Ryan Gallagher and Rajeev Syal reporting on a covert cell phone surveillance system in use in England and (reportedly) by the U.S. Secret Service :

The surveillance system has been procured by the Metropolitan police from Leeds-based company Datong plc, which counts the US Secret Service, the Ministry of Defence and regimes in the Middle East among its customers. Strictly classified under government protocol as “Listed X”, it can emit a signal over an area of up to an estimated 10 sq km, forcing hundreds of mobile phones per minute to release their unique IMSI and IMEI identity codes, which can be used to track a person’s movements in real time.

That sounds a bit invasive and over-reaching, until you read this line:

The company’s systems, showcased at the DSEi arms fair in east London last month, allow authorities to intercept SMS messages and phone calls by secretly duping mobile phones within range into operating on a false network, where they can be subjected to “intelligent denial of service”. This function is designed to cut off a phone used as a trigger for an explosive device.

That’s downright useful. It’s one of those technologies that could be used to save a lot of lives, and could also be used to be very invasive and potentially ruin the lives of many people — not to mention the legal rights that we hold here in the States. What it comes down to is keeping the technology in the “right” hands — the question then becomes, whose hands are the “right” hands?

This is only the beginning of these types of technology and these questions that surround them.


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