Saturday, December 09, 2006

Your cell phone may be a mobile bug

I've blogged before about tracking cell phones. Now this takes it to a new level.

A recent US District Court ruling discloses that law enforcement has the ability to turn on the microphone in a cell phone, converting the device into a bug without the owner's knowledge. This apparently still works if the device is turned off; the only way to defeat it is removing the batteries.

If anyone has a copy of this decision or more info on this technique, please feel free to e-mail me at

KTRE-TV - Lufkin/Nacogdoches, TX - Court Says FBI Can Use Your Cell Phone To Spy... On You:

... A recent court ruling in a case against the Genovese crime family revealed that the FBI has the ability from a remote location to activate a cell phone and turn its microphone into a listening device that transmits to an FBI listening post, a method known as a 'roving bug.' Experts say the only way to defeat it is to remove the cell phone battery.

'The FBI can access cell phones and modify them remotely without ever having to physically handle them,' James Atkinson, a counterintelligence security consultant, told ABC News. 'Any recently manufactured cell phone has a built-in tracking device, which can allow eavesdroppers to pinpoint someone's location to within just a few feet,' he added.

According to the recent court ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan, 'The device functioned whether the phone was powered on or off, intercepting conversations within its range wherever it happened to be.' ...

Update (20061223) - Bruce Schneier's blog has more info on this, but no firm conclusions, mostly based on a ZDNet article.

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