Phones Review

Mobile Phone covert surveillance tech use by UK Met cops

Under: Mobile Phones
By:James | October 31st, 2011

If you are living here in the United Kingdom and own a mobile phone like most, here’s a little something you might not be aware of. Apparently the Metropolitan Police force now has covert surveillance tech for monitoring mobile phones that dupes your handset into thinking it’s a mobile network and enables the cops to remotely shut down handsets, whilst intercepting transmissions and gather data from thousands of user within a specified area.

According to The Guardian, the Met purchased the technology from Datong PLC, a company that also included such customers as the MOD, the United States Secret Service, and certain Middle East regimes.

The covert surveillance system is “strictly classified” as “Listed X” under government protocol and can apparently force hundreds of mobile phones a minute to give up their IMSI and IMEI code that can be used to track the users location in real time over an estimated 10 sq km area.

The director of Big Brother Watch, a privacy and civil liberties campaign group, Nick Pickles says that this covert tech could enable the police to conduct “blanket and indiscriminate monitoring” and states…

“It raises a number of serious civil liberties concerns and clarification is urgently needed on when and where this technology has been deployed, and what data has been gathered. Such invasive surveillance must be tightly regulated, authorised at the highest level and only used in the most serious of investigations. It should be absolutely clear that only data directly relating to targets of investigations is monitored or stored.”

Jonathan Lennon, a barrister that specialises in cases involving covert intelligence and Ripa, the (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) has said that the use of the surveillance system “raised significant legislative questions about proportionality and intrusion into privacy.” Lennon says…

“How can a device which invades any number of people’s privacy be proportionate? There needs to be clarification on whether interception of multiple people’s communications – when you can’t even necessarily identify who the people are – is complaint with the act. It may be another case of the technology racing ahead of the legislation. Because if this technology now allows multiple tracking and intercept to take place at the same time, I would have thought that was not what parliament had in mind when it drafted Ripa.”

A spokesperson for the Met said, “The MPS [Metropolitan police service] may employ surveillance technology as part of our continuing efforts to ensure the safety of Londoners and detect criminality. It can be a vital and highly effective investigative tool. Although we do not discuss specific technology or tactics, we can re-assure those who live and work in London that any activity we undertake is in compliance with legislation and codes of practice.”

So what do our UK readers think about the cops having the ability to remotely and wirelessly dupe your handset into giving over your mobile phone data indiscriminately and without your knowledge?

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