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Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police


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#1 TVCasualty

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 08:31 AM

From last Saturday's New York Times (all emphasis mine):

 

When detectives in a Phoenix suburb arrested a warehouse worker in a murder investigation last December, they credited a new technique with breaking open the case after other leads went cold.

 

The police told the suspect, Jorge Molina, they had data tracking his phone to the site where a man was shot nine months earlier. They had made the discovery after obtaining a search warrant that required Google to provide information on all devices it recorded near the killing, potentially capturing the whereabouts of anyone in the area.

 

 

And...

 

The Arizona case demonstrates the promise and perils of the new investigative technique, whose use has risen sharply in the past six months, according to Google employees familiar with the requests.

 

 

Then this quote caught my attention:

 

Law enforcement officials described the method as exciting, but cautioned that it was just one tool.

 

 

"Exciting?" That's very telling IMO.

 

To me it suggests that the people developing this shit are utterly tone-deaf as to the impact these 'exciting' new tools have on the lives of actual people, nor the Constitutional/privacy/personal freedom issues they raise. They're just geeks geeking out on coming up with code that works, apparently, and to hell with trifles like legality or privacy.

 

But hey, at least we're being assured that this egregious violation of our civil rights is not the only tool in their box! What a relief!

 

And the tone-deafness continues, making me think these people live in an alternate Universe that's been somehow isolated from the one that the rest of us live in where becoming more intrusive and invasive than even Orwell's Big Brother is considered 'exciting' rather than evil and in opposition to those romanticized American 'values' that are talked about a lot but not really taken seriously, apparently.

 

And in case anyone missed it, the article details how this "exciting" new tool initially resulted in the arrest of the wrong person.

 

Now tell me again how that is an improvement over old-school policing? "Sorry about that week you spent in jail by mistake, hope you still got a job and maybe next time you'll be more careful where you carry your phone!"

 

 

This insanity means that we're going to have to be careful to not be anywhere that any crimes are committed by anyone, among other concerns. Which is patently absurd, but fortunately the total-surveillance paradigm is inherently doomed thanks to the nature of how it works, so all we need is a bit of patience for the next enormous and inevitable solar flare.

 

Until then, if you keep wearing your tracking collar...uh, I mean 'using your smart phone' without taking any measures to protect yourself and shit like happened to Jorge Molina (see article) happens to you then you can't say you weren't warned.

 

Source: https://www.nytimes....ng-police.html?

 

Additional article about the Google "Sensorvault" database: https://www.nytimes....n-tracking.html


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#2 Cuboid

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 10:17 AM

I tend to only enable the GPS on my mobile if I'm actually needing it. Mostly to save the battery life. It's a hard line to tread making use of all this technology without comprising privacy. Google turned bad many years ago and I never really trusted them anyway. It sucks. Not sure what the solution really is.
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#3 Coopdog

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 12:26 PM

They have made it where people embrace the chain my friend. How many people do you know who have Alexa installed in their home? THose cute little I robot thingies that help to document your life... smart TV's, smart appliances. It is truly staggering how prevalent it is. I seriously considered throwing my phone away a couple years back, but alas... I too am now a part of the system that can't navigate without my leash on. The only way to be safe now is totally tech free and you would still be on someones radar twenty times a day. The reality is way to Orwellian to contemplate...


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#4 Alder Logs

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 03:56 PM

I still am wondering when there will be a law demanding that I have either a smart phone or must get chipped with microphone and a GPS transponder. 


Edited by Alder Logs, 15 April 2019 - 03:57 PM.

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#5 Furthur1

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 05:13 PM

i read this when the notification came through on my phone for my smart news app, while stoned after not smoking for a couple of weeks.


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#6 Pan1

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 08:26 PM

420 is rolling up here, I was at 420 Toronto 4 years ago they were using facial recognition software there, probably doesn't even run threw the DMV probably uses social media way more data.. That's like the simplest they can do with an android. Short of melting it down with a blow tourch they will always be able to recover some readable data.

#7 PJammer24

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 09:59 AM

It was the police who were excited by the technology and how they could use it, not the "Geeks"...

 

For the time being, I would imagine that a judge would only issue this type of warrant in the most extreme cases, like murder for example. From my perspective, if you were in the vicinity of a murder and you didn't do anything then you have very little to fear. Yes, there are people who have been convicted in error but this is by far the exception rather than the rule.... I know that any time I have gotten in trouble it was because I was guilty.

 

There is a lot of data to sort through. I think that this could only be used on a limited basis for a very specific goal. It would require too much computing power for the present day police officer to be scanning all the data being collected on a given day.

 

If you don't want to be tracked, turn your location services off and run a VPN... There are steps you can take to be more secure.



#8 Boebs

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Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:35 PM

Even with your phone location turned off
You are still tracked via triangulation threw phone towers...
You signed up for it when you click i accept and use any smartphone..

Privacy? That has been gone since the 60s when big brother was just starting to wa atch
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#9 PasF

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 04:55 PM

Even with your phone location turned off
You are still tracked via triangulation threw phone towers...
You signed up for it when you click i accept and use any smartphone..

Privacy? That has been gone since the 60s when big brother was just starting to wa atch

Does using VPN on the phone help is location service is turned off?



#10 Cuboid

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 05:06 PM

VPN will have no effect on the mobile network operator being able to triangulate your position. Only turning the phone off will stop that. Even then do you trust it is off when it looks off? Maybe remove the battery too. And the SIM card as well if you're really paranoid.

Edited by Cuboid, 20 April 2019 - 05:07 PM.

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#11 PasF

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 05:21 PM

VPN will have no effect on the mobile network operator being able to triangulate your position. Only turning the phone off will stop that. Even then do you trust it is off when it looks off? Maybe remove the battery too. And the SIM card as well if you're really paranoid.

 

No, not paranoid just curious. I find it disturbing. It's the world we live in now. There is nothing I can do to hide myself. Will only continue to get worse. The chip implant like Alder mentioned with the GPS will one day be put in at birth I'm sure. Well that's depressing. I'm going to get a beer.



#12 Furthur1

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 06:27 PM

 

VPN will have no effect on the mobile network operator being able to triangulate your position. Only turning the phone off will stop that. Even then do you trust it is off when it looks off? Maybe remove the battery too. And the SIM card as well if you're really paranoid.

 

No, not paranoid just curious. I find it disturbing. It's the world we live in now. There is nothing I can do to hide myself. Will only continue to get worse. The chip implant like Alder mentioned with the GPS will one day be put in at birth I'm sure. Well that's depressing. I'm going to get a beer.

 

 

Your gonna need more than a beer, go for a cocaine



#13 TVCasualty

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 08:50 AM

It was the police who were excited by the technology and how they could use it, not the "Geeks"...

 

For the time being, I would imagine that a judge would only issue this type of warrant in the most extreme cases, like murder for example. From my perspective, if you were in the vicinity of a murder and you didn't do anything then you have very little to fear. Yes, there are people who have been convicted in error but this is by far the exception rather than the rule.... I know that any time I have gotten in trouble it was because I was guilty.

 

There is a lot of data to sort through. I think that this could only be used on a limited basis for a very specific goal. It would require too much computing power for the present day police officer to be scanning all the data being collected on a given day.

 

If you don't want to be tracked, turn your location services off and run a VPN... There are steps you can take to be more secure.

 

Geeks wrote this and a lot of similar code for the government. Geeks also gave us nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Which is one reason people should be nice to me (I'm a geek of sorts).

 

I just wish the geeks who work out the nuts and bolts (so to speak) of Big Brother technology would think about the wider ramifications of their creations a little more than they tend to (which is hardly at all, apparently) rather than just be enamored with the elegance of the thing in itself that they are creating.

 

Meatheads with cutting edge technology are a problem IMO and I try to encourage people with brains to not give meatheads advanced technology and to use those brains to come up with other stuff instead. Dare to dream...

 

 

The issue of concern about the technology under discussion is (for me at least) the way this renders civil liberties like the 4th Amendment essentially moot. And the First is almost gone in practice if not in theory because the vast majority of public discourse now takes place on privately-owned platforms accessed by your privately-owned ISP, neither of whom are subject to the 1st Amendment. There's a trend here, and it's not a good one.

 

 

Like many overreaches of authority it will probably initially be restricted to 'extreme' cases, but once established in practice and no longer talked about it will likely go through the usual mission-creep and be applied to less and less 'extreme' crimes until it's considered normal and routine.

 

The geeks who lack a moral compass are getting very good at parsing huge volumes of data for whatever purpose a client wishes as they improve and refine their algorithms and computing power continues to increase, so I don't see any significant technical hurdles for this new Big Brother app, especially as AI advances; scaling and automating this kind of stuff is what cloud computing and artificial intelligence are for, after all.

 

Your faith in the Justice System to not wrongly convict you (or even merely wrongly arrest you) for something suggests you don't live at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder and are probably white. That's not a criticism since I'm a middle-classesque white guy myself, but I've seen up close and personal how perspectives are inspired to differ among those who aren't. And I've also been reading some depressing articles about how biases and cultural norms worm their way into AI or search algorithms (assuming they're not included on purpose, which may be a bad assumption), which is resulting in the development of 'advanced' technology that's just as biased as whomever wrote the code (or financed the project).


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#14 Alder Logs

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 10:08 AM

Just think, the same sorts who have given the world auto-corrected spelling are the ones working on AI. 

 

See Terry Gilliam's movie, Brazil.  If you have seen it, see it again.  If you haven't seen it, do see it and ponder what Gilliam could see in the mid '80s.  We're all in this together.


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#15 PasF

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 02:45 PM

 

 

VPN will have no effect on the mobile network operator being able to triangulate your position. Only turning the phone off will stop that. Even then do you trust it is off when it looks off? Maybe remove the battery too. And the SIM card as well if you're really paranoid.

 

No, not paranoid just curious. I find it disturbing. It's the world we live in now. There is nothing I can do to hide myself. Will only continue to get worse. The chip implant like Alder mentioned with the GPS will one day be put in at birth I'm sure. Well that's depressing. I'm going to get a beer.

 

 

Your gonna need more than a beer, go for a cocaine

 

 

I'm not into uppers. The only time I hypothetically used cocaine was during my younger years when playing poker. Drinking heavily and playing poker while hypothetically using cocaine can give you an advantage if people think you are intoxicated.



#16 Heirloom

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Posted 25 May 2019 - 04:52 AM

it's much worse than people think out there. i have computers tblets phones all legal hacked tracked bugged by googles theft recovery people here. they have provided everything to police hackers for hire from stack overflow and github using google as cover.

charged with less than 50 kilos , 10 small plants , county attorney would like to give me life in prison.

#17 ilikethings

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 05:37 PM

Most people have no clue and most that do know don't seem to care because as they love to say: "Hey, I'm not doing anything illegal so why should I care if the State is spying on me!?"  OMG!  But for those who also remember the 1980s and 1990s when there were many tv shows depicting the horrors of soviet mass surveillance--in particular the East German Stazi secrete police who went so far as to enter peoples homes while they were at work, collect and store almost all citizens' body odors (so they could be tracked by dogs)--those of us who recall such tv programs, feel like we are living in a bizarro world.  NOTE: under the PATRIOT ACT, the FBI can enter and search your home without a warrant.  From what I recall, this is called a legal "sneak and peak."  Everything the government told us was evil about the Soviets is now implemented here at home by those same governments. 

 

With regard to phone tracking, and having some experience in the hacker community, I'd recommend using a faraday cage or bag.  These will block the RF signals to and from the phone.  I'd also encourage everyone to use "Signal" as their messaging/texting program.  Although the metadata is still logged, the substance of the communications is encrypted and can only be read by possessing the physical phone.  Whatsapp is NOT secure.  I'd also suggest at least using a VPN like protonmail's VPN or for added privacy, use Tor. 

 

BIG DO NOT DOs: if you are concerned with digital privacy and surveillance, do NOT: (1) visit or login to this site via your mobile phone (if you do, it has already been logged and can be used as evidence against you), (2) do NOT visit this site or login via your desktop computer unless you are at least using a VPN or preferably Tor (there is a reason the CIA spends $20million a year to maintain what is likely a majority of the Tor exit server...bc it works).

 

For those that want an excellent overview of the current surveylance system see Steve Rambam's last talk at HOPE (Hackers Of Planet Earth):

[Direct Link]


Edited by ilikethings, 24 October 2019 - 07:16 PM.


#18 Juthro

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 07:20 PM

I remember the 80's.... Most of'em anyway :)

 

[Direct Link]


Edited by Juthro, 24 October 2019 - 07:21 PM.


#19 Coopdog

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 01:41 AM

Just an example, woke up to go to work last Friday and my belt was broken. Of course I said "DAMMIT, my belt is broken!" Got home from work that night and on Facebook were belt advertisements! People that think it is not real crack me up. 

 

Alder, man you don't have to own a smart phone. All sorts of appliances and even TV's and EVEN dishwashers and microwave ovens are "smart" appliances. Every single time you go ANYPLACE when you drive through any major arterial intersection you drive past a dozen very high definition cameras, that are most certainly not there for traffic management and people running red lights. They are literally at every single major intersection just like in Orwells book. They are not filming the intersection area, they are positioned to catch FACIAL shots in every single lane. Check me if you don't think so. 

 

Want to really hear something spooky? My wife had a chance encounter with an off duty cop where they were both waiting for someone. This very subject came up. The cop told her that on top of your phone listening in on your conversations, that nowadays that the system is connected and working, if you so much as use a hot word, every single smart device in listening distance turns on..... and after that for a certain amount of time, every single person on your contacts list and friends list's devices start listening extra hard and taking in any related information. My wife laughed and said that can't be true! He laughed and said OH YES it is. You BETTER believe it. 


Edited by Coopdog, 25 October 2019 - 01:43 AM.

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#20 Alder Logs

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 10:53 AM

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

 

 

How quaint.

 

This is an hour, and the perspectives would not likely be parallel with most here, but it is an interesting look at where 5G and the moguls want to take those they likely see as cattle.

 

[Direct Link]


Edited by Alder Logs, 25 October 2019 - 11:00 AM.

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