Edward Snowden may have gone public with his NSA leaks more than 18 months ago, but the rate at which we learn new information about government spying programs shows little sign of slowing. Witness today, the Wall Street Journal published a report claiming that the U.S. Justice Department is “snagging [mobile data belonging to] a large number of innocent Americans'” via technology that can identify criminal suspects using planes.
The WSJ cites sources who claim that the U.S. Marshals Service is using fake cell towers on airplanes — dubbed ‘dirtboxes’ — in order to access data from phones located on the ground.
Essentially, the dirtboxes pose as legitimate network operators, providing signal to devices which, it is claimed, can allow them to prize registration and identification information from a ‘target’. When successful, this removes the time-consuming need to go through mobile operators to gain these details during searches for suspects, it is argued.
The latest version of the technology…
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