The Phones Have Eyes

Cellphones are cheap these days, but do they cost too much privacy?

by Edward Langenback

© 01/16/04

The trend towards tracking the location of more and more of the population is continuing. This time the culprit is that handy-dandy cellphone that so many of us are coming to be so dependant on combined with a technology called "Passive Radar".

Super-Radar, Done Dirt Cheap
A radar system that uses ubiquitous cell-phone signals is on its way

Any technology can be a two-edged sword. Cell phones are a good example. They're clearly a great convenience, even a life-saving tool during natural disasters and medical emergencies. And they should save many more lives under the Federal Communications Commission's enhanced 911 mandate, which requires that cell phones relay their precise locations to 911 operators.

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Over two years later, the spectre of 9/11 is still with us and it is being used by both governments and corporations as reasoning for putting in place more restrictive policies and practices. More and more logs are being kept of websites visited, who emails who, where your cellphone is and who you call and more. They claim that the contents of emails and telephone messages are not kept or examined, but do we dare to believe these claims?

Who will watch the watchers??

Net censorship hits 'all time high'
By John Leyden
Posted: 19/09/2003 at 06:42 GMT

Internet restrictions, government secrecy and communications surveillance have reached an unprecedented level across the world.

A year-long study of Internet censorship in more than 50 countries found that a sharp escalation in control of the Internet since September 2001 may have outstripped the traditional ability of the medium to repel restrictions.

The report fires a broadside at the United States and the United Kingdom for creating initiatives hostile to Internet freedom.

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Just in case you read the above and thought to yourself "This really sounds extreme, I don't think it's ever going to come to that." Think again. When Social Security cards first came out, they were clearly marked "Not to be used for Identification". It was printed across the front of the first one I had. Today that notice is long extinct and your social security number is considered valid identification, required in many cases.

Today people are saying the same things about RFID chips, Cellphone Tracking, Global Positioning Systems, and Internet Monitoring. "it's just a security measure.", "We do not keep copies of emails or telephone conversations."

How long before that changes? Not long ago I read the following in alt.privacy, It isn't so farfetched as some would have us think.

(Message-ID: <> for those who wish to look up the original on Google)

Pizza Hut Order - Year 2010

Operator: "Thank you for calling Pizza Hut. May I have your national ID number?"

Customer: "Hi, I'd like to place an order."

Operator: "May I have your NIDN first, sir?"

Customer: "My National ID Number, yeah, hold on, eh, it's 6102049998-45-54610."

Operator: "Thank you, Mr. Sheehan. I see you live at 1742 Meadowland Drive, and the phone number's 494-2366. Your office number over at Lincoln Insurance is 745-2302 and your cell number's 266-2566. Which number are you calling from, sir?"

Customer: "Huh? I'm at home. Where d'ya get all this information?"

Operator: "We're wired into the system, sir."

Customer: (Sighs) "Oh, well, I'd like to order a couple of your All-Meat Special pizzas."

Operator: "I don't think that's a good idea, sir."

Customer: "Whaddya mean?"

Operator: "Sir, your medical records indicate that you've got very high blood pressure and extremely high cholesterol. Your National Health Care provider won't allow such an unhealthy choice."

Customer: "Damn. What do you recommend, then?"

Operator: "You might try our low-fat Soybean Pizza. I'm sure you'll like it."

Customer: "What makes you think I'd like something ! like that?"

Operator: "Well, you checked out 'Gourmet Soybean Recipes' from your local library last week, sir. That's why I made the suggestion."

Customer: "All right, all right. Give me two family-sized ones,then."

Operator: "That should be plenty for you, your wife and your your kids, sir. Your total is $49.99."

Customer: "Lemme give you my credit card number."

Operator: "I'm sorry sir, but I'm afraid you'll have to pay in cash. Your credit card balance is over its limit."

Customer: "I'll run over to the ATM and get some cash before your driver gets here."

Operator: "That won't work either, sir. Your checking account's overdrawn."

Customer: "Never mind. Just send the pizzas. I'll have the cash ready. How long will it take?"

Operator: "We're running a little behind, sir. It'll be about 45 minutes, sir. If you're in a hurry you might want to pick 'em up while you're out getting the cash, but carrying pizzas on a motorcycle can be a little awkward."

Customer: "How the hell do you know I'm riding a bike?"

Operator: "It says here you're in arrears on your car payments, so your car got repo'ed. But your Harley's paid up.

Customer: "@#%/$@&?#!"

Operator: "I'd advise watching your language, sir. You've already got a July 2006 conviction for cussing out a cop."

Customer: (Speechless)

Operator: "Will there be anything else, sir?"

Customer: "Yes, I have a coupon for a free 2 liter of Coke".

Operator: "I'm sorry sir, but our ad's exclusionary clause prevents us from offering free soda to diabetics."

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