Monday, 12 December 2011

Mobile phones – location tracking

Did everyone spot it?

The Killing, Series 2, Episode 7, 17'30".

Raben's father-in-law tells him Special Branch are following him. Raben instantly takes something out of his pocket, fiddles with it and puts it back.

He was taking the battery out of his mobile phone – the only way to be (fairly) sure that it isn't being used to locate/track him.

Him. Or anyone else. You, for example. Your mobile phone is a voluntarily worn electronic tag. Your mobile phone, and mine, is an electronic ID card.



Are you saying this is a good or bad thing?

David Moss said...

Dear Mr Orange

Thank you for your good question, to which the answer is (a) a bit of both and (b) before we try to assess its merits, let's just take on board the fact.

It is a fact that your mobile phone locates you and identifies you and identifies your associates. It will remain a fact whether we think it's a good thing or a bad thing.

I have collected together for consideration some examples of the use of mobile phones to solve crimes and to detain terrorists. And some examples of the mainly benign use of mobile phones for location detection.

The technology is even-handed and doesn't distinguish between criminals and nice, ordinary people. While we may applaud it when it tracks down murderers we may pause when we realise that it tracks us down, too.

It's a big topic.

Choosing just one issue, remember that our government spent eight years and £292 million failing to deploy ID cards in the UK.

They ignored mobile phone technology. Despite the fact that mobile phone technology might as well have been designed for identity management. And despite the fact that I pointed it out to them in February 2003 and repeatedly thereafter.

I am relieved that they ignored my mobile phone proposal.

I am furious that they wasted £292 million.

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