Is Your Cell Phone Bugged?


Informant: Dorothee Krien


Cell Phone SECURITY warning

In the US, several high powered commercial radio stations have been slapped by the FCC for RF field levels exceeding safe levels in areas of the station where employees had to work.

FCC RF field limits are set based on short-term and mid-term effects such as RF heating of tissue possibly causing cataracts in those exposed every day. Those big commercial stations use tens of thousands of watts, and buildings directly under the tower can locally concentrate RF fields, especially if any structure is present whose dimensions approach any odd multiple of 1/4 wavelength(about 3 meters in the FM broadcast band, for instance).

It is well known in radio engineering that intense local RF fields are dangerous! The maximum safe power for hand held transmitters is generally believed to be about 5 watts-and their antennas are intended to be held away from the body. This would be equivalent to a 1/2 cell phone(some are 1/4 watt these days) with its antenna at least four inches away from your head.

While studies of RF risks from cell phones are getting contradictory results, the math says that a cell phone antenna 1/2 inch from your skull(as it is generally used) with 1/2 watt of power give you as much absorbed energy as perhaps 300 watts(!) from a hypothetical hand held with a long antenna pointed away from the body at a 1 foot distance. Remember, with any form of electromagnetic field, power varies with the square of the distance.

I suspect a lot of hams would not want to run a 300W hand held transmitter very long-and one pirate radio station with only 50W routinely warned everyone to stay off the roof when the antenna was energized.

Anyway, these figures suggest that any danger from cell phone systems comes from the phones themselves, not the towers. Anyone using a cell phone will get so much RF from the handset you could not measure any effects from the tower-no matter what these effects turned out to be.

If studies found cell phones to be causing health problems, I would not be at all suprised based on the extremely high field levels generated by having the antenna so close to the skull. If people didn't insist on the phones being so damned small maybe the antennas could be kept farther way from the face.

Since people are not dropping like flies on DDT from using their phones, my guess is that most people are not harmed, most of the time. This does not mean something is safe for everyone, of course. If you get headaches while using a cell phone, either get rid of it or use some kind of aftermarket antenna that is not so close to your head.

As for cell phones, there is another problem with them that can land yu in PRISON-security! I'm not talking about intercepted call, though that's bad enough. It turns out that the FBI or anyone else who can talk your provider into putting the phone in "diagnostic mode" can use it to listen to ROOM AUDIO at least ten feet away.

I tested the sound quality possible with this by putting a small audio recorder in my backpack, walking ten feet away and talking. It recovered clearly understandable audio! Assume that any cell phone present at a meeting is doing the same, and REMOVE THE BATTERIES when not in use.

In the current issue of the Earth First! Journal there is a very good article about cell phone security hazards.

In Congressional testimony about "roving wiretaps" it came out that most cell phones can be signalled by the tower to go into "diagnostic mode" and at that point they broadcast all audio reaching the microphone. Some models will do this even when turned off, but none ca transmit with the battery removed.

A "roving wiretap" gives both audio and location-either by GPS or by the older and now automated method of triangulation.

Any time you are going somewhere you need to be able to deny having been,or any time you are going somewhere you want to not be immediatly findable by the cops, you need to leave the phone behind or remove the battery.

Before any meeting, all participants should pull out any cell phones they are carrying and remove the batteries. It's not enough to put them in a bag on the far side of the room, as my own testing has verified.

When I heard about this, I ran a simple test: I set my audio recorder(used for making Indymedia audio) to record, put it in a backpack, and walked 10 feet away indoors. Then I started talking, and guess what? The audio was clearly understandable. Assume the microphone in a cell phone is just as good, and keep the battery OUT when discussing secure matters.

The safest way to use a cell phone is not to, followed by putting the battery in only when you need to make a call or be available for calls. The disadvantage of this is obvious: you become hard to reach. At a mimimum, you should be aware of your phone any time the battery is hooked up-or anyone near you has one that has its battery installed. This way, you won't tell the FBI something you have a need for them NOT to know.

What is a cell phone? It is a computer with software you do not control and cannot modify hooked to a speaker, a microphone, and a radio transciever. In other words, it is the perfect bugging device.

Informant: lukekuhn


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