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United Kingdom Privacy

UK Police Won't Comment On The Tracking of People's Phone Calls 52

Daniel_Stuckey writes You've maybe heard a bit about Stingray. Over the past couple of years, it has emerged that police forces in the US have been using the powerful surveillance tool, which tricks phones into connecting to a dragnet, to track mobile devices, and intercept calls and text messages. Meanwhile, the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) continue to remain tight lipped about their use of the technology, leaving citizens in the dark on what privacy protections, if any, are in place for those who may get swept up by the broad surveillance techniques.
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UK Police Won't Comment On The Tracking of People's Phone Calls

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  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Friday August 08, 2014 @03:09AM (#47628373) Homepage

    ...leaving citizens in the dark on what privacy protections, if any, are in place...

    I'll give you a hint, there aren't any.

    • by Beriaru ( 954082 )
      They dont need any esoteric piece of technology. Just a call to the carrier, and there you are: all your sms and conversations. And thats for an anonymous citizen. If they have you in a list, you provably have a man in the middle for all your internet traffic.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        no mate, the British police use a (*)DATONG imsi catcher, similar to the Harris 'ray' series but better designed & cheaper. They deploy it in London when they want to work-out who is present in a particular area, around a square mile. They of course are also able ask for retained data from the 'phone companies, but they do own and operate passive/active fake cell tower devices. The legality of imsi catcher use by the police in the UK is uncertain.
        In London it's also allegedly common to be asked by a Po

    • Thank you Eric Snowden, for doing the right thing at the time it needed to be done.
  • Perhaps (Score:4, Funny)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @04:06AM (#47628529)

    Meanwhile, the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) continue to remain tight lipped about their use of the technology,

    perhaps they don't want to admit that they don't know how to work the damned thing. Truncheons and battering rams fine, but computers are a little tricky

  • ECHR (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that collecting and storing IP addresses, as mandated by a related directive, is illegal. This is considered to be collecting evidence of a possible crime that may or may not happen in the future and before the person is even a suspect. The same most likely applies to phone records to a certain extent, too. I'm curious to see how this plays out in the next few years.

    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      Probably means another reason for the UK to withdraw from the EU.

      Of course all in the name of greater democracy.

      • 47 countries have signed the ECHR convention, only 27 are in the EU. Turkey, for instance, has been found guilty by the ECHR for not providing fair trials, but they aren't part of the EU.

        In short, the UK leaving the EU would most likely not mean they will leave the jurisdiction of the ECHR.

    • Related is Malone v. The United Kingdom (1984) on wiretapping of phone lines.

  • by stiggle ( 649614 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @04:36AM (#47628583)

    As each cell has a CID (Cell ID) you can get software which will display this, and other, information.
    If you know what the CID should be for a specific area then you can restrict your phone use if you don't recognise the CID.

    eg. 2 phones - one a burner you NEVER use, but is always on so you can track the CID,
    Your main phone you only switch on when you trust the CID of the cell you're in to make the calls.

    A public database of Cell ID - [] Its a little out on some of its info, but its a good starting point.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You're assuming that it's happening at the cell tower level. It probably isn't. For a start that'd be 1) obvious and 2) fail to catch them when out of that cell's area.

      It's far more likely they're working with the mobile networks to route calls to/from those numbers through their own servers and recording it in that way.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You need the cell id and its approximate signal strength at your location. There are messages phones can send to the tower to say "hi, what is my signal strength?" and that answer should be about the same. Most cell towers now have several cells too so that could be useful too. After all this same technique is how many phones use wifi to figure out where they are. I've seen ads for devices that can tell you the signal strength of a phone from an aircraft. Two points and you have a location.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      Sounds like you could write an app that automatically compares the CID to the database and alerts you to discrepancies.

    • by itschy ( 992394 )

      That is exactly what this [] is meant to achieve.

    • How about RedPhone + TextSecure?

      Although if cells are your bag, then Llama can trigger events based on the ones you're tuned to.

  • You need to ask? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Friday August 08, 2014 @04:52AM (#47628611)

    Ok, let me spell it out for you:

    - No privacy protection whatsoever. If you take nude pictures, they will be shared around or if you leave your phone on during sex they will be listening.
    - No need for reasonable suspicion to do this to you, a whim is enough.
    - And no accountability at all on their side.


  • Here's the answer.

    *Plays loop of loud, sarcastic laughter*

  • This is England (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Here in England we dont do freedom anymore, it was far more important what was on the TV or what football was on,
    Free speech died. was nice while it lasted though. Opression is here !

  • I run along the Thames Embankment (London Bridge to Westminster via St Paul's Cathedral and back) at lunch time and during the St Paul's Protest Camp my smartphone would misbehave when I ran past it. It would also need a reboot on my return for it to make/receive calls again. Never happened anywhere else or at anytime else. 2+2 equals buggy Stringray deployment?

Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs. -- Kernighan