How Cell Phones Are Spying On Us (According To Edward Snowden)
Edward Snowden, who leaked classified NSA information back in 2013, was recently on The Joe Rogan Experience. While on the show, he specifically talked about how cell phones and other devices are spying on us.
Here is Joe Rogan’s interview with Snowden:
Here are the main points Snowden highlights in the video:
- Records Are Kept Every Time You Use Your Phone
Whenever your phone gets a notification, text message, phone call, etc., it connects to the closest cell tower near you. Cell phone companies create a record every time your phone connects to the tower. For example, if you get a phone call, they can record the time it was received, who it was from, and other call details.
The same applies to when you are using Google Maps or any other GPS app. When your app connects to a cell tower, it provides cell phone companies and/or app creators with a record of where you are. And even when your phone is turned on, there’s always some record of you being at a certain place.
- Bulk Collection Should Be The Main Concern Among Consumers
Consumers are constantly worried about if their information is at risk, especially when hearing about companies being hacked. However, this isn’t the threat consumers need to worry about. As Snowden points out, the real threat are companies who focus on the bulk collection of information.
As explained before, companies and app creators collect information about people when their phone connects to cell towers or app servers. When these companies keep this information for a prolonged period of time for possible future use, they are practicing what’s known as bulk collection. It used to be that this information would disappear after some time. But since these companies see these records as valuable information, they now keep them until they no longer need to. And most consumers don’t even know or realize that companies are doing this with their information!
- Consumers Don’t Truly Know What Their Phone Is Doing
The issue of consumer data collection all starts with the fact that people don’t really know how their phone works. How are phones able to get a phone call? How are phone apps able to recommend products for them? Most consumers don’t know the answer to these basic questions. By not knowing these answers, consumers aren’t realizing the secret ways companies are collecting their information every day.
- There’s An Inequality of Available Information
Companies can learn about you and keep records of your device activities, but there’s no universal way consumers can stop this. This is what’s known as the inequality of available information. Companies can do what they please, while not providing consumers with enough options to control the data they share and who has access to it.
That’s why today, you see news story after news story about data breaches and hacking. These news stories come out because there’s a clear inequality of available information regarding how companies are storing and using peoples’ data. And you would think if someone owns a phone that they are in full control of it… wrong! Little by little, companies and government agencies are taking away peoples’ ownership over their cell phones and the data that’s on it.
What Does It All Mean?
Even though the focus has been on the peoples’ data being exploited through their devices, it’s actually the people themselves being exploited. Most consumers aren’t aware of how their devices work, how and when apps connect to servers, and what information is being recorded. Companies are taking advantage of this by hiding their intentions in long Terms & Conditions no one actually reads, and using bulk collection to save consumers data for many, many years.
As Snowden said in the video, small efforts like turning off your phone or putting it in airplane mode isn’t going to stop the overall problem. Until the time comes when companies provide customers with an option to turn off device monitoring completely, consumers will need to be aware of the situation they’re in.
To learn more, read this article to learn how WeChat and other apps have spied on their customers.
I have been a spy and monitoring technology expert for over 10 years. I want to help consumers not only learn about this technology, but know how to protect themselves from it.
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