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Tyrone Slothrop 25 January 2007 04:20 AM

FBI Tracking Cell Phones
Not sure if this has been posted, so chow me please if it has.

Are these stories sensationalist or is there a nugget of truth in them?


The U.S. Commerce Department's security office warns that "a cellular telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone." An article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can "remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner's knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call."

Some news sources are saying it's possible to trasmit even with the phone off:


Cell phone users, beware. The FBI can listen to everything you say, even when the cell phone is turned off.

A recent court ruling in a case against the Genovese crime family revealed that the FBI has the ability from a remote location to activate a cell phone and turn its microphone into a listening device that transmits to an FBI listening post, a method known as a "roving bug." Experts say the only way to defeat it is to remove the cell phone battery.

I find it improbable that non-bluetooth phones are able to transmit while powered off, least of all transmit voice data and GPS location without running out the battery fairly quickly.

diddy 25 January 2007 02:49 PM

I am very suspicious about this, first the software on phones varies alot from phone to phone from provider to provider - making such software really only viable on smartphone systems that run Palm or Windows CE. Heck, most GPS functionality that is even availible is disabled and limited anyway.

Gayle 25 January 2007 04:38 PM

Is Your Cell Phone Bugged
I found this link interesting

But remember -- no magic! When cell phones are transmitting -- even as bugs -- certain things are going to happen every time that the alert phone user can often notice.

"First, when the phone is operating as a bug, regular calls can't be taking place in almost all cases. A well designed bug program could try to minimize the obviousness of this by quickly dropping the bug call if the phone owner tried to make an outgoing call, or drop the bug connection if an incoming call tried to ring through. But if the bug is up and running, that's the only transmission path that is available on the phone at that time for the vast majority of currently deployed cell phones.

Finally, if you use a GSM phone (like the vast majority of phones around the world, including Cingular and T-Mobile in the U.S.) you have a virtually foolproof way to know if you phone is secretly transmitting in voice mode. You've probably noticed the "buzzing" interference that these phones tend to make in nearby speakers when calls or data transmissions are in progress. A certain amount of periodic routine communications between cell phones and the networks will occur while the phones are powered on -- even when calls are not in progress -- so short bursts of buzzing between calls (and when turning the phones on or off) are normal.

But if you're not on a call, and you hear a continuing rapid buzz-buzz-buzz in nearby speakers that lasts more than a few seconds and gets louder as you approach with your phone, well, the odds are that your phone is busily transmitting, and bugging is a definite possibility."

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