Cell Phones - What No One is Telling You

The Tracking of American Citizens by Government and Business

 

You Are at Home and Have Been There 3 Hours and 17 Minutes

Before That, You Went to The Grocery Store - You Drove an Average 42 Miles Per Hour

Would You Like for Someone to Have  a Time-stamped Log of Your Whereabouts Every Day for the Past 3 Weeks?  

 

Copyright 2000, Bert Pool

January 25, 2000

 

Honestly - it started out as a good idea, welcome in 9-1-1!

If you pick up the telephone receiver in your home and dial 9-1-1, the emergency dispatcher on the other end looks at a computer display and sees the telephone number from which you are calling. He or she will also see the street address where your telephone number resides. Exciting new map technology throws up a detailed electronic map of your neighborhood, highlighting your residence. The dispatcher can quickly and accurately dispatch the police, fire department, or an ambulance directly to your home. Some 9-1-1 units process more than 10,000 such calls a DAY!

Question: Do you have a problem with the fact that the dispatcher knows who you are and from where you are calling when you make this emergency call? Probably not. Your life or the life of a loved one may depend upon the speedy dispatch of help directly to your front door. But what happens when you call 9-1-1 from your mobile phone? How can 9-1-1 emergency dispatch personnel possibly know where you are? What if your car has slid off the road during a terrible storm, and you are trapped inside, and no one knows where you are? What if YOU aren't sure exactly sure where you are? How will 9-1-1 find you when you make that emergency call?

The Federal Communications Commission, the government agency in responsible for all radio communications, including cell phones, has mandated that telephone companies must, by October 2001, put into place technology that will pinpoint the location of your cell phone so that emergency personnel or police can be dispatched to your location when you dial 9-1-1. Some of the companies working on this new technology can pinpoint the location of you and your cell phone within a circle about 300 feet across whenever you call 9-1-1.

Another question: Do you have a problem with 9-1-1 dispatchers knowing where your cell phone is located when you make a 9-1-1 emergency call? Again, probably not. Use of cell phone tracking by 9-1-1 dispatchers is a very legitimate need, and I believe few people can object to cell phone tracking for this specific purpose.

But what if I tell you that law enforcement agencies are now eager to use this new technology for other than 9-1-1 purposes, and they want to be able to locate the exact position of any cell phone user, and not just when they dial 9-1-1? And this eager rush to track anyone and monitor their whereabouts isn't limited to the FBI and the local constable; private corporations are eager to jump on the cell phone tracking bandwagon too.  Read along and I'll take you on an interesting cell phone journey which will lead us directly to your home.

It is fascinating to go back and look at the introduction of the new cell phone tracking idea, its promotion as a "safety" feature for 9-1-1, then watch as the government agencies and corporations rush to the "tracking trough" and slop it all around and pervert it into an ultimate Big Brother tracking system. I have followed this trail, and have compiled a large list of press articles which show this disturbing trend. I list them a little further below in chronological order so that you can follow the trend.

Things you should know:

  1. You are already being billed monthly for the privilege of allowing the "big eye in the sky" to track your cell phone transmissions so the American law enforcement establishment can know exactly where you are, ostensibly to be used only for 9-1-1 purposes. This is a legitimate use of location technology  - until the FBI and the Justice Department got interested in the technology and decided it was perfect for locating and tracking individuals in which they have an interest.
  2.  

    October 13, 1997

    911 Reaching Out to Mobile Phones in Arkansas - Since emergency operators cannot tell where a 911-call from a mobile telephone is coming from, the FCC last year ordered telephone companies to develop the equipment to solve this type of problem, which will be available in the next few years. Now the funding to do this also will soon be available, as the Arkansas Legislature approved a 50-cent charge to appear on monthly wireless phone bills to generate money for mobile 911-services. Arkansas Democrat Gazette, online version.

  3. Some phone companies have sued the FCC and Justice Department in an attempt to stop law enforcement agencies from using this technology - mainly because the phone companies are going to have to pay for it out of their own pockets! Business is always more concerned about their bottom line than about individual privacy issues.
  4.  

    July 17, 1998

    FBI Seeks Access to Mobile Phone Locations - The FBI has asked the Senate Appropriations Committee to change the Justice Department appropriations bill to require telephone companies to provide police agencies with the precise location of wireless phone users, in some cases without a court order. Privacy advocates and the telecom industry oppose the measure, saying it is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy and would cost billions to implement. The New York Times, A10.

     

    August 27, 1998

    Phone Companies to Sue Justice Dept., FBI - Local phone companies are accusing the Justice Department and FBI of overstepping a law that lets law enforcement agencies tap into phone lines. The suit claims the FBI wants telecommunications companies to pay for most of its new equipment costs, which the companies say is inconsistent with the 1994 digital wiretapping law. Investor's Business Daily, online version.

     

  5. Cell phones can be identified, tracked, and your position located to better than 300 feet, even if you are not talking on the phone! Read that last statement again. Your cell phone transmits "handshaking" signals to nearby cell phone towers to let them know that your phone is "on" and that you are within range of a cell tower. This "handshaking" transmission is completely transparent to the phone user, who never knows it is happening. If your phone is on, the nearest cell tower can query your phone, find out that it is on and then using the new 9-1-1 location technology, your position can be nailed - even if you are not actually talking on your phone. The original intent of this location technology was to only locate you only if you dialed 9-1-1, but this has already been subverted by the FBI to locate and track persons suspected of illegal activity, none of whom, I suspect, were summoning the cops by calling 9-1-1. Who else, besides the FBI, might want to locate and track anybody with a cell phone? My guess is that the list of people who want to abuse this technology is a very long list indeed!
  6.  

  7. By querying your phone with these handshaking signals, the authorities, and possibly other interested technologically savvy individuals, can track you as you move about, knowing where you have just been, where you are at this very moment, what direction you are currently travelling, and even how fast you are moving. This is perhaps the most disturbing thing about the new 9-1-1 location technology. If government agencies can pervert 9-1-1 tracking to watch you, then you can be sure others will manage to do it too. Private investigators are going to go nuts over the many possibilities of using/abusing cell phone location/tracking and integrated GPS (global positioning system) technology!

  8. It is not difficult for a government agency, or anyone else with the required knowledge, for that matter, to set up a rolling "cell tower" on top of a mobile van. This "cell tower" on wheels would be able to query cell phones in a fairly large radius and find out if the target phone is within range of this covert tower. If the target phone is turned "on", it will respond to the mobile tower, just as it would a legitimate phone company tower. The tower sends out a signal "Hello?! HellooooTarget, are you out there, and turned on?" The Target cell phone perks up its little ears and replies "Yes, indeedy, here I am! I'm waiting for you to send me a ringy-dingy signal." Only the covert tower does NOT send a ringy-dingy signal. Instead, the operators simply lock onto the cell phone's transmission and use standard triangulation techniques, or they can extract GPS data from some transmissions (remember that FCC 9-1-1 mandate?) Thus, an agency or unauthorized entity could query and locate a particular cell phone without using the entrenched cellular system at all. If you are a law enforcement agency who is hunting someone, why bother to get a warrant to force the local phone company to locate a cell phone, when your guys can do it themselves? Is assembling a "rolling tower" expensive? Very, but when you really, really want to find that special someone, money may not be an issue. And if you are not a legal entity, getting a warrant is a moot point.

    And where might one find such an esoteric thing as a mobile cell phone tower?  It took me about 12 seconds in Web Ferret to find one:

    Mobile International Co., Inc.
    Mobile International manufactures light weight aluminum, steel and fiberglass shelters, cell on wheels, field erectable cabinets, towers, monopoles, telescopic mast as well as tower trailers for sale or lease.
    12/27/1999 http://www.broadband-guide.com/company/mobileintern.html

  9. Cell phone manufacturers (Snaptrack, Audiovox are two) now are building GPS (global positioning system) receivers into cell phones to make the locating and tracking of cell phones even more accurate. One important question is whether your cell phone will transmit your precise GPS derived location to the cell tower system only when you dial 9-1-1, or will it keep the phone system posted with your location all the time? I am not sure, but I suspect the latter. I know the FBI wants the ability to locate and track a cell phone all the time. They have a long track record of convincing lawmakers to let them have almost anything they want.
  10.  

    September 1, 1998

    911 Wireless-Phone Location Just a Jingle Away - The problem of locating wireless callers has always been a problem for 911 workers, but starting in November, Audiovox will ship a phone that uses a built-in global positioning satellite service (GPS) to pinpoint a caller's location. Pressing the 911 button on the Audiovox FoneFinder phone initiates a phone call to 911 and sends your exact latitude and longitude to the 911 center. The phone can be connected to any wireless service, with no extra charge for calls utilizing the location feature. San Francisco Chronicle, C3.

     

  11. The FBI has pressured Congress to force phone companies to install equipment to allow them to wiretap cellular and Internet data transmissions - some without a warrant!

 

July 17, 1998

FBI Seeks Access to Mobile Phone Locations - The FBI has asked the Senate Appropriations Committee to change the Justice Department appropriations bill to require telephone companies to provide police agencies with the precise location of wireless phone users, in some cases without a court order. Privacy advocates and the telecom industry oppose the measure, saying it is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy and would cost billions to implement. The New York Times, A10.

 

Below are a few dozen abstracts of news articles on cell phone location and tracking, the FBI's rush to track anyone, and the frenzy of private corporations beginning to realize that money, big money, is to be made by tracking people. Money is to be made tracking little old you! Pay attention to how the technology starts out as a "safety" promotion for 9-1-1, then begins to turn ugly as the FBI and other government agencies realize the potential that this new tracking technology offers. Finally, private industry, such as insurance companies, realize they can make a buck by tracking you as well! Government and private industry want to know who you are, where you are, where you have been, where you are going, what route you take to get there, and how fast are you going when you go there.

 

I just thought you'd like to know.

Bert Pool, January 25, 2000

 

 

Wireless tracking of individuals by Government and corporations

 

March 26, 1997

Southwestern Bell Takes Runaround Out of 911 Cellular Calls

Dialing 911 from a cellular phone is going to be a bit easier and elicit a quicker response from police for Southwestern Bell customers in metropolitan St. Louis. The company has installed new technology that will route emergency cellular calls directly to the appropriate police department and provide some indication of the caller's general location. It is the first time such technology has been available in Missouri. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, P. 1; Associated Press.

 

August 25, 1997

New Wireless 911 Technology Will Give Caller's Whereabouts

A new technology is on the rise that will enable safety officials to know exactly where a wireless call originated. Since most 911calls are made from mobile phones, the much-needed service will allow rescuers to quickly find troubled callers who are lost or too young to provide their whereabouts. Atlanta Constitution, P. 2.

 

September 29, 1997

Wireless Phone Boom Means Change for 911System -- Due to the fact that one in every four emergency calls is made from a wireless telephone, steps are underway to change the existing 911 emergency system. Administrators of the emergency system are looking to find ways for wireless customers to provide funding; currently, the 911 fee is not tacked onto monthly wireless phone bills. Also, dispatchers are unable to automatically know the whereabouts of an emergency call when the caller uses a wireless phone. Kansas City Star, 2C (Sept. 27).

 

October 13, 1997

911 Reaching Out to Mobile Phones in Arkansas - Since emergency operators cannot tell where a 911-call from a mobile telephone is coming from, the FCC last year ordered telephone companies to develop the equipment to solve this type of problem, which will be available in the next few years. Now the funding to do this also will soon be available, as the Arkansas Legislature approved a 50-cent charge to appear on monthly wireless phone bills to generate money for mobile 911-services. Arkansas Democrat Gazette, online version.

 

November 18, 1997

Emergency Wireless Service A Must - Many Americans buy wireless phones for emergency help, but current competitive issues regarding 911 service and mobile phones block a full guarantee of personal safety. To resolve these issues, some people now are petitioning the FCC to push up its 911-signal compliance date, which will require all wireless providers to put emergency calls through their systems regardless if the user is a subscriber. These advocates are also pushing for the wireless industry to begin informing users when they enter into a weak-signal area. Los Angeles Times, B6.

 

December 2, 1997

FCC Requires Wireless Firms to Patch Through 911 Calls - Regulators on Monday required wireless phone companies to patch through all emergency 911 calls to the police and other emergency services, regardless of whether the call is placed by a subscriber. The FCC said its rules formalize a practice that wireless carriers generally follow. According to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, 22 million 911calls a year are placed over wireless phones, and about 80 percent of those deal with highway emergencies. USA Today, B1; Reuter News Service, overnight.

 

February 10, 1998

Bill Would Charge Wireless Phone Users - Wireless phone customers in Oklahoma may be required to pay 50 cents a month so their 911calls are easier to track. Senate Bill 827 would require wireless service providers to collect a monthly fee from each subscriber. The companies would give all but 2 percent - kept for administrative costs - to area public safety agencies. With the money, 911systems will be updated so caller phone numbers can be identified and the location of the call can be narrowed to an area surrounding a particular cellular phone tower. The bill would become effective Nov. 1. The Daily Oklahoman, online version.

 

February 23, 1998

Technology that Tracks Cell Phones Draws Controversy - Wireless telephone providers are beginning to install equipment that will allow them - or police, ambulance dispatchers and worried parents - to precisely track the location of callers. In many cases, the new technology is being touted as public safety insurance for people making emergency calls on wireless phones. But civil libertarians and privacy advocates are concerned that the new capabilities will be used for surveillance. Wireless providers are developing the new equipment to meet an FCC requirement that companies be able to include positioning information with wireless 911calls. By October 2001, companies will be required to pinpoint wireless 911callers within 125 meters. The New York Times, C-3.

 

March 2, 1998

Tracking Focus of Phone Flap - Wireless phones, long associated with untethered freedom, are becoming silent leashes as mobile phone companies around the world have begun installing equipment that will allow them - or police, ambulance dispatchers or worried parents - to precisely track the location of callers. In many cases, the new technology is being defended as public safety insurance for people making 911or other emergency calls. But privacy advocates say the technology gives law enforcement officials or just plain snoops unprecedented tracking ability. Los Angeles Daily News, P. 3 (March 1).

 

March 5, 1998

Companies Plan 911 Product - Emergency crews usually don't know the location of people who use wireless phones to call 911, but U.S. Wireless aims to change all that. U.S. Wireless has developed a gadget it calls a radio camera that is able to determine the location of a wireless call over a 911system. The company's technology can find the location of the last base that handled the wireless call. Dispatchers can then direct an emergency official to that site. Contra Costa Times, C1.

 

April 27, 1998

Bill Would Back Wireless Fee Hike To Help Locate 911 Calls - A bill - HB1143 - now wending its way through the Missouri Legislature would allow voters to raise monthly wireless phone bills a maximum of 50 cents. The money would go to phone companies and dispatchers to pay for equipment to pinpoint the source of wireless 911 calls. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, A1.

 

June 17, 1998

Southwestern Bell Depicts Alltel As Rival - Southwestern Bell has more evidence that Alltel and other carriers are offering local service to Little Rock residents. Southwestern Bell will argue in state PSC hearings today that information from the 911emergency system's database shows other carriers are competing for local residents. The information could bolster Southwestern Bell's contention it has opened its local markets and should be allowed to offer long-distance service in Arkansas. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, online version. (I threw this one in because here we see a major telecommunication company using 9-1-1 information in a database for other than 9-1-1 purposes - a very dangerous precedent.)

 

July 21, 1998

Dialing 911 on Wireless Phone May Not Reach Help You Need - Surveys show safety as the main reason people buy wireless phones. But calling 911 from a wireless phone doesn't always summon help. Frequently, the calls land out-of-bounds, in emergency call centers with no power to dispatch an ambulance, police car or fire truck. In general, calls are supposed to be routed to the nearest emergency center, based on the antenna that picks up the signal. But when some callers are using networks away from where they live, their calls may be transferred to where they live, even if it's miles away. The Dallas Morning News, online version.

 

August 17, 1998

Finding Wireless Callers in an Emergency - Snaptrack, a Silicon Valley start-up company, has begun the first public-safety trial of a system that will enable wireless telephone users to broadcast their locations to 911 emergency-system operators. The trial uses special software inside the wireless handset in combination with a central office system employing global positioning (GPS) technology to determine a caller's location. In tests, the system is providing accuracy at distances just over 100 yards, which permits dispatchers to make better decisions on which public-safety officers should respond to emergencies. The New York Times, C5.

 

 

September 1, 1998

911 Wireless-Phone Location Just a Jingle Away - The problem of locating wireless callers has always been a problem for 911 workers, but starting in November, Audiovox will ship a phone that uses a built-in global positioning satellite service (GPS) to pinpoint a caller's location. Pressing the 911 button on the Audiovox FoneFinder phone initiates a phone call to 911 and sends your exact latitude and longitude to the 911 center. The phone can be connected to any wireless service, with no extra charge for calls utilizing the location feature. San Francisco Chronicle, C3.

 

November 25, 1998

Wireless Firms Push for Fee to Update 911 - Florida's wireless industry and emergency-service providers, concerned that the lack of new 911 technology is putting scores of wireless callers at risk, are renewing their push for a fee on wireless customers that failed in the Florida Legislature earlier this year. The proposed 50-cent monthly fee would be used to enhance counties' existing 911service. The Wall Street Journal, online version (Florida edition).

 

May 14, 1999

Wireless Changes Are Required For 911Calls - Manufacturers of wireless telephones will have nine months to make changes that will enable callers to reach emergency services by dialing 911. The FCC adopted standards for the next generation of wireless phones that will make the phones smarter about searching for a connection. Essentially, if the telephone can't connect with the subscriber's preferred service in a 911call, software inside the phone will direct it to search for another service. The standard will apply only to new analog-wireless phones or phones that are both analog and digital. The Wall Street Journal, A2; Associated Press.

 

June 24, 1999

SnapTrack Develops a System To Locate Wireless-Phone Callers - SnapTrack wants to know exactly where you are, wherever you go. The company uses satellite technology to pinpoint a wireless phone's exact location. Some see the idea as an important safety feature. Wireless-phone companies view it as a way to offer nifty location-based services such as weather updates and traffic reports. Others see it as a troubling blow to privacy. Regardless, development of the technology will proceed, driven by a mandate from the FCC requiring all wireless-phone companies to be able to locate the origin of a 911call by October 2001. The Wall Street Journal, B8.

 

July 6, 1999

Speedier 911 Wireless Response May Be Put On Hold - A long-awaited system that would provide wireless users with more rapid emergency response times could be delayed as the industry seeks government permission for more time to deploy the technology. The system for tracking 911calls from wireless phones within a two- to three-mile radius was to have been in place by April 1998, with a better system running by October 2001. Los Angeles Times, C1 (July 5).

 

July 29, 1999

Tracking Down Mobile Phone Users - One of the big challenges for the wireless phone industry in the next two years will be the task of following its customers. The FCC says that by early 2001, all mobile phone companies will have to provide 911 operators with the location of anyone calling on a cell phone so help can get to the right place. Several scientists at Bell Labs recently announced that they had come up with a way to reduce the cost of making this change. But the question of whether the systems for tracking wireless phones that are adopted will be an invasion of privacy is still an open question. The New York Times, online. 

 

August 16, 1999

Satellites May Help 911 Operators Locate Wireless Calls - Every day, public-safety officials receive phone calls from people using wireless phones, and many of them can't say exactly where to send help. Federal authorities have mandated that the industry find some way to trace the location of wireless-phone users so that when people dial 911 on wireless phones, the calls will be routed to the appropriate dispatchers, who will know where to send help. Even without the FCCs edict to install technology by October 2001 to solve the 911 location problem, service providers would eagerly embrace such technology. Wireless-service operators expect it will enable them to market a whole new array of commercially attractive services, like helping customers find the nearest theater where a popular movie is playing. Chicago Tribune, online.

 

 

October 13, 1999

Nationwide 911 Bill Approved by House - The U.S. House approved legislation aimed at establishing 911as the nationwide emergency number for wireless and conventional phones. Many states and local governments have separate emergency numbers for wireless phones, such as #77 or *HP. The bill directs the FCC to help set up a single 911emergency-response system for wireless and conventional phones across the U.S. It also includes a provision aimed at protecting consumer privacy by specifying that the location of a wireless caller can be disclosed only in emergencies. Bloomberg News Service.

 

 

January 21, 2000

Cell Phone Signals Touted to Fight Traffic Wars - U.S. Wireless is using its "RadioCamera" technology to track the physical movement of cell phones in a given area, based on the radio signals that transmit the user's voice to nearby cellular towers. Wireless phone companies are considering technologies like RadioCamera because of a safety-related federal requirement. By October 2001, these companies must be able to tell public-safety officials the approximate location of mobile-phone users who dial 911. San Jose Mercury News, online.

 

Thursday, May 6th, 1999

Lockheed to Develop System Of Internet-Access Satellites

Lockheed Martin., armed with investments from TRW and Telecom Italia, will begin developing its $3.5 billion Astrolink global broadband satellite system. The step by Lockheed Martin pits the four-satellite Astrolink project against a similar project begun by Hughes Electronics, a unit of General Motors. Lockheed and its partners plan to begin deploying a new-generation satellite system offering multimedia services, high-speed Internet access and private corporate data networks in 2002, with a service start in early 2003. The Wall Street Journal, A3, A4.

 

January 10th, 2000

GM, Partner to Seek Millions of Cellular Customers - General Motors said it is in talks with an unspecified large telecommunications company about a partnership that will make the world's biggest auto maker a major reseller of cellular services. The scope far exceeds GM's current OnStar communications and satellite-based navigation system, whose subscriber base is projected to rise to 3 million in a few years. The companies will begin tapping that customer base to sell traditional cellular services this year and more advanced services as they become available. Bloomberg Business News.

 

January 13, 2000

GM to Add Bell Atlantic Phone Service to In-Car System - General Motors has reached an agreement to offer wireless-phone service from Bell Atlantic in one million of its vehicles this year. The deal will add the real-time communication of wireless phones to GM's Onstar service, which links drivers to operators at a service center who can provide travel assistance or summon emergency help. The system will run on the national digital-wireless network to be formed by the joint venture between Bell Atlantic, GTE, and Vodafone AirTouch. Significantly, the contract has been awarded to Bell Atlantic even before that proposed joint venture has received regulatory approval. The Wall Street Journal, B14; The Boston Globe, C2; Los Angeles Times, C6.

 

Friday, January 14, 2000

GM Offers Internet Service Deal - General Motors announced yesterday that it will offer consumers free Internet service in exchange for the ability to keep an eye on them. The service, offered by Southern California's NetZero, requires users to give their name and address as well as answer questions ranging from what kind of car they own, to whether they purchased or leased it and if they would consider buying online. The alliance is part of GM's strategy to align itself with partners that allow it to reach customers on the Web, officials said. San Jose Mercury News, online.

 

The next news release was taken from the Progressive Insurance Company. If you let them put a GPS receiver in your car which records and sends your daily travel log to Progressive, they will rate your insurance according to the specific roads and highway routes you drive. The bad thing about this is they have a detail log of every road on which you drove, how fast you drove, the time of day you traveled, etc. In the event you ever find yourself in court, the authorities or opposing counsel can subpoena these types of records, and then a very detailed history of your daily life is laid out for everyone to see. No thank you, Progressive, I'm not willing to sell my soul for possibly lower rates on my insurance! Like I said, big business has found that invading your privacy can be profitable.  How much money are you willing to accept to surrender your right to privacy?  Progressive Insurance thinks you will sell your right to privacy just for the PROMISE of a monetary discount - indeed, your rates might go UP!

The direct link: http://www1.progressive.com/media_relations/Autograph.htm

An educational public news release from their site:

Progressive Testing New Product that Features Revolutionary Auto Insurance Rating Method

Product Bases Auto Insurance Premium Not on Historical Data, But On When, Where and How Much One Drives

Mayfield Village, OHIO (October 26, 1999)--In August 1998, Progressive (NYSE:PGR), one of the largest auto insurers in the U.S., began a limited marketing test in Houston of a new product that bases auto insurance premium in part on when, where and how much a vehicle is driven. The product is called AutographSM. In August of 1999, the company expanded the test throughout the state of Texas.

Auto insurance rates are traditionally rated on variables including vehicle age, manufacturer and value, driver's age, sex, marital status, place of residence and driving record and types of coverages and deductibles selected. Auto insurers use this information, along with the company's loss experience on that "class" of driver and vehicle, to determine a consumer's auto insurance rate. In other words, current rating systems are primarily based on a company's past realized losses, or historical data.

Progressive's new auto insurance product, Autograph, determines a consumer's auto insurance rate based on actual vehicle usage, including when and how much the vehicle is driven. When a consumer decides that Autograph is right for him or her, the consumer and Progressive enter into an agreement that gives the company access to the data and affords the consumer protection as to uses of the data--only the company or the consumer have access to it.

A device the size of a videocassette is then installed in each vehicle. Data regarding when, where and how much the vehicle is driven is collected periodically and reported automatically using cellular communication technology. Progressive sought and has been awarded a patent by the Patent and Trademark Office of the United States Department of Commerce for the method of determining a cost for auto insurance with vehicle usage data.

"Up until now, no one has come up with a more accurate way of determining one's auto insurance premium," said Bob McMillan, Director, Consumer Marketing, Progressive. "Autograph works more like a monthly utility or telephone bill, with the consumer paying by the month based on actual usage rather than on historical data derived from groups of similar people and vehicles. It's simple, really. If you drive less, you pay less."

McMillan said: "In Houston, for example, consumers using Autograph are paying an average of 25 percent less using Autograph than they paid using a 'traditional' auto insurance product. Houston consumers tell us three things--they're paying less, they're in control and the system makes sense to them."

The company continues to offer its traditional auto insurance product everywhere it writes auto insurance. In Texas, however, some consumers who call Progressive will have a choice of auto insurance product that best fits their needs. Autograph may be the best choice for consumers who have more vehicles than drivers in the household, maintain low mileage on their vehicles, or use public transportation or use car pools.

Autograph may also be a good choice for consumers with security concerns. In addition to the auto insurance applications, consumers also enjoy the safety features that the technology provides for a small additional monthly fee including theft recovery, remote door unlocking, roadside assistance, directional assistance, and low battery detection. In addition, the system features a 'panic button' the consumer can use to be put in instant contact with a manned, 24 hour response center.

McMillan said: "Our strategy is one of offering consumers choices about their auto insurance. We offer them choices in how, when and where to buy and service their policy. With Autograph, we're expanding Texas consumers' choices to include which auto insurance rating method makes the most sense for them."

Progressive will continue the market test in Texas and will discuss the products' introduction with state insurance regulators in the year 2000.

Progressive provides consumers throughout the U.S. with competitively priced automobile insurance and in-person, 24-hour services and is the nation's largest writer of automobile insurance through Independent Agents. Progressive companies that write auto insurance receive the highest ratings available from A.M. Best, the independent company that rates the financial condition of insurance companies. The Progressive Corporation's stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:PGR).

More information about the company can be found on the World Wide Web at: http://www.progressive.com.

 

Uncle Sam Wants You!

Or

The FBI Drools in Anticipation

 

April 29, 1997

FBI Calls For Greater Wiretap Capability - The FBI is pressuring the nation's largest phone companies to install equipment in their new digital communications systems that will "significantly expand" the nature of electronic surveillance, according to a joint filing yesterday by privacy advocates and the telecommunications industry. That assertion was made in response to an FBI statement in March that a proposed industry standard for ensuring the use of wiretaps on digital systems "does not include all the functionality required to satisfy evidentiary needs dictated by law and the courts." The two documents are the latest volleys in an escalating dispute between tan industry that has historically been a valued partner of law enforcement, and the FBI, which views itself as an advocate for all federal agencies and police departments. The Washington Post (online); The Los Angeles Times, D6.

 

August 11, 1997

Digital-Age Wiretap Plan Draws Opposition - A 1994 law allowing government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct wiretap and surveillance activities on wireless telephone users is being challenged by privacy advocates and telephone companies alike. These groups have asked the Federal Communications Commission to intervene to ensure the FBI is unable to access portions of telecommunications networks besides those it is authorized to monitor. The New York Times, 2C; Los Angeles Times, 4D.

 

September 25, 1997

Lawmakers Vote Down Encryption Proposal - The House Commerce Committee officially rejected a far-reaching proposal backed by the FBI requiring all data scrambling products to include a backdoor allowing access to otherwise secure computer files and communications. The vote followed several hours of heated debate and weeks of lobbying by law enforcement agencies backing the amendment and high-tech companies, Internet firms and civil liberties groups opposing the plan. The vote was a victory for many of the Bell regional telephone companies, which previously announced they opposed the proposal. San Francisco Chronicle, online version; Reuter News Service, overnight.

 

September 26, 1997

Washington May Crash the Internet Economy - The recently thwarted Oxley-Manton amendment, which would have allowed law enforcement officials to have a "back door" into U.S. encryption products, underscores how the federal government is compromising the value of such products. The act would have ultimately prevented U.S. encryption products from competing with foreign products, which would be superior and more secure. In addition, the amendment would fail to resolve the FBI's concerns, as criminals and terrorists would still be able to elude law enforcement officials through the use of non-U.S. encryption products. The Wall Street Journal, 22A (Op-Ed piece y Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale).

 

December 16, 1997

Using Mobile Phones to Reach Out and Find Someone - At this time last year, there was no broad-based technology available for locating a lost wireless phone user who may need emergency help. But industry officials say that they are on the verge of changing that with new devices that can trace wireless calls. Officials believe the new technology will enable users to feel much safer, but others wonder what privacy issues are intruded upon as the industry becomes more advanced. USA Today, D6.

March 6, 1998

Telecom CEOs, U.S. Attorney General to Meet Today - The heads of 28 telephone carriers and equipment makers will meet with Attorney General Janet Reno to try to resolve long-standing differences over the future of wiretapping. The transition to modern, digital phone-switching equipment threatens the FBI's ability to conduct wiretaps, so Congress in 1994 enacted a law spelling out how phone firms should alter their systems to permit future surveillance. But the industry and the FBI so far have been unable to agree how to carry out that law. Reuter News Service, overnight.

 

March 26, 1998

Showdown Over New Wiretaps - Tomorrow, Attorney General Janet Reno will ask the FCC to make sure that FBI agents have the technical ability to be able to know the source of voice mail as well as a wireless phone call. Civil liberties groups will present a counter-proposal asking the FCC to reject the FBI's wiretapping wish list as an invasion of privacy. The FBI claims it's just trying to maintain its existing wiretapping authority as telephone services change and evolve. San Francisco Chronicle, online version.

 

July 17, 1998

FBI Seeks Access to Mobile Phone Locations - The FBI has asked the Senate Appropriations Committee to change the Justice Department appropriations bill to require telephone companies to provide police agencies with the precise location of wireless phone users, in some cases without a court order. Privacy advocates and the telecom industry oppose the measure, saying it is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy and would cost billions to implement. The New York Times, A10.

 

July 27, 1998

Senate's Internet Legislation Under Fire - A number of Internet bills have been attached to Senate appropriations bills after the bills received little support on their own. Civil liberties groups are opposing the bills, questioning whether senators understand or gave responsible consideration to complicated issues that could have long-term impacts on the global network. Critics say the Communications Decency Act II, the anti-Web gambling bill and an amendment to give the FBI access to the customer records of Internet service providers are unconstitutional. The New York Times, C5.

 

August 27, 1998

Phone Companies to Sue Justice Dept., FBI - Local phone companies are accusing the Justice Department and FBI of overstepping a law that lets law enforcement agencies tap into phone lines. The suit claims the FBI wants telecommunications companies to pay for most of its new equipment costs, which the companies say is inconsistent with the 1994 digital wiretapping law. Investor's Business Daily, online version.

 

September 14, 1998

A Call for Digital Surveillance Is Delayed - In a setback for the FBI, the FCC has given the telecommunications industry an additional 20 months to comply with a federal law meant to bring law enforcement surveillance into the digital age. The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act was intended to address complaints by the FBI and local law enforcement agencies that they were rapidly losing their ability to conduct wiretaps and other forms of electronic surveillance in the face of modern digital and wireless communications networks. The New York Times, C10.

 

October 19, 1998

FCC to Propose Mobile Phone Wiretap Plan - Weighing in on a long-simmering dispute between phone carriers, privacy advocates and the FBI, the FCC is expected to propose giving law enforcement authorities additional wiretapping capabilities. The FCC will seek public comment on a plan that proposes that telephone carriers tell law enforcers the location of a mobile phone user at the beginning and end of a tapped call. The proposal represents a compromise: The FBI has been seeking to pinpoint the actual location of wireless phones, whereas privacy advocates don't want any location information disclosed at all. Los Angeles Times, online version

 

Friday, Oct. 23, 1998

FCC Offers Rules Intended to Settle Wiretapping Dispute - The FCC has issued a proposed set of rules intended to settle a dispute over high-tech wiretapping that has pitted the FBI against the telecommunications industry and privacy advocates. Under the proposed rules, the FCC would give law enforcement some concessions, including the ability to get certain information about the location of a person using a wireless telephone. But the FCC rejected new capabilities requested by the FBI and deferred a decision on other issues, including surveillance of Internet communications. The New York Times, A17; Washington Post, online version.

 

 

 

Privacy on-line and on the Internet?

December 9, 1996

Do I Have privacy Online? -- Users signing onto the Internet to send e-mail, cruise the World Wide Web or participate in online discussion groups are increasingly being tracked and watched. The disturbing thing for privacy seekers is not just that phone numbers, driving records and social security numbers are now only a few mouse clicks away, but that every move users make can be watched and tracked -- by corporate networks or by hackers. 12R.

 

March 20, 1997

Code for New Digital Phones is Cracked -- A team of well-known computer security experts has cracked the electronic code meant to protect the privacy of calls made with new digital wireless telephones. The breach means that despite the phones' greater potential to protect privacy, they may in practice be little more secure than the analog cellular phones used for the last 15 years. Security experts say the code is easy enough to crack and that anyone with sufficient technical skills could make and sell a monitoring device similar to a police scanner, giving thieves the ability to pull credit card and calling card data out of the air. The New York Times, 1A, USA Today, 3A.

 

June 27, 1997

High Court Strikes Down Internet Smut Law -- The Supreme Court has called off the traffic cops on the information superhighway. The court struck down a federal law designed to keep smut off the Internet, making it much harder for Congress and states to keep Internet users from saying and doing whatever they want. The 7-2 decision, which praised the vast democratic potential of cyberspace, concluded that it is entitled to the fullest possible free-speech protection. But the ruling could allow for some narrow, carefully designed regulations to protect Internet users from copyright violations, invasions of privacy and consumer fraud. The Wall Street Journal, 1B, The New York Times, 16A, USA Today, 5A.

 

June 25, 1998

Gore Warns High-Tech Firms To Adopt privacy Safeguards - Vice President Al Gore warned high-tech executives the government will impose new laws unless their industry develops ways to better protect consumer privacy on the Internet. The Clinton administration has urged businesses that sell products on the Internet to better protect the information they collect about customers, such as names, postal and e-mail addresses, and tastes in reading and products. Some Web sites sell the information to third-party advertisers and others. The Wall Street Journal, online version.

 

July 29, 1999

Tracking Down Mobile Phone Users - One of the big challenges for the wireless phone industry in the next two years will be the task of following its customers. The FCC says that by early 2001, all mobile phone companies will have to provide 911 operators with the location of anyone calling on a cell phone so help can get to the right place. Several scientists at Bell Labs recently announced that they had come up with a way to reduce the cost of making this change. But the question of whether the systems for tracking wireless phones that are adopted will be an invasion of privacy is still an open question. The New York Times, online

 

November 15, 1999

Static over Phone privacy - In a battle that has implications for individual privacy and telemarketing, the FCC and phone companies are fighting over whether information the companies collect on their customers' calling habits can be used for marketing purposes without the approval of customers. U S West filed a lawsuit against the FCC in 1998, in which it was later joined by other phone companies, including SBC Communications. In August, the federal appeals court for the 10th Circuit in Denver agreed with U S West's claim that the regulations violated the company's constitutional rights. On Oct. 1, the FCC petitioned the appeals court for a rehearing. The Chicago Tribune, 1A (Nov. 14).

  

 

So who is Bert Pool?

I work for one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. During my 27 plus years in this field, I've about done it all. I have climbed thousands of telephone poles, placed hundreds of miles of wire and cable, installed and connected tons (literally) of telephone equipment for customers, spliced hundreds of thousands of wires together, written thousands of lines of computer code, spent years working with the finance operations department, and have touched practically every part of the telecommunications business. I currently manage a new area of expansion, Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Lines service (ADSL), the newest expansion into high speed Internet access. I also have terminated my cell phone service, and currently do not own a cell phone, even though I can get one at a tremendous discount.  

Can you guess where I am right at this moment?

No? And neither can anyone else!

Do you have any right to know where I am right this minute?

Of course not. And neither does anyone else.

That's the way it is supposed to be.

Protect your privacy - there are people out there who are stealing it from you and selling it for profit. 

Some of those unscrupulous people are bureaucrats that you elected.

Oh, you don't believe that your own government would abuse access to private information that you have given them?  For some glaring examples of government betrayal of your privacy trust, check out:

http://www.news-observer.com/daily/1999/01/28/biz07.html

http://www.idahonews.com/021499/NATION_/33851.htm

http://www.gocarolinas.com/news/carolinas/1999/01/23/sc_photodatabase.html

New - September 29, 2000: very interesting AP article which reinforces all I've been trying to warn people about:

http://www.nandotimes.com/technology/story/body/0,1634,500274132-500428151-502683820-0,00.html

If Nando Times has dropped the link, here is an alternate: Wireless tracking devices raise privacy concerns.htm    

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