Another reason to dump your smartphone

Over the past 12-18 months, there’s been an increased level of scrutiny applied to the various ways local, state, and federal law enforcement officials track and monitor the lives of ordinary citizens. One tool that’s come under increasing fire is the so-called stingray — a fake cell phone tower that law enforcement officials deploy to track a suspect, often without a warrant or any other formal approval.

A stingray is a false cell phone tower that can force phones in a geographical area to connect to it. Once these devices connect, the stingray can be used to either hone in on the target’s location or, with some models, actually eavesdrop on conversations, text messages, and web browser activity. It’s not clear how much the police cooperate with the cell phone carriers on this — in at least some cases, the police have gone to carriers with requests for information, while in others they seem to have taken a brute-force approach, dumping the data of every single user on a given tower and then sorting it to find the parties they’re interested in tracking. Stingrays can be used to force the phone to give up its user details, making it fairly easy for the police to match devices and account holders.


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8 Responses to Another reason to dump your smartphone

  1. Terry says:

    Any cellphone, not just smartphones.

  2. B says:

    If you don’t want to be tracked (or monitored), leave your cell at home, be it a smartfone or a flipfone.

    Here is another hint: if you have a burn fone, NEVER POWER IT UP WHITHIN A MILE OF YOUR “MAIN” PHONE. Ever. They should, ideally, never be in the same physical location at all.

    Always assume that any phone conversation, wired or wireless, is being monitored. Use appropriate cautions when speaking of anything you might not want others to hear or know about.

  3. drjim says:

    I have an earlier version of that called a Harris “Triggerfish”.

    I bought it to strip for parts, as it requires special software, for a Macintosh ONLY, to operate, and the software is not available.

    Got a lot of high quality parts out of it, and junked the rest.

  4. D S Craft says:

    Yep, did you one better Ken. I don’t own any type of mobile phone, smart or otherwise. I don’t need an electronic leash. A few years ago I had a basic cellphone. I would turn it on when I wanted to make a call and turn it off when I was done. Even that was a pain. I shit canned it.

    • Wirecutter says:

      I’ve got a pay as you go phone that I use and I get one call a week on it – from my boss about 2:30 Tuesday afternoon. I haven’t made a call in months. Other than that, the fucker goes off and stays home.

    • Leigh says:

      Same here, DS.
      I am one up one you though – I’ve never had one at all. Never felt the need to be a slave to one. Just look at the people that have them, especially younger people – tell me I’m wrong.
      I’ve only had about five times, in the last ten years, were I could have used one. I survived otherwise.
      I saw this yesterday :
      So much for your encrypted data on your phone. I guess Apple is just as bad as everybody else, eh?

      Whitehall, NY

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