Orwellian Spies at Work

You may have heard remarks akin to the notion that “spies” are listening in on your phone conversations. They’re activating the camera on your smartphone and taking pictures. By cracky, they are even turning on your microphone and listening to all the ambient sounds and conversations around you… and worst of all, the spies are tracking every place you go every minute of the day.

Now, is it or isn’t it really the case, you might ask me. My answer is: “How the hell should I know who is spying on you, or what the hell it is that you are doing all day long that makes people want to spy on you in the first place?” But is such an eavesdropping threat even possible, to begin with?

Spy vs. Spy
Spy vs. Spy

There’s good news and there’s bad news with regard to smartphone privacy: The bad news is that there is no good news. All of the aforementioned is possible with a smartphone; the tracking, the listening, and the picture-taking remotely… it is ALL quite possible, mes amis.

How Our Smartphones Compromise Privacy

Here’s why — in the least technical terms — that, with hope, will appeal to the greater audience:

Our smartphones can be recognized as being a pair of two separate technology functions. Those are: a baseband modem that serves in function to connect your phone to cellular phone network services, and a computer that serves like the desktop unit in your home — essentially running computer software applications.

The modem and the computer in your phone are discreet (separate). We can’t see the modems in our smartphones, and we cannot even get to the modems. Therefore we cannot control the modems. A dose of irony about the mysterious modems in our phones is that the technology therein is not much of a departure from that of two decades ago, and as long as there is power in your phone, the modem is “awake”.

If it sounds a skoshe creepy… that’s because it sort of really is! Powering down your smartphone does not put the modem in a dormant state.

The only way to truly shut the modem off is to fully remove the battery, the power source, from your phone.