back to article US Justice Department free to track mobile phone users

The American Civil Liberties Union has revealed that the FBI no longer feels the need for judicial or operator oversight when deploying base station-faking technology to detect mobile phones. This capability is nothing new, but previously it was assumed that a warrant was needed before the FBI started tracking phones and that …


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  1. Stuart Gray

    If every there was a reason to buy a 3G phone

    there it is.

    Mine's the one with the coin in it, to use the pay phone on the corner.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Judges are terrorists

    If we didn't allow this, then it would be like giving a government license to the terrorists. There are some risks I am not prepared to take, and when it comes to the safety of voters, I will not leave that up to judges to decide what is and what isn't legal. You're either with us or against us. Vote Emperor Bush!


    Aren't we past this yet? The man was an idiot, yes we have 2 months still to go, but surely we're well past this by now.

  3. Jamie

    Any wonder why

    I believe that in order for a politician to be truthful they would need to be dead first. If the politician can still speak then they cannot tell the truth.

    All men are created equal;

    Some are more equal than others.

  4. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    If the cell cos had spine..

    If the cell cos had a spine (which they don't) they could stop this dead in it's tracks. Catch one of these fake sites deployed, file complaints with the FCC and get them to fine the DOJ's ass. The cellular companies spent $billions on this spectrum, they can't have some rogue (which the DOJ is in doing this without a warrant) start placing unauthorized cell sites into their spectrum.

  5. Tom

    Aside from...

    the aspect of "total visability even when your phone's switched off" that little pearler doesn't require triangulation, unlike GSM, and is far far more accurate.

  6. Ted Treen

    Timely reminder

    My contract's due for renewal:- time to ditch EDGE & go for 3G, methinks.

    ANYTHING to generally obstruct, irritate, confuse & annoy our jailers...

  7. Doug Glass

    One More Reason

    To ditch the damn thing and revert to land line such as I had for the first 55 years of my life. He who cannot survive without a cell phone all the time may just deserve his fate. Whatever that might be.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Oh no... will they foil this technolgy? Oh yeah, ebay bought handset.....remove battery and sim when not in use....

    But all terrorists are thick, we know that already...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cut Off the Phone

    Stories about increasing state & commercial surveillance seem to be snowballing (or am I just looking harder?). I am certainly switching on my mobile less or leaving it at home. If the UK government implement a mobile phone registry I'll probably ditch it altogether. I'm lucky I live & work in a rural area so I tend not to get captured on CCTV or ANPR. I have little faith in governments to stop the rush towards Big Brother; I suspect Obama will listen to his security advisers telling him that more, not less, eavesdropping is needed to keep their jobs, air conditioned offices, stretch limos... oops I meant to keep say America safe. Plus Obama would be derided as a wishy-washy liberal if he gave one iota. I doubt public protests will have much effect. In the end it's just keep your head down (if that's not regarded as suspicious behaviour).

  10. Darling Petunia

    Cell Phones

    Consider the 'all-eggs-in-one-basket" dilemma. There're docs on the web regarding US gov. (& European) systems in-place to allow completely shut-downs of cellular systems 'in the event of potential terrorism'. No doubt the result of phones being used to detonate bombs. Wired phones provide a bit of backup if you're concerned about keeping in contact in a time of need.

    As to tracking via cell signature, even the most primitive evil-doers are aware of ESN scanning, GPS, data-mining etc, and are likely to use this tracking system to disseminate false info.

    Another item is that there have been several instances of lost/injured people being found by cell-signal triangulation.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    @Stu Reeves

    You're right, of course. There are 3 ways to fix this problem.

    (1) new government

    (2) take out battery

    (3) don't own cell phone

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Guess it's time for a 3G phone or to remove the battery from my phone whenever I am not using it.....

    Do they make tinfoil hats in extra large?

  13. ACLU

    Corrected ACLU statement

    An earlier version of the ACLU’s blog post on this subject misstated the legal authority on which the government relies to track the location of cell phones. The link above leads to the amended post, which explains that the documents uncovered by the FOIA deal with cell phone tracking in the criminal (not FISA) context.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Support the troops

    Cos this is the kind of c**p they are fighting for.

    Your tax dollars working for you.

  15. Rich

    I guess anyone could make one of these

    and use it to collect IMSIs, inject viruses, steal identity details, whatever?

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Lesson to the bad guys

    1. Ditch all technology

    2. Go back to basics

    Governments are now too lazy to do 'proper police work'. They rely on automated electronic stuff now, speed cameras, cctv, etc.

    Soon, if you avoid tech, you avoid detection.

    Anon, as this post is probably illegal.

  17. jake Silver badge

    If you have nothing to hide...

    Why do you close your bedroom curtains?

    Does your shower have a plate-glass exterior wall?

    Hopefully the new administration in the US will spank the folks who need a spanking (and I'm not channeling Monty Python, here ... privacy stuff needs some serious fixing).

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm having great difficulty getting my head around this. If I understand correctly they have to put a fake base station somehwere in the hope that a terrorist with a known phone number passes by so that they can track him/her presumably when he/she is in range of the fake base station.

    And you trust the people who thought this up with the security of your country?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fake basestation - real user

    Erm, colour me stuipid, but presumably the fake basestation isn't connected to anything i.e you can't actually make a call? In which case, sooner or later, someone will need to make a 911 call but won't get through because the FBI are trying to trap some terrorist/drug dealer/government critic who may or may not live across the street.

    /We need a 'stampede of lawyers' icon

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Contract is almost up

    Time to move to someone with a large 3G network in my area and pop for a new phone. What gets me is I know this stuff has been happening to an extent for quite a while, but the government is getting more and more bold and open with it. Will the new administration fix that? I certainly hope so. But until I see them actually take steps to roll back police state were marching toward I'll continue to do everything in my power to protect myself against them.

    Not posting anon cos my view is let the fuckers read it and know who I am, after all with my views I'm probably already in multiple government databases already.

  21. Daniel B.
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Fake basestation - real user

    I'd bet the basestation is actually hooked up to the telco network, as Terry Wrist would be suspicious if he found out that his cellphone isn't going through, even with 5-bar signals.

    But then, the base station wouldn't register the calls to the original carrier, so it might just be that calls made from this thingy would be *free*. Well, free in the $$$; as the FBI would be listening everything. Oh well...

  22. Cortland Richmond




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