GPS cellphone tracking by police controversy sparks privacy and safety concerns.
A recent court hearing revealed that Anaheim police - home to Disneyland - a world gateway - has been using Stingray and Dirtbox technology to secretly obtain residents and visitor's GPS location.
These spy devices trick the phone into connecting to them by impersonating a cell tower. Many agencies across the country are using this method of tracking and identifying users virtually under every network.
Not only is the use of Dirtbox and Stingray highly regulated by the Federal Government, but there are several service implications that can result in catastrophic user lost of service. Imagine this:
You are driving to Disneyland from your hotel with your family, when your car gets hit by another vehicle and someone is severely injured. You immediately take out your phone to call 911, but it takes longer than usual for your phone call to connect, by the time your call is answered by 911 is too late! Possible Reason: Use of Stingray in the area caused a void/delay in service coverage, while the device obtained its tracking data and eventually pushed you to a legitimate cell tower for cellphone coverage.
The scenario above is tragic. Technically should never happen, the devices claim to be made to always allow calls to 911 without delay, but how can we be sure? Who regulates, the use and abuse of devices as such?
Are there legitimate uses for this technology? Yes. The kind of devices can enable law enforcement to track a cellphone and identify its user's location in real time. It can also identify the location of a suspect in a crowd! These are legitimate and quite awesome uses of the technology. However, shouldn't citizens and visitors be made aware that their privacy might be at stake and cautioned to "enter at your own risk"?