icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

Phoney net: UK police can blanket-track mobile phones

Phoney net: UK police can blanket-track mobile phones
Britain’s Metropolitan Police have purchased a system which can identify, track and possibly shut off every cell phone in a 10-square kilometer area. The Orwellian system has raised concerns over potential abuses and violations of privacy.

The system, produced by the company Datong, uses a special transmitter, which emits a signal masquerading that of a regular mobile network, reports The Guardian newspaper. It forces all phones in the target area to release their identification codes for both devices and SIM cards they use. It can also track those mobile phones in real time.Other equipment the company produces can intercept communications, including text messages, and force the devices to shut off from the network, presumably to prevent the use of mobile phones to trigger bombs.In addition to the Met Police, Datong lists among its clients organizations like the UK Ministry of Defence, the US Secret Service and Special Operations Command, as well as security and defense forces in the Middle Eastern countries.Human rights activists believe the system capable of blanket and indiscriminate surveillance violates privacy."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," Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch said. "Such invasive surveillance must be tightly regulated, authorized 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."Lawyer Jonathan Lennon, who specializes in cases involving covert intelligence and Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which mandates how the authorities can intercept private communication, says the system may not comply with the legislation. "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,” he said. “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."Neither the Metropolitan Police nor Datong commented to the newspaper on how the system classified as “Listed X” is used and whether or not it can be deployed during large protests and demonstrations or riots.

Dear readers and commenters,

We have implemented a new engine for our comment section. We hope the transition goes smoothly for all of you. Unfortunately, the comments made before the change have been lost due to a technical problem. We are working on restoring them, and hoping to see you fill up the comment section with new ones. You should still be able to log in to comment using your social-media profiles, but if you signed up under an RT profile before, you are invited to create a new profile with the new commenting system.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and looking forward to your future comments,

RT Team.