As more and more software apps are available for various types of smart phones, and the iPhone we are going to begin to see free applications which help scrambled the identity and information traveling through those networks. This is both good and bad, it’s bad if you are trying to track terrorists by their electronic serial numbers, and capture that information at the local cell tower. It’s good because it gives privacy to the user.
A smart phone manufacturer may be upset because what they believe to be their proprietary software is now being opened up, rewritten, and becoming open source. You can expect that there will be software soon which will anonymize all your personal data online, and scramble your information while encrypting it in a way that no one can break into it. You can imagine that something like this does not make the intelligence industry very happy, nor would it make very happy many of the countries which like to spy on users and have access to this information.
Recently India, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia all came down hard on Blackberry because they use a type of encryption which means that their governments cannot get into the information. If you are the government from India, you have a real concern considering the fact that there were those terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and they used cell phones to communicate. If you are the Royal Family in Saudi Arabia you are worried about a revolution, the last thing you want is a way for folks that may be planning attacks against your government to encrypt their communicate during their attacks.
In the UAE recently, a foreign visiting high-ranking, near head of state level individual was assassinated in one of the hotels, and therefore the security officials want to be able to access smart-phone technologies and communication transmissions to prevent such things, and protect people who will be visiting, or their own government and its leaders for that matter.
When good intentioned folks open the cell phone operating system software folks create applications which bypass the protocols of these particular phones, as they are trying to help the user by creating better and more ways to operate their mobile technologies. But, the cell phone manufacturers are upset, because the phone may never work again, any individual with the phone may decide to take it back for a refund, and they are being undermined by the open source community.
However, if you legitimately buy your cell phone, you should have the right to use it in any way you wish and unlock all its technology and capabilities correct? No, actually, that is incorrect because each of these communication devices is registered with the Federal Communications Commission, and you don’t actually have the right, even though you bought the phone – and you may be violating FCC if you operate the phone in an incorrect way.
Plus, in doing this you could run your own networks and groups, and linking and amongst her friends. You can also create ways to talk phone-to-phone in some cases without using the cell tower, and therefore your electronic serial number could not be tracked, as that data would not go to the cell tower, you’d be sending information directly like a walkie-talkie.
This is disconcerting for those in the intelligence community, and those who are trying to protect us from terrorists, but we do live in an open society, and people really don’t want to be tracked, or have their privacy violated, even if it is for a good cause such as national security – because you know yourself not to be a terrorist or bad guy, and thus, there is no need for anyone to invade your privacy right? Yes, I understand your point, and the constitutional issues, here, however, that point did need to be made – you understand.
Now let’s say you wanted to scramble your electronic serial number when you were talking bypassing the cell tower? Well, good point, but also realize it is an FCC registered device! And, that wouldn’t be advised or legal; and if this were done, your phone couldn’t be tracked in theory, oh there are probably ways, but it wouldn’t be worth doing, unless you were a really bad person, and if so, you’d be tracked anyway. Of course, if you were a good person doing this, one would have to ask; why? Red flag right there, do you see it? Why are you trying to evade federal communication laws?
Still, this whole idea of anonymity is a problem too, because you know those Caller ID blockers? Well, if your network doesn’t pick up your Caller ID for some reason, or you block it, most likely no one is going to bother to answer your phone call anyway, as it is probably just a BS sales call in their minds. So, all this scrambling idea really raises a red flag; as in why is this user scrambling their identity, what are they hiding, what are they afraid of, and who on Earth are they? See that point, it’s like red-flag city already all over again.
Oh that reminds me, let me tell you a story; before I retired, I operate a mobile car wash business with a 1-800-number and a dispatch service. We eventually had to set up this way because we grew our company and were operating in 450 different cities with over 100 franchisees – so when the caller called in on the one 800-number we would know where they were calling from, and re-route that service call request to the cell phone of the operator which was in their area. It was like magic, well in the early 90s that was hot stuff.
We later had real challenges with this, and we had a multitude of problems with this because many times people would be calling from their cell phones (remember cell phones really started taking off in the late 80s and early 90s). So, we might get a phone call for a car wash in Atlanta, but they’ve since been moved to Kentucky, but kept their old cell phone number. The franchisee or mobile car wash operator in Atlanta would get the call, instead of the person in Kentucky, and you can see the problem.
Likewise, we might have a franchise buyer who might be in the Seattle Washington area, but the area code for their cell phone was from Scottsdale Arizona where they would stay as snowbirds in the wintertime. The franchise buyer would end up calling a carwash truck in Seattle, when they wanted to buy a franchise for their son lives in Houston TX. Oh, how crazy this gets, especially when maybe we didn’t want to sell a franchise in one of those cities or already had a franchisee there.
Eventually the problems with this one 800 system got to be too great as the company grew, and as more and more people became mobile cell phone users, and by this time it was in the mid-90s. Before that it wasn’t a big issue at all – and back in the 80’s and early 90s, as in 1990, 91, 92, and so forth most everyone had a cell phone, and they were calling from their local area on their cell phone, and it went to the same area code where they wanted services.
Now then, why does this matter? Well, if you are scrambling your cell phone identification because you don’t want local marketers, or anyone to know where you are, who you are, or you want to keep all the information you discuss over the airwaves secret – because perhaps, for instance you are a corporate executive and you know lose lips sink ships – then going to cause other problems for yourself, and anyone else involved as you try to hide access to your user data, whether it is anonymized or not.
And, you can understand why all these problems are a challenge to our national security, especially in the future, with Smart Phone OS being opened up, as they work to protect the American People. Now there are many people who would debate that by doing this, we can prevent a potential eventuality of a “1984 Big Brother” type scenario, and therefore it is okay to unlock the cell phone or smart phone software.
So the question is do we allow the data flow and communication in the most chaotic form, and give privacy back to the people, and yet, in end, end up with all sorts of personal tech devices interfering, and trampling frequency traffic? Or do we find ways to prevent the hacking of the proprietary software that goes into each and every cell phone, smart phone, iPhone, or whatever the personal tech device individuals are using most in the next 5-years?
Apparently, the Supreme Court has also weighed into the debate, and they believe you should be able to break out of the proprietary software of let’s say an iPhone, and use applications that weren’t authorized, or sold by Apple, which you wish to use on your phone. Unfortunately, this also opens up another can of worms of unintended consequences and there’s not a lot of talk about it right now, but I guarantee you there will be in the future. Meanwhile please consider all this.