• NSA Can Track You Through Your Phone’s Battery Use

    February 26, 2015

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, NSA, Post-Constitution America

    snowden hopex

    I see you out there.

    Sitting in front of your computer. I see what you’re wearing, who you are with. I know where you have been today, and who you interacted with. I know where you were last night.

    Watching You

    We are shocked on a daily basis at the degree our cell phones can be used to monitor our movements. The most basic technique is via the phone’s built-in GPS; heck, that system is actually designed to locate the phone in physical space, and can at least be turned on and off (though it appears the NSA may be able to remotely trigger the system.)

    Next up is the way that cell phones work. Your phone is constantly seeking to connect to three cell towers at once. As you move around, it drops the connection to the weakest signal, holds on to two others, and reconnects to a new third. This happens seamlessly, and so you can keep talking to your girlfriend even as you drive (don’t use your phone while driving.) Your location can be tracked fairly accurately by someone who is measuring your triangulated point among the three towers.

    And when your phone connects to a Wi-Fi signal (how’s that Starbucks latte?), your location is easily determined.

    Lastly, the NSA has access to the SIM chip in your phone, which basically opens up the basic encryption used that might have in olden days offered some modicum of privacy.

    Location via Battery Levels

    Now, here’s another way.

    A team of security researchers from Stanford and the Israeli government (!) just published the details of a technique that lets spies watch as you move around by monitoring tiny changes in your phone’s battery level. It all comes down to how hard your phone has to work to ping those three cell towers. The towers that are further away or obscured by a building or hill cause your phone to use a little bit more power. If the spies know your normal routine, they can track your movements with 90 percent accuracy. If they don’t know your routine, that accuracy drops to about 60 percent. That may still be enough to place you close enough for whatever purpose, or to find you for closer monitoring.

    This is especially concerning because there’s not really any way to protect yourself from this kind of surveillance, aside from taking out your phone’s battery. Most any app can gain access to battery usage data, so a hacker could either build a fake app to monitor that data or pull data from another app.

    Funny thing: in the Edward Snowden documentary, CitizenFour, Snowden tells reporters visiting him to remove the batteries from their phones and place everything inside the metal box of the room fridge.

    And Oh Yes, They’re Watching You

    And oh my does the NSA like tracking your phone.

    The National Security Agency is gathering nearly five billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals — and map their relationships — in ways that would have been previously unimaginable. The records feed a vast database that stores information about the locations of at least hundreds of millions of devices 24/7.

    Sophisticated mathematical tech­niques then enable NSA analysts to map cellphone owners’ relationships by correlating their patterns of movement over time with thousands or millions of other phone users who cross their paths. So let’s also hope you don’t accidentally find yourself nearby anyone the NSA is interested in. Since the ever-hungry NSA cannot know in advance which tiny fraction of the records it may need, it collects and keeps as many as it can — 27 terabytes, by one account, or more than double the text content of the Library of Congress’ print collection.

    And for those last seven or eight people who still cling to “Hey, I’ve got nothing to hide,” good for you. You may not be an ISIS super-villain, but really, nothing to hide from your girlfriend, boyfriend, boss, creditors, stalkers, ex-spouse, creepy guy downstairs, complete strangers, nobody? Because once information is collected, it exists, and once it exists it can be hacked, shared with foreign governments, your local cops, leaked or otherwise made available.

    So smile, and speak up — somebody’s paying attention!

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      quote”This is especially concerning because there’s not really any way to protect yourself from this kind of surveillance, aside from taking out your phone’s battery.”unquote

      ummm, yes there is. Don’t own one. In fact, in my parallel universe, it’s SOP to LOL everytime I see someone in public using one. Walk down a street in any city in the world and you will see at least half those people talking on smartphones. What’s become apparent is..people are ADDICTED. If they’re not talking, their playing games, or looking something up on some app. Well, all I can say is.. grin and bear it and quit complaining. After all, it is YOU who are letting them do this. AND, paying a fucking fortune to these thieving telecom company’s to boot. From what I’ve seen, people are paying over $100 per mo. for the “priviledge” of using their system. LOL is a massive understatement. As for me, I’ll NEVER own or use a smartphone. Just on principle alone. Meanwhile, Orwell is is having a jealousy fit..”why in the fuck didn’t I think of that?? Perfect continuous surveillance of every human being on the planet. Marvelous” Meanwhile, the NSA is LOL.

      02/26/15 12:49 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Meanwhile, even the guards at Guantanamo are under surveillance by the NSA to keep them from saying anything to reporters. And who should know, but an ex-guard…
      “Joseph Hickman, a former Guantanamo staff sergeant and author of the recently published book, “Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantanamo Bay.”

      quote”KK: You mentioned that your superiors would reference the NSA’s spying capabilities as a threat to prevent guards from talking to journalists. How often would that happen?

      JH: They told us that throughout the year. They told us that the NSA has a facility in Guantanamo.


      Speaking of those detainees who “allegedly” committed “suicide”, let’s take a poll.

      If you believe that..raise your hand.

      bartender..one bottle of LyingSacksofShit and a shot of 100prf IfTheirLipsAreMoving

      02/26/15 1:31 PM | Comment Link

    • teri said...


      I’m with you, Pitch. I refuse to buy a cellphone. My kids asked me to get one years ago, and I asked Why? Oh, they said, what if we need to get in touch with you when you are away from home – y’know, at the grocery or the office? (I work from home, so am only at the office once a week. I’m not away from the landline much on any given day.) I told them that I like being away from the phone, didn’t want to be bothered while I was at the store, they knew the office phone number, and who did they think I was – the president? What in the hell could possibly be so important that someone would need to talk to me THIS MINUTE? I gratuitously added that if they thought they were so important that I had to be available to them every minute of the day, they were, quite frankly, wrong. THEY ain’t the president, either. And they are all grown up now, not some little kids needing a nursemaid.

      I actually feel the same way about “Call Waiting”. Pisses me off when someone is talking to me and puts me on hold to see if someone better is beeping in, especially if they were the one who called me in the first place. They only do it to me once, though, because I just hang up. Figure if they aren’t interested enough in the conversation to continue it to the finish, we didn’t have anything to talk about anyway.

      BTW, the EU doesn’t let anyone under 18 purchase a cell phone, as their scientists are finding links between cell phone usage and brain tumors.

      02/26/15 3:04 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      The problem is that it is hard to engage and disconnect. Having a cell is mandatory with many employers, nearly required to keep track of kids, and good luck with the battle telling a teen she will be the only kid in school without one. It is possible, as you two point out, but more and more difficult…

      02/26/15 3:20 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      I have a $20 tracfone which is used only for emergencies when I’m driving a car instead of my motorcycle and only in winter. if the car breaks down and its 20 degrees I might be too far away to walk home. I let my tracfone days expire from about April to November. I’ve done this for four years. When I bought a renewal card four months ago I was told I needed a new sim card. Hmmmmmm?
      I didn’t dust my new mandatory replacement sim for NSA fingerprints but I sensed I had just been discretly and doubly “collared”. (preemptively of course). I’m not complaining because it is better than being forced to visit the local vet to have an ID chip implanted – that’s gotta hurt since I understant medicare pays for the chip and vet but not for any anesthesia.

      02/26/15 3:54 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      Pay for the TracPhone with cash, or your credit card will be linked to the phone.

      02/26/15 4:01 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      quote”The problem is that it is hard to engage and disconnect.”unquote

      Tell that to your great great grandchildren, once they discover, because our generation failed, they live in a world whereby they are required by LAW to carry the RFID CHIP that was imbedded at birth. They’ll spit on our graves. At least, YOU have a choice. That is the point. Give it a year or two, and I have $1k that says you will be required by law to carry a smartphone if not the chip, which some psychopaths out there are advocating for already. Step by step. They’ll have to kill me first.

      However, there are people who CAN disconnect..but won’t, because they don’t have a fucking clue. But..there’s Facebook. Twitter. That’s why. bla bla bla.

      02/26/15 4:15 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      wemeantwell said…

      “Pay for the TracPhone with cash, or your credit card will be linked to the phone.”

      Indeed. And now, Applepay, creditcards with chips, etc etc. One day, there will be no cash. Only the mark..in some form or another. No mark..no food. Period. Mark my words, no pun intended.

      02/26/15 4:18 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      godddamn am I glad I’m 70. I can’t imagine the world my grandchildren will be living in. Maybe, if push comes to shove, a civil war will erupt, hopefully leaving a citizenry who STILL have the right to BEAR ARMS. After all, that’s EXACTLY why the Framers gave us the 2nd Amendment. Given the way things are heading towards Fascist tyranny, THAT is the only thing that will save our ass. Voting? Ha! In your dreams.

      Btw, in that light, I’ve mentioned the 100 Heads Life and Casualty thing here before. Well guess what?

      Living proof the FBI don’t have a fucking clue.

      02/26/15 4:30 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Hey Peter..speaking of the FBI..maybe you know the answer to a question I have regarding those 3 dolt’s they just arrested for trying to leave der homeland to join ISIS.

      Can the FBI request State to put some kind of “hold” on a persons passport, or refuse to give someone a passport?

      Reason I ask..why would the FBI go to the trouble and expense of providing the financial help via an “informer”, just so these dolts can get a passport, and THEN..arrest them, IF, it’s possible to just ask State to REFUSE them a passport?

      er..wait. don’t answer..let me guess. ummmm..WOT funding? FBI success rate? or simply..FBI stupidity?

      02/26/15 5:59 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      State can deny someone a passport for various reasons. But because that can get legalistic, more commonly they delay processing a passport to completion for whatever reason– “we’re working on it.”

      I can’t speak for the FBI, at least not sober, but I suspect their version of oh-it’s-not-entrapment requires the suspect to take as many forward steps as possible. That’s why they like to make the arrests at the airport, as in this case, where intentions are unambiguous to the courts.

      02/26/15 6:06 PM | Comment Link

    • teri said...



      My two oldest got them when they headed off to college. I bought the basic phones, they had to pay for minutes and any upgrades they decided they needed. Yes, they had to work while in college. They quickly learned that extra minutes and texting fees were generally not what they wanted to spend a few hours a week working for. Third kid wanted one when she entered high school (“but everyone has one now, Mom, not like in the old days when the boys went to high school.” Like that was a hundred years before her time. Heh.). I just said no. Like that. NO. Then I had to go have words with the high school, which allowed the kids to carry cells to class as long as they swore not to use them during class time, and wouldn’t let the kids use the school office phone to call home any longer. They decided my kid could use the school phone if some emergency arose, since I had so handicapped her. By the time my daughter was a sophomore, the school was having trouble with kids using their cells to cheat on tests, text (which they can do without looking at the phone often, so as to go undetected), and sext. They started confiscating cell phones and put the pay phone back in the lobby. Pay phone is gone now, some years later, because the phone companies won’t install them anywhere any more. But my kids are all grown now, so that isn’t my problem.

      As far as keeping track of the kids, well, we all kept to our end of the bargain, whatever it was. You want a ride home from somewhere at 6:00, I’ll be there at 6 and so will you. It was three kids, one Mom, one car, and no Dad. If they wanted to change plans, they could always find a phone somewhere. If there was no phone around, then there was no changing the plans. Tough, as they say, shit. On the other hand, I seemed to be the only parent who would regularly drive other people’s kids around and frequently arrived to pick up one of my kids only to find some other poor waif, deserted by his parents and needing a ride home, too. It was simply unreal to me the number of parents [sic] who would ignore their kid’s calls while they were talking to someone else on the phone, or who would claim their phone had “needed charging” and in the meantime, they had “forgotten” what time to get the kid, like the goddamn car and/or clock don’t work if the phone isn’t fully charged. Their brains don’t seem to work if the phone isn’t charged, either. I was also the only parent who seemed to know where my kids were when they weren’t home. They had a lot of freedom, my kids, all of it fairly earned, but it seemed other parents assumed if their kids had a cellphone, they (the parents) no longer had to know who they were with or what they were doing. It was like the phone was the parent; the kid can call in an emergency because he has a phone, right? and they could not conceive of a situation where the phone would not protect the child from anything unexpected or untoward. I had other people’s kids in my house most weekends; few of the parents bothered to meet me in person and I usually drove a carload home on Sunday nights, because the adults didn’t have time to get them and didn’t know where I lived, anyway. And guess what? Those teenagers-who-weren’t-mine loved being here. We talked and shot pool and played instruments and talked more and ate homemade bread and from-scratch cake and rolled back the living room rug to play Dance-Dance-Revolution (very cool to watch someone who’s good at it do it; I am NOT good at it) and watched Monty Python and sometimes spent hours working on math problems or rehearsing the school play someone was in, believe it or not. I am still known as Mom Number Two, Second Mom, or Honky Momma, depending on which kid you talk to.

      They had their cell phones so their own parents could get in touch when they remembered they had kids. But they TALKED to me, and looked me in the face while they did.

      It seems to me that the convenience of the cell phone has ironically created a bunch of people who can’t keep track of where they are supposed to be, are easily distracted, and use the damn thing as an excuse for not meeting their obligations.

      That’s all I have to say about that.

      02/26/15 7:44 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      teri..kudo’s to you. My wife raised four kids, by herself before I met her, and you sound a LOT like my wife. She was second mom to so many kids, I couldn’t believe it. To this day, she receives letters(you remember what those are, right?:), and emails and she spends a good deal of every day still talking to her “kids”. They love her, as if she were their real mom. So I understand. From what I see, after the babyboomer generation, it seems the next generation of “parents” simply abandoned their responsibilities. Maybe not all, but the level of narcissistic and unrespectful behavior I see in the current generation is beyond belief. And I see it daily. My dad would have beat my ass raw had I acted like what I see now. And so would I. Anyway, nuff said. Again..kudo’s to you.

      02/26/15 9:50 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      ps teri..thanks for sharing.

      ..also, thanks for answering Peter. I ‘preciate it.
      So, entrapment it is. Gottcha.

      goddamn this government.

      02/26/15 9:55 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...





      there are no words anymore, other than how do the people of this nation look in the mirror.

      02/26/15 11:48 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      In the universe I used to believe in, right now, at this very moment, there SHOULD be, a million armed fucking citizens tearing down the doors of every USG institution and dragging these savage, barbaric animals out to the street to burn them alive. Now..I know what ISIS feels. Because..these fucking USG animals don’t REALLY have a soul. It’s all fake. It’s all an illusion. And it’s all bullshit.

      02/26/15 11:53 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      ps 2..clarification..what i just posted in no way qualifies the actions of ISIS..or whatever you call them. All I am saying is..OUR government is as much a war criminal as ISIS is. My only question is..what do we human beings do?

      Buy a weapon.

      02/27/15 12:09 AM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      02/27/15 12:12 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      PVB- they know who owns the tracfone since they needed my name and address to send the new “upgraded” sim. Never was much into having a phony mail drop. I can’t live life as a stray living in a dumpster with no chip implant – I enjoy family too much. I’m not into having a phony mail drop either. I have the same status to the NSA as a treasured neutered pet has to a loving owner except for the “loving” part.
      Who knows all the ways the NSA can geld the careers of certain “stray” citizens without them knowing it.

      02/27/15 1:55 AM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...


      Your article very interesting.
      I remember reading article about spaying through spying Satellite which showing the satellite spy ability on a photo that you can read the plate number of the car on the road this was 35 years ago.

      So according to this post and this what we know but thats not all, wounder how ISIS doing all the movement and producing on line updates of their gain on the ground and on the land in Syria and Iraq or Libya but the NCA do not trace them despite they are the dangerous guys on the planet but NCA can spy on innocent people does ISIS do not US smart phone as they belive in this:

      The evil things Mahdthatha updated every fad.?

      But the 4×4 trucks not Mahdthatha?
      Posting on the Youtubeb not Mahdthatha?
      Using Internet not Mahdthatha?
      Holding and carying machine guns not Mahdthatha?
      Have orange suits for hostages not Mahdthatha?

      02/27/15 7:12 AM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...


      Destroying Mosul’s Heritage:
      We apologize for not updating the page. Like most Iraqis, we have been mourning the unbearable loss of our precious relics. Once again, many unrealistic voices have been asking why the inhabitants of Mosul did nothing to stop the rampage, and once again we will say if stopping the destruction and oppression without arms were possible, 5 million Jews would not have been killed systematically during the Holocaust. There was an average of 10,000 Jew…

      03/1/15 10:05 PM | Comment Link

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