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UK Police Buy Covert Cellphone Surveillance System

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the getting-a-better-net dept.

Privacy 103

digitig writes "UK Metropolitan Police have purchased a 'covert surveillance technology that can masquerade as a mobile phone network, transmitting a signal that allows authorities to shut off phones remotely, intercept communications and gather data about thousands of users in a targeted area.' Other customers apparently include 'the U.S. Secret Service, the Ministry of Defence and regimes in the Middle East.'"

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Question: (3, Interesting)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892588)

Will a phone in flight mode release its IMSI and IMEI identity codes?

Re:Question: (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892612)

Will a phone in flight mode release its IMSI and IMEI identity codes?

How could it? Its radio is off.

What use is a phone in flight mode though? It might still be a mini-computer but it's useless as a communication device.

Re:Question: (2)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892720)

What use is a phone in flight mode though? It might still be a mini-computer

There's your answer. My current phone is more powerful than all but one of the laptops that I've ever owned.

From the description of the system (spoofs cellphone masts by being more powerful and thus preferred), you can simply set your phone not to roam outside your chosen network for voice calls as well as data.

Re:Question: (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892762)

What use is a phone in flight mode though? It might still be a mini-computer

There's your answer. My current phone is more powerful than all but one of the laptops that I've ever owned.

But as a communication device it's worthless. No phone network, no wifi. Mobile or not most computers are networked these days.

If you want to develop software on a tiny screen or just play angry birds that's great.

Re:Question: (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37892926)

But as a communication device it's worthless. No phone network, no wifi.

No. "Flight Mode" is just a shortcut which can be used instead of manually disabling cell communication, cell data, GPS, and wifi. You can shut down everything except wifi capability, for example.
From what I read in the article this system generates a signal which spoofs the cell tower networks, and asks the devices to respond with unique phone info, etc. So as long as you have just the cellular portion of your phone shut down, it won't release anything but still remain useful via wifi.

Assuming Android here, I'm not sure if iPhone or Windows phones have the same capability or not.

Re:Question: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37893990)

But as a communication device it's worthless. No phone network, no wifi. Mobile or not most computers are networked these days.

Android devices allow you to be in airplane mode and turn WIFI and bluetooth back on. Modern smart phones have multiple radios. Android allows you to turn them on/off individually. Which means with Android, you can be hidden from the carrier network and still have VoIP services.

Re:Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37897286)

protip: read the rest of the post you are replying to

Re:Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37892934)

Nice try but their technology can spoof your chosen network so they can still hijack your calls. Maybe someone could make an app that forces your phone to connect to a different tower. You would still need to know what tower was the fake one but it would be a start.

Re:Question: (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893018)

From the description of the system (spoofs cellphone masts by being more powerful and thus preferred), you can simply set your phone not to roam outside your chosen network for voice calls as well as data.

Except work on GSM from last CCC has shown that doesnt work, phone will still say HI to every BTS it sees.

Re:Question: (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#37894124)

Presumablly they could set the device to masquerade as whatever network they wanted.

Re:Question: (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#37894404)

British phones don't roam outside their chosen network while inside the UK anyway, with the exception of Orange and T-Mobile, which are now the same company. This thing would pretend to be a mast for your phone company so it does connect.

Re:Question: (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892968)

Flight mode is *required* when you go flying, they require you to put your phone in to flight mode *then* shut it down.

Old iPhones would do networking even when turned off (can't say for sure about android or newer), so there is your reason for flight mode, to make sure it stays quiet.

Re:Question: (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37892716)

There are always to ends of a stick. That scheme relies on devices' intelligent behavior. Phones could be hacked to ignore "the best signal cell-tower" or to emit false IMSI and IMEI at first, to test network sanity. If it accepts BS or takes too long to authenticate (it's a giveaway of Man in the Middle attack), ignore it!

Re:Question: (1)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 2 years ago | (#37899406)

Why not just turn the legitimate cell phone tower into a super spying device? This new thing sounds redundant.

You need to connect to a cell phone tower to communicate. Make the cell phone tower the spy. Easy... right?

Re:Question: (5, Interesting)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893146)

There's an app for Android phones, called Antennas. It shows you the location and status of nearby towers, and can be configured to run and collect the status of nearby towers in the background.

If a modified version of this app was used to crowd-source information about towers, false towers such as this could be identified. These mobile false towers will be physically located close to the interception victim, and will be a lot less powerful and have a lot less range than a typical tower. They'll also have less capacity than a normal tower, and maybe be physically located in an unusual spot (eg, on the street). These details should be able to be aggregated and the information used to warn about a new tower or a tower which has moved, or a tower whose signal strength is not on par with typical towers. Anyone curious about the status of a suspicious tower can drive out to its location and have a look to see if there's a real tower there, or instead it's a "news van" at that spot.

It seems like on a rooted phone, you ought to be able to blacklist certain towers, maybe give the device a whitelist of verified towers to use in a certain area. Maybe even make that black/whitelisting selective - only disable suspicious towers when making / receiving a call (since it seems likely the purpose is not location awareness, but call interception).

Re:Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37893650)

It seems location awareness in the UK would be more important. For example, if the police want to know who was at the riot, just determine what cell phones were in the area, regardless of who made calls or not.

Re:Question: (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | more than 2 years ago | (#37900358)

So all shop staff, cleaners and people living above or near the riot area, or their friends would be implicated - I don't think you thought that through.

Re:Question: (1)

Pence128 (1389345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37903518)

It doesn't matter if he thought it through, only whether they thought it through.

Re:Question: (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904524)

So what. They are just poor people. Oppress them, taunt them, gaol them, kill them. Who cares? Respect our authoritah!

Re:Question: (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893678)

It's like Perspectives for cell phone towers.

Re:Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37897626)

Antennas uses a Google database for cellphone towers. Those towers are gathered via Android cellphones all around the world. Antennas doesn't show you new towers unless they are in that database.
I don't think that you can deduce that if a tower is not in the database it must be a "false" tower. Especially in urban areas the App-Developer says the tower locations are way, way off their real locations.

Interesting App, none the less. Thanks for mentioning it!

Now? (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892596)

I thought they'd already had this stuff years ago.

Re:Now? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893806)

Same here. And in any case, anything that goes over a network you don't control without verified end-to-end encryption should be considered unsecure.

1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (4, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892604)

Pity really that some idiots actually feel safer when they are constantly monitored.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37892644)

I think it could be argued that you may actually be safer while being constantly monitored.

The problem is, it's just not worth it to a lot of us to give up our freedoms in exchange for the security. Or as Benjamin Franklin said:
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892728)

You're safer indeed, if the governments would be able to safely store all that data, and if they could guarantee that it would be used only for the protection of the citizens and not for any oppression. But those are two big ifs.

It has been shown again and again that the governments will eventually be hacked. Or some guy just loses a usb/laptop.
And because we actually have functioning democracies in the Western world, you never know what kind of idiots will be in the governments tomorrow.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892916)

You're safer indeed, if the governments would be able to safely store all that data, and if they could guarantee that it would be used only for the protection of the citizens and not for any oppression. But those are two big ifs.

It has been shown again and again that the governments will eventually be hacked. Or some guy just loses a usb/laptop. And because we actually have functioning democracies in the Western world, you never know what kind of idiots will be in the governments tomorrow.

... and if they will act in your interest. I'm sure that people have been mugged while under police surveillance but the police just let it happen so they don't reveal their monitoring.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893034)

You make one of the biggest ASSumptions possible. You ASSume that the government actually cares about the welfare of it's people. In this day, when most western governments are owned by the corporations, the government views you as an ASSet - nothing more, and nothing less. If/when they begin to view you as a liability, all that surveillance will get you killed.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (2)

morgaen (1896818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37894160)

I'm a tits man myself.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893978)

And because we actually have functioning democracies in the Western world, you never know what kind of idiots will be in the governments tomorrow.

Depends on how far west you go, perhaps. I'm west of the Atlantic and I don't live in a functioning democracy, and I know just what kind of idiots will be in government tomorrow. I agree with the rest of your post, however.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (2)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37894240)

I think it could be argued that you may actually be safer while being constantly monitored.

No, it is the government that is safer while you are being constantly monitored.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892800)

I'm pretty sure this violate every civilized county constitution regarding unwarranted surveillance. Yet we accept it.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37893474)

So what are you doing about it, other than moaning in an old irrelevant forum?

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893668)

So what are you doing about it, other than moaning in an old irrelevant forum?

Did you think that /. is a place where activists meet? Not really.

We just get here to complain about a lack of poll options, and to tell each other what is wrong about TFA this time. If you call that moaning, then sure, we moan. But don't get the impression that we don't like that, and that the moaning isn't a goal in itself. Because we totally do, and it totally is.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904536)

Did you think that /. is a place where activists meet? Not really.

Shows what you know!!!! I totally pinged their ass

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

UpnAtom (551727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37898258)

Britain has almost no rights left thanks to the Blair administration.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (5, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893520)

I wrote to my last MP (free to do online via The Work For You) to complain about the ever increasing internet surveillance. In the letter I pointed out that saving a single life, or even many lives, is not justification for the loss of privacy and rights. If saving a life came before all other considerations we would ban cars and shut down the road network. Given that I asked why she voted for the new laws.

Her response was along the lines of "it saved the life of a woman who was said she was going to commit suicide on Facebook because the police were able to backtrace her IP address".

She lost her seat at the last election (I won't say which because it would reveal where I live and I value my privacy). Good riddance.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37895450)

"She lost her seat at the last election (I won't say which because it would reveal where I live and I value my privacy). Good riddance."

Right, and who replaced her? Someone with the same values no doubt?

I e-mailed the Conservatives when they were in opposition a few years ago when the DEA was first mentioned as an idea as they were "seeking to get the views of the public" in their attempt to pursue power.

I got a reply back from Jeremy Hunt which was almost word for word a press release from the RIAA, containing entirely unproven facts, despite me making it clear that part the problem I had with the DEA was the fact there was no solid evidence being put forward as to the validity of the music industry's claims. It was pretty clear to me all those years ago that he was a puppet, a shill of big media, so I was hardly surprised to see it all come out about him in the News of the World scandal.

Of course, now Labour is in opposition, good old Red Ed is doing the same thing, seeking the opinions of the public, to guage what they did wrong, how they can change. So, I figured I'd take him up on the offer.

Imagine my complete lack of surprise when he gave me the usual blurb about how their ID card database would save lives, and how the DEA was necessary to protect the creative industries from billions of pounds in losses and how Labour would still support these if reelected.

Really, it doesn't matter what you or I think, only what companies willing to engage in corrupt practices with corrupt MPs think.

Still, at least it provides a bit of humour when the likes of Louise Mensch goes on HIGNFY and gets herself ripped to shreds trying to defend such practices as she did the other week, so it's not all bad I suppose.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37897618)

Right, and who replaced her? Someone with the same values no doubt?

Her replacement is at least more responsive and doesn't brown-nose as much, but being a Tory her party is in favour of reducing privacy.

I also emailed all my MEPs when the EU was debating extending copyright terms. The Greens and Lib Dems were in favour of reducing them, although we now know for certain that the Lib Dems are full of shit. The Tory MEP was in favour of an extension and as in your experience basically parroted the BMI press release.

So what it boils down to is that the Greens are the largest party who offer some prospect of representing my views, but they only have one MP. Protest is pointless as we have seen time and time again, the only exception being when enough people are fucked over badly enough for sustained violence such as the Poll Tax riots. The current lot outside St. Paul's have just been evicted and will be history by the end of the week, and all the promises to ask the hard questions and have a debate by politicians are worthless. Most of the media hasn't even bothered to report what they are protesting about, other than some vague hippies-against-capitalism bullshit.

The Government Petitions would be hilarious if they didn't demonstrate just how far the three major parties are willing to go to shut you up and make sure your voice is never heard, except for at election time where people are guaranteed to vote for whoever will do the most to protect their wallet. The genius of the current system is that with one vote you have to pick both a local MP and who you want to form the government (assuming you are not fucked over by a coalition), so that one X on the voting slip has to cover every single issue you care about. Knowing that economics and taxes are the most important things all parties can afford to screw you on everything else. Labour started a war that 2 million people marched against and still got re-elected with a large majority.

Our democracy is fucked, we are fucked.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

coolmadsi (823103) | more than 2 years ago | (#37908468)

I also emailed all my MEPs when the EU was debating extending copyright terms. The Greens and Lib Dems were in favour of reducing them, although we now know for certain that the Lib Dems are full of shit. The Tory MEP was in favour of an extension and as in your experience basically parroted the BMI press release.

I think I got a similar email response when I emailed about copyright terms. I said I would be very interested in reading the sources he talked about that said it was should be extended, as everything I had read previously said the opposite, so I could ensure I had as much information as possible, and double-check any of my previous sources. I didn't get another reply.

The current lot outside St. Paul's have just been evicted and will be history by the end of the week, and all the promises to ask the hard questions and have a debate by politicians are worthless. Most of the media hasn't even bothered to report what they are protesting about, other than some vague hippies-against-capitalism bullshit.

I don't think they've been evicted yet...

St Paul's suspends legal action against Occupy London protest
Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-15541127 [bbc.co.uk]

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

UpnAtom (551727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37898234)

Labour are still pushing ID cards???

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37905056)

According to the response I got back when Ed was "reaching out to the people for opinions", yes.

I wasn't terribly surprised, Ed was afterall instrumental in Brown's government, not to mention his right had man Ed Balls and Ball's wife. Really, the party hasn't changed - just reshuffled minus Brown.

David Milliband was probably their best hope for change in the short term, as he was a Blairite, that doesn't make him ideal of course, but it at least meant he's not an authoritarian-socialist Brownite.

Which is of course why the unions didn't want him.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

Yousef (66495) | more than 2 years ago | (#37895452)

They miss their nannies...

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37895640)

You do realize, of course, that "Nineteen Eighty-Four" was a treatise against leftism, specifically Communism? No, you didn't realize that? Go back and read it again, and juxtapose it against what Communists believed from 1937-1941. Seriously.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

ConaxConax (1886430) | more than 2 years ago | (#37897692)

Nonsense, Orwell himself was a communist. It was a message against supreme nationalism espoused by conservatives at the time.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37897956)

Uh, no. Ever hear of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact? It's the basis for one of the main plot points of 1984. Orwell's disillusionment with Communism is the entire basis for the book. As in, he actually saw it in practice.

Amazing how things can be "reinterpreted". Orwell would approve.

Re:1984 is a guidebook, not a warning (1)

ConaxConax (1886430) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901564)

Do you have any proof of this disillusionment? I would be interested to read it. I have heard otherwise in that he remained a communist yet was obviously disillusioned by the betrayals done to the workers through things like the Ribbentrop Pact and Stalinism in general and the problems around revolution in general.

Just Wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37892606)

So because there may be one bad guy in the area thousands of innocent people get their privacy invaded, and no doubt checked just too make sure they are doing nothing wrong.. I'm sickened by what the UK is becoming.

Re:Just Wrong (2)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892632)

So because there may be one bad guy in the area thousands of innocent people get their privacy invaded, and no doubt checked just too make sure they are doing nothing wrong.. I'm sickened by what the UK is becoming.

Not even one bad guy, one suspected bad guy. This trend is disturbing for sure.

Re:Just Wrong (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37892884)

This technology is not about "one guy". These are large-scale devices designed to track and suppress communication among protesters. Governments know that shit will hit the fan on a large scale eventually. They're just too corrupt and rotten to continue as they are doing right know without resistance. So they prepare.

For example, in Germany, police already occasionally logs and tracks protesters (yes, peaceful ones). Sure, it was illegal, but who cares? There are no consequences for violating laws if the government does it.

Re:Just Wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37894170)

Exactly right - I watch the news and see the people rising up against their governments in the middle east and africa and it seems here, in the West, we've already progressed to the point where that's no longer an option. In the UK video surveillance is everywhere, we have laws against unauthorised assembly, we can be plucked off the street and held in a cell without evidence under anti terror laws, the police have guns and the polulation don't and now measures to shut down the kind of communications that made the Arab Spring possible? Governments are just getting far better at ensuring their position of power is entrenched.

Re:Just Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37894052)

Yeah, but... Look Out! Terrorists! (seriously Slashdot, I can say Fuck, but I can't type in all caps?)

what is the difference (1)

kubitus (927806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892660)

between the customers?

:

UK Metropolitan Police, U.S. Secret Service, the Ministry of Defence and regimes in the Middle East

Re:what is the difference (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892874)

between the customers?

:

UK Metropolitan Police, U.S. Secret Service, the Ministry of Defence and regimes in the Middle East

Their methods of suppressing rebellion and their forthrightness while doing so?

Re:what is the difference (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893046)

Wrong answer. Suppression is suppression, and that is pretty much the end of the equation. The protests in Syria seem to have left a couple hundred bodies in their wake. If/when the government decides to put a stop to OWS, you think the body count will be less? Oh, the cops will TRY not to kill anyoen, and they'll TRY nonlethal force first. But, when push comes to shove, the government will enforce it's will, and damn the body count.

Ditto in the UK, Germany, or any other country.

Colonel GoofDaffy set an example that you can be sure all other governments will follow. They won't step down, they won't change, unless and until the masses apply force to the equation.

Re:what is the difference (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 2 years ago | (#37895536)

Eh no. Sorry, I'm not *that* paranoid. There *is* a difference between Western countries and the rest.

Re:what is the difference (1)

WNight (23683) | more than 2 years ago | (#37898170)

Yeah, Western government pay more lip service to justice.

95%+ of police officers in Toronto took their badge numbers off when kettling and illegally arresting protesters. Despite the extreme number of infractions not a single police officer, RCMP or local, recalls seeing ANYONE without their identification.

This was done specifically so that charges couldn't be laid and sure enough police have been found not guilty for reason of lack of evidence in many beatings, not because nobody beat the person, but because no officer is willing to rat on the rest and they all appear identical in black riot gear. (Amazingly, just like the Black Bloc, who they condemn.)

I think we should have a sting and throw every police officer who refuses to rat on a fellow officer in jail till they die of old age.

Re:what is the difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37893514)

The U.S. Secret Service only acts as law enforcement in certain corner cases. Their main responsibilities are protecting US government officials and tracking down counterfeiters. They have no role in handling rebellion.

The big question: oversight (3, Informative)

tucuxi (1146347) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892704)

This seems like a law-enforcement version of the WASP drone featured at last summer's Black Hat / Defcon [slashdot.org]

The big question is, since the technology has been available for a while, and is obviously useful for its stated purpose, that of oversight. Privacy-invading technologies will always exist, will always be useful for law-enforcement, and are due to increase the more we mesh our lives with technology. How will authorities deal with data filtering, retention, probable cause, and the opportunity for discovering wrongdoers vs. the invasion of people's privacy? That is the big question.

A somewhat-rosy scenario is detailed in Charlie Stross' [wikipedia.org] Halting State series. The ugly scenario looks like 1984. Which one we choose depends on an educated public steering their politicians, instead of letting their politicians be steered by ??? and profit.

Re:The big question: oversight (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893380)

The problem is that the police can gather intelligence this way, even if it would normally be privileged (e.g. suspect talking to their legal representative). They couldn't use it in court, but unlike the US system it doesn't automatically make prosecution based on evidence gathered based on said intelligence impossible.

This is just a knee-jerk reaction to the riots. Unfortunately we only ever knee-jerk privacy away, never suddenly realising we need to take it back.

Re:The big question: oversight (3, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893448)

Yup, listen in on conversation illegally and find out that the suspect will have incriminating evidence in their car on Tuesday at 10AM. Then at 10AM on Tuesday a cop happens to notice that they didn't signal 300 yards before changing lanes and pulls them over. Then they notice something unusual and search the car, and boom, you have a legal search finding evidence that can be used. The phone tap that led to it all would simply not be mentioned in court.

Everybody violates the law 50 times a day, so if the cops need a reason to search you at any time chances are that you'll give them a legally valid one.

Re:The big question: oversight (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#37898022)

Whoa it's 300 YARDS of signaling before changing lanes? I usually don't even do 300 feet! That's ridiculous....

Re:The big question: oversight (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#37898824)

Eh, I think it is feet actually, but in any case I'm sure you violate any of 47 other regulations in the course of two miles of driving, just like everybody else...

Why? (5, Insightful)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892764)

Why would the police need to "masquerade" as a phone network. They can just get it from the *real* phone network. All phone companies comply with police requests, as long as they are legal. Oh, I see...

Re:Why? (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892780)

Why would the police need to "masquerade" as a phone network. They can just get it from the *real* phone network. All phone companies comply with police requests, as long as they are legal. Oh, I see...

I don't think the phone networks are too fussy about checking the legality of requests.
However if the police collect data illegally they can't use it in court. If they are not collecting evidence of wrongdoing what are they collecting this information for? It's either some kind of target selection thing or something altogether more sinister.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37892950)

However if the police collect data illegally they can't use it in court.

This isn't the US. "fruit of the poisonous tree" isn't an international rule.

Not sure about the UK but in Germany for example, evidence can be acquired by illegal means (that includes illegal actions by law enforcement) and still be admissible in court. Granted, there may - on paper - be some extreme cases in which evidence is not admissible but these are highly theoretical. Illegal surveillance and anything short of well-documented torture won't get thrown out. Best you can hope for, is the judge saying "nono, bad boy" to the cop who committed the crime.

Re:Why? (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893002)

However if the police collect data illegally they can't use it in court.

This isn't the US. "fruit of the poisonous tree" isn't an international rule.

Not sure about the UK but in Germany for example, evidence can be acquired by illegal means (that includes illegal actions by law enforcement) and still be admissible in court. Granted, there may - on paper - be some extreme cases in which evidence is not admissible but these are highly theoretical. Illegal surveillance and anything short of well-documented torture won't get thrown out. Best you can hope for, is the judge saying "nono, bad boy" to the cop who committed the crime.

Then Germany sucks. This story is in the UK were illegal evidence isn't evidence of anything but wrongdoing on the part of whoever collected it. If it was any other way there would be massive police abuse.

Re:Why? (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893168)

Agreed. Any country that tolerates illegally-obtained evidence is only a step away from outright corruption.

In the UK, if your evidence was obtained illegally then not only do you suffer the appropriate sanctions for that, but ALL evidence gained that way is null and void when it comes to providing prosecutions - you basically wipe out the possibility of EVER prosecuting that person for whatever crime you had evidence of by doing anything illegal yourself. It's not good policing to wipe out all your evidence (including other, legally obtained, evidence) and provide your target with almost complete immunity from prosecution because you didn't get approval for your wiretaps etc.

Military things work differently in practice but even "officially" they are supposed to work the same way.

Re:Why? (1)

coinreturn (617535) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893298)

Agreed. Any country that tolerates illegally-obtained evidence is only a step away from outright corruption.

In the UK, if your evidence was obtained illegally then not only do you suffer the appropriate sanctions for that, but ALL evidence gained that way is null and void when it comes to providing prosecutions - you basically wipe out the possibility of EVER prosecuting that person for whatever crime you had evidence of by doing anything illegal yourself. It's not good policing to wipe out all your evidence (including other, legally obtained, evidence) and provide your target with almost complete immunity from prosecution because you didn't get approval for your wiretaps etc.

Military things work differently in practice but even "officially" they are supposed to work the same way.

I believe the idea is to gather illegal evidence (that you never intend to use in court) to see who the badguys are. Next you get an "anonymous" tip about who to get a legal wiretap against. Surprise! Your tip was real good!

Re:Why? (1)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 2 years ago | (#37897486)

Then Germany sucks. This story is in the UK were illegal evidence isn't evidence of anything but wrongdoing on the part of whoever collected it. If it was any other way there would be massive police abuse.

Actually, it's pretty much the same in the UK, at least in primciple. The courts have wide discretion to do whatever they think is appropriate. http://lawiki.org/lawwiki/Improperly_obtained_evidence [lawiki.org]

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893476)

Doing stuff like this allows you to put EVERYBODY in a huge dragnet and see who is worth looking into more closely. You don't have to actually use any of the data you collect as evidence. You simply need to figure out who to target with legal methods.

Suppose I sniff thousands of phone calls and find out that you are doing something I don't like - such as making drugs, or copying movies, or saying bad things about your school on Facebook, or whatever. I can't use that as evidence, but I know who you are now. Then I just walk down your street and notice that your grass is taller than the local ordinance allows, or claim that I heard a shout for help that seemed to be coming from your house and knock on the door. You open up the door and I happen to see something inside that is suspicious, or whatever. Now I have probable cause and can get a warrant, and I can carve another notch in my baton or whatever.

Legally searching houses is expensive, and it ticks people off when you search the wrong ones. On the other hand, mass interception of phone/internet/etc is cheap and tells you who to target with legal techniques.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37894882)

Word count: 212
Whatever count: 3

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37907816)

Your post had a higher 'whatever' percentage than his.

Re:Why? (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892786)

Sooner or later, even the government catches up with the thieves.

Re:Why? (0)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892844)

Sooner or later, even the government catches up with the thieves.

The problem is, at least in the UK, is that the GOVERNMENT are the thieves.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893056)

No. The large international corporations, particularly the financial ones, are the thieves. The government is simply an obedient servant.
I wouldn't call them a slave though. They are family and they do get benefits out of their obedience.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37893502)

The parent is correct. Try to learn a little about how the members of parliament were caught with fraudulent expenses claims going on for many years. And we're not talking about extra items on lunch receipts here, there were far far bigger items, like accommodation never used, costing thousands a month per person. Isolated incidents, it was not.

Re:Why? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893886)

The real phone network probably doesn't have the capability built in to record phone calls, and a MITM GSM AP is quicker and cheaper than adding that capability...

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37894874)

It's a computer network! Computer networks support copying data. It might have been difficult in the age of analog switches, but now it's just a keypress.

Anti-bombing technology? (1)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#37895102)

Could this be used to prevent bombings?

It seems that more and more, cell phones are being used as triggers for bombs. They are cheap, easily obtained and because the cell network is ubiquitous, the bombs can be detonated outside of line of sight or the range of other cheap radio transmitters (garage door openers, etc). The network also acts almost as a stegonographic mask, as there's no "unusual" radio signature and the spectrum is already flooded with active traffic.

A device that could override and masquerade as the public cell network could keep all unauthorized cell phones off the network within range of a motorcade or other "secure" area, preventing detonation signaling as well as providing intelligence logging of calling attempted on the fake cell site.

I know they have used portable jammers for this purpose before, but this might prove more subtle.

Re:Anti-bombing technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37895594)

And it is getting easier to reprogram those cellphones. So if you are going to use one as a bomb trigger then why not set it up so that it needs a call or text every x minutes to keep from going off when armed.

Re:Anti-bombing technology? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#37901944)

Yeah because cell-phone bombs go off all the time around me. How about: preserve rights, then the 99% won't want justice? Then we won't need to protect these motorcades that seem so self-important.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37898740)

This way it raises the Police budget, which means more power for the Police, and especially bigger salries for those at the top of the tree. It also allows for 'interesting' accounting practices such as dealing indirectly via front companies and so on.

The problem with prohibiting secure phone lines (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892824)

The real problem with prohibiting secure phoning is that criminals [slashdot.org] can also wiretap conversations.

Re:The problem with prohibiting secure phone lines (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37892940)

The real problem with prohibiting secure phoning is that criminals [slashdot.org] can also wiretap conversations.

Indeed now that SMS messages are used for two-factor authentication for many banks this is becoming a more common area of attack [eweek.com]

IMSI Catcher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37892906)

It's called an "IMSI Catcher" and it's the opposite of covert surveillance. Since it has to pose as an active component of the network and provide a stronger signal than other base stations to make cell phones switch to it, it can't really hide the fact that it's there. When you suddenly have cell phone reception in your basement, you know something is fishy. Any "lawful interception" interface is more covert than that.

RedPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37892984)

http://www.whispersys.com/

so who are Datong ? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37893328)

Paul Lever
        Mr. Paul R.S. Lever serves as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Datong plc., since September 2005. He also acts as Chairman in a number of other organisations. He was formerly the Chairman of the National Criminal Intelligence Service (âoeNCISâ) and the National Crime Squad (âoeNCSâ), non-executive Chairman of BSM Group plc and Oxford Aviation Holdings Ltd and Chief Executive of Tube Investments â" small appliance operations, Crown Paints, Crown Berger and Lionheart plc. His early career included time in both the regular Army and in the Territorial Army, where he served in Defence Intelligence.
Brian Smith
        Mr. Brian Mcqueen Smith serves as Interim Chief Executive Officer, Non-Executive Director of Datong Plc. He joined the company in November1998 as Sales Director, became Chief Executive in July 2000, became Deputy Chairman in July 2009 and was appointed as a Non-executive Director in June 2010. He previously spent 30 years with AGEMA Infrared Systems AB, the Swedish manufacturer of Forward Looking Infra-Red equipment, of which 15 years were spent as the Managing Director of their UK operations.
Stephen Ayres
        Mr. Stephen Ayres serves as Executive Director - Finance, Company Secretary, Director of Datong Plc. He serves as Finance Director and Company Secretary in October 2006. Previously he held positions as Managing Director for the UK division of the international healthcare group Attendo AB and a number of senior financial and corporate finance roles within Rolls Royce plc. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG in 1993.
John Kirtland
        Mr. John Philip Kirtland is the Group Sales Director, Director of Datong PLC. He joined joined Datong as Group Sales Director in January 2010 from Quadrant Security Group, the security systems integrator and has a experience in sales and marketing leadership as well as relevant industry experience. His Previous directorships within the past five years include: Security Design Associates (1979) Ltd, SDA Protec (2001) Ltd, SDA Protec Ltd, Protec PLC.
Grant Ashley
        Mr. Grant Ashley is the Non-Executive Director of Datong Plc in June 2006. He is the Vice President of Global Security and Crisis Management at Merck & Co Inc. He previously held a variety of roles within the United Stated Federal Bureau of Investigation (âoeFBIâ) culminating in his appointment in May 2004 as Executive Assistant Director for Law Enforcement Services until his retirement in January 2006. He is a qualified Certified Public Accountant and currently serves as a council member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Richard Brearley
        Mr. Richard Brearley serves as Non-Executive Director of Datong Plc., since September 2009. He is responsible for legal and compliance at Investec Bank. Prior to this he was responsible for the Listing Review project at the FSA and was a corporate partner at the law firm Nabarro LLP.

-----------------

lets hope nobody tracks them down egh ?

Wireless Privacy??? (2)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 2 years ago | (#37893722)

Ordinarily I would agree that any form of tapping which gets people not specifically mentioned in a court order is a case of a government intruding too far but...

If you are talking on a cellphone.. or any other wireless device... broadcasting your conversation through the air... and you think your privacy is guaranteed you are a moron. Whatever you say you deserve to have heard and posted for all to see. Of course... given the way things have gone in the last 10 years I wouldn't really expect privacy on a landline either.

I think people have way too much of a 'magic black box' mentality when it comes to technology. By not thinking about how the devices they depend on work they don't see their cellphones as a radio transmitter. Then even without a fake tower to connect to they broadcast their conversations for miles in all directions and expect privacy??? Sure cellular data is encrypted but there are people out there who can decode it. And then of course one just automatically assumes that their phone company plus all other phone companies along the path will play nice with the data...

Maybe secrets are best told in person.

Re:Wireless Privacy??? (2)

Isao (153092) | more than 2 years ago | (#37894196)

Another facet of this is that the devices can be tracked, whether or not the user is using it or making a call. As long as it is on and available to receive a call (communicating with the base) it can be identified and a coarse location determined. If it were me in the law-enforcement role, the way I would use this is to identify devices in an area of interest (the protest locations) and record the identifiers over a series of days/nights. Eliminating devices which did not appear during a majority of the observed days lets you focus on the core group of people present at the events. (This will include media, people who live/work in the area, police and civil support themselves, etc.) Some careful trimming of the data by time of day will help reduce the "noise". Then you have a subset to focus investigations on. If I were on the other side, I'd make good use of WiFi (fixed and hotspots), VoIP, and "burners" (prepaid phones bought with cash and no ID - don't know if that's possible in all countries). Those are easy protections. Defense can get more technical and fiddle with the device IDs, but that likely crosses a line - and I'd want to be pure as the driven snow if I was at high risk of being arrested at some point.

Re:Wireless Privacy??? (2)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#37894296)

Sure cellular data is encrypted but there are people out there who can decode it.

And there are people who can climb a phone pole and attatch a recorder to your phone line.

I don't see any reason to treat cellphone calls different from landline calls just because the methods of gaining illicit access are different.

Re:Wireless Privacy??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37894382)

That's why I've got infra-red telephoto cameras and parabolic microphones trained on all of your windows and doors; you're obviously broadcasting that energy because you want it spied on. Expect to see your wife on dirtybitches.xx and your recorded conversations to be emailed to your boss/ mother in law.

That's what you want, otherwise you'd live in a windowless, soundproofed bunker lined with lead.

Re:Wireless Privacy??? (2)

Aryden (1872756) | more than 2 years ago | (#37894436)

Or maybe since it's illegal for an individual to decode your encrypted transmissions, it should also be as well for your government to do so without probable cause and a warrant. There is no reason that any cop should be allowed to listen in on your dirty talk with your lady while in the privacy of your own flat. In order for them to setup surveillance across the street and listen to you with bubs, microphones etc, they are supposed to have a warrant, what's the difference here?

IMSI catcher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37894348)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMSI-catcher

What About China? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37896014)

Other customers doesn't include China? I am surprised! Oh wait... I forgot the devices are Made in China!

Femtocell cover (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37898920)

Now we can false flag my Femtocell man in the middle attacks as police!

Hackers 2: Takedown (and a question) (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | more than 2 years ago | (#37904506)

Didn't the all avenging happy rollerblading ninja have one of these tools in his pocket protector? Can someone please tell me what they called it in the movie. At the time lots of 31337 h4x0rz where online asking how to get/build one for future fancy exploits.

Re:Hackers 2: Takedown (and a question) (1)

snowshell (2495332) | more than 2 years ago | (#37905830)

Anyone who has their Phone Unlocked Legally by a Telephone Unlocking Provider like those guys wearing a turban on most street corners who do it for as little as ten bucks will evade this system in heart-beat. When you unlock your mobile phone you remove the service provider locks, that means you can not obtain the IMEI unless you the customer have it written down and are ready to part with it.

LOL Waste of Money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37905554)

LOL, cell phone hacking, I thought they just recovered from a similar row over this kind of technology... Whilst they may think to blanket an area there will always be phone phreakers one step ahead, people using disposable SIMS, flash-able firmware and CDMA hacks that will disable or relocate their GPRS transponder. In fact I can think of several systems where this kind of technology is a waste of money. Lets say the people they blanket are all using android based devices that have been hacked to support OpenPGP Messaging and Voice Encrypted Phone Calls like Red Phone. Enjoy blanketing something you can not intercept.

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