Wireless companies ‘track your every move’

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Wireless companies ‘track your every move’

Post by ToddS on Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:29 am

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Wireless companies ‘track your every move’



  • By: Andrew Couts •
  • March 26, 2011
Evidence revealed in a German lawsuit against telecommunications
giant Deutsche Telekom, owner of T-Mobile USA, shows that cellphone
companies keep records of every move you make.


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Big Brother really is watching you — constantly. According to a new report by The New York Times,
cell phone companies often “track your every move” — and they do so
while keeping their customers entirely in the dark about the intrusive
practice.

This disconcerting revelation came to light after German
politician Malte Spitz sued his mobile provider, Deutsche Telekom, to
find out exactly what information about him they had acquired. What the
court revealed is shocking — even if it’s not much of a surprise to
those suspicious of our ceaseless connectivity.
Between the end of August, 2009 to the end of February, 2010, Deutsche Telekom, current
owner of T-Mobile, “had recorded and saved his longitude and latitude
coordinates more than 35,000 times,” The New York Times reports. Privacy
experts say the information divulged as a result of the lawsuit
provides an unprecedented look into the invasive workings of the world’s
telecoms.

“We are all walking around with little tags, and our
tag has a phone number associated with it, who we called and what we do
with the phone,” Sarah E. Williams, a graphic information expert at
Columbia University tells the Times. “We don’t even know we are giving up that data.”

In the United States, even less is known about what level of surveillance
wireless companies are conducting on their customers because these
companies are not required to divulge what information they collect.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, however, that information is extensive, and is only getting more so.

One of the reasons telecoms are collecting the data is for market research
purposes. Another, perhaps more troubling reason, is for the benefit of
law enforcement, like the FBI and CIA.

In contrast to the installation of “cookies” by websites, which are used to gather
information about a person’s online browsing habits, it is currently
impossible — or at least incredibly difficult — to opt out of cell phone
surveillance in the US. A variety of “do not track” services, from companies like Google and Mozilla, are now available, which prevent websites from automatically installing cookies on users’ computers.

Perhaps that will change if customers start suing their telecoms, as Mr. Spitz
did in Germany. But in this age when many of us have already opted out
of personal privacy by publishing a wide range of aspects of our lives
online, such a fight seems unlikely.


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“We have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.”

Thomas Jefferson
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