By Dark Politricks
Update: By the way this story most likely applies to all modern smart phones as the Michigan State Police story didn’t mention iPhones specifically. It would be interesting to find out whether other devices have similar functionality and if so how easy is it to find, access and if necessary block or encrypt.
Yesterday a story was reported on my site about Michigan State Police using handheld devices to steal data from motorists cellphones without their knowledge that revealed where they had been > Cops use mobile scanner to steal cellphone data from innocent Americans.
Today we have more proof of the all prevailing surveillance state we are now living in without most of the people even knowing about it.
Although not a completely new story the news that iPhones are tracking your every movement and storing the GPS location of your phone in unencrypted files that are easily retrievable by anyone with technical skills is becoming big news on the web.
The worst thing about this story is that most people are unaware that they are participating in this massive collection of personal data and unwittingly helping to build the surveillance state by consent.
Hopefully as more and more people become aware of it someone with enough money and backing to kick up a fuss will actually try and do something about it. The ACLU in the USA tried to do this over the Michigan state police’s illegal downloading of this data and were given a $500,000 bill for doing so.
Some sites believe that this data cannot be downloaded without the users consent but the Michigan Police story shows this to be untrue and also suggests that the problems is not only limited to iPhones but probably all smart phones. The new phones that everyone carries round with them have moved on from the basic hand-held phones they used to be and are now basically hand-held computers which probably have back-doors built into them for easy access by those with the right permission e.g the Police, CIA, MI5, your local councillor or unhelpful ticket warden…
For those people interested in viewing their own hidden data and re-visiting all those past journeys you and your iPhone have taken over recent months an open source application has just been released that will let you do so. This open source application has been created by an ex iPhone employee and it can be obtained at this link >> http://petewarden.github.com/iPhoneTracker/.
Even with GPS functionality turned off your phone can still be tracked by using cell-tower triangulation and with the very hard to remove iPhone battery it seems that there is no way at present to prevent your location data from being logged and stored and then either stolen by anyone with the right tools.
Forget all the talk about RFID chip implants. There is no need for any of that when our smart phones have become a third arm, and just the thought of losing your handset or being out of contact for even a few minutes can induce fear based panic attacks in numerous people.
For people concerned about being tracked for whatever reason here are some ideas:
- Don’t throw away all those old Nokia 3310’s you have lying about or sell them on to Mazuma or the other sites trying to lure your old handsets away. Keep them and use them with throwaway SIM cards (bought in many shops nowadays)
- Never register your SIM card or phone. The lure of £10 free credit maybe too much for some but is designed to get you to register you SIM and phone number with your personal details.
- If you are going somewhere you don’t want to be tracked then don’t just turn the phone off as there is always a small charge still present which is enough to register your phones presence with nearby mobile phone towers. Take the battery out or even better leave the phone on and at home or in your girlfriends car whilst she goes shopping or visits her mother.
- iPhones are good handsets and have lots of cool apps but their batteries are not easy to remove and it seems they might have been designed that way for a good reason. If you have an iPhone then get another handset that won’t be logging you without your knowledge whenever you want to stay anonymous. Use an anonymous throwaway phone for all your dodgy dealing and keep your iPhone as the perfect alibi device.
“What do you mean Mr Police officer I wasn’t visiting Mr Big at Dodgy Towers on the 12th of April at 10PM, look at my iPhone if you haven’t already. See I was at the White Swan having a drink with my mates.”
- Jail break the iPhone and edit the configuration settings that determine the location of the database that stores all your data to a black hole (e.g a non existent location) This should prevent your phone from being able to log the geo data it wants to but it might also affect some other functionality that relies on geographical data.
- If you are really worried they might be watching your every move then you can always wrap your phone up in rolls of tinfoil or use one of those Faraday bags that are being sold specifically for this purpose. Obviously your phone becomes totally unusable but then if you wanted a mobile purely for making phone calls you wouldn’t have bought a smart phone in the first place would you!
Stay tuned for more updates to this story and please pass it on to anyone who might own an iPhone or cares about the high tech surveillance state we are now living in.