We’re all aware that when we communicate something on our cell phone that the information we send doesn’t go directly to the person we’re calling or texting, but first goes through the cell phone service provider. However, something that most people don’t think about is that all of that information is being recorded and can easily be accessed by an interested third party, like a government agency.
In fact, not only have government agencies been successful at getting cell phone providers to hand over recorded user data, they are also capable of setting up fake cell phone towers that can intercept your data in real-time and use it as they wish. What makes this even more interesting is that government agencies don’t require a warrant to do this. Their defense is that these surveillance operations don’t violate citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights, claiming that Americans don’t have a legitimate expectation of privacy for their data that’s sent to a cell tower.
This technology has been taken a step further in the UK, where police officers use similar technology that not only gains access to all of a cell phone’s data in a similar fashion, but they are also able to remotely send a kill signal to an individual’s phone to turn it off.
The real question here is whether this intrusion of privacy should be legal and if government agencies should have total access to all the information that a cell phone sends to its service provider. Especially in this age where our smart phones contain and constantly send out personal information that we might not want to share with the world.
With the legality of warrantless GPS tracking being discussed in courts, the future of surveillance and tracking might be changed forever. Hopefully, these changes will err on the side of protecting citizen’s privacy in the digital age.