How The CIA Can Send A Drone After Any Mobile Phone

New revelations from the CIA's killer UAV program show how the agency is able to lock Predator drones on targets through their mobile phones--even after they have turned their phones off.

Since 2001, armed Predator drones have been used by the CIA in many foreign nations to attack individuals on the ground. There's a new revelation about them, too: In some cases, the NSA helped the CIA find targets by locking onto their powered-off mobile phones. Even when phones have their batteries removed, it appears the NSA still has the ability to locate them.

Buried inside a Washington Post story by Dana Priest is the following tidbit:

By September 2004, a new NSA technique enabled the agency to find cellphones even when they were turned off. JSOC troops called this "The Find," and it gave them thousands of new targets, including members of a burgeoning al-Qaeda-sponsored insurgency in Iraq, according to members of the unit.

At the same time, the NSA developed a new computer linkup called the Real Time Regional Gateway into which the military and intelligence officers could feed every bit of data or seized documents and get back a phone number or list of potential targets. It also allowed commanders to see, on a screen, every type of surveillance available in a given territory.

"The Find," the Post article says, is run by a team in the basement of the NSA's headquarters whose job is to track the location of mobile phones in real time. Because many phones have chips that stay on even after a battery has been removed, tracking powered-down phones is within the realm of possibility.

The revelations fit right in with the Edward Snowden disclosures, but the NSA isn't the only one tracking phones: Other government agencies and private companies regularly track them without warrants or court orders as well.

[Image: Teknolgeek]

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21 Comments

  • Commercial and nation-state owned spy satellites can beam microwaves at any mobile phone, even when battery is removed.

    Starting in approximately 2011, CMOS batteries were manufactured stronger to enable it to be remotely turned on to power GPS when the mains battery is dead or removed.

    Smartphones have manyl RFID unique identifiers which are detected by RFID scanners regardless whether the smartphones are on. Their RFIDs are: wifi MAC address, bluetooth MAC address, FM radio transceiver/radio beacon, NFC, GPS and SIM card. http://rfidroundup.blogspot.ca/2013/03/new-boosted-nfcrfid-tag-front-end.html

    "From the video on the manufacturers site, www.gemalto.com/telecom/upteq/nfc.html "Look inside the SIM" it appears the sim(V4?) will have an NFC radio in it, with no off switch like your phone has for its NFC. . ." http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r28362704-RFID-sim-cards.-good-bad-no-effing-way-

  • Commercial and nation-state RFID scanners on commercial spy satellites, nation state owned spy satellites, highways, toll bridges, light rail stations, etc. http://www.reddit.com/r/privacy/comments/24dzq9/spy_satellites_eavesdrop_on_fm_transmitters_cell/ http://www.reddit.com/r/privacy/comments/27wdkv/my_dog_getting_surgery_to_remove_carcinogenic_and/ http://www.reddit.com/r/privacy/comments/24vh22/geolocated_tracked_eavesdropped_on_by_fm_radio/

    When not in use, store smartphones and their batteries inside three tightly closed mylar bags. Fasten bags with rubber bands. Can recycle clean used food mylar bags.

  • dismantl

    "Because many phones have chips that stay on even after a battery has been removed"... Do you have evidence of this? RAM holds a charge for a matter of seconds after a power source is removed, but most phones do not have secondary power sources or batteries.

    No where in the quote from Priest's article does it say anything about tracking phones with batteries removed, or using this tracking to "lock predator drones on targets".

    This is sensationalist, sloppy journalism, from someone who clearly doesn't know the technology involved.

  • billie zook

    I am a Torture Victim where ever I go...phone or no! The satellites pick us up in various ways....but the phone IS one important tool. I am asking that You Support INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE as a website that Supports FC ! They sent me here. Human RIghts Activist life long. NOW....Please HELP US OUT HERE>>>im out of Country now and we NEED You desperately for NEWS! We want to save You and Your Families and LOVED ones from what is happening worldwide. DRONES have no Borders ! And no Plan to leave ANYONE ALONE!! SUPPORT with what you can afford..$5 $!10 anything. !!! FC-Too, if it needs help! GOD BLESS YOU WHERE EVER YOU ARE! BILLIE Z

  • Wayne

    I think that tracking turned off cells is an overblown promise. Even with a capacitor, the range of transmission would be very small... Not enough for a drone to detect. Turned on phones are another matter.

  • Tommy

    The US Military (the NSA) has required all Internet connected electronic device makers, like Samsung, HTC, LG, Apple, Google, Sony, HTC, Microsoft, GM, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, etc., to embed backdoor access in all their software & hardware in those products. The NSA has forced these manufacturers to violate the Patriot Act and the 4th Amendment to monitor each of us through our PC's, smart phones, OnStar Systems, tablets, xBox's, Skype, Office 365, DropBox, Carbonite, Google Drive, Laptops, iCloud, SkyDrive, cars, trucks, boats, etc.

    Using this back door access the NSA now has the capability to store everything and anything about each of us (device audio, video, keyword searches, email content, web sites visited, contacts, GPS locations, etc) . They now have your voice-print, and face image (for facial recognition systems). The NSA has admitted they can turn on any of your devices at any time and use the microphones and/or cameras and convert all your conversations to text and store it forever. The new UEFI BIOS in PC's and Laptops was specifically designed with NSA surveillance in mind.

    America is becoming scary ... a N.a,z.i kind of scary.

  • Raymond R. Reines

    Google search Mossad 9/11, or Military Knows Israel

    The Truth is scary...a New World Order kind of scary...

  • eltiare

    - "Even when phones have their batteries removed, it appears the NSA still has the ability -  to locate them" 
    - What is this magic ?
    The magic might be capacitors, though I doubt this ability lasts for very long. 

  • sunsense

    "Even when phones have their batteries removed, it appears the NSA still has the ability to locate them"

    What is this magic ?

    How do phones transmit, when their batteries are removed ?

    Yes, chips will keep data stored, put they need power to both receive and transmit.

    I smell hot, steamy, stinky BS on this one.

  • tom

    It's called a capacitor, no brain surgery here. If you have an old style tv in your house unplug it for a few days. Then try to remove the second anode (wire inside connected to the top of the picture tube) without getting killed.

  • polpot

    Yes, the capacitor remains charged because there is no current path for it to discharge. The discharge path is the electron beam, but without the emitter hot the electrons are not going anywhere.
    If you tried to use a capacitor in a cell-phone to power a transmitter for even a very short period of time, that capacitor would be discharged. Even if the capacitor is charged, if the transmitters are not running, how would they track the phone? An active transponder required receivers to run. An active transmitter requires that the system is running; but you turned it off!
    Passive transponders exist, but they are very short range since they are powered by the transmitted signal.
    So, the article is pure bull-shit.
    The problem is, with such bull-shit articles, it makes me question the validity of everything else reported here. That is a shame, since it makes a lot of sense.

  • Raymond R. Reines

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT: SMART METERS USE CELLPHONE TECHNOLOGY...

    Is there a "Smart Meter on YOUR home or place of work..?

  • 3 Just Me 33

    Sorry, that comment was to the someone on facebook who said, "Now I know why they give phones to the poor.

  • 33 Just Me 33

    Why? So they can send a multi million dollar drone and a $78,000 missile to kill one poor person... Um no. LMAO

  • Abrasuspiernas

     The Americans have a big problem. The GOVERNMENT does not love the people, worse still regard them as merchandise, fill them with drugs and these drugs are hindering the reasoning. They allow children to rape, kill animals in danger of extinction, human and drug trafficking with the only condition to pay large amounts of money

  • Abrasuspiernas

     When American personality ever think about important events, these opinions do not criticize the criminal actions of nortemericano state departments, trying to turn the criminal act reprehensible attitude and that's it. Never branded as terrorist act against the whole world. Then you recognize these "personalities" like trying to measure agents or criminal discontent creators of atomic bombs and so an invasion fustificar

  • Bonkers Broadcasting Co

    I'm going to start selling screened cases, I'll make billions, Nnnnyaaaaa ha ha ha ha, Nnnnyyyaaaaa ha ha ha