[telecom] That's No Phone. That's My Tracker.

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That's No Phone. That's My Tracker.

July 13, 2012

THE device in your purse or jeans that you think is a cellphone -
guess again. It is a tracking device that happens to make calls.
Let's stop calling them phones. They are trackers.

Most doubts about the principal function of these devices were erased
when it was recently disclosed that cellphone carriers responded 1.3
million times last year to law enforcement requests for call data.
That's not even a complete count, because T-Mobile, one of the
largest carriers, refused to reveal its numbers. It appears that
millions of cellphone users have been swept up in government
surveillance of their calls and where they made them from. Many
police agencies don't obtain search warrants when requesting location
data from carriers.

Thanks to the explosion of GPS technology and smartphone apps, these
devices are also taking note of what we buy, where and when we buy
it, how much money we have in the bank, whom we text and e-mail, what
Web sites we visit, how and where we travel, what time we go to sleep
and wake up - and more. Much of that data is shared with companies
that use it to offer us services they think we want.

We have all heard about the wonders of frictionless sharing, whereby
social networks automatically let our friends know what we are
reading or listening to, but what we hear less about is frictionless
surveillance. Though we invite some tracking - think of our mapping
requests as we try to find a restaurant in a strange part of town -
much of it is done without our awareness.



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