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Department of Justice Captures Mobile Phone Data With Spy Planes


iPhoneForums.Net News Team
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Jun 18, 2010
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9to5 Mac has a very interesting report today about how the United States Department of Justice has been using planes to collect data from the cell phones of criminal suspects on the ground.

According to the report, which originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Department of Justice has equipped planes with devices called “dirtboxes,” which act as cellular towers, and can capture data from tens of thousands of suspected criminals’ phones in just one flight, as well as the data from completely innocent bystanders.

When a phone connects to the dirtbox, it's then possible to ascertain whether or not the phone’s ID is that of one belonging to a suspected criminal. Should the dirtbox get a positive result, the suspect’s location can then be pinpointed using the phone’s signal strength, down to an accuracy of three meters.

More sophisticated dirtboxes can even jam cell phone signals, or retrieve texts, photos and other data from the phones.

Should the phone be that of an innocent member of the public, then the dirtbox should just ignore the phone in question, but 9to5 Mac says that it is not known what safeguards are in place to ensure that this is the case.

Source: 9to5 Mac