Researchers at Stanford University and Israel’s defense research group Rafael have created a technique they call PowerSpy, which they say can gather information about an Android phone’s geolocation merely by tracking its power use over time through…
There is no question that technology from Israeli experts, many of whom are ex military on a level with DARPA are extremely clever and these new concepts make some sense. In the case of the average person, all you really need to do is invent location based apps using GPS that sufficient people want to use, or capture the unique signals and MAC addresses of mobiles via WiFi and Bluetooth that already pervade the ether.
I’m assuming a key issue they are trying to deal with are burners, such as we see on TV shows and movies. Today you can buy Burner Apps so you don’t even necessarily have to replace the phone! Prepay mobiles that people wanting to commit crimes buy and use on a one off basis so they can’t be identified. They would therefore not be running apps (at least not ones that are registered with Apple, Google or Microsoft, unless they were wolves dressed as lambs. This is probably now common practice amongst more intelligent criminals, or ones with a lot to hide and if the purpose were to monitor terrorists, they would have additional difficulty identifying them.
Interestingly, these phones would be very attractive to the manufacturers because they would get full price for them, but keep replacing them.
Location based tracking is something that is becoming pervasive and will become significantly more so, mostly for good reasons rather than bad, but as a side effect, each new development chips away at our privacy. For me, I don’t have a problem because I don’t deliberately commit any crimes. However, if I lived in a country where my private information could be abused, I would have a very different attitude and therein lies the real concern.
When a state that denies people their rights of belief, of individualism, of freedom of speech and to democracy abuses its people, this inevitable technology including IoT, Bluetooth, RFID, Drones, smart cars and mobile apps can become a powerful means to control society to a point where human rights cease to exist. Orwell, Kafka, Philip K Dick and many others if they were still alive would be sending Tweets out right now saying “We told you so”.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of benevolent use of these technologies. I just have the luxury of living in a country that fundamentally cares about its people regardless of their beliefs, the color of their skin, their lifestyle and their physical and mental health. We can use those technologies to improve people’s quality of life. That can’t be said for many other countries right now. Technology does not recognise borders of sovereignty or of right or wrong. It just is.