For government and affiliated law enforcement agencies, the ability to track a Smartphone user’s geographical location while carrying that device is not only a simple matter, but most likely embedded into the U.S. Patriot Act. The Homeland Security measure was renewed in the early summer of 2011 for four more years, and all signs point to Section 215 of the act allowing the government to-when and where it deems necessary-snoop around this increasingly pervasive Smartphone data.
Home Use Applications
For individuals seeking to achieve the same level of monitory as Homeland Security officials, there are indeed easy-to-use software applications. The big difference is that unlike the satellite and warrant-obtained (or often, non-warrant obtained) cell phone tower information used by law enforcement officials, individuals can only really track the location of a cell phone if they have physical, hands-on access to the equipment in question.
Anyone from a suspicious spouse to a slick private investigator can do a lot of damage if granted access to the target person’s cell phone. Applications such as Stealh Genie offer a wide range of real-time and archived capabilities, allowing the person monitoring the cell phone to be notified for example when someone has entered or left a designated zone. The same kind of software that is being used in some cases by schools and parents to monitor children can also be secretly installed to track a person’s geographical whereabouts.
In recent years, more attention has been focused on a Liberty Media holdings company in Pennsylvania called TruePosition. Working with major cell phone companies, it provides software whereby a user can be geo-located via their cell phone in situations of personal emergency, conceivably making it easier for police and firefighters to track down a person or persons in distress.
But some privacy advocates are concerned about the reach of TruePosition’s partnerships. Although the basic premise of the company is to provide “enhanced 911 services” to companies such as T-Mobile and AT&T, it is another example of how individual cell phone users are being tracked sometimes without their full knowledge.
NetworkWorld.com – “‘Secret Law’ of Patriot Act: Geolocation Tracking and Domestic Spying on Steroids?”, June 1, 2011, Retrieved November 27, 2011 from http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/secret-law-patriot-act-geolocation-tracking-d
StealthGenie.com – Stealth Genie: Features, Retrieved November 27, 2011 from http://www.stealthgenie.com/features/real-time-geo-location-tracking.html
Wired – “Meet the Keyzer Soze of Global Phone Tracking”, July 18, 2011, Retrieved November 27, 2011 from http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/07/global-phone-tracking/