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Your Smartphone, Facebook, Foursqare And Your Mobile Carrier Track You


It's common, that everyone of us visits same places day by day in his or her everyday routine, and those visits are at the same time everyday: home, office, gym, shop, home again. Our daily route is pretty stable, but it is rather unique too. The research held by Belgium and American scientists has shown that it is rather easy to tell one such a track from another.

New research

We at checked that research and offer this brief review to our readers. The database, that contained depersonalized information about time and locations of phone calls and SMS messages of 1500000 users were gathered. It had records regarding last 15 months and its analysis has shown that to identify a man, using depersonalized records form that database is really simple, you need to know at least 4 points on the track, which contain location data and time stamp.

Two different points

Two points let researchers to tell one individual track form another for more than a half of all users, and eleven points are enough to tell every single track one from another. You can see examples of those “individual tracks” on a picture below. Those scientists compare that unique mobile track with fingerprints and the conclusion is that it can be used for identification.


As we've already said, database contain any personal information, and it is known that Sprint/Nextel have such databases and they provide it to law enforcements without any warrant. So, we can see that mobile carriers are helping to track us. Verizon, for example even sells such a private information to third parties. Even more, now, law enforcements have special devices that can spoof cell towers and log your location with all the traffic.

So, as it goes, you may find a couple of such track-points of every man from an open sources, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and easily find his or her tracks, which will allow you to see all the movements of the target. The best helper for evildoers here is Foursquare, because there anyone can find location data all together with exact time stamp.

That method also give a great accuracy, the database used for analysis contained location data gathered with cell tower triangulation with really low accuracy and time stamps were accurate to hours. Such a combination gave prominent result. Also, as you probably see, the degree of uniqueness of those mobile tracks with be lower, due to the low accuracy of the database data, those mistakes were easily levelled with using more track points.


Also, the quantity of user is also has low effect, because the density of base stations is higher, where there are more users and that is the reason why in rural areas one base station may provide a 15 km accuracy for cell tower triangulation, an in big cities the accuracy of the technique is up to 0.15 km. Also, 94% of all people rarely leave a 100 radius territory. That is why this technique works great for big territories, as for lots of users.

So if you are cell phone user – it is the right time to think about would you like to have somebody watching you? And you should know that not only law enforcements can do it, evildoers can too, that is why it is better to be preapered to face that kind of tracking with a cell phone blocker, which will make sure that you will leave no mobile track.

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