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Article from 2000, updated 2006
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Mobile Phones

Your own personal tracking beacon


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Tune in and track. Once your mobile phone is switched on, it let's your cellular network provider know where you are.


Cell phone tracking examples

If you've come straight to this page, you may want to look at the Tinhat introduction to the topic first - Your own personal tracking beacon.

Use of cell phone tracking by the police still seems to be in its infancy. It was reputedly used by the FBI in the arrest of the famous hacker Kevn Mitnick, but there's so much mythology surrounding the guy that it's difficult to separate truth from fiction.

A BBC report on the trial of the Omagh bombers (Northern Ireland), mentions crucial evidence about the use of mobile phones in the target area. And a further BBC article details the mobile phone evidence. Another BBC piece looks at professional tracking services.

Here's a example UK company, MobileLocate, offering mobile phone tracking for client employees. Including a page on the accuracy of the tracking. And further details from another company, Verilocation.

Plus a story from The Register about another UK tracking service.

It's not clear if these commercial services are available in the USA, but certainly the mobile phone carriers have the ability, and are obliged to track 911 calls under a system known as E911. Here's an old story from InfoWorld talking about E911 going ahead. And here's another from CNET.

A more recent Wikipedia article on tracking confirms this, just in case you're not convinced.

How long has it been going on? Here are some newsgroup reports from 1997 about cell phone tracking by the police in Switzerland and Australia.


Mobile phones: your personal tracking beacon

What every Web site can find out about you

Official phone eavesdroppers


Personal data
Mobile phones


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