U.S. Government can track cellphones without carrier co-operation

11 Comments

Some chilling revelations have come out recently, indicating that the U.S. government has far more power to track its citizens than previously thought. Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation under a Freedom of Information Act request suggest that “triggerfish” technology can be used to pinpoint the location of cell phones without involving cell phone providers at all. By posing as a cell tower, triggerfish, also known as cell-site simulators or digital analyzers, trick nearby cell phones into transmitting their serial numbers, phone numbers, and other data to law enforcement.

As one of the documents intended to provide guidance for DOJ employees explains, triggerfish can be deployed “without the user knowing about it, and without involving the cell phone provider.” That may be significant because the legal rulings requiring law enforcement to meet a high “probable cause” standard before acquiring cell location records have, thus far, pertained to requests for information from providers, pursuant to statutes such as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and the Stored Communications Act.

This is certainly news that will make you look at your BlackBerry a little differently. Ars Technica has an excellent article on the news; to learn more click the link below.

|via Ars Technica|

  • Terry

    I wonder if there is a way to write and app to tell you the tower you are connected too. I’m sure the “fake tower” has some sort of signature associated with it.

  • Terry

    I wonder if there is a way to write and app to tell you the tower you are connected too. I’m sure the “fake tower” has some sort of signature associated with it.

  • DavidB

    This story is libertarian hoopla. Who cares? Through many very simple police methods my general vicinty can be found and a triggerfish deployed to dupe my phone, big deal. They still need a warrant to tap voice or data (if they want it admissible in court).

  • DavidB

    This story is libertarian hoopla. Who cares? Through many very simple police methods my general vicinty can be found and a triggerfish deployed to dupe my phone, big deal. They still need a warrant to tap voice or data (if they want it admissible in court).

  • DavidB

    @Terry:
    Google Signal Location Utilities.

  • DavidB

    @Terry:
    Google Signal Location Utilities.

  • Paul

    I expect this Triggerfish technology can only be used when in close proximity to the target phone. Possibly the “good guys” just want the EMEI/PIN of a “bad” guy so they know the target device when asking for warrants?

    If Triggerfish was deployed over a broad area, (would require a lot of RF power) the potential for denying the public to place an emergency call is too great and would leave the “good” guys open to lawsuits.

    My .02 worth

  • Paul

    I expect this Triggerfish technology can only be used when in close proximity to the target phone. Possibly the “good guys” just want the EMEI/PIN of a “bad” guy so they know the target device when asking for warrants?

    If Triggerfish was deployed over a broad area, (would require a lot of RF power) the potential for denying the public to place an emergency call is too great and would leave the “good” guys open to lawsuits.

    My .02 worth

  • Mike

    With ‘extraordinary rendition’ as a weapon of the war on TERROR it’s not vey comforting to know the government can LOCATE it’s targets by illegally (PATRIOT Act) coaxing information out of their targets cell phone, kidnap and export for torture so easily. “Admissable in a court of law” is only a concern when you’re concerned about following the law and going to court and the current administration proves time and again they don’t bother with such niceties unless they can get what they want.

  • Mike

    With ‘extraordinary rendition’ as a weapon of the war on TERROR it’s not vey comforting to know the government can LOCATE it’s targets by illegally (PATRIOT Act) coaxing information out of their targets cell phone, kidnap and export for torture so easily. “Admissable in a court of law” is only a concern when you’re concerned about following the law and going to court and the current administration proves time and again they don’t bother with such niceties unless they can get what they want.

  • http://cellphonetrackers.org Cell phone tracking

    I think they can intercept your conversion but I do not think they can track any cell phone as they wish without carrier's help.

    Cheers