Mobile Phones

Mobile phone tracking

A service has launched in the UK which allows you to track any mobile phone around the globe and follow its movements from your own computer. A national newspaper ran a feature on it in Feb 2006. It painted a scary picture.

When a mobile number is entered onto a website, a text message is sent to that phone, to ask if the person carrying the phone wishes to be tracked. If consent is given by reply, the company will show the location of the mobile phone on a map or as a map reading, using a Google Maps-based interface. The accuracy is between 50 and 500 metres depending on the network. When the phone moves, the movement can be monitored online whenever the phone is turned on.
The system can be accessed through either a PC or mobile phone with internet access. It works with mobiles on the Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile and Orange networks. READ THIS FOR DETAILS

The system is targeting parents who want to keep an eye on their children’s movements; businesses wanting to track their workers; lone workers, who feel more secure if someone else knows where they are; and anyone else who has ever lost a mobile phone – giving reassurance that their phone can be located more easily.
But in the article, a freelance writer revealed a sinister side to the service. He signed up – for £5 plus VAT – and he provided his girlfriend’s phone number. He lives with her and said he needed her phone for just five minutes to initiate the tracking.

According to his article, the first message read: “[name] has requested to add you to their Buddy List! To accept, simply reply to this message with ‘LOCATE'” He replied from her phone as instructed and another text arrived: “WARNING: [this service] allows other people to know where you are. For your own safety make sure that you know who is locating you.”

He deleted these messages and tracking began.

The company follows an industry Code of Practice for the use of location data. It was pointed out that a breach of the Ofcom-endorsed Code would result in the mobile networks withdrawing their services from them. The Mobile Broadband Group has drawn up a voluntary code of conduct which the networks in the UK ask location providers to stick to.

One of the conditions of the code is that after a phone is registered as a tracking device, reminder texts should be sent to the phone at random intervals. This way, it should be impossible for a malicious tracker to intercept every reminder. The problem is, those random reminders are not required to be sent very frequently.

The Code of Practice states:

“Subsequent to activation, the [location service provider] must send periodic SMS alerts to all locatees to remind them that their mobile phone can be located by other parties. These alerts should be sent at random intervals, not in a set pattern. The suggested text and minimum standard frequency for sending the alerts is set out in Annex D (Annex D is not believed to be available outside the industry).”

If the company is following the code, it is probably doing all that is necessary to comply with the country’s privacy laws. But unscrupulous people are taking a risk if they seek to exploit the service. Not every company will follow the code and some may find ways of non-compliance.

The Mobile Broadband Group assessed this risk during the development of the code and consulted obviously with all the experts, and the schedule of random alerts that they came up with was thought to be adequate to protect against the risks. This is a situation to be kept under review as the service is developed.

Our advice to you……

The best advice if you believe that you are being tracked is to change your telephone -“lose it and get another” or you can keep same telephone and change the number by replacing the SIM card in it. Visit your local mobile telephone shop for details – Look at this page when choosing your mobile provider.

This page has been reproduced from different sources on the Internet and may not represent all the views expressed on those pages. This page is not meant to infer that legitimate companies will disregard the code of conduct. This text is not written about any one specific company and is written to help people understand some of the ways people could be tracked without their knowledge.