back to article Why telcos 'handed over' people's GPS coords to a bounty hunter: He just had to ask nicely

A bounty hunter was able to get the live location of a number of different individuals from American cellphone networks through a single phone call, it is claimed. Matthew Marre was charged [PDF] last month with allegedly obtaining "confidential phone record information ... by making false and fraudulent statements and …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Capitalism baby

    Having tax payers pay for police is basically communism.

    Much better to privatise it and have the dynamical free market, move-fast-and-break-things (tm) do the job.

    Now where did I put that slightly disobedient ED209:

    Please put down your weapon. You have 20 seconds to comply

    1. quattroprorocked

      Re: Capitalism baby

      20 seconds?

      Recent videos suggest you'll be lucky to get even 1!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Capitalism baby

      "Having tax payers pay for police is basically communism."

      While this is true, the Police have V8's which are definitely not communism, so it all balances out.

      If in the future the Police are forced to drive electric vehicles (definitely communism) and we have to pay for them (also communism), it will potentially create ultra communists.

      And this is what the client changers actually want...a world full of electric car driving ultra communists.... Everyone talks about rising sea levels and disappearing reefs and other stuff, but no one mentions the ultra communists.

      1. pyhoff@gmail.com

        Re: Capitalism baby

        Ok so fire department, ambulance and army are also communist. Hope your home does not ever have to catch on fire or you get sick/have accident and need transport to a hospital or need your country defended. Good luck my friend with your logic.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Capitalism baby

          "Ok so fire department, ambulance and army are also communist."

          All drive V8's, so all is ok.

          "Hope your home does not ever have to catch on fire or you get sick/have accident and need transport to a hospital or need your country defended."

          And I hope the ambulance makes it to you on time to rescue your ability to detect sarcasm.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Capitalism baby

            If a state funded fire service rescue you from a car crash on a state funded road while a state funded police attend = capitalism.

            If they then treat you in a state funded hospital = communism.

          2. find users who cut cat tail

            Re: Capitalism baby

            > ...your ability to detect sarcasm.

            Never encountered people saying exactly the same seriously? Lucky.

        2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

          Re: Capitalism baby

          Dear El Reg,

          We really need a "WHOOOSH" icon for the comments section.

          Your pal,

          Fido

          1. FozzyBear Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Capitalism baby

            Did you want the Communist or capitalist version?

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Capitalism baby

        "While this is true, the Police have V8's which are definitely not communism,"

        You've never heard of the GAZ Volga, have you? (Standard USSR police issue)

        All animals are equal. Some are more equal than others,

      3. Korev Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: Capitalism baby

        If in the future the Police are forced to drive electric vehicles (definitely communism) and we have to pay for them (also communism), it will potentially create ultra communists.

        The Police in Basel spent a fortune on Teslas only to have to turn off some of the features for data privacy reasons...

      4. Happy_Jack

        Re: Capitalism baby

        What's a "client changer"?

  2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Trollface

    Freedom!

    This is just the government getting out of the way of free enterprise and allowing businesses to flourish. Gawd bless Amurica! Do you really want some gubmint bureaucrat saying who can do what with your personal data? I don't think so!

    1. edris90

      Re: Freedom!

      But this business of selling information about other people, is unethical.leaving the market side unchecked is how slavery came about. Systematic pursuit for money overrides and errodes basic respect for human life.

      1. Garymrrsn

        Re: Freedom!

        "Systematic pursuit for money overrides and errodes basic respect for human life."

        In the commodities markets today Homo Sapiens prices rose sharply on the announcement by North Korea of an improved multi-warhead ICBM. The announcement wiped out the drop in prices caused by last weeks announcement by researchers in China of a new universal influenza vaccine. Production remains steady with inventories at over 7.5 billion units.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Slavery is terrible

          >leaving the market side unchecked is how slavery came about

          Keeping a long term depreciating asset like people as Capex makes no sense when you can rent them as needed. Then you also get to charge them for all the training they need to do the job, and charge them interest on the money.

          Say what you like about slavery, nobody managed to make them pay student loans.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Slavery is terrible

            Slavery is an age old thing, goes back many millennia.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Slavery is terrible

              Slavery is an age old thing, goes back many millennia.

              Indeed. The Old Testament has several directives on how you should treat your slaves. Male *and* female (yes, it makes a clear distinction).

              Astonishingly, that's not the only reason to swerve Christianity ....

              1. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

                Re: Slavery is terrible

                I think you will find that Christianity is based mainly on the New Testament.

                Allegedly.

                Although the 10 Commandments probably still apply.

                Confusing to note that Jesus Christ was a Jew not a Christian.

                1. JLV Silver badge

                  Re: Slavery is terrible

                  Not really. It depends on the congregation.

                  The New Testament is quite chill and peacenik, with all that turn the other cheek, let who has never sinned..., meek will inherit... I believe the only time Jesus blows his temper is the merchants at the Temple and all he does is flog them a bit. If you really buy into this, you could be a very nice believer that’s a boon to people around you. It’s an ideal I have no problem with, despite being areligious.

                  The Old has Sodom, pillars of salt, Caine, dead Egyptian firstborns, razing neighboring nations, dilapidation.

                  If you’re an fire n brimstone, eternal damnation kinda preacher, your goto for quotes is the Old. It’s all one Bible anyway so you can damn gays and Muslims to the 9th circle. Reverend Phelps and co.

                  The cleverest is that you can bait with New and switch to Old.

                  Basic core Jesus-based Christianity is pretty harmless, in theory. Applied Old Testament can lead to Crusades, 30 Years Wars, the unexpected Spanish Inquisition and thinking Trump is an agent of God on Earth.

                  Not sure how Jewish version works because in theory they’re all Old-based but they’re usually less strident than Evangelicals and seem more forgiving. Maybe it’s from being a minority. Unless you’re Palestinian in which case it’s largely about Greater Israel and back to razing the neighbors, baby.

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Slavery is terrible

            Keeping a long term depreciating asset like people as Capex makes no sense when you can rent them as needed

            This is essentially the thesis of Eric Williams' Capitalism and Slavery: Capitalism is far more efficient at extracting labor, and thus far more profitable, than slavery. Though C. L. R. James claimed he gave Williams the idea.

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Freedom!

        leaving the market side unchecked is how slavery came about

        Slavery came about because people were either party members (white) or they weren't. Slavery came about because a system overlooked human nature (communism and socialism both overlook this as their core philosophy) which then placed no value at all on non-party members (non-whites).

        The system you're railing against isn't capitalism, it's just that you can't see it for your entrenched beliefs.

        Capitalism has saved more lives throughout history than any other economic system ever devised. It remains fundamentally the best and only realistic choice for the progress of humanity. Pretending otherwise, in favour of a system that has failed everywhere and ever time it's been tried, is delusion.

        1. Alumoi

          Re: Freedom!

          You may want to check your facts regarding slavery. It's an old honored tradition dating back before written history. And, lo and behold, the slave masters were black/yellow/brown.

          White people came later on the scene.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery#Early_history

          1. JLV Silver badge

            Re: Freedom!

            Yes, yes, we know that slavery isn’t just “white people”. Although, one of the poster boys for ancient slavery is Rome. Quite white too, no?

            But, even as a white dude fairly dismissive of SJW zealots, it is in disingenuous to fail to recognize that the African slave trade to the America deserves special opprobrium and censure.

            First, again as a white guy who sees no problem with being white (or another color too), our forefathers should have known better. This is Renaissance/Age of Reason, dude. Not effin Ancient Rome. Maybe trading in slaves was endemic in North Africa at the time, but that’s on them. Shouldn’t have been on us. Especially with Christianity supposedly an ethical watchdog.

            We should have been better than that. Saying that Mauritania or Saudi still practice watered down slavery is no defence.

            Second, the sheer scale and nastiness of what happened. The number of people who got abducted. The number who died on transport.

            The scale of the forced labor that was deployed, which basically rebuilt the Americas (not just the US) to European preferences. I grew up in St Maarten, whose Dutch-side economy was based on salt ponds. Let in salt water, dike it, dry it. Now, if you like skiing, imagine working outside on a lily-white snow field of salt, in sunny 30+ C weather, probably without sunglasses. Raking in, not snow, but salt all day. Probably without a shower to wash off the grit at end of day. Hell on Earth.

            The sheer lateness at which Abolition took place in the US. The lack of legal protection during slavery followed by lingering legal discrimination after.

            The fact, that, at least to some extent, it still influences how black people live and are perceived or perceive themselves in modern day Western societies.

            So, yes, slavery is not just us whites. By no means. I don’t get hysterical about it or support restoration monetary awards. If you’re black and we’re discussing politics over beers, you’ll get way more sympathy from me regarding police shootings or modern issues than if you insist on focussing everything on misdeeds perpetrated by people of my ethnicity 500-150 years ago.

            But a sign of a clever, ethical and just society is the ability to own up to one’s past wrongs, recognize them and try to do better. That’s something Germany understands about the Holocaust. And a major reason why modern Japan, otherwise fairly exemplary in many ways, is failing so badly at getting along with its neighbors.

            Saying sorry, and meaning it, is the right thing to do. Putting it in the larger context of historical slavery and pointing out that a 2019 white person has little to do with the slave trade are all fine. But none of this avoids having to admit our society behaved shamefully.

            BTW, the OP should clever up a bit on his Capitalism & Slavery linkage. Southern US slave plantation society was in many ways the antithesis of 1800s worker-exploitation capitalism and this mismatch largely contributed to starting the Civil War. Haiti’s slave revolution wrested it from Imperial France in the early 1800s. And Brazil and South America, under Portugal and Spain, used slaves extensively as well: only a true idiot would claim 1600-1800 Spain to be capitalist.

        2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Freedom!

          > It remains fundamentally the best and only realistic choice for the progress of humanity.

          Ah, but not pure Capitalism. Capitalism suffers from weaknesses just as Communism or Socialism does. The US is an excellent example of what happens at the personal level when Capitalism isn't sufficient diluted, you find that people start dying because they can't afford healthcare.

          Capitalism just like Communism and Socialism requires restraint to reduce the impact of human traits like greed and narcissism.

          So what you actually want is a mix of Capitalism and Socialism, with robust controls on the market.

          It's still not perfect, but it works far better than the approach that the US seems to favour.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Freedom!

            >you find that people start dying because they can't afford healthcare.

            But that isn't a failing of capitalism, it's the whole point.

            Until you get to the point of the poor being reduced to the point that a shortage of labour drives up wages.

            The point is to pay them enough to keep them alive while they work and spend, no point in wasting money on the faulty ones

      3. kwhitefoot

        Re: Freedom!

        But they didn't sell it. They gave it away.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Freedom!

      This is just the government getting out of the way of free enterprise and allowing businesses to flourish.

      Nah... this Pai being the paid prostitute for the Telcos so they can "flourish" at the expense of everyone else. Hmm.... business as normal then. As for competition, we're seeing a move back the bad old days when AT&T was the only phone company and everyone paid what they demanded.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Freedom!

        "Nah... this Pai being the paid prostitute for the Telcos so they can "flourish" at the expense of everyone else."

        I have carefully considered this statement and find it to be untrue.

        Pai doesn't appear to be on the receiving end of any intercourse, while the American consumer clearly is being screwed.

        Similarly, Pai isn't the one doing the screwing, he merely facilitates the interaction.

        While there is an argument that Pai is indeed a dick, I believe the more accurate description is he protects the party on the giving side of the interaction from any unwanted effects of said interaction with the receiving party. Like Regulations....

        So Pai's more of a condom than a prostitute.

        1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

          Re: Freedom!

          I would suggest pimp is the more accurate term, because at least a condom provides protection to both parties

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Freedom!

            I think of him as facilitating an unwanted shafting - the anal lube of regulators

  3. HellDeskJockey

    It's called social engineering and happens all the time. Also some of these folks in the US are ex law enforcement and many are good at implying that they the police without saying the word "police". Basically they imply they are police and when caught up say "Why of course I would never claim I was a police officer."

    Sucks, but without proof it's difficult to do anything.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Facepalm

      How about requiring some sort of, I don't know, evidence that the person making the inquiry is actually a police officer?

      1. paulll

        Or how about, it doesn't matter whom you imply you are, all that matters is whether or not you can provide a warrant, emergency or not?

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          The article seems to imply that this was abusing the warrantless request system, which is supposed to be used in the case of risk of injury or loss of life. Not sure I'd want to introduce the delay of getting a warrant into this use case...

          1. The Mole

            At least requiring a warrant retrospectively and properly auditing this would be an improvement.

            Better still an emailed scan/photo of signed authorization from a senior officer - sent from an re-authenticated domain signficantly raises the bar.

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Not sure I'd want to introduce the delay of getting a warrant into this use case...

            And yet, in the days before people could be located using their phones, some criminals were caught, and many of us survived to enjoy this modern utopia.

            1. JetSetJim Silver badge

              Many of us did, I'm sure. I wonder how many didn't, though, that could have been located this way.

              It doesn't take a huge amount of processing to geolocate a call, and I've no objection to the emergency services accessing such information to help save lives.

              I do object to bounty hunters accessing it to earn a living, the question should be asked how to make this harder/impossible without getting in the way of real emergencies

  4. Christoph Silver badge

    Do they also hand out location information to stalkers, or to gamers who want to SWAT a rival player?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or terrorists who want to kill a politician ?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Fazal Majid

    It's a hard problem

    Much as I loathe to defend telcos, authenticating callers to determine if they are legitimate police officers is a hard problem. There are so many agencies that unless the States take charge of implementing some sort of authentication or 2FA challenge-response mechanism, the telcos have really no viable way to do so in an emergency situation.

    1. Mike007

      Re: It's a hard problem

      I used to work at a company that handled vehicle tracking systems. We didn't have too much of a problem with it.

      Official policy was that we need to be given a crime reference number, we then make an outbound call to the control room of the police jurisdiction that the vehicle is currently(!) located in.

      Common sense indicated that there were exceptions, like when someone claiming to be a police officer wanted to know if a vehicle had a tracker in it. I took his name and shoulder number then called the police switchboard on their published number and asked to be transferred.

      Of course he might have been a bent cop, but bugger all you can do about that in an unregulated industry. We had a couple of police forces that had a handful of undercover units with tracking from an external provider (us) so that the control room wouldn't know where they were, like they did with all normal police vehicles. Also a couple of mobile speed cameras. So the control room couldn't tell where it was located unless they called us with a crime reference number. I wonder what series of events lead to that policy...

      1. Valerion

        Re: It's a hard problem

        I also used to work in a vehicle tracking firm (quite a while back). One of the services we offered was mobile phone tracking. We had an API link to a company that actually provided this, and there were supposed to be all sorts of checks to ensure you weren't tracking people without their knowledge (had to send automated texts reminding the phone-owner every 30 days etc), but as an operator of the system I could track any phone in the country to a cell-tower location (not GPS level) if I felt like it. That always unnerved me a bit.

        We had some police customers too. One of them was a constabulary that had a few units of ours, would go and nick the cars of known/suspected crims (usually drug dealers), fit the unit and put the car back, so they could sit back and see where they went whilst putting their feet up and having a cuppa.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: It's a hard problem

          A novel I read recently, "Whispers Under Ground" (2012), has at one point an authorized (presumably) use by London police of a possi ly fictional car tracking gadget said IIRC to cost about as much as a holiday in Ibiza: it's magnetic and about the size of a shoe polish tin. So our hero just strolls up to the vehicle and reaches down to clip it on on the most appropriate place.

          At which point, a story complication appears, as there is one there already.

          Long story short, he puts his own one on a different part of the vehicle, and who else may be tracking the suspect is never officially admitted, but heavily implied.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: It's a hard problem

            "it's magnetic and about the size of a shoe polish tin."

            And it already existed in 2012, using Qi to charge and NFC or other close-coupled comms along with 3G, so _no_ external connection ports. Unlike TV/movies, they don't come with LEDS on the outside to make it obvious what they are and being matte black plastic they blend in pretty quick with the rest of an underbody thanks to road dirt being thrown over them.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: It's a hard problem

      It's called a warrant and was solved over 200 years ago. It's part of America's 4th Amendment.

    3. Drew Scriver Silver badge

      Re: It's a hard problem

      Three companies were given direct access to the data by the Telcos, according to the article. They subsequently sold that data for $1,000 a piece to bounty hunters.

      Sounds like the APIs are already in place and all that's needed is some kind of subscription for law enforcement.

      I'm having a hard time believing that LE doesn't already have this but we're just not supposed to know about it...

    4. JoMe

      Re: It's a hard problem

      Not really. "What is your full name and official police badge number?" gives a few handy elements in one question:

      1) He could make up a number, sure; but now we're in the territory of actually claiming to be law enforcement

      2) It would be recorded with the request, so that auditors can track who, when, and what was requested. Harassment for example could be assessed here too.

      3) It should be fairly straightforward to create a secure portal that simply verifies badge number and first+last name.

      I mean, it's not perfect, but it's a very simple way of getting the actual claim on record of being law enforcement, and further if it is a legit law enforcement officer, the badge number and name is recorded.

    5. low_resolution_foxxes Bronze badge

      Re: It's a hard problem

      Because this would be so impossibly difficult to implement with an app/login?

      Not fucking hard. Gmail will already track my location if I switch it on, it doesn't seem hard for each police emergency sector to have a dedicated emergency line and cops have to at least report their name, number and follow up with paperwork.

    6. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: It's a hard problem

      "There are so many agencies that unless the States take charge of implementing some sort of authentication or 2FA challenge-response mechanism, the telcos have really no viable way to do so in an emergency situation."

      Then telco and police alike should get going and build "some sort of authentication or 2FA challenge-response mechanism". In the meantime, they should not respond to any request unless they can confirm the entity calling and the legitimacy of the request. After the system is implemented, they should reject immediately any request to go around this system. If a police unit forms, it can choose to set up under that system with required auditing and transparency, or it can resign itself to the fact that it can't access this information. "Because it's hard" is not an acceptable reason to violate people's rights.

  6. D. Evans

    Only $300?

    I'm in the old phart brigade complaining about how expensive "X" is. But $300 seems like 1970 prices.

    Should I give up IT for bounty hunting while I'm in the USA? At those prices I can afford a minder.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Only $300?

      I want them alive. No disintegrations.

  7. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Boba Fett is coming to planet Earth, as he heard that locating wanted persons is very easy.

  8. Loatesy

    Why is Marre being prosecuted? Surely the TelCos are solely at fault here? Or am I missing something?

    1. Great Bu

      He defrauded the telcos by providing fake documentation to "prove" he was entitled to the information. The telcos should also be sanctioned for poor security practices with such sensitive data.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        "He defrauded the telcos by providing fake documentation to "prove" he was entitled to the information. "

        But did he? Because what I understood is that all he had to do is make a call, give his real name and the real name of his company (which maybe sounded like acronym for some police department), and they just gave him the data.

        Now, legally I guess there is a case that he knew he wasn't entitled to the data he was asking for, but that isn't 'defrauding the Telcos'

        1. Great Bu

          This part:

          "The indictment against him also claims that he "provided a document… knowing such document was false and fraudulent." It's not clear what that is in reference to and it may be a further check run by mobile operators before approving location data, but it is not clear at this stage since neither law enforcement nor mobile operators want their verification processes to become public knowledge."

          of the article tells the rest of the story.

          He didn't just call up and ask for it, he called up, the Telco asked for whatever secret documentary proof they normally ask for to allow such information to be released and he sent them a fake one.

          So the Telco may have been insufficiently diligent in checking the proof he sent but if the accusation is true they were intentionally defrauded by the accused and are also victims of his malfeasance, they didn't just hand out the information on the basis of a phone call alone.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            We need to know what this "document" was to make any judgment. Particularly since "document" is so vague, and they never said anything like "badge number, LE department. Its more likely he sent a letter that had his LLC company logo, and the body of the letter simply stated who he was requesting info on. But that's all speculation too.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "all he had to do is make a call, give his real name and the real name of his company (which maybe sounded like acronym for some police department), and they just gave him the data."

          There have been a number of prosecutions in the UK for almost exactly the same thing. This isn't a problem restricted to the USA and "fronting" is a widespread issue that needs solving.

        3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          But did he? Because what I understood is that all he had to do is make a call, give his real name and the real name of his company (which maybe sounded like acronym for some police department), and they just gave him the data.

          Others have noted that there is evidence of actual fraud as well.

          But even that aside, as a professional bounty hunter, the prosecution can certainly argue that he knew or should have known that he was not entitled to use the warrantless exception for access that that information. If a jury (or judge, depending on the type of trial) agrees, he can be found guilty of fraud regardless of what he actually claimed to the T-Moron personnel. Or possibly of another related charge such as criminal mischief.

          US law generally recognizes that licensed professionals are required to understand laws applicable to their jobs, and bounty hunters are licensed in Colorado. So ignorance would not be a defense, and obtaining information he should not have access to would be fraud.

          That said, I'd certainly like to see some telco employees suffer for this too. Preferably both the people he dealt with and those up the management chain. They're supposed to know the rules, too.

  9. ciaran
    WTF?

    In Europe?

    Why do the US telcos even have GPS data from user? That they can locate the nearest cell tower I understand, and I understand that Google has my location. But I don't know what telephone protocol would hand my exact location to the telecom operator. Does this also happen in Europe?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In Europe?

      In the US, the NSA removed their 'hoarding" of user data as directed by the senate/congress, and offloaded that reasonability to Telcos, which then the NSA just makes request to for data they want. It was just a political feel good, shuffling the cards, but nothing really changed (besides the Telco's not being required to store a few billion gigs of data for the NSA)

    2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: In Europe?

      > Why do the US telcos even have GPS data from user?

      Technically it's A-GPS data (i.e. it doesn't just involve using GPS on your phone, but looks at nearby wifi SSIDs etc) rather than straight GPS.

      That data gets sent to the carriers (by the firmware they load on the phone) to help locate you when you make an emergency call. As I understand it, they effectively ping your phone to have it return the data, rather than it constantly streaming that info to them (basically, there's an API at the phone company that emergency operators would make a request against to request your position).

      The various radio chips (GPS, wifi, bluetooth etc) all pass through the baseband processor, so there's still the capability even if you flash your device with a vanilla OS.

      > Does this also happen in Europe?

      Yes. BT has worked long and hard on a solution for accurately locating people that have made an emergency call - https://www.networkworld.com/article/3088349/did-europe-just-fix-emergency-cellular-call-location.html

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: In Europe?

        The USA required telcos to be able to track cell calls to 911 to within 300m (although the enhanced 911 system it was supposed to support never really worked.)

        It doesn't say how the telco has to do this, typically they can't force your phone to return a GPS coordinate - you can turn GPS off to save battery

        The Eu has a proposed system called Advance Mobile Location which will force the phone to turn on Wifi/GPS and send that position on request. So far only the UK is using it AFAIK - it was originally a UK govt / BT idea.

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: In Europe?

        "That data gets sent to the carriers (by the firmware they load on the phone)..."

        So if you buy your handset SIM-free direct from the phone manufacturer, then the phone doesn't have such firmware and the telco doesn't have this data?

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: In Europe?

      "Why do the US telcos even have GPS data from user? "

      E911 - GPS location was mandated about 20 years ago to assist emergency services in getting to callouts more accurately.

      Cell site triangulation works relatively well in urban areas but much of the USA is suburban or rural and location fuzziness can be a scale of several miles.

    4. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: In Europe?

      Read up on CarrierIQ. Lots of operators do similar things for network quality monitoring. Additionally several companies make software that geolocates every call in the network (effectively based off RF measurement data, with varying degrees of accuracy) for the same purpose. Having seen these, I know you can type in an IMSI and get a location history of that phone within seconds - probably no more than 15 minutes out of date.

      No telephone protocol needed beyond the measurements defined in the RRC standards spec which are used by the network to help handover calls between cells, although from one of the releases of LTE, the MDT feature (minimisation of drive tests) allows the network to ask the phone to tag these measurements with GPS data for better accuracy.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Schultz Silver badge
    Boffin

    'court documents that have subsequently been restricted from public view'

    When did they start that habit of locking away the embarrassing failures? I thought the unforgiving light of public attention was supposed to be the best motivation to fix the system.

    But then, when your power approaches that of the supreme ruler(s) ("l'etat c'est moi"), you might decide that embarrassment is for the small people. Didn't work out for the French monarch in the longer term, but they had some nice parties along the way.

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