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Tracking Via Anonymous SIM Cards

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the leaving-a-calling-card dept.

Handhelds 426

Noryungi writes "The New York Times reports that Al Qaeda operatives were tracked using the ID of the GSM phone chips sold by a Swiss company named Swisscom. Very interesting."

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Look at how fast they adapted (-1, Insightful)

corebreech (469871) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464543)

And now that the terrorists have moved on to other techniques, is our privacy restored by removing the ability to track users' cell phones? Of course not.

The lame excuse we are given is that we need to track cell phones for 911 purposes, but that needn't be mandated by the government. If you want a cell phone that can give your location to authorities, buy one with a built-in GPS receiver that transmits your location. There was never any legitimate need to upgrade the infrastructure to allow for tracking any cell user at will.

It's no different than what happened after TWA 800 was shot down by the Navy. They screamed "Terrorist! Terrorist!" and so they placed all these onerous security restrictions on the public (having to show your papers when travelling, for instance.) But once they agree on a cover story implicating the center fuel tank exploding (something that had never happened before and has never happened since), do they restore our privacy and our liberty?

Not on your life.

Nice troll, but as everyone knows, (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464613)

it was the Freemasons that shot down TWA 800.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (5, Insightful)

HullBreach (607816) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464616)

Psst.... Theres a black helicopter over your house right now!! Seriously, I dont like PATRIOT and the other crap pushed on us by the paniced public any more than anybody else, but saying the Navy shot down that plane is just ignorant.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (0, Interesting)

corebreech (469871) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464669)

Here's the cover-up. [nara.gov]

Clinton signed that Executive Order the day after the French periodical Paris Match published the radar transcripts showing that there was something else in the air next to TWA 800 when it exploded.

Nobody's expecting you to remove your blinders. But maybe if you could just take a peek every now and again at the world outside, you know, a sort of reality check.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464907)

http://clinton6.nara.gov/1997/03/1997-03-11-exec-o rder-on-naval-special-warfare-development-group.ht ml
For Immediate Release March 12, 1997

EXECUTIVE ORDER

EXCLUSION OF THE NAVAL SPECIAL WARFARE DEVELOPMENT GROUP
FROM THE FEDERAL LABOR-MANAGEMENT RELATIONS PROGRAM

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 7103(b)(1) of title 5 of the United States Code, and having determined that the Naval Special Warfare Development Group has as a primary function intelligence, counter-intelligence, investigative, or national security work and that the provisions of Chapter 71 of title 5 of the United States Code cannot be applied to this organization in a manner consistent with national security requirements and considerations, Executive Order 12171 of November 19, 1979, as amended, is further amended by adding the following at the end of section 1-205:

"(i) Naval Special Warfare Development Group."

WILLIAM J. CLINTON

THE WHITE HOUSE,

March 11, 1997.


Yep, there's the cover up. I think you should put the "blinders" back on.

French periodical Paris Match published the radar transcripts showing that there was something else in the air next to TWA 800 when it exploded.

And everyone knows how French periodicals are always allowed full access to FAA radar data.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464934)

There are presently two groups of conspiracy theorists. One - group A - cries that (1) X is full of evil and lies; (2) X is responsible for most bad things in this world; and (3) Y stands to protect you from this. The other - group B - cries that (1) Y is full of evil and lies; (2) Y is responsible for most bad things in this world; and (3) X stands to protect you from this.


Let X be the US government, and Y be "the terrorists". Presently, group A are considered worthy of medication, while group B are laudable patriots. If we study most countries' histories, and generalise the term "terrorists", this still applies.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (4, Informative)

GAVollink (720403) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464944)

Uh, O.K. I read the link, several times. I really, truely don't see what you are expecting me to see. (Maybe this is my own personal short-sightedness), but I'm trying to figure out how chaning the labor policies for an Intelligence sub-department links to a radar feed about TWA flight 800?

The NTSB Flight 800 Page [ntsb.gov] seems to have the evidence contrary to your own beliefs, and if you are really nice, and try not to sound like you are a conspiracy theorist, they may let you see the evidence for yourself, under a press pass - or "I'm a collage student writing a paper on", etc. Of course, there have been plenty of (non-government employed) people whom have already seen it, and it's probably been warehoused, but no harm in trying. What I'm saying here, is if you show me proof, I'm on your side, until then - I'm letting you know what I'm basing my beliefs on.

Kindest regards.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464887)

Psst.... Theres a black helicopter over your house right now!!

Fortunately, as the White Spy, I had a trap set up to trigger on downdrafts and launch a big rock from a trebuchet which smashed the Black Spy helicopter!!

Seriously, I dont like PATRIOT and the other crap pushed on us by the paniced [SIC] public any more than anybody else, but saying the Navy shot down that plane is just ignorant.

Panicked public: People who actually live too far away from any primary terror target, but feel obligated to make up for the lack of panic expressed by those who do live close to a target and take the risk in stride.

Another fascinating installment on the BBC this morning about the bugging of the UN, which has been business as usual and diplomats go elsewhere to hold private or sensitive conversations. Spy vs. Spy all over again. Antonio Prohias, we miss you.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464638)

There was never any legitimate need to upgrade the infrastructure to allow for tracking any cell user at will.
And that's why the big brother guys, like the CIA, NSA and FBI really pushed for that type of infrastructure to be developed, right? But... oh wait, it was actually some of the northern states who thought it might be nice to be able to help find people lost in snow storms.

Oh... just noticed this, you're a kook. TWA 800 shot down? Sure sure... ding! time to take your medicine

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464675)

It's no different than what happened after TWA 800 was shot down by the Navy.
Look at how fast they adapted (Score:5, Insightful)

Here's a tip mods: read the whole f'en post before moderating. Clearly, this guy has some "issues".

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (3, Insightful)

Wingchild (212447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464726)

If you want a cell phone that can give your location to authorities, buy one with a built-in GPS receiver that transmits your location. There was never any legitimate need to upgrade the infrastructure to allow for tracking any cell user at will.

As far as I was aware, that infrastructure was in place from the very beginning.

In order for a cellphone company to properly give you service, they have to arrange for a series of cell towers over a wide range of space. These towers provide your signal. For uninterrupted service, the service-areas of each tower must overlap to a degree.

In order to bill you properly when you are roaming, the towers must be able to check your location against your home calling areas (for people with plans where this still exists). Which tower you're using at any given time is a matter of record.

If the argument is that they don't have your location down to a 10-meter square block, you might wanna guess again; by watching the way that your phone moves through the spheres of influence each tower generates it becomes mathematically trivial to triangulate your position with a precision that GPS would find envious.

If you're drudging out the `Navy shot down TWA 800` theory I'm tempted to classify you as a troll. Please don't bother frightening Slashdot with your Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt lines about the lack of privacy we now have post 9/11 -- you never had it to begin with.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (5, Informative)

DR SoB (749180) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464829)

Actually your wrong. There are different technologies for cell phone antenna's. The old ones simply relied on your cell phone saying "I am getting the best signal. Now they have "Directional Antenna Array's" (google search it), and basically it triangalets your exact location based on the signal from multiple sources, quite a bit different then "Which is the best signal". The good news: Cell phone reception went WAY up, the bad news, they can track where you are to within a few metres. Is this good or bad? Who cares, as /. pointed out already, they can track you with your cash, your cc's, your bank card, your car, etc. etc. etc..

Big Brother(x) = 1984 + 20 = 2004.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (4, Informative)

Zone-MR (631588) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464834)

If the argument is that they don't have your location down to a 10-meter square block, you might wanna guess again; by watching the way that your phone moves through the spheres of influence each tower generates it becomes mathematically trivial to triangulate your position with a precision that GPS would find envious.

That statment is vastly exaggerated. In fact triangulating the position based on signal strength gives vastly inaccurate results. Simply passing behind a wall would make you appear 20-100m further from the cell station, making triangulation hopeless at accuracy.

The most accurate method availible is called time advance. Basically the towers keep a very accurate record of your latency, and transmit their signal slightly in advance when you are far away to make sure it reaches you at the time your cellphone expects it. IIRC this value is measured in 1/10ths of a bit, and yeilds an accuracy of 500m. No methods of tracking cellphones are as good as the = 10m GPS provides.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464943)

exactly. the 911 tracking bs was basically opening it to the emergency services (and other law enforcement). it also was to enable the reception of 911 calls from any phone waether or not it had an account on the network. i bought several of those phones just to keep in my cars in case of emergency. i havn't charged them in over 4 years but one of them just made a 911 call when i saw a car go across the medium strip and hit oncoming trafic.

i didn't read the article completly but they prolly paid for some of the recharge cards with a credit card that when the card was redeemd into the cell phone automatically asociated it with the person(s). there should still be ways to use them without being tracked by name. you just need to be more carefull in how you do it. on another note, it wouldn't surprise me if they were just monitoring all the phones like this looking for keywords and certain languages being spoken.

there has been programs in place for a while now that can and do listen for "keywords" then start recording and set an alrm off to the rite office. it wouldn't surprise me if a flag got posted about this replie if i started saying things like bomb and president, assasin and super tuesday gihad and fuck them all let god sort it out.

now whats that black helecopter doing down the street?

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464742)

no matter how you spin it, it is possible to track your location with normal gsm phones very easily if you own the network(got the locations of the gsm towers, got the signal strengths to those towers-> simbsalapimpska: you got the location. this has worked 'reliably' for YEARS).. ..due to privacy reasons this hasn't been used that much for anything around here, you know there's some goverments who can't afford to screw their citizens(and whose citizens know what loss of privacy can lead to, due to being able to observe it happening in the neighbouring countries..).

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (1)

corebreech (469871) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464799)

Of course, having the ability to do something and actually implementing it are two very different things.

The service providers had no need to track users locations beyond that necessary to establish service. It was government fiat that compelled them to install the systems necessary to harness this information, collate it, and make it available to government agents on demand.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (2, Insightful)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464768)

like a noose gradually tightening our liberties are imperceptibly reduced until the ruling elite have us on a leash.

the only choice we have is whether the elite is right wing or left wing.

It is the inevitable consequence of power (power acretes power).

I could go on. But I won't.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (1)

BrownDwarf (615206) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464848)

Doesn't it strike anyone as odd that the powers that be would release this much detail to one of the world's top newspapers? Even if the technique no longer works on Al Queda, surely there are lots of other folks who still have [misguided] faith in the security of cell phones. I smell disinformation here.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464891)

Bullshit.

I have had the 911 tracking save a frieds leg before. We were on a motorcycle trip and the bike burst into flames. It was abou t11pm and I had no idea where I was. I call 911 from my cell. I told them I didn't know where I was but my friend was burned really bad. They said not to worry an ambulance and fire truck was on the way and they could get a good idea of my location from my cell phone. I told them that when they got close we would be the two guys standing about 50 yards from the burnign motorcycle. We laughed, my friend go taway without skin grafts, and insurance paid for my motorcycle. Now, lets get rid of that because you think you are important enough for our goverment to track.

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (1)

SnappleMaster (465729) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464892)

Agreed. The /. tagline says "interesting" but this is frightening as hell. The bottom line is that if you are an enemy of US and you talk on a cellphone anywhere in the world, you may well be screwed. Wow. What else are they listening for, I wonder?

Re:Look at how fast they adapted (2, Insightful)

jdifool (678774) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464956)

I actually gave you a mod point, but after reflexion, it's better to show you support by writing down what I think too.

You are being labelled as a flamer for implying that the Navy is the responsible for that crash. However, as one might [twa800.com] notice [whatreallyhappened.com] , there are some really serious reasons to believe it really happened.

What is really amazing is that those exactly same people that ask you to take your medicine are also flaming the Patriot Act, which is the very follow-up for such behavior...

But everyone is free to keep blinders, indeed.

And, BTW, I wanted to thank you for your sig link, I've been enjoying it for months.

Keep going !

Regards,
jdif

BIG NEWS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464553)

Big breaking news! Who'd have thunk it?!? They can track you via your cell phone!

And in other big breaking news:
Did you hear about the Lindbergh baby?

Well if truth be told (-1, Offtopic)

zoobaby (583075) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464559)

You are being tracked too!

FORST SIM CARD (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464562)

For great justice and hot grits all over NATALIE PORTMAN !

I don't get it.... (4, Insightful)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464563)

How is this a big deal, they can track cell phones... not news.

Re:I don't get it.... (4, Informative)

cnkeller (181482) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464699)

How is this a big deal, they can track cell phones... not news.

Someone please mod this guys as insightful. Law enforcement and various governments have the ability to track cell phone calls and draw conclusions based upon the interactions of various callers and call'ees. If you're doing something nefarious, you run this the risk of being monitored and apprehended.

In other news, when I woke up this morning, the run had risen, I had to go to work, and traffic sucked.

There go your rights.. (2, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464564)


The terrorism investigation code-named Mont Blanc began almost by accident in April 2002, when authorities intercepted a cellphone call that lasted less than a minute and involved not a single word of conversation. Investigators, suspicious that the call was a signal between terrorists [...]

Read that again: investigators became suspicious after listening to the call. They basically admit to what people have suspected for years: that intelligence agencies cast a broad net to monitor all sorts of communications traffic with little regard to the law or your privacy.

Naturally, playing the Fear Card will let them justify their actions. "Fear" is government's best excuse for carte blanche destruction of your freedoms.

Re:There go your rights.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464668)

Opps that was a typo. Thanks. -CIA

Re:There go your rights.. (-1, Offtopic)

caluml (551744) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464683)

Damn. How do I become as insightful as you?!

Re:There go your rights.. (4, Informative)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464688)

Perhaps you should read it again, then. Investigators were not listening to random calls taken in by a broad net. Prior capture of other terrorists had yielded all sorts of phone numbers, addresses, and other contact and location information. Intelligence agencies then homed in on these particular phone numbers, recorded everything, and then analyzed it later. But I'm sure it sounds much more interesting if you try to paint it as some sort of grand conspiracy.

Re:There go your rights.. (4, Insightful)

back_pages (600753) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464713)

Hey now, I'm sympathetic to your fears about indiscriminate tapping of communications, but I don't think you can support your conclusions at all.

It does say that the investigators became suspicious after listening to the call. It doesn't say why they were listening in the first place. They might have been investigating the guy for drug deals, heard the suspicious call, looked a little closer, and uncovered links to terrorism. The only evidence against that is the phrase "Investigators, suspicious that the call was a signal between terrorists", which implies that the suspicion caused the investigation. That could easily be written off as creativity on the part of the journalist.

Incredible claims require unquestionable proof, I think. Yes, there is clearly reason to be suspicious of how the government conducts these taps, but I disagree that you've found a clear admission of indiscriminate eavesdropping.

Re:There go your rights.. (1)

ifreakshow (613584) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464753)

It seem to me that they had good reason to be monitoring the call. The phone was monitored because the owner was know to be meeting with militant islamists.

What's really interesting is that the terrorist didn't realize that the sim card is what identifies you and not the phone. They kept buying new phones and using the same card.

Re:There go your rights.. (4, Informative)

ColdGrits (204506) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464759)

Read that again: investigators became suspicious after listening to the call. They basically admit to what people have suspected for years: that intelligence agencies cast a broad net to monitor all sorts of communications traffic with little regard to the law or your privacy.


Actually, if you RTFA properly then you would realise that they were NOT routinely monitoring calls.

What they WERE doing was monitoring calls to / from numbers which were on a list of numbers they found when they arrested another terrorist.

PLEASE try to keep your conspiracy paranoia uner control.

Re:There go your rights.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464853)

But they're coming... they're coming! They've put tiny monitoring devices in my keyboard and they're tracking this message. By the time you've finished reading it, I'll be on a plate for the Pre-Sumer Nagas' dinner.

What's that nurse? Medication? Don't! You're stealing my memories. You're ....

...aah. Much better. Nurse, why do I have a sheet of Bacofoil on my head?

frist post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464568)

aaaa

Al Queda's Dumbest Criminals (5, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464569)

The terrorists were lulled into a false sense of security when they kept changing phones, but took their SIM cards from one phone to the next to keep their number and minutes. Therefore, while the hardware changed, the identity didn't. That's what did them in...

Re:Al Queda's Dumbest Criminals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464658)

ROFLMAO!

this is the funniest thing i heard about alqueda.

Re:Al Queda's Dumbest Criminals (1)

toesate (652111) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464763)

Maybe the real motivation they keep changing cell phones was because they were vain? To show off among their peers.

And those sponsoring their phones changing habits was/were probably made believed into the false sense of security.

Follow the money... (somewhat OT) (4, Interesting)

Embedded Geek (532893) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464913)

I recall a TV movie [imdb.com] years ago about the prosecution of Nazi war crimes, specifically about (*SPOILER ALERT*) the murders of Allied P.O.W.s by the Gestapo depicted in the movie "The Great Escape."

One of the big problems after the war was that a lot of SS/Gestapo officers destroyed their records in an effort to claim that they'd served with other units, had had lower ranks, or hadn't even served (a similar thing that is being seen with senior Baathists in Iraq today). In the end, the prosecutors wound up proving the service histories of their suspects by finding that all of them had filled out their government pension paperwork when they'd joined their units or received promotions.

Again, it was simple greed (or stinginess) that led to their downfall.

traked via anonymous post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464574)

traked via anonymous post

Routine Cellphone Monitoring (2, Insightful)

the_weasel (323320) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464587)

The terrorism investigation code-named Mont Blanc began almost by accident in April 2002, when authorities intercepted a cellphone call that lasted less than a minute and involved not a single word of conversation.

I think what I find particularily frightening about that sentence from the article is the implication that this was initiated by what appears to be routine cellphone monitoring.

Is this kind of thing routine?

Re:Routine Cellphone Monitoring (2, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464697)

I think the implication is that they were already tracking one of the two sides of that call, and for that individual to be calling somebody in Pakistan would be very interesting and worth following up on.

Re:Routine Cellphone Monitoring (4, Insightful)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464730)

Perhaps you should read it again, then. Investigators were not listening to random calls taken in by a broad net. Prior capture of other terrorists had yielded all sorts of phone numbers, addresses, and other contact and location information. Intelligence agencies then homed in on these particular phone numbers, recorded everything, and then analyzed it later. This is not "routine monitoring," this is targeted intelligence gathering. This is like saying that because the CIA tapped the Russian embassy's phone back in the 60's, the CIA was engaging in routine monitoring of all phone calls in the United States. That's ludicrous, just like suggesting routine monitoring of all cell phone conversations.

Re:Routine Cellphone Monitoring (1)

the_weasel (323320) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464902)

Yep. A re-read clarified that. Its what I get for skimming the article.

They were clearly monitoring phone numbers they considered at risk, and no doubt monitoring at this scale requires the usual wiretap warrants.

* /me sheepishly folds tinfoil hat and places in pocket until next time *

Re:Routine Cellphone Monitoring (1)

strictnein (318940) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464751)

The article seems to imply that it was routine because the suspect was seen hanging around with other Mulsim militant/terrorist types.

Re:Routine Cellphone Monitoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464766)

What the hell I make thoes type of calls all the time by having my cell phone in my pocket with out having the keyguard on... Calling people all the time with just white noise...

Echelon monitoring? (4, Interesting)

Wingchild (212447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464797)

Is this kind of thing routine?

Given the first +5 Informative FUD troll on this thread it's clear we're in full conspiracy theory mode, so let's trot out Echelon again. :)

It's theorized that there exists a gigantic electronic SIGINT monitoring network, known as Echelon, which is operated across the Sort Of Free World by the United States, the United Kingdom, and other allies. The system is supposed to be powerful enough to monitor every phonecall, every email, every satellite communication, and handle *all of it simultaneously*. Pattern matching and keyword analysis are done by computers in realtime. Echelon can also make toast, predict stock market trends, and runs it's own psychic hotline.

On a more serious note, how routine that kind of thing might be requires a more careful analysis of the laws of the United Kingdom, which are not the same as the laws of the United States. I don't know what the rules are over there governing the implicit privacy of information.

It's their own fault (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464591)

for buying 867-5309.

Sugerencias importantes: Sugerencias importantes: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464601)

Sugerencias importantes:
Procura no salirte del tema.
Responde a otros comentarios en vez de abrir nuevos hilos.
Lee que dicen los demas para no repetir.
Usa un asunto claro que muestre el contenido de tu mensaje.
Los comentarios Fuera de Tema, Provocadores, Inapropiados, Illegales u Ofensivos deberian ser moderados. (Puedes leer todo, incluso envios moderados, ajustando tu umbral de lectura en la Pagina de Preferencias de Usuario)

Los problemas de cuentas o comentarios sobre los envios se deben enviar a Barrapunto Admin

Re:Sugerencias importantes:Sugerencias importantes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464657)

Dit is toch een engelstalige site? ;-)

No need for tin foil hats here! (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464606)

Before anybody thinks the spooks were monitoring the "anonymous" prepaid cell phones randomly... RTFA. What got the investigation started was that they found a list of phone numbers when arresting another terrorist, and they all turned out to lead into the hands of high-value targets and the people who spoke to them.

Re:No need for tin foil hats here! (2, Interesting)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464880)

to add to the details, it seems they were initially monitoring someone's phone which led them to the arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. A search of Mohammed's place yeilded "hundereds" of numbers. Tracing those hundreds of numbers "led investigators to as many as 6,000 phone numbers, which amounted to a virtual road map of Al Qaeda's operations"

HA! (5, Funny)

leifm (641850) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464619)

So they think I am always in my underwear drawer, since that is where the SIM card for my last GSM phone has resided for the last year.

TDMA for life!

Re:HA! (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464761)

TDMA is just as trackable as GSM. The only difference is that the identity of a GSM phone is stored on the chip... move it to new hardware and you still ID to the network the same way. They confused GSM with TDMA...

Re:HA! (1)

leifm (641850) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464870)

I know. And really I don't care if I'm being tracked, maybe my routine will be as boring for them as it is for me... work, home, bar, work, home, school, work, home, work, home... Hell they don't even need to bother tracking me.

Re:HA! (1)

gid (5195) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464935)

You fool! That's going to lead the underwear gnomes straight to you!

Phase 1: Collect Underpants...

oh forget it [gid0ze.net] ...

Swisscom website (0, Informative)

Pingular (670773) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464632)

Swisscom [swisscom.com]

PINGULAR IS A LOSER (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464654)

LOSER!!

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PINGULAR IS ON TEH SPOKE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464696)

spoke

PINGULAR IS ON TEH C0X0RZ! HE LOVES TEH C0X0RZ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464805)

cell phones aren't secure. who cares? (4, Funny)

surreal-maitland (711954) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464634)

a little terrifying, but not so terrifying that i'm going to stop using my cell phone. hey, i don't fit the profile and i only discuss my evil plans back-to-back through a voice modulator. and my secret code is way cooler than thirty seconds of silence.

In Soviet Russia.... Phones Track You (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464635)

Now if only they could let 911 and others (pizza delivery man) pinpoint your location using your cell phone I would be find with it but just to let to GOV know where I am at all times just because is kind of a pain in the ass.

Re:In Soviet Russia.... Phones Track You (-1, Troll)

canadianjoe (692195) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464838)

... and taxis. That and the (pizza) delivery guys are the really practical, everyday applications.

Article Text for the lazy (-1, Redundant)

skinny.net (20754) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464645)

even though the NYT link works! (thanks google partnership) _____________________ March 4, 2004 How Tiny Swiss Cellphone Chips Helped Track Global Terror Web By DON VAN NATTA Jr. and DESMOND BUTLER ONDON, March 2 -- The terrorism investigation code-named Mont Blanc began almost by accident in April 2002, when authorities intercepted a cellphone call that lasted less than a minute and involved not a single word of conversation. Investigators, suspicious that the call was a signal between terrorists, followed the trail first to one terror suspect, then to others, and eventually to terror cells on three continents. What tied them together was a computer chip smaller than a fingernail. But before the investigation wound down in recent weeks, its global net caught dozens of suspected Qaeda members and disrupted at least three planned attacks in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, according to counterterrorism and intelligence officials in Europe and the United States. The investigation helped narrow the search for one of the most wanted men in the world, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is accused of being the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to three intelligence officials based in Europe. American authorities arrested Mr. Mohammed in Pakistan last March. For two years, investigators now say, they were able to track the conversations and movements of several Qaeda leaders and dozens of operatives after determining that the suspects favored a particular brand of cellphone chip. The chips carry prepaid minutes and allow phone use around the world. Investigators said they believed that the chips, made by Swisscom of Switzerland, were popular with terrorists because they could buy the chips without giving their names. "They thought these phones protected their anonymity, but they didn't," said a senior intelligence official based in Europe. Even without personal information, the authorities were able to conduct routine monitoring of phone conversations. A half dozen senior officials in the United States and Europe agreed to talk in detail about the previously undisclosed investigation because, they said, it was completed. They also said they had strong indications that terror suspects, alert to the phones' vulnerability, had largely abandoned them for important communications and instead were using e-mail, Internet phone calls and hand-delivered messages. "This was one of the most effective tools we had to locate Al Qaeda," said a senior counterterrorism official in Europe. "The perception of anonymity may have lulled them into a false sense of security. We now believe that Al Qaeda has figured out that we were monitoring them through these phones." The officials called the operation one of the most successful investigations since Sept. 11, 2001, and an example of unusual cooperation between agencies in different countries. Led by the Swiss, the investigation involved agents from more than a dozen countries, including the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Britain and Italy. Cellphones have played a major role in the constant jousting between terrorists and intelligence agencies. In their requests for more investigative powers, Attorney General John Ashcroft and other officials have repeatedly cited the importance of monitoring portable phones. Each success by investigators seems to drive terrorists either to more advanced -- or to more primitive -- communications. During the American bombing of Tora Bora in Afghanistan in December 2001, American authorities reported hearing Osama bin Laden speaking to his associates on a satellite phone. Since then, Mr. bin Laden has communicated with handwritten messages delivered by trusted couriers, officials said. In 2002 the German authorities broke up a cell after monitoring calls by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has been linked by some top American officials to Al Qaeda, in which he could be heard ordering attacks on Jewish targets in Germany. Since then, investigators say, Mr. Zarqawi has been more cautious. "If you beat terrorists over the head enough, they learn," said Col. Nick Pratt, a counterterrorism expert and professor at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. "They are smart." Officials say that on the rare occasion when operatives still use mobile phones, they keep the calls brief and use code words. "They know we are on to them and they keep evolving and using new methods, and we keep finding ways to make life miserable for them," said a senior Saudi official. "In many ways, it's like a cat-and-mouse game." Some Qaeda lieutenants used cellphones only to arrange a conversation on a more secure telephone. It was one such brief cellphone call that set off the Mont Blanc investigation. The call was placed on April 11, 2002, by Christian Ganczarski, a 36-year-old Polish-born German Muslim whom the German authorities suspected was a member of Al Qaeda. From Germany, Mr. Ganczarski called Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, said to be Al Qaeda's military commander, who was running operations at the time from a safe house in Karachi, Pakistan, according to two officials involved in the investigation. The two men did not speak during the call, counterterrorism officials said. Instead, the call was intended to alert Mr. Mohammed of a Qaeda suicide bombing mission at a synagogue in Tunisia, which took place that day, according to two senior officials. The attack killed 21 people, mostly German tourists. Through electronic surveillance, the German authorities traced the call to Mr. Mohammed's Swisscom cellphone, but at first they did not know it belonged to him. Two weeks after the Tunisian bombing, the German police searched Mr. Ganczarski's house and found a log of his many numbers, including one in Pakistan that was eventually traced to Mr. Mohammed. The German police had been monitoring Mr. Ganczarski because he had been seen in the company of militants at a mosque in Duisburg, and last June the French police arrested him in Paris. Mr. Mohammed's cellphone number, and many others, were given to the Swiss authorities for further investigation. By checking Swisscom's records, Swiss officials discovered that many other Qaeda suspects used the Swisscom chips, known as Subscriber Identity Module cards, which allow phones to connect to cellular networks. For months the Swiss, working closely with counterparts in the United States and Pakistan, used this information in an effort to track Mr. Mohammed's movements inside Pakistan. By monitoring the cellphone traffic, they were able to get a fix on Mr. Mohammed, but the investigators did not know his specific location, officials said. Once Swiss agents had established that Mr. Mohammed was in Karachi, the American and Pakistani security services took over the hunt with the aid of technology at the United States National Security Agency, said two senior European intelligence officials. But it took months for them to actually find Mr. Mohammed "because he wasn't always using that phone," an official said. "He had many, many other phones." Mr. Mohammed was a victim of his own sloppiness, said a senior European intelligence official. He was meticulous about changing cellphones, but apparently he kept using the same SIM card. In the end, the authorities were led directly to Mr. Mohammed by a C.I.A. spy, the director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, said in a speech last month. A senior American intelligence official said this week that the capture of Mr. Mohammed "was entirely the result of excellent human operations." When Swiss and other European officials heard that American agents had captured Mr. Mohammed last March, "we opened a big bottle of Champagne," a senior intelligence official said. Among Mr. Mohammed's belongings, the authorities seized computers, cellphones and a personal phone book that contained hundreds of numbers. Tracing those numbers led investigators to as many as 6,000 phone numbers, which amounted to a virtual road map of Al Qaeda's operations, officials said. The authorities noticed that many of Mr. Mohammed's communications were with operatives in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Last April, using the phone numbers, officials in Jakarta broke up a terror cell connected to Mr. Mohammed, officials said. After the suicide bombings of three housing compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 12, the Saudi authorities used the phone numbers to track down two "live sleeper cells." Some members were killed in shootouts with the authorities; others were arrested. Meanwhile, the Swiss had used Mr. Mohammed's phone list to begin monitoring the communications and activities of nearly two dozen of his associates. "Huge resources were devoted to this," a senior official said. "Many countries were constantly doing surveillance, monitoring the chatter." Investigators were particularly alarmed by one call they overheard last June. The message: "The big guy is coming. He will be here soon." An official familiar with the calls said, "We did not know who he was, but there was a lot of chatter." Whoever "the big guy" was, the authorities had his number. A Swisscom chip was in the phone. "Then we waited and waited, and we were increasingly anxious and worried because we didn't know who it was or what he had intended to do," an official said. But in July, the man believed to be "the big guy," Abdullah Oweis, who was born in Saudi Arabia, was arrested in Qatar. "He is one of those people able to move within Western societies and to help the mujahedeen, who have lesser experience," an official said. "He was at the very center of the Al Qaeda hierarchy. He was a major facilitator." In January, the operation led to the arrests of eight people accused of being members of a Qaeda logistical cell in Switzerland. Some are suspected of helping with the suicide bombings of the housing compounds in Riyadh, which killed 35 people, including 8 Americans. Later, European authorities discovered that Mr. Mohammed had contacted a company in Geneva that sells Swisscom phone cards. Investigators said he ordered the cards in bulk. The Mont Blanc inquiry has wound down, although investigators are still monitoring the communications of a few people. Christian Neuhaus, a spokesman for Swisscom, confirmed that the company had cooperated with the inquiry, but declined to comment. Last year, Switzerland's legislature passed a law making it illegal to purchase cellphone chips without providing personal information, following testimony from a Swiss federal prosecutor, Claude Nicati, that the Swisscom cards had become popular with Qaeda operatives. The law goes into effect on July 1. One senior official said the authorities were grateful that Qaeda members were so loyal to Swisscom. Another official agreed: "They'd switch phones but use the same cards. The people were stupid enough to use the same cards all of the time. It was a very good thing for us."

Article Text for the lazy, no eyebleed (2, Informative)

skinny.net (20754) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464686)

March 4, 2004
How Tiny Swiss Cellphone Chips Helped Track Global Terror Web
By DON VAN NATTA Jr. and DESMOND BUTLER

ONDON, March 2 -- The terrorism investigation code-named Mont Blanc began almost by accident in April 2002, when authorities intercepted a cellphone call that lasted less than a minute and involved not a single word of conversation.

Investigators, suspicious that the call was a signal between terrorists, followed the trail first to one terror suspect, then to others, and eventually to terror cells on three continents.

What tied them together was a computer chip smaller than a fingernail. But before the investigation wound down in recent weeks, its global net caught dozens of suspected Qaeda members and disrupted at least three planned attacks in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, according to counterterrorism and intelligence officials in Europe and the United States.

The investigation helped narrow the search for one of the most wanted men in the world, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is accused of being the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to three intelligence officials based in Europe. American authorities arrested Mr. Mohammed in Pakistan last March.

For two years, investigators now say, they were able to track the conversations and movements of several Qaeda leaders and dozens of operatives after determining that the suspects favored a particular brand of cellphone chip. The chips carry prepaid minutes and allow phone use around the world.

Investigators said they believed that the chips, made by Swisscom of Switzerland, were popular with terrorists because they could buy the chips without giving their names.

"They thought these phones protected their anonymity, but they didn't," said a senior intelligence official based in Europe. Even without personal information, the authorities were able to conduct routine monitoring of phone conversations.

A half dozen senior officials in the United States and Europe agreed to talk in detail about the previously undisclosed investigation because, they said, it was completed. They also said they had strong indications that terror suspects, alert to the phones' vulnerability, had largely abandoned them for important communications and instead were using e-mail, Internet phone calls and hand-delivered messages.

"This was one of the most effective tools we had to locate Al Qaeda," said a senior counterterrorism official in Europe. "The perception of anonymity may have lulled them into a false sense of security. We now believe that Al Qaeda has figured out that we were monitoring them through these phones."

The officials called the operation one of the most successful investigations since Sept. 11, 2001, and an example of unusual cooperation between agencies in different countries. Led by the Swiss, the investigation involved agents from more than a dozen countries, including the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Britain and Italy.

Cellphones have played a major role in the constant jousting between terrorists and intelligence agencies. In their requests for more investigative powers, Attorney General John Ashcroft and other officials have repeatedly cited the importance of monitoring portable phones. Each success by investigators seems to drive terrorists either to more advanced -- or to more primitive -- communications.

During the American bombing of Tora Bora in Afghanistan in December 2001, American authorities reported hearing Osama bin Laden speaking to his associates on a satellite phone. Since then, Mr. bin Laden has communicated with handwritten messages delivered by trusted couriers, officials said.

In 2002 the German authorities broke up a cell after monitoring calls by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has been linked by some top American officials to Al Qaeda, in which he could be heard ordering attacks on Jewish targets in Germany. Since then, investigators say, Mr. Zarqawi has been more cautious.

"If you beat terrorists over the head enough, they learn," said Col. Nick Pratt, a counterterrorism expert and professor at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. "They are smart."

Officials say that on the rare occasion when operatives still use mobile phones, they keep the calls brief and use code words.

"They know we are on to them and they keep evolving and using new methods, and we keep finding ways to make life miserable for them," said a senior Saudi official. "In many ways, it's like a cat-and-mouse game."

Some Qaeda lieutenants used cellphones only to arrange a conversation on a more secure telephone. It was one such brief cellphone call that set off the Mont Blanc investigation.

The call was placed on April 11, 2002, by Christian Ganczarski, a 36-year-old Polish-born German Muslim whom the German authorities suspected was a member of Al Qaeda. From Germany, Mr. Ganczarski called Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, said to be Al Qaeda's military commander, who was running operations at the time from a safe house in Karachi, Pakistan, according to two officials involved in the investigation.

The two men did not speak during the call, counterterrorism officials said. Instead, the call was intended to alert Mr. Mohammed of a Qaeda suicide bombing mission at a synagogue in Tunisia, which took place that day, according to two senior officials. The attack killed 21 people, mostly German tourists.

Through electronic surveillance, the German authorities traced the call to Mr. Mohammed's Swisscom cellphone, but at first they did not know it belonged to him. Two weeks after the Tunisian bombing, the German police searched Mr. Ganczarski's house and found a log of his many numbers, including one in Pakistan that was eventually traced to Mr. Mohammed. The German police had been monitoring Mr. Ganczarski because he had been seen in the company of militants at a mosque in Duisburg, and last June the French police arrested him in Paris.

Mr. Mohammed's cellphone number, and many others, were given to the Swiss authorities for further investigation. By checking Swisscom's records, Swiss officials discovered that many other Qaeda suspects used the Swisscom chips, known as Subscriber Identity Module cards, which allow phones to connect to cellular networks.

For months the Swiss, working closely with counterparts in the United States and Pakistan, used this information in an effort to track Mr. Mohammed's movements inside Pakistan. By monitoring the cellphone traffic, they were able to get a fix on Mr. Mohammed, but the investigators did not know his specific location, officials said.

Once Swiss agents had established that Mr. Mohammed was in Karachi, the American and Pakistani security services took over the hunt with the aid of technology at the United States National Security Agency, said two senior European intelligence officials. But it took months for them to actually find Mr. Mohammed "because he wasn't always using that phone," an official said. "He had many, many other phones."

Mr. Mohammed was a victim of his own sloppiness, said a senior European intelligence official. He was meticulous about changing cellphones, but apparently he kept using the same SIM card.

In the end, the authorities were led directly to Mr. Mohammed by a C.I.A. spy, the director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, said in a speech last month. A senior American intelligence official said this week that the capture of Mr. Mohammed "was entirely the result of excellent human operations."

When Swiss and other European officials heard that American agents had captured Mr. Mohammed last March, "we opened a big bottle of Champagne," a senior intelligence official said.

Among Mr. Mohammed's belongings, the authorities seized computers, cellphones and a personal phone book that contained hundreds of numbers. Tracing those numbers led investigators to as many as 6,000 phone numbers, which amounted to a virtual road map of Al Qaeda's operations, officials said.

The authorities noticed that many of Mr. Mohammed's communications were with operatives in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Last April, using the phone numbers, officials in Jakarta broke up a terror cell connected to Mr. Mohammed, officials said.

After the suicide bombings of three housing compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on May 12, the Saudi authorities used the phone numbers to track down two "live sleeper cells." Some members were killed in shootouts with the authorities; others were arrested.

Meanwhile, the Swiss had used Mr. Mohammed's phone list to begin monitoring the communications and activities of nearly two dozen of his associates. "Huge resources were devoted to this," a senior official said. "Many countries were constantly doing surveillance, monitoring the chatter."

Investigators were particularly alarmed by one call they overheard last June. The message: "The big guy is coming. He will be here soon."

An official familiar with the calls said, "We did not know who he was, but there was a lot of chatter." Whoever "the big guy" was, the authorities had his number. A Swisscom chip was in the phone.

"Then we waited and waited, and we were increasingly anxious and worried because we didn't know who it was or what he had intended to do," an official said.

But in July, the man believed to be "the big guy," Abdullah Oweis, who was born in Saudi Arabia, was arrested in Qatar. "He is one of those people able to move within Western societies and to help the mujahedeen, who have lesser experience," an official said. "He was at the very center of the Al Qaeda hierarchy. He was a major facilitator."

In January, the operation led to the arrests of eight people accused of being members of a Qaeda logistical cell in Switzerland. Some are suspected of helping with the suicide bombings of the housing compounds in Riyadh, which killed 35 people, including 8 Americans.

Later, European authorities discovered that Mr. Mohammed had contacted a company in Geneva that sells Swisscom phone cards. Investigators said he ordered the cards in bulk.

The Mont Blanc inquiry has wound down, although investigators are still monitoring the communications of a few people. Christian Neuhaus, a spokesman for Swisscom, confirmed that the company had cooperated with the inquiry, but declined to comment.

Last year, Switzerland's legislature passed a law making it illegal to purchase cellphone chips without providing personal information, following testimony from a Swiss federal prosecutor, Claude Nicati, that the Swisscom cards had become popular with Qaeda operatives. The law goes into effect on July 1.

One senior official said the authorities were grateful that Qaeda members were so loyal to Swisscom.

Another official agreed: "They'd switch phones but use the same cards. The people were stupid enough to use the same cards all of the time. It was a very good thing for us."

Weirdness.. (4, Interesting)

hookedup (630460) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464648)

When I bought my latest phone, I had to get the SIM card activated, the salesman asked me for my name, address, etc.. so I began pulling out my wallet for him to copy my ID down. So instead.. he gives me a scrap piece of paper and a pen to put it down, this really seems weird to me.

Nothing was stopping me from putting down the wrong info (looking back now, maybe I should have). It just struck me as odd how easy it would have been to fake it all..

Re:Weirdness.. (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464811)

When you get a subscription-based cell phone, they have to run a credit check on you since they're essentially going to have to extend a credit line to you if you ever go over on your allotted minutes. Therefore, if you give a wrong SSN# or address to the sales geek, your credit check will fail and you'll find your phone deactivated about 48 hours after you got it.

For prepaid phones, since they already have your money they don't care about your credit... if you run out of prepaid minutes they just cut you off.

Re:Weirdness.. (1)

hookedup (630460) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464953)

Yup! It was a prepaid phone.

use slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464649)

I'd use slashdot to post messages. No one would figure that a site this dumb can be used for anything evil

Life Imitates Fiction (1)

H8X55 (650339) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464664)

Like in Bad Company [imdb.com] , starring Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock.

Who cares about terrorists? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464674)

Terrorists setting off a dirty bomb in NYC? Is that really so bad? Isn't gay marriage more important?

Just the reason. (1)

PeaceTank (758859) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464717)

This is the reason I don't carry a cell phone. (other than the fact that I am a student and couldn't really afford it) This is also why I refuse to use the key cards that the school provides for us to open the doors. Call me paranoid, but I don't want anyone knowing where I am. Its just a personal thing.

Re:Just the reason. (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464809)

This is also why I refuse to use the key cards that the school provides for us to open the doors.

As a student at a university that also does this (ie, our student ID doubles as a key card)...how do you manage to avoid it?

What's their next strategy? (1)

Kaishaku255 (693156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464735)

Another official agreed: "They'd switch phones but use the same cards. The people were stupid enough to use the same cards all of the time. It was a very good thing for us."

So now that they have exposed this strategy so it won't work anymore, what is their next strategy that they aren't telling us? What is the cost to our right to privacy?

The article talks about the "accidental" listening of cell phone calls. I've worked for the government, nothing is accidental. There's usuall three forms of paperwork for everything

If we are to keep up with the terrorists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464736)

...I suggest we start installing tracking devices into powered exoskeletons before it's too late.

What is that saying exactly? (2, Insightful)

curtisk (191737) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464744)

The officials called the operation one of the most successful investigations since Sept. 11, 2001, and an example of unusual cooperation between agencies in different countries. Led by the Swiss, the investigation involved agents from more than a dozen countries, including the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Britain and Italy.

Thats all well and good, but calling it "one of the most successful investigations since Sept. 11, 2001" really cheapens what they have accomplished here, since the investigative bar was lowered so far pre-9/11.

So they are greatly sucessfull in relation to one of the most incredibly flawed and costly intelligence failures in recent times? Thats not saying too much IMHO

Swisscom (2, Informative)

barcodez (580516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464754)

Swisscom is essential Vodafone Switzerland which is part of Vodafone Global one of the largest, if not the largest mobile network provider, in the world.

Oh great... (2, Funny)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464756)

They also said they had strong indications that terror suspects, alert to the phones' vulnerability, had largely abandoned them for important communications and instead were using e-mail, Internet phone calls and hand-delivered messages.

Way to go, NYT; now they're gonna abandon email, Internet phone calls, and hand-delivered messages!

Don't tell anybody they sometimes talk to each other in person, they might be reading this.

Re:Oh great... (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464897)

The article stated that Al Queda has already figured out that their move-the-SIM-card idea wasn't as smart as they first thought it was, so this is revealing a tool that has already lost its effectiveness.

Re:Oh great... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464932)

RTFA, please. This info was release with the permission of the investigating agencies, as the techniques involved are now deemed to be of little use due to changes in the target's behavior.

Social Mapping of "Anonymous" people (4, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464771)

I would suspect that authorities can learn much about people and groups simply by mapping who talks with whom (using technques discussed hrer [slashdot.org] ). Even if many of the subjects use anonymous SIM chips and phones, their patterns of calling create a map. And if anyone they call is a known party (e.g., know "terrorists" or their family members), then their anyonymity becomes compromised.

The authorities can probably even deduce leadership structures from the sequence of calls. If A calls B and then B immediately calls C, D, and E, we might suspect that B is a leader of a cell with D, E, and F as members. Add data on physical location (phone towers) and the authorities have even more data to map out a network and assess likely roles of unnamed people.

You are who you call (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464883)

AT&T uses such patterns [att.com] to look for deadbeats who sign up new calling plans to flee old debt.

OMFG!! YOU MEAN 9/11 COULD HAVE BEEN STOPPED!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464776)

Further proof that the Bush regime knew what was happening on 9/11 and chose to turn a blind eye to it. Come November, it's going to be one of two things:

1. Regime change: We eject Bush with the votes of the people in a free and fair election (unlike the last time).

2. Regime change: We eject Bush with our right to start a civil war against an unjust and corrupt government.

Which one is it going to be folks? The time is coming when the North must either secede from the Union or teach those damn pre-reconstrutionist southerners a lesson about what the world really wants.

Re:OMFG!! YOU MEAN 9/11 COULD HAVE BEEN STOPPED!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464831)

Time to take your valium, you over-stressed Yankee douchebag.

Qaeda's painful addiction to 'da SIMs... (5, Interesting)

mynameis (mother ... (745416) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464784)

We all knew they lived in their own fantasy world!

Some of my favorite quotes:
From both the mental image and funny-long-names-of-stuff-in-Germany file:

  1. "If you beat terrorists over the head enough, they learn," said Col. Nick Pratt, a counterterrorism expert and professor at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
And the enjoying-that-feeling-of-absolute-superiority-over -those-you-deem-less-palatable-then-santorum file:
  1. One senior official said the authorities were grateful that Qaeda members were so loyal to Swisscom.
    Another official agreed: "They'd switch phones but use the same cards. The people were stupid enough to use the same cards all of the time. It was a very good thing for us."

And I'm sure this one has already been posted, but...
From both the kill-joy and tinfoil-hat/nuking-new-$20s files:
  1. "They thought these phones protected their anonymity, but they didn't," said a senior intelligence official based in Europe. Even without personal information, the authorities were able to conduct routine monitoring of phone conversations."
Sigh...

Some precisions (5, Interesting)

Max von H. (19283) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464786)

This isn't new at all - we've heard about it a couple of years ago here in Switzerland. BTW, Swisscom happens to be the not-so-former telecom monopoly here, pretty big stuff, not just some random company exploiting a legal loophole. Thing is it's been possible to buy totally anonymous GSM cards here for ages (8 years or so), effectively providing you pre-paid phone number to use in any GSM phone, in and outside of Switzerland.

For about $50 you get a SIM card that you can put in you GSM mobile. You now have a phone number and some initial credit. You can buy credit (a card with a hidden number to dial) from any news stand anytime. Never in the process does your name appear anywhere. You can even buy the cards in supermarkets.

The question of such anonymity was raised several times, but ultimately the decision was that it wasn't possible to require personal information for such items. Since there's no contract and no bills in the system, there's no reason to ask for your name, address, etc. And there's millions of them in use already.

Note that all operators offer such cards. It's a bit more expensive than regular price plans but damn useful if you're a traveler, want to control expenses or can't get a regular plan because of bad credit. To my knowledge, many other european countries offer such prepaid cards now... We just happened to be the first.

get ready (4, Insightful)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464793)

alert to the phones' vulnerability, had largely abandoned them for important communications and instead were using e-mail, Internet phone calls and hand-delivered messages

So now that technology has been shown succesfull in stopping "terrorists", and those "terrorists" have moved to email/VoIP, get ready for another push in legislature to regulate those mediums more tightly. It doesn't matter that the corporation put those chips in their products by their own will. Traditional phone companies will see a spot to shove their foot in the door and lobby their representatives to regulate the up and comming internet telephony industry in order to stiffle the competition. So there is "antiterrorism" working and corporate money working in the minds of the government. What else is new...

Anyone can do this in the UK (5, Informative)

Andy Davies (5700) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464800)

Big deal...

This 'top secret tracking" is available to consumers and companies in the UK see:.

http://followus.co.uk [followus.co.uk]
http://www.fleetonline.net [fleetonline.net]

Of course you need the phone owners permission.

So then the smart thing to do would be to ... (1)

burgburgburg (574866) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464801)

keep the phone and switch in new SIM cards every day or so? You'd have to give your "associates" a list of the phone numbers and some sort of schedule of use to keep in contact. And you'd need a similar list from them (assuming they were keeping to the same security protocol).

Or does the RFID chip already installed in my skull make that a grand waste of time?

paranoia (1)

angryelephant (678279) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464802)

The few meth addicts I have known use prepaid GSM cards for everything. I would say they are one rung below terrorists on the paranoia ladder and you cannot get them to talk on a landline or registered modile line.

Mobile is out, calling cards are the future (1)

jobbegea (748685) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464803)

Monitoring a single number is much easier.

Why don't they put a calling card on the market that allows to place very cheap calls to a specific country (let's say Pakistan).

That way it is easy to track even the use of every public phone booth.

Great! (1)

NetNinja (469346) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464818)

When does the tipping of our security gathering techniques end?
I know that the terrorist may realize this but there are other dumb ass crminals who get ideas from this type of information.

Unlocked SIM cards and you... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464842)

The secure card IDs are registered to G. Bush, B. Bunny, and
The modded firmware of some phones can Jam and hop Ids randomly to leech airtime. This is a real problem in some countries with mature cell nets.


Node logs are not perfect.


As every drug dealer busted can tell you that buying your phones in bulk and dropping them (Or purposely losing them in a public place) every 24h removes the chance of getting a tap put on in time.


To live in Fear and Ignorance, only teaches one paranoia.

privacy? (3, Insightful)

Richthofen80 (412488) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464846)

a lot of people are calling this an invasion of privacy. This is hardly that.

Al Qaedia and its operatives have been identified as enemy combatants. Effectively, there's already an international 'warrant for their arrest'.

This technology, if had to be used in the US, would require a judge to approve a warrant for this type of information gathering. There'd have to be specific evidence that the individual was commiting a crime or likely to. Al Qaedia already falls under this category, IMHO.

Even further, this was a COMBAT action. In other conflicts, (see: wars) this is the same as using radar to identify enemy positions based on the metal used in their vehicles, etc.

And EVEN FURTHER, knowing where you are is essential in a cellular phone network. To forward the voice packets, the phones have to know the signal strength from your phone to the nearest towers. it figures your motion and signal degradation to determine the most likely cells to send your data to. knowing your approximate location is just a function of cellular technology.

Re:privacy? (1)

Thrymm (662097) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464865)

I thought this was common practice already, since you are right about the network needs to know how to bill you depending on where the call originated from.

law & border (4, Insightful)

MacAndrew (463832) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464875)

this is a nice example of the parallel existence of privacy and legitimate law enforcement. note that i say parallel, not tradeoff, the latter being the superficial way the alleged "tension" between the two is described. we can have both, and stronger than they are now.

i'd like to think i'm a decent pro-privacy civil libertarian, but i also admit getting a kick out of the law and order episodes when they so often trace someone's movements thanks to bridge tolls or telephone calls or ATM cameras or whatever. cool, hey presto and the bad guy is tagged. here, it's those bin laden cretins, no tears shed; and so it happens in real life). (the israelis once assassinated a man by detonating an explosive in his cellphone -- they waited to hear his voice and ... our methods seem gentle in comparison.)

now we have trackable cellphones (which are becoming ubiquitous), rfid chips, red-light cameras with OCR, etc. pretty easy and non-paranoid to imagine the automated abiity to track anyone anywhere.

there are so far as i know few constitutional problems if the data collected is publicly observable information, i.e., no expectation of privacy even if the sophistication of the technology to collect, process, and digest that information would astonish most of us (this does at least rule out Big Brother in your home). the old model was that evidence could be collected only with periodic intrusive methods like breaking down doors or inserting wiretaps, moderated by warrant and the exclusionary rule and so on. what no one expected, though, is the situation now where *unintrusive* methods continuously collect everything one might need. the fourth becomes an anachronism, and the patriot act seems quaint.

the only answer i see, or rather the inevitable path ahead, is to intelligently moderate access to and use of the data. the constitution is only the floor, congress went much farther with the anti-wiretap law. draw the "border" between leigt investigation and fishing expeditions. frankly i don't think we can do a good job of it, but it's the only route i see ahead. all these "public eyes" can not be shut, because we *like* too many of them and even a few innocuous steps may prove to open the door wide.

Re:law & border (3, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464947)

Once the threshhold for an arrest warrent is met, such a person shouldn't be allowed to do much of anything without being arrested. They've already have been accused of some sort of crime, so the only thing left for the police to do is figure out where the person is and slap some cuffs on the person so they can hand them over to the courts.

I am not afraid (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8464900)

I am not afraid of this technology, because I have nothing to hide. Please, my beloved leaders, use the tracking abilities you already have and introduce new tracking features as you see fit. I have the utmost trust this power will not be abused.

News.com (4, Informative)

Eezy Bordone (645987) | more than 10 years ago | (#8464931)

Has a story on this [com.com] as well.
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