Cell Phone Records

If you are one of the 200 million Americans who own a cell phone, police may be able to search you at any time, even if you are not receiving or making a call. You may have seen the Verizon commercial in which a lockstep mass represents the network that escorts its customers all over. Well, a technologically advanced Big Brother is hiding among that allegedly nice throng, and he is keeping cell phone records.

Many mobile users are aware that when they contact 911 in an emergency, for example, police can utilize phone company technology to locate them, sometimes within a few feet of their position.

A little fact: Cell phone carriers can locate you at any time you are within tower range and the device is turned on. Cell phones are designed to work with GPS or pings, which allow towers to triangulate and detect signals. As a result, whenever your phone detects a tower, it will ring.

That is precisely what happened last month in the case of a New York City killing, which cast doubt on the existence of a built-in capability in phones to identify persons even when they are not making phone calls.

Cell Phone Records
Cell Phone Records

The news of Imette St. Guillen, on the other hand, captivated the New York City news media in the way that only the assassination of a young, beautiful, middle-class, and white female can. One piece of evidence that led to the arrest of Darryl Littlejohn, a bouncer at the bar where St. Guillen was last seen, was what police called “mobile phone data.” Indeed, it was not a real call that led police to Littlejohn’s location the day of the crime, but rather the “pings” of his wireless cell phone, which were “fed” in a tower and “after that collected from T-Mobile network by the police,” according to the New-York Daily News.

Telecom providers and the government are reluctant to make their tracking capabilities public. Furthermore, firms will never confess that they are recording the breadcrumb trail of pings from a wireless phone in order to determine where the mobile user was at any particular time after the fact. “Indeed, there is that potential,” says Counterpane Internet Security’s chief technical officer, Bruce Schneier. Companies like Verizon and others have the legal right to use that valuable data, and there’s no way they wouldn’t market it if it’s legal and profitable. After all, this is a free market.”

However, maintaining legality can be difficult, especially when national security and corporate profits are involved. Communications corporations and the government have regularly been caught cooperating in highly dubious tactics. The NSA used “gateway” switches to direct conversations all over the world to conduct warrantless wiretapping, which is now eliciting screams for Bush’s accusation. AT&T, Sprint, and MCI handle nearly all of these switches.

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