Have you ever wondered how big tech companies and Governments monitor and store your location data? This article will give you a glimpse that will hopefully make you question your phone.
On July 24, 2021, an estimated 3,500 Australians , as reported by the main-stream media, marched through Sydney’s Central Business District to protest the extended Covid-19 restrictions. In response to this surge in crowds actively using their right to protest, the New South Wales Police department created a task force to “forensically investigate” everything from CCTV footage to social media posts to GPS tracking data.
Big Tech Companies and Governments Are Spying
Wherever you fall on the political or ideological spectrum regarding Covid, surely we can all agree that the government should not have the right to track innocent citizens during a peaceful protest.
Ever since the events of 9/11 in the United States, governments and Big Tech companies have leveraged software and technology to track the daily movements of individuals. While some of these motivations are purely for research purposes, it still exposes our private data to third parties who do not need to know if we are stopping at the local coffee shop right after our gym workout or not.
What is Happening?
Mobile devices like iPhones are made with built-in GPS trackers. The idea was to use this geolocation data to enhance your use of different applications like maps, internet browsing, and even entertaining games like Pokémon Go or Harry Potter.
The problem is that almost all of these mobile devices include an option to have your location data shared with all your applications as a default setting. That means when you unwrap that bright and shiny new Samsung Galaxy phone, it is prearranged to actively track where you travel, how quickly you move, those waypoints you most frequently visit, and what you do when you are there.
The truly frightening part about this GPS technology is that it can be uncovered without actually using our location data. A team of Princeton University researchers used phone-based and non-phone sources to determine and track a device’s information. The techniques they used allowed them to follow a location even if the device’s location services, GPS, and WiFi were turned off.
As most of this information is not protected, it remains “virtually undetectable,” according to the researchers. In other words, you cannot stop it by normal means.
Why Does GPS Tracking Matter?
To put it simply, Big Tech companies and giants are tracking your data for financial gain, and governments are doing it to control the population. Take Google, for instance. This is a company whose most valuable properties and services (Gmail, YouTube, etc.) are free to use. That means the only way for them to continue growing revenue is through online advertising. So what is the best way to target those ads? Demographic information from the millions of online users.
This is why you suddenly see an ad for the local McDonalds while you are on your phone riding the bus in the downtown area. Or how you will get a Toyota advertisement for the latest electric vehicle while sitting in the mechanic’s shop waiting for work to be completed on your antique roadster.
Big Tech needs to make money. They will leverage every bit of your user data to fulfill that obligation. These are companies that spend millions on research, development, and lobbying political backing. They are used to a certain level of power and control. They are unlikely to give that authority up anytime soon.
As for governments, the reason to collect and surveil this GPS data is clear. The more out of control protestors become, the less power a government has. It does not matter what the protest is even about. Governments cannot allow citizens to overthrow policy based solely on open political activism. Even though we would all like to think this is the logical tool of the people, it scares the hell out of leaders.
The truth of the situation is almost always reported on after the fact. From the Covid protests in Sydney to the BLM movement in the U.S., governments are happily engaged in illegal surveillance to exert more control over the public.
Is There Anything We Can Do?
In 1836 a scientist named Michael Faraday invented a cage built with conductive material to block all electromagnetic fields from entering inside. The original intent for the cage was to conduct experiments using extensive electronic equipment like RF receivers without having to worry about latent signals confusing the data or results.
Later on, this same technology was used to verify that if you stand within a certain distance from voting machines, you could track and manipulate the software and outcomes based on electromagnetic signals. While we have advanced the technology of voting machines so they remain more secure, we have also allowed our mobile devices and laptops to remain largely untouched.
It wasn’t until journalists like Micah Lee, who interviewed famed whistleblower Edward Snowden started using Faraday bags during his travels, that they became more common knowledge. The point of these pouches is to prevent any signals (WiFi, Bluetooth, Cellular, etc.) from getting in or out of your mobile device while inside. Like its cage namesake, Faraday bags are designed to keep your information completely private.
Some in the general public may have seen pouches at local music venues and comedy shows. These are only meant to store your device during the show so you do not record anything. A Faraday bag is different.
Every electronic device uses electromagnetic pulses. These pulses can be captured and interpreted given the right equipment. Instead of allowing anyone that passes by you access to your electronic pulses, you place your mobile device inside a mesh-like bag that blocks all exposure and keeps your data private and safe.
Who is Using Faraday Bags to Prevent Tracking?
Different users require privacy beyond the norm. That is why you see Faraday bags being used by a broad base of people. Yes, there are certainly criminals that use Faraday bags to prevent law enforcement from spying on their daily activities, but more importantly, there are other people like:
- Military/Agencies: Use Faraday bags to store government secrets that need to be moved from one location to another.
- Scientific Researchers: Need to protect their data sets about new medical cures or evidence-based research that will change public policy from those wishing to keep them silent.
- Journalists: Use these items to protect sources who wish to remain anonymous or are actively reporting on government programs that would otherwise wish to do them harm.
- Businesses: Espionage is not only restricted to government agencies. Industrial espionage or shared competitive secrets like the formula to Coca-Cola have to be protected to ensure the future of the business.
- Protestors: From North Korean defectors to Covid vaccine activists, keeping your location data safe is the only way to ensure your message of change is delivered.
Where to Find Quality Faraday Bags
While there is no 100% effective method to completely stop the governments or Big Tech companies from tracking you or your online activity, there are certainly plenty of steps you can take to make that process extremely challenging.
That is why we at Freedom Technology and Services of Australia have partnered with SLNT to provide you, our valued clients, with access to military-grade Faraday bags and security devices. SLNT makes a wide range of products from wallets to travel gear with the added protection of their patented Silent Pocket Faraday technology. This changes your device from an active beacon of private information to practically undetectable by surveillance equipment.
If you would like to learn more about the many other privacy protections you can integrate into your daily life, check out the rest of our site. Freedom Technology and Services is dedicated to providing our clients with everything they need to make full use of the internet and technology without sacrificing their personal freedoms and privacy.