Tag Archives | Telephone

U.S. Secretly Tracked Billions Of Calls For Decades

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Did you think it was just the NSA that was tracking your phone calls? Turns out that the US Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have been doing it for decades in furtherance of the so-called war on drugs, reports USA Today:

The U.S. government started keeping secret records of Americans’ international telephone calls nearly a decade before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, harvesting billions of calls in a program that provided a blueprint for the far broader National Security Agency surveillance that followed.

For more than two decades, the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed logs of virtually all telephone calls from the USA to as many as 116 countries linked to drug trafficking, current and former officials involved with the operation said. The targeted countries changed over time but included Canada, Mexico and most of Central and South America.

Federal investigators used the call records to track drug cartels’ distribution networks in the USA, allowing agents to detect previously unknown trafficking rings and money handlers.

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How To Make A Secret Phone Call


Photo: pug50 (CC)

Keeping your phone calls private is insanely difficult as Fast Company‘s DJ Pangburn finds out from Curtis Wallen:

…Amid pervasive sensors, drones, and data collection, making a private phone call can be a Herculean task.

Nevertheless, Wallen thinks it can be done—in short, by using a prepaid “burner” phone, posting its phone number publicly on Twitter as an encrypted message, and waiting for your partner to decrypt the message and call you at a later time.

His step-by-step instructions for making a clandestine phone call are as follows:

  1. Analyze your daily movements, paying special attention to anchor points (basis of operation like home or work) and dormant periods in schedules (8-12 p.m. or when cell phones aren’t changing locations);
  2. Leave your daily cell phone behind during dormant periods and purchase a prepaid no-contract cell phone (“burner phone”);
  3. After storing burner phone in a Faraday bag, activate it using a clean computer connected to a public Wi-Fi network;
  4. Encrypt the cell phone number using a onetime pad (OTP) system and rename an image file with the encrypted code.
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How Encryption Works To Protect Your Email, IM and Phone Calls

Public-key-crypto-1“One interesting thing we learned from Snowden: ‘Encryption works,'” writes Jon Evans, explaining your various options for encrypting email, instant messaging and phone calls at Techcrunch:

Everyone is worried about the wrong things. Since Edward Snowden exposed the incipient NSA panopticon, the civil libertarians are worried that their Internet conversations and phone metadata are being tracked; the national-security conservatives claim to be worried that terrorists will start hiding their tracks; but both sides should really be worried about different things entirely.

Online surveillance is the one kind that can actually be stopped. One interesting thing we learned from Snowden: “Encryption works.” Right now almost all Internet traffic is completely unencrypted, or badly encrypted, or only encrypted until it reaches the first set of servers, or your host encrypts all data with the same key. But these are all, in theory, solvable problems.

If we don’t want governments (or anyone else) spying on our Internet traffic and our phone conversations, then we can stop them from doing so.

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Phone With ‘Human Touch’ Developed In Japan

PhoneIn case video chat wasn’t realistic enough for you. Via Brisbane Times:

Japanese researchers say they have developed a human-shaped mobile phone with a skin-like outer layer that enables users to feel closer to those on the other end.

“The mobile phone may feel like the person you are talking to,” the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) said in a press release, describing the gadget as a “revolutionary telecom medium”.

The project is a collaboration between Osaka University, the mobile telephone operator NTT DoCoMo and other institutes.

They hope to put it into commercial production within five years by adding image and voice recognition functions.

[Continues at Brisbane Times]

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