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[FYI] (Fwd) BBC News: Spy in your pocket
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- Subject: [FYI] (Fwd) BBC News: Spy in your pocket
- From: "Axel H Horns" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 15:22:32 +0200
- Comment: This message comes from the debate mailing list.
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From: Owen Blacker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "UK Crypto list (E-mail)" <email@example.com>
Subject: BBC News: Spy in your pocket
Date sent: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 13:55:44 +0100
Send reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Kinda RIP related, less so crypto...
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [One of my developers]
> Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2000 1:53 PM
> To: Owen Blacker
> Subject: INFO: Spy in your pocket
Monday, 14 August, 2000, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Spy in your pocket
By BBC News Online internet reporter Mark Ward
The next generation of mobile phones will make it much easier for the
police to carry out covert surveillance of citizens, say civil
They warn that the combination of location revealing technology built
into the phones and rights given to the police under the Regulation
of Investigatory Powers Act mean the owners of such phones can be
They are advising people that using one of the new phones might make
it hard for them to maintain their privacy.
In recognition of the implications, phone companies are planning to
let people conceal where they are at the touch of a button.
Although existing GSM handsets can be used as location devices, they
typically only give a fix to within a couple of hundred meters.
While this is good enough to tell drivers about traffic problems on
the roads ahead, mobile phone companies are not using the technology
for much more than this.
Accuracy can be improved if handsets are fitted with special software
and the mobile phone operators adopt complementary software for their
Using this technology, handsets can be pinpointed to within 50 metres
of their actual position.
Newer mobile phone technologies such as the General Packet Radio
Services and Universal Mobile Telecommunications Services have more
accurate locating systems built in.
GPRS services are due to become widely available later this year and
UMTS telephone networks are due to be switched on in 2002.
Both GPRS and UMTS can locate a handset to within 15 metres by timing
how long it takes packets of data to travel from different base
stations to the handset.
The handset then uses this to calculate where the phone is in the
area covered by the base stations.
"Service providers are going to do that calculation routinely so they
can sell the data to companies that want to send you mail and
messages," said Caspar Bowden, director of the Foundation for
Information Policy Research.
Often people will be happy to reveal their location and who they are,
particularly if they are looking for a cash point or a good
restaurant in a town they are visiting.
Many companies are keen to use this location data so they can send
special offers, such as cut-price cinema tickets, to anyone walking
past their doors.
Others are planning to combine location data and personal information
to target people with adverts customised to match their preferences.
But, said Mr Bowden, the newly passed Regulation of Investigatory
Powers Act could allow for the data to be used for a more sinister
He said the RIP Act regards the information used to locate phones as
"communications data" and says police do not need a warrant to obtain
As a result, he said, the police could use this information to
conduct covert surveillance of anyone using such a phone.
Phone companies are planning to let people opt in and out of the
location-based services to ensure privacy is not compromised and
people are not bombarded with messages they do not want to read.
"It has always been our aim to enable the customer to decide whether
or not to have his or her location sent to the network," said a
spokesman for mobile service provider Orange.
But all this means is that the information is not being passed on to
advertisers, said Mr Bowden.
"Whether or not you want to receive ads, the location data will be
collected," he said.
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Version: PGPfreeware 6.5.3 for non-commercial use <http://www.pgp.com>
Comment: Due to RIP, pls check for revocation before using this key!
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