Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Governments can use mobile phones to spy on citizens

The recent upturn in several countries ruled by monarchs, dictators or single party governments where in some way citizens felt discriminated was fueled by social networks which formed, consolidated and communicated citizen opinion locally, nationally and internationally. The online platforms helped organize street protests and influence international opinion through mass circulation of cell phone images of violence, fervor and military crack downs.
The world and indeed most of these governments were unaware of the impact this new order of communication could have. Last minute attempts to crack down by blocking or sniffing Facebook communications in Tunisia or the attempt to shut down the Internet in Egypt were unsuccessful.
Governments learn quickly. I would not be surprised if there are ongoing attempts by a few to turn the one piece of technology that billions of people carry around; the mobile phone into a sophisticated spying device.
So just what can be done,
I wrote in several posts that all forms of communications; messages and phone calls could be spied upon by governments using existing machinery at telecom exchanges. In addition, a mobile phone can be used to track your location or a group gathering on streets or in homes. Do not be surprised if in the next few years, mobile phones (in some countries) come preloaded with software that turns it into a bug to listen in on private conversations.
So it turns out that carrying a mobile phone at all times may not be a good idea. But in a year or so this technology will not only in the phone, but in TV’s and cars too. Technologies that can potential invade life is at hand.
The only prevention is a strong judiciary, constitution and democracy. 

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