“Papers please” no longer needed

If you have a cell phone and it is turned on your cell phone company knows where it is within a few hundred yards. If the government wants this data from the provider it generally (emergency exemptions apparently exist) has to get a court order.


However, the FBI has the technology to trigger phones into giving up their serial numbers and their phone numbers. This does not require a court order! Currently they use a van to drive around town and try to find their target. But that doesn’t have to be the way they always do it. All they have to do is put this technology on major travel routes and in travel hubs and they can do a pretty good job of tracking a large proportion of the population. If they put up their own devices on most of cell towers around the country they can track every active cell phone in the country.


I write software for mobile phones for Microsoft and it is rare that a day goes by where we don’t talk about and implement privacy protections for the customer and now I find out the Federal Government is actively working to defeat us.

6 thoughts on ““Papers please” no longer needed

  1. The only saving grace is that this technology is very expensive. I use it, the article only reveals a very small portion of what the technology can do with GSM cell phones…

  2. Look up the Brando cellphone blocker pouch.

    Less then $10, and they work. My phone loses tracking and incoming calls the instant it goes in.

    Since I only have a disposable cellphone in my vehicle for emergency use, it works fine for me.

  3. Turning the cellphone off or wrapping it in aluminum foil works too. But that is the equivalent of putting your money in your mattress because you don’t trust the banks (actually–that is another privacy weak spot).

    In order to function at anywhere near full efficiency one has to embrace technology that enables us as well as enables the government to invade our privacy. I don’t know how we get from where we are to where we need to be. Too many people are willing to give the government that power.

  4. Then the other option is disposable cell phones … trac-fone, virgin mobile, etc.

    Just buy one every three months or so, and load a big airtime card on it. Leave the old ones on a park or school bench when you buy a replacement.

    Tracking a cell phone is useless if every time you try you eventually end up following some dumb-ass high school kid.

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