London Police Using Surveillance System to Monitor Mobile Phones

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A woman on her mobile next to a police cordon during protests in London in 2010. The Metropolitan police have purchased technology to track all handsets in a targeted area. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Here’s an article from the Guardian.


Met police using surveillance system to monitor mobile phones

Civil liberties group raises concerns over Met police purchase of technology to track public handsets over a targeted area

A woman on her mobile next to a police cordon during protests in London in 2010. The Metropolitan police have purchased technology to track all handsets in a targeted area. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Britain’s largest police force is operating covert surveillance technology that can masquerade as a mobile phone network, transmitting a signal that allows authorities to shut off phones remotely, intercept communications and gather data about thousands of users in a targeted area.

The surveillance system has been procured by the Metropolitan police from Leeds-based company Datong plc, which counts the US Secret Service, the Ministry of Defence and regimes in the Middle East among its customers. Strictly classified under government protocol as “Listed X”, it can emit a signal over an area of up to an estimated 10 sq km, forcing hundreds of mobile phones per minute to release their unique IMSI and IMEI identity codes, which can be used to track a person’s movements in real time.

The disclosure has caused concern among lawyers and privacy groups that large numbers of innocent people could be unwittingly implicated in covert intelligence gathering. The Met has refused to confirm whether the system is used in public order situations, such as during large protests or demonstrations.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, warned the technology could give police the ability to conduct “blanket and indiscriminate” monitoring: “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,” he said. “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,” he said.

Datong’s website says its products are designed to provide law enforcement, military, security agencies and special forces with the means to “gather early intelligence in order to identify and anticipate threat and illegal activity before it can be deployed”.

The company’s systems, showcased at the DSEi arms fair in east London last month, allow authorities to intercept SMS messages and phone calls by secretly duping mobile phones within range into operating on a false network, where they can be subjected to “intelligent denial of service”. This function is designed to cut off a phone used as a trigger for an explosive device.

A transceiver around the size of a suitcase can be placed in a vehicle or at another static location and operated remotely by officers wirelessly. Datong also offers clandestine portable transceivers with “covered antennae options available”. Datong sells its products to nearly 40 countries around the world, including in Eastern Europe, South America, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. In 2009 it was refused an export licence to ship technology worth £0.8m to an unnamed Asia Pacific country, after the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills judged it could be used to commit human rights abuses.

A document seen by the Guardian shows the Metropolitan police paid £143,455 to Datong for “ICT hardware” in 2008/09. In 2010 the 37-year-old company, which has been publicly listed since October 2005, reported its pro forma revenue in the UK was £3.9m, and noted that “a good position is being established with new law enforcement customer groups”. In February 2011 it was paid £8,373 by Hertfordshire Constabulary according to a transaction report released under freedom of information.

Between 2004 and 2009 Datong won over $1.6 (£1.03m) in contracts with US government agencies, including the Secret Service, Special Operations Command and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In February 2010 the company won a £750,000 order to supply tracking and location technology to the US defence sector. Official records also show Datong entered into contracts worth more than £500,000 with the Ministry of Defence in 2009.

All covert surveillance is currently regulated under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which states that to intercept communications a warrant must be personally authorised by the home secretary and be both necessary and proportionate. The terms of Ripa allow phone calls and SMS messages to be intercepted in the interests of national security, to prevent and detect serious crime, or to safeguard the UK’s economic wellbeing.

Latest figures produced by the government-appointed interception of communications commissioner, Sir Paul Kennedy, show there were 1,682 interception warrants approved by the home secretary in 2010. Public authorities can request other communications data – such as the date, time and location a phone call was made – without the authority of the home secretary. In 2010, 552,550 such requests were made, averaging around 1,500 per day.

Barrister Jonathan Lennon, who specialises in cases involving covert intelligence and Ripa, said the Met’s use of the Datong surveillance system raised significant legislative questions about proportionality and intrusion into privacy.

“How can a device which invades any number of people’s privacy be proportionate?” he said. “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.”

Former detective superintendent Bob Helm, who had the authority to sign off Ripa requests for covert surveillance during 31 years of service with Lancashire Constabulary, said: “It’s all very well placed in terms of legislation … when you can and can’t do it. It’s got to be legal and obviously proportionate and justified. If you can’t do that, and the collateral implications far outweigh the evidence you’re going to get, well then you just don’t contemplate it.”

In May the Guardian revealed the Met had purchased software used to map suspects’ digital movements using data gathered from social networking sites, satnav equipment, mobile phones, financial transactions and IP network logs. The force said the software was being tested using “dummy data” to explore how it could be used to examine “police vehicle movements, crime patterns and telephone investigations.”

The Met would not comment on its use of Datong technology or give details of where or when it had been used.

A spokesman 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.”

A spokesman for the Home Office said covert surveillance was kept under “constant review” by the chief surveillance commissioner, Sir Christopher Rose, who monitors the conduct of authorities and ensures they are complying with the appropriate legislation.

He added: “Law enforcement agencies are required to act in accordance with the law and with the appropriate levels of authorisation for their activity.”

Datong declined to comment.
– The Guardian, Met police using surveillance system to monitor mobile phones

 

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45 Comments on "London Police Using Surveillance System to Monitor Mobile Phones"

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They know who you are even on an anonymous burner phone. They now from your calling patterns. Who you call, when, etc.

So the only real privacy is carry NO PHONE at all. Especially when you’re not wanting to be tracked.

Mankind lasted for thousands, maybe millions of years without carrying a phone everywhere.

We can do it!

Let's all organise and kill dem fools. Add me…

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Well it's not really a "secret society" its more a "society with secrets." Everybody thinks they can disprove the Illuminati by saying "If they are a secret society why are they symbols so blatant? Anybody can join but not everyone makes it to the top…

t3chnology will last forever but i wont.

the future of technology is already here, the government is just hiding it

thats why we are living in a "secret society"

where are those bastards, someone help me find them with a (8) video phone (8)?

The government has always been way, WAY ahead of the citizens. I wouldn't be surprised if they are doing this here in the US right now. The way I see it, when something like this goes mainstream, it's because they want it to! We have to think about what is it that they are keeping secret now? Every new gadget and all new technology can be used against us.

-The end is near.

They were already doing this, and have been for a long time. Dont let them fool you, there just being a little open with us, not that they have to we dont have a choice. I live in the uk, and I can honestly say I cant wait to leave this place, I dont think many people understand how corrupt and racist this country is.

why has the UK been almost lightyears ahead of most countries in terms of surveying of it's citizens?

All of this surveillance is very worrying for the ordinary law abiding citizen and personally I think the authorities are going too far with all of these security measures. There really isn't any privacy anymore.

Look…here's the deal…this is not new. Has been in use for over 7 years. The fact that it is now making the news means that it is old tech and there is already better stuff in use.

If you are not comfortable with someone (especially government) knowing what you are up to don't carry a cell phone.

So many people act like facebook is the enemy…just a big government database….but they use their phone's on a regular basis. The cell phone is the single greatest tracking device ever created and can literally be used to track you whether you submit to it or not.

Summerlyn, it is all about creating an atmosphere reminiscent of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. This is worse, however, because it isn't just the sycophants lapping at their master's hand that are reporting 'thought crimes' to ingratiate themselves to the machine, now the machine is able to watch and predict our every move (if we are tied into the net). They have created an atmosphere of fear and distrust, a tyranny. The gov't and the powers that be stopped fearing the members of society along time ago, because they were emboldened by the fact that they continued to get away with their _____(fill in the blank). It has all been masterfully planned and executed. Also, 'they' created the myth of the brown-skinned, Allah worshipping boogie man (after all 'they' were the ones behind all of the terrorism). Now the blond-haired, blue-eyed are the new terrorist threat (remember Breivik, another… Read more »

What's with all the invasion of privacy? Oh to protect my freedom!–oh, wait….

Amazing article as always,VC!
So,are there any kinds of cellphones that can't be tracked somehow?If anyone here knows,I'd appreciate it if you can tell me.

It all depends on what you mean by "tracked" Monica. All mobile phones can be "pinged" (their location identified within about 300 metres of the nearest mobile phone mast) if they are turned on. This involves the service provider sending a silent signal to the phone to which the phone responds. This is usually done by Police when investigating missing persons who they think may have been abducted for example. The only way to avoid this is to put the phone in a "Faraday Cage", an example of which are the signal blocking pouches you can buy on Ebay for a few dollars. Some people will tell you to turn the phone off and take the battery out: this is wrong, especially in modern phones, which contain a small secondary battery which keeps functions like the clock running. However, "pinging" is a one-time locator, you cant track someones movements like… Read more »

Yes, you can start supporting those who have been against the government from the beginning. No criminal is going to ask you for your ID/Social security bullshit. They will sell you a phone/TV/Watches/Cutlery/laptops/ etc. etc. etc. with no questions asked. Don't buy any s**t in any store, always pay cash, and support criminals. They wil lstill be able to track the phone, but they won't know who you are.

Or try this phone, I am 100% positive they won't be able to track you with it. comment image)” rel=”nofollow”>comment image)

My phone that can do nothing but make calls and send messages is wonderful. One of those Vodafone bottom feeders. Little guy can't be tracked, even in it's wildest dreams. (Not that tracking is big in South Africa)

we have it for years in the Netherlands. we're one of the moest spied countries of the world.

zijn we dat, ja?

They way it works is gradual incrementalism. People aren't afraid because they think they can manage the problem. Then out of nowhere huge change of scale. Nuclear false flag over the holidays followed by whatever the 144 dead microbiologists were expert in. Elites already in their bunkers and the peons above have no water, food or energy. Depopulation time.

Well as the media seems to be getting a technical erection over the fact that the world population has exceeded 7 billion,I think we need to start worrying about the more drastic forms of depopulation 'they' will implement,P+L

Part of the agenda is to reduce the population to 500 thousand so no problem for the elites, they've planned everything after all.

It cld be that they're going to use mobiles to try & reduce the ppl. Anyone seen Snoop dogs 'GGN news' on utube? look it up , he has a chat about 'conspiracy theories' he's gone up a notch in my estimations! : )

"I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones." (Albert Einstein)

good thing my phone broke. :p the only form of comm for me is my 3ds. haha. but this is getting crazy. :/ im living perfectly fine without one. :] if they wanna track me the they'll have to buy me a phone. lol

After this they will pass a law that they can watch you through your HD tv's. What I don't understand is, if "they" have all the freaking money and power why the heck do they care what we are talking about. They claim that the people that blow things up are dead or hiding in caves. If someone was going to talk about doing some big time damage do they think that they would be in public talking about it? I think that they just have itching ears and nothing more. Can't even fart without someone listen in on it.

well lets go back to having beepers/pagers lol…..but there are untraceable cell phones available i know someone who has one…but im getting sick of all this bullsht i wish Jesus would come down to earth already id rather be with him and God…..geez if its not one thing its another.

wow i cant even start how stupid ppl are being thease days they think this is a myth well i have one thing to say…..OPEN YOUR EYES WORLD!!!

I agree with the last poster. I was talking to one of my friends today. Unless I am going to give up my cell phone addiction, they will be able to track me. I could move into the woods, but I am not ready for the move yet. The older the phones the safer they are– 1970's. Satellite phones might give one 30 seconds before they track. I used to not have a cellphone. I think I will return to that in time. The problem with the elite is their egos. All their control techniques will never enable them to control 7 billion– (they are not God).

We're in the matrix, It's time to unplug.

If nobody stops them, then we brought this on ourselves.

There is nothing to stop here. Your either on the grid or off the grid. We're going back to the days of word of mouth as the only safe way to do things. Several months ago I was at a bachelor party, the only 3 rules – don't do anything you'd regret the next day, let someone else in the party do the same, and no cellphones. It was the boss who made the rules because he wanted make sure no one jeopardized their job because internet posts taken out of context- The next phase is going to be using to be monitoring mobile phones for pre-crimes or thought crimes saying things anti-establishment or politically incorect. The last straw will be fining people for profanity- censorship through tax, fines, and law enforcement. This will include monitoring even when the phone is not in use but still on. Finally that will… Read more »

Why do you want to leave the UK? It's the best country in North Europe.

this is scary stuff. makes me wonder if I could live without my phone, makes me want to leave the uk even more…but.. probably nowhere to hide!

I wouldn't be surprised if that's why blackberry went off for a couple of days… They're probably busy updating their "spyware" lol

Also most modern smartphone have rfid tracking, use older phones to avoid that, sure they will still have trackable sim cards but at least you can keep changing the sim cards while with a smartphone the rfid would not be removable.

Yep, that's why I have my trust nokia 1x. It's a bit heavy but there's no way the government's gonna be tracking me.

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