Savvy internet gurus use the internet to commit crimes that are untraceable. But is that really the truth? Common wisdom has told us that anything we do online is forever.
Today it is rare to find a person who does not keep a smartphone within reach at all times. We use it to pay bills, shop, check the weather, and socialize, acting as a storehouse for our most intimate details. Travelling along with us throughout each day, our smartphones are storing masses of time stamped location data that can be used by law enforcement. Perhaps this does not alarm you, because you believe that you would first need to be a suspect of illegal activity and that police would need to obtain a search warrant to access your phone data. But what if police could collect and access everything on your phone already?
Widespread use of surveillance technology by police
Police departments across the nation are using military grade surveillance tools to collect large volumes of cell phone data. Many police departments utilize cellphone interception devices to collect incriminating information from people's phones. This information is used to prosecute financial crimes and sex offenses committed by those operating under the false belief that their activities are untraceable.
Interception of your data, texts, and calls all with a single flyover
Imagine if the police or military could fly over your location and collect all of your phone's data, calls and texts. This already happens, and has been for some time. Dirtbox, stingray and other technologies are being used by police departments to collect data from the smartphones of thousands of people at once without a warrant. These devices were initially developed for the NSA and CIA to fight terrorism. The device is about two feet in size and mounted to aircraft or drones. It acts as a cellphone tower by forcing phones to use that signal to transmit data, calls and texts, while simultaneously breaking encryption. This technology allows police to collect and record data from tens of thousands of people in a single fly over.
Police can capture all of your smartphone data, including deleted items
Police departments are increasingly using other technology to extract all information from a smartphone. For example, police can plug a device into your phone with the pretext that they are obtaining a single photo from a phone. But instead, all of the phone's information is downloaded: contact lists, texts, photos, browsing and location history without the owner's knowledge or consent. No warrant is needed.
You may not be as anonymous as you think
If you think you are avoiding or hiding your tracks online, you are likely wrong. With the increased use of military grade surveillance tools, police can access a great deal of incriminating evidence. For those operating under the false belief that their activities are undetectable, it is becoming easier for law enforcement to intercept and prosecute crimes.