Sunday, April 01, 2012

Cell phones & the police

WASHINGTON — Law enforcement tracking of cellphones, once the province mainly of federal agents, has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight, documents show.       
The practice has become big business for cellphone companies, too, with a handful of carriers marketing a catalog of “surveillance fees” to police departments to determine a suspect’s location, trace phone calls and texts or provide other services. Some departments log dozens of traces a month for both emergencies and routine investigations.
With cellphones ubiquitous, the police call phone tracing a valuable weapon in emergencies like child abductions and suicide calls and investigations in drug cases and murders. One police training manual describes cellphones as “the virtual biographer of our daily activities,” providing a hunting ground for learning contacts and travels.
    

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And this is the reason why you need a throw-away cell for your truck if you don't want Big Sis up in your fucking business tracking your day-to-day travels.
Go down to your local Radio Shack (wearing your ball cap and sunglasses of course) and check out their pre-pay phone and plans. Seeing as you're only going to be using this phone for calls and text (use your smartphone for accessing the internet and shit like that), keep it simple and cheap. You can find a phone ranging anywhere from 97 cents to $299 but what the fuck, we're not talking status symbols here, we're talking about simple comms. Besides, all the expensive phones allow you to access the internet and email and as soon as you sign into anything that's connected to you, the phone number that you accessed if from is now officially yours in the eyes of the law. Buy a phone with talk and text only for 10 bucks.
When making your decision, check the brochures and find out which systems has the best network coverage for your area. AT&T has pretty good coverage for the entire nation as does Sprint and Verizon. Virgin and Boost Mobile, not so good but their rates are cheaper.
Check the brochures for rates, minutes and expiration dates. You can buy minutes for small amounts like $5 to $20, but those minutes will expire after 30 days. At about 25 bucks and above, you get 250 minutes and they don't expire for 90 days. Some plans offer minutes that don't expire for a year for $100. A good choice for somebody such as myself (I use less than 100 minutes a month on my contract phone) would be the $25 plan.
I should say now that if your minutes run out, you're not obligated to run right out and buy minutes to keep the number active. You can throw that motherfucker in a drawer for months and you'll still have the same number when you add minutes again.
Also consider how easy it is to refill or add minutes to your phone. At the Radio Shack, you can buy the minutes WITH CASH and the clerk can add them for you or you can buy them at a different location every time and add them yourself for security purposes.
Pick your phone and minute plan, inform the salesdude of your choice and head to the counter feeling all sneaky and covert and shit. When you get rang up, the clerk will activate it for you. He'll ask your name and phone number. Give him a fake name and for the phone number, be a smartass and tell him that you don't have a phone, that's why you're buying that one and then look at him like he's fucking stupid or something. Or make up a number.
Pay attention to this part: When it comes time to pay - and if you paid any attention at all to what I just told you it'll be less than a pair of twenties - PAY CASH. Remember, you're trying to keep Big Sis off your ass and out of your business. PAY FUCKING CASH. Never use you credit or debit card on anything to do with this phone. Ever. Always PAY CASH.
Okay. after you've PAID CASH, you'll find your phone number on the receipt. The first thing you're gonna want to do is call it from your contract phone to make sure it works. Do not do that. I will repeat: Do. Not. Do. That. Do not connect your new Secret Squirrel phone to yourself in any way.
So now you've got a phone that you can use while you're out and about while Big Sis thinks you're sitting on your ass at home watching Predator Quest.

Nothing here is illegal, risky or unusual. You see poor folks and homeless people with cell phones? That's how they got 'em.
Thugs and dope dealers have been doing this for years and years for conducting business on phones that can't be traced back to them. Remember years ago when you only had your connections' pager number and he'd call you back from a phone booth and then suddenly he gives you his phone number so you can call him direct? It wasn't because he developed a new level of trust for you, that's when he got a throwaway cell phone.
If you decide to use your phone for taking care of business, you can take the extra step of just buying a new phone and tossing your old one out when your minutes run out or expire instead of buying more. You'll get a new number and you'll have to pass that on to your contacts but if it's for something slightly illegal or underhanded (not that I would condone such a thing) you shouldn't have more than a couple of contacts anyway. Besides, they'll be doing the same thing to keep shit secure.

So there's your lesson for the day.
Remember, no form of communication is completely secure but nobody says you gotta make it easy on the bastards. Make 'em work for it, man.

UDATE: As always with an "instructional" like this, read the comments. Sometimes readers come up with ideas that I overlook or don't know about. For instance Kerodin mentioned synching your bluetooth to both phones accidentally. I don't own a bluetooth, refuse to own one and don't know shit about them.