copyright 2005, Weblogs, Inc.

Posted by World Tracker at February 7, 2006 05:03 AM

Peter Gutmann writes over on cryptography:

"Steven M. Bellovin" writes:

>>What makes this interesting is how it was done: software was installed on the
>>switch that diverted calls to a prepaid phone. Think about who could manage

Just in case people think the answer is "The MIB", it's actually "Any kid with a bit of technical knowledge". Susan Dreyfus' book "Underground", for example, documents hackers playing around inside cellular phone switches in Europe. So although the target list looks like a typical intelligence agency hitlist, it could also have been done by a joyriding teenager interested in listening in on what politicians, the military, and journalists were saying and hearing.

(Yes, I know the evidence points at the MIB, but that doesn't automatically mean it was them).


Posted by The MIB recommends... at February 8, 2006 12:09 PM
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