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Government wants to know if phone surveilance tech is being abused

Chris Velazco, @chrisvelazco
August 12, 2014
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This boxy, unassuming thing you see above is what's called an IMSI catcher. In essence, they pose as miniature cell towers that mobile devices connect to and route things through. All of that information - phone numbers, call recipient, caller location - are fair game to whomever controls that box. Concerning, no? Using one of these things is usually the purview of law enforcement agencies, but the FCC is getting a little concerned that they're being used by some unsavory types - specifically, gangs and foreign governments. To that end (and after some prompting from Florida congressman Alan Grayson), the Commission has put together a task force to get a better sense of just who's using these things and stop "llicit and unauthorized use" of such hardware. If we're being honest, Congressman Grayson is just a little late to the game: the EFF has been railing against these things for years, calling the widespread searches they're capable of conducting "unconstitutional, all you can eat data buffets". Ah well, better late than never - we'll just have to see what the FCC unearths in the weeks and months to come.

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