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They can see us, read our emails, watch our IM conversations, and now even hear us whether we want them to or not

It seems as though George Orwell hit it the bullseye again when he wrote about Big Brother and the government's way of keeping track of the general public. It has been recently revealed that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has a way of tapping a cell phone and using the microphone to listen in on nearby conversations.

The method used for listening in on conversations held by alleged members of Cosa Nostra is called a "roving bug" and was ruled to be a legal method of wiretapping by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. The bug was alledgedly used on two Nextel phones. It looks like all cellular phones are vulnerable to this sort of wiretapping according to CNet's findings:

The U.S. Commerce Department's security office warns that "a cellular telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone." An article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can "remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner's knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call."

Kaplan further added that the functionality of the roving bug was in place even when the phone was powered off -- or at least when the phone looked to be powered off.  One possible method that the FBI used to tap into the two Nextel phones is by getting the network to install a rogue firmware update which gave the agency access to such features.

Such capability has long been rumored to exist in Motorola phones after it was discovered how the 9/11 terrorists used cellular phones to coordinate most of their activities.

Still there are some skeptics who believe that this method does not exist and that the FBI had to have physically planted a bug into the cellular phone to monitor conversations. But with the recent boom of PDA phones and devices that support custom software it was only a matter of time before hackers, or the government found a way to exploit similar features.

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You guys are shocked at this?
By rushfan2006 on 12/4/2006 10:50:12 AM , Rating: 2
Honestly, after reading through comments here -- the only thing about this article that shocks me is the comments where people seem shocked that this is going on.

While I'm in the same ball park as those who generally believe ...well if I keep my nose clean I have nothing to worry about, I certainly don't like the rather uncomfortable trend that technology is undoubtly going to lead us to.

A lot of the stuff we first think is BS in the movies where people track folks using satellites and you seem them just pick a house and they can see throught he walls and stuff and actually watches a woman take a shower or whatever the case maybe. One day, if its not the case already today -- I can honestly see that being reality.

Not to be crude -- but I don't much mind when I'm in a public place and a camera is on me...but I do mind a "bit" when I'm (gonna use a clean term) "making love" to my girl or in the case of this cell phone business they are listening in to some steamy talk....I'd feel a little bit upset if I found out that kind of spying was going on.....

....after all I'd want a copy of that material for my own review.......or at least a cut of the profits. ;)

By Christopher1 on 12/5/2006 5:23:11 AM , Rating: 2
I'm wondering if the cell phone manufacturers will now fix this bug in their phones. People aren't going to buy them if the government can all of a sudden hack into their phones and listen to their conversations.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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