Cell Phones Watch Your Every Move


Malte Spitz, German Green party politician, found out that we are always being tracked even if we don’t volunteer to be.

Cell phone companies don’t usually tell how much information they collect, so Spitz went to court to find out exactly what his cell phone company, Deutsche Telekom, knew about his location.

Aug 31, 2009, to Feb. 28, 2010, Deutsche Telekom recorded and saved his longitude and latitude coordinates more than 35,000 times. It traced him from a train to Erlangen from the start until his last night, at home in Berlin.

Spitz gave a look at of what is being collected as we walk around with our phones, per privacy experts. Unlike many online services and web sites that must send “cookies” to a user’s computer to link its traffic to a specific person, cell phone companies just sit back and hit “record.”

“We are all walking around with little tags, and our tag has a phone number associated with it, who we called and what we do with the phone,” Sarah E. Williams, expert on graphic information at Columbia University’s architecture school. “We don’t even know we are giving up that data.”

“At any given instant, a cell phone company has to know where you are. It’s constantly registering with the tower, strongest signal,” Matthew Blaze, a professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania who has testified before Congress on the issue.