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back to article The mobile phone as self-inflicted surveillance

Like the breadcrumbs in Hansel and Gretel, mobile phones leave a trail wherever they go. Practically everybody can be tracked via this trail, and the beauty of it all is, we're effectively tracking ourselves. By design, phones pass their location on to local base stations. You can gauge how effectively the networks can track you …

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Black Helicopters

Tagged by choice?

Time to switch the mobile off when driving, methinks. I'd not put it past the bastards to start analysing the data for *speed* (if they're not already doing that!) and pumping out the speeding tickets. They're bound to have thought of that already, but it's not like Paw Broon & Eyebrows Darling need the extra income it would generate... Oh, wait a minute...

But, since I never, ever, ever exceed the speed limit....

"If you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear"?

Oh aye, but we ALL have *something* to hide (as far as this shower of dictatorial control freaks is concerned), that's for sure.

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Black Helicopters

I don't own one

I remember when I started uni in '97 Orange were going mad handing out handsets to everyone and it seemed everyone on my course had one, I think the cost of owning one put me off and ever since I have been mobile free, apart from two pay as you go phones I purchased on a couple of trips back packing round Australia and New Zealand. I've never felt the need for one, I can use my landline to arrange meetings or my email and if I'm going to meet someone in the pub at 7 I'll be there simple as that.

When it comes up in conversation that I don't have a mobile it used to be "how do you manage?" reply now it is slowly turning to "ohh your so lucky, I hate mine" I guess going against the states wish to be able to track us, I like being away from everyone and or everything and not having to worry about missed messages, missed calls etc. Plus where I live (just north o f York) I cant reception anyway!

I'll post this anonymously though, just because.

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Stop

eBorders & mobile phones

Hmm, they could have problems with the population of St Margerets in Kent, then, half the time you end up tied to a network in France, due to the big bloody cliff behind you making that the nearest you have line of sight to.

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Happy

Carrying a phone or living in Wales or the Lake District?

I could get arrested if I leave my power hungry iPhone charging and forget to pick it up?

Plus integrating credit cards and ID cards is being thought of at the moment too.

In Franco's Spain you had to show ID when you bought anything. I once heard an ex-policeperson say that we should emulate a fascist state and do the same here. It's already arrived in all but name. Maybe buy a SIM from a car boot sale?

Have a read of Doctorow's Little Brother, particularly the bit about data mining false positives. You need a data mining technique that is as reliable as the thing you are trying to find, or you will waste a huge amount of time and resources chasing the innocent. No, wait ...

Don't they do that already?

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Anonymous Coward

But !

The police man took my phone for taking his photo so he must have done the crime!.

seems like a good defense for tracking data evidence?

If a copper looks at the sd card on your mobile has he got to get a search warrant first?

If he is informed other peoples data is on a computer does he have to get a warrant to access those files .I don't know this is why I ask from what i gather he could be in breach of the dpa or ripa.

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Black Helicopters

Switching off AND removing battery...

...when you are not making/expecting to receive a call is a good idea.

Oh, or just get yourself a rec only pager.

If you are bothered about being stalked, that is.

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Friendly relations

So is the conclusion from Tarnac that it's ok to not have a mobile phone as long as you don't have any friends either?

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Black Helicopters

Or PAYG (bought cash, of course)

Or if your employer is slack, use a pool phone which isn't logged out to anyone in particular.

Or just use payphones.

Or don't talk to anyone. Ever. Live in the woods and forage and fish. Sleep with a shotgun.

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Anonymous Coward

heh

"Finding out other people's secrets is going to involve breaking everyday moral rules."

Nice, kind of line you'd hear from the KGB, Stassi, Securitatie and Gestapo. I'm glad we're going down such a well tested path. If it breaks "everyday moral rules" then it's illegal and they should be sent to jail for doing it, my safety isn't worth everyone elses loss of freedom.

I'm stuffed as I frequently leave my phone at home, let its batteries run out or otherwise forget its existance as I don't like being contactable 24/7 and nobody phones me I want to talk to anyway.

But it really is a good example of just how broken the UK is, you're less likely to be a victim of crime then since mass UK crime surveys started (1981) and here we are terrified of make believe crime.

Just watching the news earlier, the BBC seem to be convinced that the 12 men arrested earlier are terrorists becouse they had photographs of shopping centres. I hate to tell you this but when I visit countries I take photos of shopping centres, temples, airports, streets, leisure centres, and all kinds of places. Of course I obviously wouldn't be a terrorist becouse I'm white and able bodied but that aside. They may well have had a vast complex plot going, but the underhand mass brainwashing tactics used by the police and security services p---s me off.

The security services should keep their damn mouths shut and do their job, as to the media they should shut the hell up and wait for some god damn evidence, as opposed to rambling about every scrap of turd the spin police throw at them.

Oh I just remembered where I first heard the term "chip of s--t" it was Bad Boys.

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Dead Vulture

At last!

Well written and relevant - had to check the red-top a few times to make sure this was the Reg I was reading!

David - you're wasted on El-Reg.

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Jobs Halo

It wouldnt be so.........

bad if we in uk were Governed by a Government with morals and competence, but the fact is the Labour government dictators are FUCKING STUPID and when you look at likes of Hazel Bleary "dwarf" and David Milpede anyone with any savvy thinks to themselves "how the fuck do twats like this get to be in powee" .

Really there are not enough words to describe these people and thus I resort to 4 letters as it is how they make me feel. It perhaps might not be so bad if every time the taxpayer turns their backs these Labour thieves have their stinky hands in the till to pay for their "expenses".

Please, please ,please everyone can we all vote for a sensible moral party next time !!

I would not mind being surveilled by say the LibDems because they have some brains and morals, labour however seem to liken themselves to the East German Stasi.

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Jobs Halo

It wouldnt be so.........

bad if we in uk were Governed by a Government with morals and competence, but the fact is the Labour government dictators are FUCKING STUPID and when you look at likes of Hazel Bleary "dwarf" and David Milpede anyone with any savvy thinks to themselves "how the fuck do twats like this get to be in powee" .

Really there are not enough words to describe these people and thus I resort to 4 letters as it is how they make me feel. It perhaps might not be so bad if every time the taxpayer turns their backs these Labour thieves have their stinky hands in the till to pay for their "expenses".

Please, please ,please everyone can we all vote for a sensible moral party next time !!

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Paris Hilton

Don't blame the technology.

This is clearly a social problem, not a technological one. Technology used for communication and observation is the tool, not the hand that tries it. If there are too many arrests for silly laws such as the border-crossing tracker, which would not catch a wary criminal, then there will be public outcry to change it. If there were not enough police officers watching the fraudulent activities on the wires, more funding would be funneled to change that.

State-spying on the people is nothing new, and is often practical, but what they are looking for is not often what the people want them to find. Change the laws democratically rather than scapegoating the spy technology.

Sorry for my English. Paris is mobile related.

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Silver badge

FCUK MI. Whatever Next from Ministries of Funny Talks and Sinecure Quangos

There are a number of points which I would wish to share about that article.

The most relevant one being why do Spooky Clandestine Forces NOT act upon Information Clearly and Directly provided to them and to Government Agencies and Ministers about MODifiable Technologies and Abilities which are Significantly Dual Use and Future Perfect and XXXXStreamly Valuable .... rather than Ignoring it to the Point of an Arrogant Stupidity* which Evolves into such Pervasive and Subversive Submissions and Pathetic Ignorant Presumptions of Guilt Premises for Creation of a Police type Fascist State as have been aired in the article. It is Moronic and Self Defeating to say the Least and suggests a Psychologically Flawed Leadership Role Modeling with Zero Credible Viable Vision ..... and quite typical of the Manic Depressive Idiot Savant in Need of Acute and Asute Help and Wiser and Wwwider and Much More XXXXPerienced Guidance.

And if it is expected that one uses a mobile phone then one should quite naturally be provided for free and also maintained for free and fit for the purpose to which the subject would wish to put it. If there is a dotted line, then please put my name down for the most super duper, all singing all dancing, everything including the kitchen sink model.... with regular New Model Army upgrades. Thanks. Anything less would be a Travesty and a Gross Invasion and Assault upon Human Rights by a Terrorist Cell, which would have Al Qaeda writ large and written all over it.

And if that was a Phish, there is some Bait for whoever would Beta Benefit from ITs Hook, Line and Sinker.

* Arrogant Stupidity only leads Novel Information to Quite Naturally Seek Smarter Foreign Fields for Development and Deployment.

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Black Helicopters

No More Presumption of Innocence

As the article says, this is another example of "nothing to hide, nothing to fear". It means we have to continually demonstrate our innocence, which means we no longer have the right (in practice) to be presumed innocent.

"If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide." Therefore, if you're behaving like you're hiding something, you must have done something wrong, or are in the process of doing something wrong. So, unless we actively comply with allowing ourselves to be tracked, traced, monitored, surveillanced, databased, filed, refiled, cross-referenced, etc, etc, we are suspected of having something to hide. Then we're suspects.

For some time now, I've feared that if I use things like Tor, email encryption, etc, to protect my privacy, I'll fall under suspicion. Does that sound paranoid? Or does it mean that I'm letting the State scare me into surrendering my privacy?

Having to continually demonstrate our innocence by continually complying with such Stasi State stalking is simply not consistent with our right, as innocent people, not to have to prove our innocence. The right to be presumed innocent surely means we shouldn't have to keep demonstrating our innocence. So the fact that we're now expected to continually demonstrate our innocence means that we are no longer presumed innocent.

We are all suspects, all the time, presumed to be up to no good unless we show we're innocent.

Black helicopter, because it's the closest we've got to an Orwellian icon.

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The Mobile Matrix For A Brave New World

The perfect totalitarian society is one which is enforced by the people themselves.

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Stop

OMG I must be terrrrrist!

because I haven't switched on my mobile phone for months!

This surveillance lark is getting out of hand, the potential accusation of something to hide is only because you use a communication method they can't "wiretap", ie talking face to face with people in private places (homes).

So on that note, anyone fancy setting up a network of carrier pigeons? use em to send PGP encrypted notes and that should be pretty secure against "wiretapping".

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Anonymous Coward

The future

The new generation of VOIP and 3G phones have cameras. Only software switches off and on those cameras and microphones. There is no physical disconnect. Phones can have their software remotely updated now too.

So it only takes a flick of a switch to turn the modern phone into a bugging device.

So, from that it follows that suspects will have their phones bugged whenever they need investigating. It follows that these are suspects not convicted people, so many will be innocent people. Over time the idea of the state listening on innocent people's conversation will become the norm and ever more common. See the growth in RIPAs.

Over time, *not* being monitored will become the *exception*.

IMHO, the fix is to be required to inform people whenever they were bugged, their private details obtained or other privacy violation.

That they will then realize the true horror that power mad politicians have created behind their backs and will eject those politicians from power. Likewise all CCTV camera should be painted luminescent orange stripes and have blinking lights on them to warn people they are there. All microphones on CCTV cameras should also beep to warn people when their conversation is being recorded.

What a sh*t future it is, but at least we can eject the people who created it from office.

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Flame

Whatever happened to Presumption of Innocence???

I have a mobile phone, but I very rarely carry it on because it is simply for *MY* convenience!

I don't need people to be able to contact me instantly, I don't need to get the latest gossip without delay, I don't need to be able to text someone or twitter whatever vague thoughts happen to be passing through my head at any particular moment...

I do carry it when I'm on my motorbike just in case I break down. I do carry it if I'm visiting someone and I'm running late. I do carry it if it is to my benefit.

If the State is going to track me whilst using it, then I'll keep the damn thing switched off unless and until *I* choose to use it!

Presumed innocence? Nope, it seems it's now Presumed Guilty if the State can't monitor my every movement...

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The US

Considering Obama's love for wiretapping, I wonder how long before we will have this in the US.

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Anonymous Coward

Cunning plan

1. Buy mobile

2. Leave it at home

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Anonymous Coward

Time for a 'no mobile' week

Hmmm, I can think of an excellent way to stick two fingers up at Wacky Jacqui and the other proponents of this bullshit.

The whole country should switch off and leave their mobiles at home for one whole week which should send the authorities into a state of panic.

When you are stopped by an officer (or maybe they'll mobilise the Army), tell them that you are reclaiming your civil liberties.

I mean they cant lock all of us up.

Time these tossers remembered they are public servants, not the other way round.

Posted anonymously because free speech is endangered in Communist Britain.

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Paris Hilton

Breadcrumbs....

iRobot reference, very droll...

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WOOHOO

I would be considered a terrorist if i lived in Germany or France due to not wanting a mobile piece of crap (aka a cellphone).

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Black Helicopters

Has Jacqui got a database yet..

of people who don't have one?

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RW
Flame

It's just a bunch of common busy-body snoops

The use of the phrase "data mining" is the clue. No right-thinking person uses that phrase.

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Re: Breadcrumbs....

Actually, it is a reference to the children's nursery story "Hansel and Gretel".

Regarding the phone surveillance and the presumption of innocense, well I'm fscked--my old phone stopped working last year; I closed my account a few months ago and haven't bothered buying a new phone.

-dZ.

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email retention

But surely all I have to do to defeat the email tracking i have my own smtp server and use tls, any halfwit can rent a virtual server, follow howtoforge.com and keep no logs. Now if you monitored the server somehow you might find the destination host but if you are sending to hotmail or gmail how will that help.

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Thumb Up

Even more cunning plan...

Get a mobile registered to yourself.

Leaving it switched on and fully charged, stick it in a jiffi bag, put your Return To address on the back and on the front, a fictitious address in some remote part of Scotland. Scottish postie fails to deliver it and it gets sent back to you a few days later. Charge it up, change the address to a remote part of Wales, get it back, charge it up, post it out to some other place in, say, Kent. Etc, etc...

You then have a perfect e-alibi, I can't have been at the crime scene, I was in Scotland, Wales, Kent or wherever - look, check my phone records...

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beat them at their own game

Buy yourself a nice contract phone, with all your juicy completely traceable details ... then leave it at home switched on and plugged into the charger ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Matches my advice for VIPs..

When I coach people on electronic footprint awareness, about the first and simplest bits of advice is to NEVER take a mobile phone to a VIP or private banking client meeting.

The motives are simple:

- you don't lay a trace to your client (i.e. authorities or telco insiders with press connections don't get data that can be abused)

- you don't take a potential bug into a confidential meeting (look it up if you want, some phones can be remote enabled)

Yes, I said "don't take it with you", not "switch it off prior to meeting". Apart from human error issues there is also the question if a phone switched "off" is really off. I have found a few instances where I had questions about that status.

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Anonymous Coward

Nightmare UK

The way the UK has changed over the last few years into a surveillance state that would be the envy of East Germany is frightening. I really do think it will push the people of this country into revolt, not tomorrow, but certainly within the next decade. The way all this surveillance is justified- look at those new camera vehicles designed to catch 'distracted' drivers in Manchester! If not possessing mobile phones will become suspicious does that mean ways of avoiding surveillance like Tor or Track-Me-Not (if they are effective) also make us 'criminals'?

I am skeptical about the the so-called Easter terrorist plot. My own suspicion is that the suspects will either be released or be charged with lesser (e.g. immigration) offenses. I don't think they will find any explosives. Remember those arrests before the G20 in Plymouth? Some headlines mentioned a 'bomb 'plot'! Well they were all released without charge. Makes you wonder...

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stupid..

Its nice to leave your mobile at home sometimes. Good feeling knowing that you won't get a txt/ring from work.

It shouldn't be grounds for arrest.

I mean if you WERE serious about covering your tracks, you would load it full of false details or give it to a mate to carry round and lead the law enforcement on the wrong tracks.

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Black Helicopters

Do we trust the police?

"So public trust in the essential reasonableness of UK police, security and intelligence agency activity will continue to be essential."

That statement seems to suggest that the issuer is completely deluded. Public trust in these agencies has been lost already. Mistrust is now forming and apparent where ordinary conversation speaks of our authorities in hushed and fearful tones. Not at some radical tree-hugger camp in the woods though. But in everyday conversation by what would be termed "ordinary people".

If our politicians want some more food for thought they should consider listening to what the youth and children think. The kids are more even fearful of the Police than even their parents. Each one has an anecdote of a fearful encounter with an officer.

Of course, this all started to set the rot in when the Police actually started to believe that we, their paying public masters, were all to be mistrusted. You reap what you sow.

Copters? Oh yes indeed, very much so.

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Happy

We need to change the way we govern ourselves!

The real question is… Who gets the most benefit from this technology?

Do we really need to communicate with our contacts instantly? The answer of course is that we did not have mobile technology at all (apart from braces wearing city folk) until the mid 1990’s and we survived very well for thousands of years before this. So the benefit is at best, marginal.

However, because the “authorities” are hell-bent on continuous surveillance and ordinary folk are becoming irritated by the emergence of the police state, we need to find a solution, and just switching these devices off is rather Luddite and won't work anyway, because they will think of something else. When the Romanians had finally had enough of Ceauşescu, it was because he had been working against the interests of the people that he had been ruling and no guns, police or armies can stop a determined people from overthrowing or modifying the behaviour of government.

In a so-called “democratic” country, we have the concession of being able to vote for a new form of government (not so easy in a personality led dictatorship), so we need to create a political party that is prepared to change the way we do things and then vote for them, en-masse.

A good model, though not perfect, is the form of government that is operated in Switzerland. This form of government is maintained by a system called “direct-democracy”. Here, the people control the government, and power rises bottom-up from the lowest common denominator, which is the individual. It must work, because they have been using it peacefully for more than 700 years, and everyone (in their mainly Germanic way) seems to be reasonably happy.

The top-tier of government still acts in an arbitrary manner at times, but the people smack them down with a vote (not of no confidence) but NO, you can’t do this creepy thing (whatever it is), and they go away and think of something else. There are so many benefits to this form of government, that it beats me, why we have not got it in more places, after all, there are far more reasonable folk about than there are "Millipede or Blears" types. The central government is a permanent coalition of conservatives, socialists and greens, and they rarely take a step too far. The people have stopped the government from joining the EU or creating a standing army on many occasions, because they know that they like their boring, peaceful lives, and what is more, the Swiss are the most prosperous people on the earth, and yet, apart from snow, they have no natural resources.

One more thing, this form of government is cheap, most taxes in Switzerland are raised for the benefit of people (they have one of the most comprehensive welfare systems on earth), not for the benefit of government, the central government is actually part time, they only meet four times a year, the rest of the time they do “proper jobs”, and this effect can be seen right down to street (commune) level.

What we need, is a political party that has never operated the normal levers of power that is willing to introduce this form of direct democracy. Step forward, the UK Independence Party, it is already in every manifesto that they have produced, and it is why the powers in this country go to great efforts to smear them with labels, like racist, or far right (fascist!) and try to compare them to BNP at every opportunity. They are nothing of the kind, they are ordinary folk, some traditional liberals and conservatives, and some socialists and hang ‘em and flog ‘em types, and they are all focussed on a couple of things, getting out of the EU, the precursor to freedom, and then changing the way we govern our newly re-acquired nation.

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Sir David Ormand. A misquote

"So public trust in the essential reasonableness of UK police, security and intelligence agency activity will continue to be essential."

should read

"So public perception in the essential reasonableness of UK police, security and intelligence agency activity will continue to be essential."

The EU Data Retention Directive requires call and email records be available *only* for the purposes of national security. It *does* not mandate they be placed in a monster database for the perusal of every jobsworth with some kind of semi-official law enforcement role.

Bottom line. Does he really believe "data mining" will find terrorists? The US research does not think it will work. Or does he just want to be able to monitor anyone, any time?

It begins with "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear." It ends with the KGB's "We never make mistakes."

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Stop

@ AC, 17:18 12/04/09

<< Each one has an anecdote of a fearful encounter with an officer. >>

Each one? EACH one? When you say 'the kids', I assume you mean YOUR kids? I know several children who have never, to my knowledge at least, had a 'fearful encounter with an officer' - or indeed, any encounter with the police at all. I know one kid who's had a fairly positive and beneficial encounter with an officer.

What're these kids of yours up to that they're all having encounters with the police anyway?

<< Of course, this all started to set the rot in when the Police actually started to believe that we, their paying public masters, were all to be mistrusted. You reap what you sow. >>

It could be argued that at least some of the problems started to arise when some people got hold of the misconception that because they Pay Their Taxes, that makes each police officer their personal employee. While that might be nice, it's not the way it works. The police serve a community, and it's the community - via its elected representatives - that should in theory control the actions and attitudes of the police.

And there's one of the big problems that we miss out when we jump on the trendy police-bashing bandwagon. Sure, there are police officers who are incompetent, police officers motivated by the power that comes with the uniform, police officers who're completely corrupt. And yes, they need to be weeded out. But if commenters like AC would like some food for thought, it might be worth considering that fighting the seat of the fire is always more effective than attacking the flames. Whether the police are running a deliberate and organised campaign to oppress us or not, the powers they're using come from the *government*, composed as it is of ministers drawn from the political party that we supposedly elected.

It's one of the fundamental failings of democracy that you will only ever be ruled by people who want to rule you.

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Alien

Trust? Reasonableness?

"public trust in the essential reasonableness of UK police, security and intelligence agency activity will continue to be essential"

PUBLIC TRUST does not exist any more.

I do not trust the police, i do not trust the government, and tbh i dont trust anyone.

I wish that we could step back to 1997 and ensure these fools didnt get in and destroy the fabric of our society.

An Alien, because any REASONABLE person would never have let things get this bad.

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uh huh

Decided to stop getting ripped off by the mobile phone operators about 2 years ago. I also cultivate good relations with my neighbours, because it's the right thing to do.

I guess that means I'm a terrorist.

Fucking police state, and we're fucking letting them do it too.

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My Choice

I choose freedom over safety.

Thankyou.

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Trust?

"...public trust in the essential reasonableness of UK police... will continue to be essential."

Well, that's that blown out of the water then.

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Alert

Still Crazy

All you guys who think the conservatives are going to roll back the police state.....you have a nasty surprise coming. Ask anyone over the age of forty.

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Paris Hilton

Less worried than some

The key to me is that having a mobile is voluntary (and also, that nothing attaches "your" mobile to your person). It's intrinsic in the technology that the network has to know where the phone is.

As long as I can leave my phone at home or in the office (which I do quite often even though I didn't intend to), let the battery go flat, lend it to a friend, lose it on a train, I'm not too bothered about it. Unlike, say, compulsory ID cards, without which I'd be prevented from operating a bank account, buying a travel ticket, and possibly a few years later, prevented from buying food. The day they make a mobile phone compulsory or start saying that proof of mobile location equals proof of person's location, is the day I lose mine forever and hope that a few million other folks do likewise.

By the way, for anyone more paranoid than myself, I'd suggest tinfoil or a tobacco tin (if the latter still exist). Wrap the phone or pop it in the tin, and it's off the air even if it has been turned into a bugging device. Obviously such a phone would be useful only for outgoing calls at times and places of your choice. And incoming texts, which get stored until the phone becomes active.

Don't trust the off switch, and even removing the battery might not be all that you hope it is.

By the way, real criminals know how to clone phones. I hope that the police know this. Make sure that your defense lawyer does if it ever comes to that.

Does Paris ever put her mobile down and forget where?

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Black Helicopters

Hands-free driving

@dervheid

Driving while using a phone is a safety hazard, so *of course* you switch off your phone when you get into the car... it would be irresponsible to do otherwise, right? They can't lock you up for following the rules, can they?... can they?

@Haku

http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc1149.html

but then you'll have an IP address, and they can always try traffic analysis. Watch out for a suspicious rise in the numbers of ornithologists... in black helicopters.

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oops, we're in the shite now...

they've read Ben Elton's 'Blind Faith' and are using it as a blue print...

we should examine Jaqui & Hazel's expense claims for gillette products ;-)

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effective communication

The mobile communication in the UK is carried out by the leading service providers. the mobile phones have become essential in our lives. unlike any other multi-functional gadgets, the developments in this front has beed quite amazing. Besides being the communication medium these handsets provide information as well as multimedia capabilities at the click of a buttom.

source .. http://www.mobilerainbow.org

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