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Your Cell Phone Is Tracking You

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the payphones-growing-scarce dept.

Privacy 453

PollGuy writes "I had never heard until this article in the New York Times (sacrifice of first born required) about services that let regular people track the locations of other regular people via their cell phones. Nor this: 'A federal mandate that wireless carriers be able to locate callers who dial 911 automatically by late 2005 means that millions of phones already keep track of their owners' whereabouts.'"

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453 comments

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i love you lysol! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777712)

you big gay nigger you!

a simple solution (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777716)

turn your cell phone off when you dont want to be tracked!

Re:a simple solution (2, Insightful)

pentalive (449155) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777732)

or perhaps you have to go so far as remove the battery.

Re:a simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777759)

i guess that would defeat the purpose of having a cell phone if it was always off.

Re:a simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777792)

that is why you only turn it off when you dont want to be tracked.

Re:a simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777826)

yeah but how could a person tell if he/she was being tracked? it's a lose/lose situation.

This just in... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777719)

Its possible to track the location of people who have landlines too. It's called a phone book.

Indeed... (3, Interesting)

dilweed (698689) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777720)

Just bought a phone for my wife tonight and I was interested to see that it has GPS included. Interesting privacy and safety issue.

Re:Indeed... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777771)

So, you bought a cell phone for your other hand, too?

Re:Indeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777815)

  • Jerold Surdahl, 40, an administrator in a building management office in Centerville, Ohio, said he started using the uLocate service to communicate with colleagues. Now, he is intrigued by the possibility of stashing a location-tracking phone in the trunk of his wife's car.

    "I'm not expecting or hoping or wanting to find something, but I would just like to explore the possibilities," Mr. Surdahl said. "I'd tell her about it later."


*sigh*

Re:Indeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777836)

it's informative that he bought a phone? or that it's an interesting issue?

In Soviet Russia... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777723)

In Soviet Russia, cell phone tracks you !

Non-GPS-enabled phones... (3, Interesting)

hendridm (302246) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777724)

Suddenly I wish I hadn't sold my old Nokia phones on eBay recently. They might have been worth much more in the next couple years when all phones come with GPS-tracking included. Of course, it wouldn't make much of a difference if providers require the feature in the future.

Awwww, poor you. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777753)

:-(

Re:Non-GPS-enabled phones... (5, Informative)

CoolGopher (142933) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777773)

While GPS certainly helps, it is by no means necessary in order to pinpoint the location of a mobile. As long as you are within coverage of at least three cells (less than that and you lose accuracy), it is perfectly possible to triangulate the position of the mobile terminal, regardless of what support there is or is not on the actual mobile itself.

I say this with some authority, as I used to be working one floor above the guys developing the MPS (Mobile Positioning System) solution. That was, ummm, about four or five years ago. So no, this is nothing new... these aren't the droids you're looking for; move along.

Re:Non-GPS-enabled phones... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777898)

Sure.

That was possible years ago (like 4-5 years ago) - I know there was software would allow telcos to offer mobile phone calls at the price of cheap POTS calls by determining your cell phone location = your registered home location.
So by being at home, one could just use their mobile phone knowing (s)he will be automatically charged a lower fee....

Sean

That's weird... (2, Insightful)

wrinkledshirt (228541) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777726)

'A federal mandate that wireless carriers be able to locate callers who dial 911 automatically by late 2005 means that millions of phones already keep track of their owners' whereabouts.'

Seems unnecessary... Wouldn't it be possible to just have the cell phone programmed to export the necessary coord data when someone hits 911?

Re:That's weird... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777811)

cellular phones do not and cannot 'export coordinates'. in order for a telecom company to be able to locate you when you dial a specific number, they must be able to locate you when you dial any number. thus, in order to locate callers who dial 911, telecom companies can locate you whenever you're using your phone.

Re:That's weird... (1)

Qeantk (660103) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777864)

Mod parent -1 stupid, err I mean overrated.

Re:That's weird... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777876)

The problem situation comes in the case of kids or employees who aren't given the option of turning off the locator feature.

Re:That's weird... (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777879)

I suspect this is what the phones really do, and whoever wrote that article chose suboptimal wording. The phone has no need to store that information or transmit it constantly. It would only query the GPS satellites and send the location when a specific request was received. The tinfoil hat brigade can continue the argument over who's sending the requests.

not new. (5, Insightful)

1lus10n (586635) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777731)

this service isnt really new, i bought my phone about a year ago (samsung a500, sprintpcs) and it had this feature. I disabled it, but i think that only turns off the ability for joe schmoe to track me, not the gov't.

i personally see a good use for this (911) and dont see the big deal since you could just not carry your cell with you for that ultra-top-secret-underground tinfoil hat clan meeting.

i am more worried about things you cannot opt out of, like face scanning in public places. or non-approval required phone taps etc ....

Re:not new. (2, Troll)

GundyRage (611514) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777899)

The bottom line is that people need to realize that it just doesn't matter. 99.99% of us lead lives that are so boring that nobody cares where we are or what we are doing.

G

That argument's not new either (5, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777921)

As so many people do, you've assumed that you have to be up to something illicit to care about privacy. Simply not true. Here's an not unlikely example: You say to your boss, "I need the afternoon off. Gotta take my kid to the doctor." "Sure!" your boss says, then runs back to his office and order a location trace on your cell. It turns out the address you go to is for a specialist in childhood leukemia. "Christ!" your boss says, "Our insurance costs are through the roof already! If this kid needs a bone marrow transplant, forget about any end of the year bonus! Better downsize this guy, stat!"

Of course this technology has legitimate uses. If you'd bothered to read the article, you would have noticed that the privacy advocates were not objecting to the technology itself, but to the absence of control over who gets access to the data.

many phones can disable this (3, Informative)

toast0 (63707) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777733)

On the few phones I've seen with this feature, they have a menu to enable it all the time, or to only have it on for 911 calls.

I think it's pretty easy for the phone to tell if you're dialing 911 or not, so when you turn it off, it probably means it's off.

Re:many phones can disable this (4, Insightful)

hendridm (302246) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777764)

Just keep telling yourself that. If it's enabled for 911, it's enabled period. All it takes is a warrant (OnStar anyone?) or a clever cracker/spammer.

Excuse me, sir? You dropped this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777796)

(hands hendridm a tinfoil hat)

Re:Excuse me, sir? You dropped this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777804)

You're right, I'm being paranoid. To hell with privacy, I say! What a wacky idea that in this day and age people might want such a thing!

Re:many phones can disable this (2, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777852)

So long as the high standards to get a warrant still exist, that's not a bad thing for the world to have. It's a whole lot cheaper for the taxpayer to grab somebody's cell phone records compared to the conventional police tail...

Re:many phones can disable this (3, Insightful)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777858)

um, so "able to call regardless of credit" is enabled for 911/999, so "able to call regardless of credit" is enabled period?

woot, FREE CALLS FOR EVERYONE!!!!11111

Triangulation (5, Insightful)

cRueLio (679516) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777734)

they have been able to do this for a long time by triangulating on your location from 3 or more different cells. Every criminal knows not to leave their cell phone on exactly for this reason.

Re:Triangulation (0)

toast0 (63707) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777745)

they only need two towers... this forms a triangle between the two towers and you, thus the term triangulation.

Re:Triangulation (0)

Roydd McWilson (730636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777845)

Uh, no, that would allow two different possible positions for you assuming distances can be estimated accurately, which is not really even true.

Re:Triangulation (3, Informative)

Graff (532189) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777870)

they only need two towers

To pin someone down in 2 dimensions (that is, not considering height) you need 3 towers.

Picture it this way:
They know you are x distance from tower 1 so they draw a circle of x radius from tower 1.


They also know that you are y distance from tower 2 so they draw a circle of y radius from tower 2.

If you are along a line drawn directly between the two towers then the two circles will touch at one point. However, this is very unlikely. It is more likely that you are off to the side of a line connecting the two towers. In that case the two circles will touch in two places and they won't know which point you are at.

Now if they know you are z distance from tower 3 they can draw a circle of x radius from tower 3.

Within reason the 3 circles drawn will all touch at 1 point, that is where you are.

If they want to know your height they would need at least 4 towers. Any towers beyond what they need will add to the accuracy of finding your exact location. It is common for triangulation to use 7 or 8 points in order to increase the accuracy.

Not onl;y Triangulation (1)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777761)

There new phones out with full GPS built in.

So the phone will report its location with-in 30 feet.

On-Star use some of these in there systems.

Re:Triangulation (5, Informative)

robogun (466062) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777765)

Triangulation requires equipment located in several places and a certain amount of nontrivial effort.

GPS allows one person to instantly pinpoint you to within two meters. Information this easily obtained is potentially valuable to abusers.

Re:Triangulation (0, Offtopic)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777841)

please name a single thing in the whole world that ISN'T "potentially valuable to abusers"

Re:Triangulation (5, Informative)

Cebu (161017) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777890)

All cellular phones require base-stations to communicate with a telecommunications system. These base-stations are quite deliberately placed as to have contiguous coverage in a given region with a reasonable degree of overlap. The region in which a base-station can service a cellular phone is called a cell; hence the term cellular.

When a cellular phone is in coverage, which is to say when you can actually use your phone to call 911 in the first place, there are usually at least three base-stations which your cellular phone can contact (though it only uses the strongest signal for obvious reasons).

It is true that it takes non-trivial effort to implement triangulation based upon the signal strength of your cellular phone, but it also would take non-trivial effort to put a GPS solution onto a cellular phone. What is more important is which system is more precise, accurate, and reliable -- that would be GPS.

Leaving cell phone off is not enough (0, Flamebait)

Esteanil (710082) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777835)

Even if your cell phone is off, the police can still turn on the microphone and listen to what's going on in the room, which would presumeably also allow triangulation.
Take the battery out if you want to stay safe, only thing that works.

don't believe the hype!! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777908)

I work for a cell phone company. don't let the movies fool you. we, in no way, can tell where you are at with any certainty. we can tell which tower you are closer too, but not any type of distance measurment. we can use the RF (dB) to say that you are closer to tower A than tower B-- the more towers to sample from the "better" the guess. if we could get your location with any kind of accuracy there would be no need for the e911 laws that the government put in place to help 911 operators.

well (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777738)

duh

Limited to base station accuracy only? (1)

R33MSpec (631206) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777739)

IANAMCE (I Am Not A Mobile Comms. Specialist) but I would think that tracking via this method wouldn't be very accurate given that most mobile handsets are locked into a particular base station. Therefore it is possible to track anyone with a mobile handset but not to any substantial accuracy.

For example here in Australia, if your in the Melbourne CBD - most carriers would have 'Melb CBD' written as the base station ID - hardly anything to get really paranoid about.

NAYAAAT (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777842)

NAYAAAT - (Nor Are You An Accurate Acronym Transcriber)

Re:Limited to base station accuracy only? (1)

redmond (611823) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777882)

IANAMCE (I Am Not A Mobile Comms. Specialist)

You are defeating the purpose of using an acronym when you also spell out the acronym. You also appear to occasionally mistake the letter E for the letter S. Good luck with future posts. :^)

Re:Limited to base station accuracy only? (3, Informative)

tsa (15680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777884)

Here in Holland the police was able to find a woman who was kidnapped because of triangulation. Her phone company could give them the whole route the kidnapper took her to her hiding place. IAANAMCS (also not a mobile comms specialist) but IIRC a GSM phone chooses the strongest station from three stations that are close by, so the position of the phone can in principle be determined fairly accurately.

Re:Limited to base station accuracy only? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777905)

Almost all cell systems operate in that way... with the phone selecting the strongest available tower but also being aware of several other towers. Calculating the propigation delay any set three towers creates a very accurate bullseye... knowing just one tower is enough to limit the possible area down to a couple square miles.

Re:Limited to base station accuracy only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777906)

Ouch!

'Melb CBD' is a provider/network name; they must have many base stations...

e911 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777740)

I recently purchased a phone from verizon wireless (LG VX6000) and being the true geek i am, i went to cellphonehacks.com and hacked my cellphone.
I discovered how E911(the location program) works and that i could use my very phone to tell me my last location! Very incredible... yet i could see hackers taking advantage of this

Big Brother for teens... (0, Redundant)

xeno_gearz (533872) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777744)

Wow!
It's like 1984 for teenagers. Turning off the cellphone to move without being tracked seems too similar to avoiding the telescreen.

Another interesting device mentioned in the article is the FollowIt [nsclocators.com] , a vehicle tracking device. Big Brother eat your heart out.

Now for the two minutes of hate...

Offtopic but funny (4, Funny)

Kethinov (636034) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777748)

New York Times (sacrifice of first born required)
This just struck me as hillarious. Imagine a newbie to Slashdot reading that line and being like WTF?! because he'd never struggled through any previous articles where NYT registration fubar'd things.

Re:Offtopic but funny (1)

enigma48 (143560) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777910)

Just wait until s/he clicks on the goatse url to find out "what is that missing letter..."

Not good. (-1, Redundant)

dartmouth05 (540493) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777751)

As a civil libertarian, I have no problems with this technology being used to track children. The tracking technologies in the New York Times article are features--the various tracking services from the cell phone serivce providers were alled turned on with the knowledge, consent, and at the request of the account holder. The parents payed the bills and gave the kids the phones--the intrusive nature of the tracking devices is a tradeoff. It certainly sucks for the kids who are being tracked, but no ethical or legal rules are being violated, and it doesn't rustle my feathers. I do become concerned when this technology is used outside of the parent-child relationship. Employers should NOT be able to track their employees at all times.... If a company gives its workers cell phones and requires them to be available outside of work hours via the cell phone, the company still shouldn't have the ability to monitor its worker's activities during those non-work hours. Spouses should not have the ability to spy on one another either. This technology should not be activated by the government without a warrant based on probable cause. And don't think you are safe if your cell phone does not have built in GPS technology--some states have the ability to find you even without the GPS tech. Massachusetts, for example, is currently installing hardware and software that can find the location of any cellphone within the state, regardless of the age of the phone. Matthew Pratt's (the kid from the NYT article who kept his old phone to avoid being tracked by his folks) phone would not shield him from monitoring by the govt. in MA (and anywhere outfitted with similar technology). My cell phone, a Motorola T730, only broadcasts the location data if I dial 911, but again, with the type of technology MA is installing, I can be found regardless, so long as the phone as on. This new technology is far more sensitive then the old method of using 3 towers to triangulate the signal. I don't have access to the Boston Globe archives from here (there was an article on this about a week and half ago or so), but as I recall, the system is accurate within a few meters, and again, this is without using GPS. Any cell phone, regardless of age and featureset. Right now, the FCC is refusing to get into the debate, leaving this issue to sort itself out on its own. This is a mistake. Without guidelines, tracking very well might become widespread because it is forced down the throats of people who get their cell phones through their companies, schools, or otherwise don't pay their own bill. Once people don't have a legitimate expectation of privacy, to use the legal terminology, anyone can use the tracking services to track people. The data is even admissible in court.

Re:Not good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777776)

next time you decide to cut'n'paste-karma-whore, put some formatting in

Wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777789)

Sounds like a bunch of FUD to me. What is this software and how would it work?

Re:Not good. (3, Insightful)

martinX (672498) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777797)

Spouses should not have the ability to spy on one another either.

Can now. It's called a private detective.

Without guidelines, tracking very well might become widespread because it is forced down the throats of people who get their cell phones through their companies, schools, or otherwise don't pay their own bill.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

Re:Not good. (0, Offtopic)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777806)

As a civil libertarian, I have no problems with this technology being used to track children

As a civil libertarian, do you have a problem with
newlines

or separate paragraphs?

As a fellow civil libertarian, I suggest that you'll get your message read by more people if it's not one continuous block of text.

Re:Not good. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777839)

I don't care if you are a civil engineer. Your post is a bloody fucking mess that I won't even bother to read. Learn to put some paragraph breaks in next time. Most folks can't be bothered wasting their time reading ugly globs of diarrhea text like that.

this was on BBC News yesterday too (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777752)

the usual privacy nuts objecting that it means and end to civil liberties as we know it.

I think it's a Good Thing.

there were the usual retarded complaints such as "your boss will know if you're lying and skipping work!!!!" and "peadophiles can track your kids!!!!"

jeez, if license plates were invented today they'd be screaming the same arguments and claiming they too will bring free society to its knees.

Re:this was on BBC News yesterday too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777862)

Can your boss call up the location of your license plate from his desk?

Re:this was on BBC News yesterday too (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777887)

oh sorry I forgot, this is a technology thing, and everyone knows that ever since AOL invented the internet in 1995, any technology thing can be "h4xz0r3d" from your desk.

Re:this was on BBC News yesterday too (1)

danidude (672839) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777871)

It is always a matter of trading security for liberty. There are radicals on both extremes, but on this subject is more vital than ever to find a point of equilibrium, or else we can end up with barbarism or totalitarism if we go extreme on one side or another..

Re:this was on BBC News yesterday too (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777902)

what "liberty" is being traded?

if they were making it law that phones must be GPS enables AND everyone must own and carry a phone, you'd begin to have a point.

all they're doing is making sure people in need of help (i.e. dialing emergency services) can be located - that phone manufacturers include this safety feature.

you haven't lost anything, unless you also believe that laws requiring guns to have safety catches also constitute a loss of liberty.

Re:this was on BBC News yesterday too (1)

danidude (672839) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777916)

> what "liberty" is being traded?
Sorry, I wasn't clear, my mistake. I was responding to this part of parent post:
> jeez, if license plates were invented today they'd be screaming > the same arguments and claiming they too will bring free society to its knees.
I wasn't refering to the cell phones thing :)

Politician tracker (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777755)

It would be great to have an application that tracked the locations of politicians and lobbyists, for correlation with bank and voting records.

Like Google Registration Safe Link .. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777756)

Here is a link like the Google-Like Registration-Safe NY Times link, but this is longer lasting and weblog safe link
Your Cell Phone is tracking you [nytimes.com]

Comment IDs (3, Funny)

XanC (644172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777757)

We're about to hit comment #7777777 (seven sevens). That's got to be lucky!

Re:Comment IDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777768)

are we there yet?

Re:Comment IDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777781)

Can you hear me now ?

Re:Comment IDs (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777817)

hear you? I can see you, dick

[don't bother modding/replying if you don't get the reference]

Re:Comment IDs (1)

ahecht (567934) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777785)

No, not yet.

Re:Comment IDs (1)

ahecht (567934) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777799)

Hmm, missed it while waiting for the darn 20 second limit to expire.

Re:Comment IDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777786)

maybe now?

Re:Comment IDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777793)

Comment #7,777,777 [slashdot.org]

Old Concept, Scary Implementation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777760)

It's a question of signal emission. Your cellphone emits a signal, and cell towers can tell what direction it's coming from. Have two cell towers coordinate, and you've got a triangulated target.

The fact that this is becoming a commercialized service is pretty freaky though. At what point do the signals you broadcast in public become an issue of privacy?

google link for those without children to spare (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777763)

Lost? Hiding? Your Cellphone Is Keeping Tabs [nytimes.com]

On the train returning to Armonk, N.Y., from a recent shopping trip in Manhattan with her friends, Britney Lutz, 15, had the odd sensation that her father was watching her.....

old news (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777767)

'A federal mandate that wireless carriers be able to locate callers who dial 911 automatically by late 2005 means that millions of phones already keep track of their owners' whereabouts.'

You've always been able to locate the position of a cell phone as it's making a call via triangulation with 2 towers. This is nothing new.

part of "phase 2" 911 services (3, Informative)

juventasone (517959) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777774)

I can't view the NYT article (my first born seems a little steep), but I found this [esri.com] , which is a year and half old:

Phase II requires more precise location information be provided to the PSAP. Phase II requires the wireless service provider to provide the call back telephone number of the 9-1-1 caller, cell tower location, cell sector (antenna orientation) information, plus longitude and latitude (X, Y) information. Phase II E9-1-1 services exist today in a handful of locations, by a few wireless service providers, but these numbers will grow.

Re:part of "phase 2" 911 services (1)

AlienRancher (734517) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777814)

What people fear is Phase III, that goes up to a few meters. It requires special equipment at the cell or GPS on the phone or both (AGPS). Carriers are free to choose. Since most states are broke this Phase 3 is virtually nowere. Nevermind that your celllphone bill already has $0.5/month for that. Just google E911 and see. E stands for Enhanced

Anyone know how to use it? (2, Informative)

asscroft (610290) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777783)

My phone has it. I can turn it off or on within the phone software. It's a sprint PCS phone, made by Samsung. I don't know what good it is, unless maybe I die in the middle of the woods, which of course, would mean I'd be out of cell phone range anyway, but whatever. Is there a website somewhere where I can type in my number and pull up my cell phone on a little map? If so, I have only this to say:

Here's to sweethearts and wives, may they never meet.

Big Daddy is Watching you ... (1)

leoaugust (665240) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777790)

.... had the odd sensation that her father was watching her

I couldn't help notice that Orwell's Big Brother (1984) might have to be updated for this New-World (2004) (in New-Speak) to

Big Daddy is Watching You, Yes YOU.

I Need a Cellphone to be Tracked? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777795)

The only thing this changes is the ability for people to hunt down and beat prankers, I see no great problem with that. Does anyone else?

Where is Calum? (1)

millette (56354) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777798)

Where is Calum? [umtstrial.co.uk]

Re:Where is Calum? (1)

millette (56354) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777824)

oups, I hadn't noticed this:
"It works from 06:00 until 01:00, Monday to Friday."
That means you have to wait another 24 hours before seeing the script at work. In the meanwhile, see this article [willassen.no] dated 1998 on mobile location in GSM.

2 gripes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777801)

  1. Your Rights Online? Phoneline maybe.
  2. Those big and tall side ads really fuck up the layout. /. should consider redesigning to accomodate them, or using divs that wrap nicely.

Hah, BUSTED! (4, Funny)

molo (94384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777805)

Jerold Surdahl, 40, an administrator in a building management office in Centerville, Ohio, said he started using the uLocate service to communicate with colleagues. Now, he is intrigued by the possibility of stashing a location-tracking phone in the trunk of his wife's car.

"I'm not expecting or hoping or wanting to find something, but I would just like to explore the possibilities," Mr. Surdahl said. "I'd tell her about it later."


Umm.. can you say BUSTED? Having your name and your intentions printed in the NYT pretty much ensures your secret is out.

BTW, whats with all these controlling people? Relationships are about trust. If you can't trust someone to tell you where they were, then something more serious is wrong.

-molo

Re:Hah, BUSTED! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777830)

> If you can't trust someone to tell you where they were,
> then something more serious is wrong

That's the thing about trust. How do you know if it's really true? I trust my girlfriend implicitly, and I've hired eyes to check up on her whereabouts from time to time to make sure of it. It's all come through fine (except for the odd occasion she's been distracted while shopping and left to visit a friend's place, but I'm willing to forgive that)

Without that knowledge, you can't HAVE trust.

Re:Hah, BUSTED! (3, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777892)

On the other hand, what's wrong with telling employees that the phone reports back to a tracking map? When they're on company time their true location should not be a secret to their boss, so there really isn't too much of a privacy concern... only those who have something to hide should be worried. If they want to go somewhere secret on their off hours, leave the business phone at home...

Conspiracy theorists, ahoy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777816)

The truly paranoid talk about the Government inserting chips into people neck's to keep track of the population; much like how the owner of a cat or dog will use one to identify his missing pet. With the ubiquitity of mobile phones almost reaching saturation point it seems the Government has found a convenient and non-messy method of achieving the same goal. What's more, they've even managed to convince the population that they should pay good money for this service. It's absolutely brilliant.

Hat's off to the American Government for the most original application of the free market.

Stolen Phones? (1)

thryllkill (52874) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777820)

And yet T-Mobile "can't" track my Color Sidekick that got jacked? Even though they are the only provider in the area? Here's me being glad my contract is almost up with them.

how does it work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777821)

Is there an article that explains how this works? I assume phones don't have GPS antennas built in.

Re:how does it work? (2, Funny)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777860)

Look no further. I don't claim to be an expert on this, but my understanding is that they use a process called triangulation. The process is simple. They collect data from three different near-by cell phone towers. The data from the three towers is then compared to determine your location.

I'd be sure to remove the battery if a I didn't want to be tracked. I wouldn't trust the on/off switch for one second. Personally, if I was going to a tin-foil hat clan meeting, I would leave the phone at home. I'd be paranoid that even with the battery removed, there might still be some tracking mechanism. I think that the recent story about the FBI being ordered by a court not to use a certain method of monitoring computers in cars because they interfered with the use of the machines by the users just goes to show how the FBI has an attitude that it is their absolute right to snoop on anything and everything and use anything possible for surveilance.

/me dons tin-foil hat.

What is this information good for? (1)

mr_lithic (563105) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777829)

The tracking ability of mobiles has already been used commercially. There is a service to track folk in the UK [traceamobile.com] . It is also being used commercially for trucking firms [computerworld.com] in the states.

However, I cannot see how it will affect the average person on the street. I doubt the government will be keeping tabs on individuals. It seems as insidious as store loyalty cards.

I don't see government agents appearing on my lawn due to information gleaned from my Sainsbury's Nectar Card.

It's all described here... (4, Informative)

redwoodtree (136298) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777840)

For the curious, it's all described on the uLocate FAQ [ulocate.com] .

Only works with Nextel now and free until the end of the year.

Another reason to hate Nextel for me. After having a boss that gave us all Nextels and having managers that would use the Instant-On feature to speak to us night and day (10:26pm Manager: "Hello, Hello, are you there?? The mail server seems to be a little slow, are you there?"), I will never consider Nextel again. I'm scarred for life!!

Thought you might like to know (2, Interesting)

osamabenaffleck (734520) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777901)

I work (outsourced) for a major telecom manufacturer that's been mentioned two times before in these responses. A majority of our phones as well as our competitions' have the ability to track a user. It's not GPS, it's triangulation. a spot between any three available towers can be pinpointed to within thiry feet. Works out great for e911 services, in the areas that can access them (most major metropolitan areas). Also, these services cannot be turned off. The location-based services can be interrupted on a limited basis so that advertisements and offers (coming soon through your telecom companies) will not reach your phone, but e911 will always have access. Interesting to think that the avarge user is starting to get access to these services, however. (Don't know if I want all my friends and relatives to be able to plot out a map of my whereabouts.) ...just food for thought....

Samsung (1)

Silvers (196372) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777911)

Samsung has this GPS feature and it is set to turn on only when calling 911 by default. It can be set to always on however.

As long as that is the default setting which I was happy to see that it was, I see nothing to worry about. (unless ofcourse it doesnt work as advertised).

Re:Samsung (1)

osamabenaffleck (734520) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777917)

interesting... I work for them , and I'm pretty sure that you con't turn off the triangulation. Remember, your phone has the ability to transmit data to your telecom's servers. If "anyone" wants this info from Ma Bell, they can get it.

Old news [got this in Norway for years] (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777915)

We have been able to do this in Norway for a couple of years now, and everyone could track each other, if they are on the persons white-list. (That is, you could say who you would like to be tracked by)

Cell Phoney Tracking (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7777919)

I am a Sheriff's dispatcher to a County of 1.5million people.

Cell phone tracking is currently available, and will always be available even without GPS. As you travel your cell phone communicates to various cell phone towers along the path.

Cell phone companies will provide Public Safety agencies with "tower" information and subscriber information for emergency situations. With the tower information, it will provide about a one mile radius to search if needed.

GPS ability is available to some beta site dispatch centers. Cell phone/GPS information is provided when 911 is dialed. Landline 911 will provide location, phone number(s) and subscriber information. Very important info for responding agencies.

GPS ability is very important to Public Safety agencies. I lost count of the number of times "we" were unable to find a cell phone caller. 911 cell phone callers often have a dificult time giving their location, especially in unfamilar areas. I've taken calls where the caller is in a trapped in a ditch or injured in the middle of nowhere. I have also taken calls where a victim or injured person has called and for one reason or another is unable to give the location. Dead battery, poor reception site, lost consciousness etc.

Put yourself or a loved one in that scenerio and think about it. You have to think of the worst case scenerio, it happens daily.

I leave my GPS data on all the time, never knowing when I myself will be involved in an emergency.

I have nothing to hide, and couldn't care less if anybody new where I was located. With hundreds of cell phones being used in any one region, the thought of somebody caring about your location is quite unrealistic.

The whole basis of the GPS cell phone data is in the interest of public safety. To assist you when you need it most.

I'd be more afraid of criminals my personal data for identity theft.

Each credit card/atm/club card transaction is telling somebody where you are and what you are purchasing. Nobody seems to be bothered with that.

I don't have an account, not because i'm a coward. I just have the desire to post here often. I'm also paranoid that somebody is going to steal my personal information.

-Ant-

already posted (0, Redundant)

illumina+us (615188) | more than 10 years ago | (#7777920)

I can't find the article at this time. However, this has already been posted on /. except it was in the UK.
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