BTW, there is no "triangulation", neither for phones or for towers.
- phones usually use a combo of nearest tower, nearest wifi, and GPS. Occasionally, they use TDOA (time difference of arrival) which measures signal delay between three or more towers to estimate location. This is not "angulation". It could be called trilateration, but really it's TDOA.
- the apps do not triangulate towers. They use a database of known tower locations. AFAIK, apps do not have the authority on the phone to use the phone's radio baseband to suss out the nearest towers (although the phone does this). This tech may have evolved, so if you could cite an example of the app you're talking about, I'd love to examine it.
Good luck on that. Wireless telecom is entering an era of "het nets" or heterogeneous networks. The modern network is no longer big towers with wide ranges, but is made up of concentric circles, sectors, micro cells, femtocells, DAS, Wi-fi offload, and more. The public's ability to keep up with every LEGIT cell tower's location is fading.
Then, there are LEGIT temporary cells, called COWs, or Cells on Wheels, which the carriers move around for special events, etc. Stingray's would look a lot like these.
It will be a non-trivial matter to identify the Stingrays among all that heterogeneity. Or, to put it in radio terms, you're gonna have a hard time separating the signal from the noise.
And even then, what if you figure out that the new tower you suspected is not a Stingray...well, you're still susceptible to a tower dump. So, you won't be able to conclude that you are being "bugged", nor that you are not being bugged.
So, because of some bad laws, and even worse Law Enforcement practices, we are cornered between two evil forces: The criminals and the crimes they commit, and the justice system and the crimes it commits.
We're just collateral damage in the crossfire.
There will always be at least one crazy douche that commits a terrible crime, and so the system will always have their justification to erode our 4th rights. The cops say what the politicians say: never let a good crisis go to waste.
As a cellular industry consultant and long-time geek, I've had two personal cell phones since 1999. One was a US phone with an account at a US carrier, and the other was always a "world phone" with multiple bands, and bought full price and unlocked, which I used as a travelling phone.
Whenever I went abroad, most countries would sell a SIM card in the airport, or on the main street shops, I'd just pop it into my phone, and in most cases, incoming calls were then free (to me). This was way better than the $4/min AT&T was offering.
I spend years doing this with great ease. Most developing countries had low fees for the SIM, and the EU was easy, but Japan and Korea were tougher because of technology differences. But through the period of 2002 through 2009, the world pretty much closed down for SIM card business.
Most countries now require a very large amount of personal data on a person for them to get a SIM card or cellphone. You need to provide passport numbers, local Citizen IDs (Spain), an official home address in the country (France). India, after the Mumbai bombings, required photocopies of the passport, an address (hotel), some forms completed. Bear in mind, this is all at some tin box roadside vendor. He collects the paperwork, sends it by bike to the town's main telco branch. The telco processes it. In my case, some small error on a form meant that my SIM card was cancelled 2 days after I paid for it, and in the middle of my trip. Fun.
So, globally, now it's pretty hard to just pick up a local SIM. They want to know exactly who you are. That applies whether you're a terrorist, a holidaymaker, or a business shmoe.
Bear in mind, same thing has happened in hotels. Used to be you could travel anonymously, but now a passport is somehow a required document for a hotel room in many countries.
Not false. An active GSM radio must maintain a line of communications with the nearest towers, or if out of range, try to contact a tower. This activity is largely listening to control information from the BTS (tower), but some confirmation replies are also required.
While I agree that this kind of standby power use is much lower than active transmissions of data, over couple of days, even when the phone is not actively used, the "Control channel" traffic will cause some notable battery loss. When powered off, this should not occur.
Lovers of open systems are still free to get on board with other totally open, Linux based mobile OSes, like Moblin. Except of course, that they all suck. And always have. But still, you're free to go there if that's what you truly want.
But it turns out that developers, handset vendors, and customers all prefer the structure that can be provided by a strong hand on the rudder. Android not completely open, but it's not closed either. Yet it benefits greatly from the strong guidance provided by Google - an SDK, a roadmap, an app marketplace, etc.
Google also has two versions, more or less. The more proprietary version they offer to their handset partners, and Android Open Source Project (ASOP) version. BTW, note that the handset partners have a lot of leeway in altering Android, adding credence to the "openness" of it.
But if you want even more open than Android, I have a long list of mobile OSes that were mostly open. They all failed compared to their more structured counterparts. -java (I worked on this here in 1997-99) -Symbian went open in its dying throes -Moblin -Tizen -MeeGo -Mer -Jolla -Ubuntu Mobile
Notice any big successes in that list? Me neither. It seems the one consistent defining characteristic of a fully open mobile platform is: terrible market adoption. So while a small cadre of true linux geeks continue to moan and try to reveal the "secret" that Android "isn't really open", the majority of us already know, and we don't care.
Re: The patent system as such isn't broken: corporatists use it.
OOTB, you are positively a terrible reader, with consistently lacking retention and comprehension.
You wrote that Mike criticized IV and the patent system "without quite admitting the possibility that AmEx too is a bad actor". You'd have to be an idiot to miss this:
"I'll note that AmEx's argument here is totally nonsensical... I'm sure AmEx also got a nice tax deduction for "donating" the patent to CMAF (CMAF's website plays up that there are tax benefits to donating patents to it). And then IV gets to still sue a bunch of AmEx competitors over the patent AmEx insisted it was donating for the good of the public... Nice trick."
And, PS, I recall that AmEx, at least years back, was a paying client of Techdirt expert insight, but Mike still criticizes them openly. It speaks to integrity. You could never spot integrity, because you can't get past the hurdle of understanding language.
Well, can't blame the consumer too much. I mean, where would you buy your phone if you didn't want to work with an aggressive patenter? You'd have a hard time choosing a phone, or any tech hardware at all.
The rules are set that create the perverse incentives, so companies respond. Don't hate the player, hate the rules.
"From right in the city park, where I left them. I figured why take them home every night, then back to the park the next day, so I just left them there. But when I came back, they were gone."
"Here's an idea. You should not leave your stuff in a public park where its free for anyone to access. People won't know whether it's public property, private, a freebie, and eventually some person will surely just take it. Next time, take your toys home, and put them inside your house. Then, lock your house."
"Wow. That's easy to do. Thanks for the great advice."
The LA Times reporter stated some truth, but you and many others misinterpret it because the reporter wasn't clear enough:
"But the Google equipment also gathered and stored data from unencrypted networks, including personal emails, usernames, passwords, videos and documents."
What that really means is:
But the Google equipment also captured the bits that happened to be transmitted in the few seconds as they were driving by. If those networks were not locked, that means Google would capture bits that represented parts of emails, web pages, or whatever content the WiFi network was broadcasting openly at the time.
You see, the way the reporter positioned it, and the way you read it, it makes it look like Google went poking around INSIDE the "victim's" LAN network, snooping into PCs and programs to take documents, emails, etc. They did not. They just stored what was being transmitted freely into the streets, as they briefly drove by.
You want security for your documents and emails (from Google), don't broadcast them, unencrypted into the street. Not when Google drives by...or not really ever. Easy to achieve.