I’ve talked on the show before about the problems with some of the newest smartphone technology we’ve been using. Apple was “caught” keeping data on the iPhone which provided detailed information about precisely where any of their cell phones had been over the past 12 months. Apple claims it wasn’t using the data for tracking (and there are reasonable technical explanations for what happened), but it does raise the overall issue of tracking individuals. And now two US Senators want to know if the spooks are trackingus.
Senators Mark Udall (D-CO) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are members of the Senate panel overseeing all 16 US Intelligence Agencies. Earlier this year they sounded the alarm that the Obama administration had started taking even broader reach into people’s private lives by re-interpreting the Patriot Act. Domestic spying is apparently on the increase.
Now they want to know if they are being spyed on. They asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, “Do government agencies have the authority to collect the geolocation information of American citizens for intelligence purposes?”
A good question, and one that deserves a direct answer. We tend to have our smart phones with us 24/7. They have built-in location equipment that tells the cell phone company precisely where we are so that they can route calls, and many of them now contain GPS equipment due to Federal requirements.
They also have microphones, cameras and motion sensors.
With the concern over GM’s use of its OnStar service to collect location information of our governmental officials, why shouldn’t we be concerned about the potential mis-use of our cell phones and smart phones? Seems only logical.
I’ll try and report back on Clapper’s response, assuming it’s unclassified. Of course, if it is classified we will seem to have another problem on our hands.
By the way, Wyden has written legislation along with House Republican Jason Chaffetz that would require warrants for law enforcement to be able to collect geodata from our phones, cars, gps devices and more.
- Geo-tracking controversy homes in on iPhone (roundup) (news.cnet.com)
- Apple acts on iPhone tracking bug (bbc.co.uk)
- No Immediate Threat Seen in Apple iPhone Location Tracking File (blogcritics.org)
- Senators press Apple, Google for answers about location tracking (textually.org)
- Bill Would Keep Big Brother’s Mitts Off Your GPS Data (wired.com)