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How Law Enforcement Tracks Cellular Phones

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#1 Jesse Jimmie

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Posted 17 December 2015 - 10:28 AM

A brief taxonomy of wiretapping esoterica.


Recent news stories, notably this story in USA Today and this story in the Washington Post, have brought to light extensive use of "Stingray" devices and "tower dumps" by federal -- and local -- law enforcement agencies to track cellular telephones.

Just how how does all this tracking and interception technology work? There are actually a surprising number of different ways law enforcement agencies can track and get information about phones, each of which exposes different information in different ways. And it's all steeped in arcane surveillance jargon that's evolved over decades of changes in the law and the technology. So now seems like a good time to summarize what the various phone tapping methods actually are, how they work, and how they differ from one another.


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#2 Digger


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Posted 17 December 2015 - 12:34 PM

Mass snooping fake mobile towers ‘uncovered in UK’
Privacy International (PI), which has been campaigning for more transparency about the use of surveillance equipment, described the Met’s stance as “laughable”.
Advocacy officer Matthew Rice said: “We can’t be sure that all these are used by law enforcement agencies.
“They can be used by criminals, and are easily bought from the internet for about £1,000.
“The police need to explain what they are doing to protect the public from criminals using such equipment as well as explaining how they use it.
“Even when used by police, IMSI catchers are very difficult to use in a targeted manner, meaning when used in urban areas thousands of people’s mobile phones would be swept up in that dragnet.
“What police do with that data, we don’t know.

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Posted 24 December 2015 - 05:33 PM


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