/e/ and cellphone provider tracking

e-roadmap
privacy

#1

I came across this article, it made me wonder: Will /e/ be able to help prevent us being tracked by cellphone network providers?

I know very little about this topic and technology, so I am not sure what to think of this.

Basically, as I understand it, what this article is pointing out is that the 4G technology allows for us to be tracked whether we want that or not, and 5G will make that situation worse.

5G means you’ll have to say goodbye to your location privacy


Cellular data and location
#2

As far as I know, noone will be able to us for these kind of tracking.


#3

As I see it (and understand it) you will never be able to completely hide when using cellphone provider because it would be technically very hard to not know your location, since they now precisely which cellular tower(s) you are connected to (because you have to be be connected to some if you want to be reachable) and they also have capability to locate you with pretty much exact location. I am not entirely sure how it works (probably signal strength which can be measured and translated to distance from cellular tower?). What I am trying to say, is that mobile OS has little to do with this, you can be traceable this way even with old good Nokia 3310 :slight_smile:

If you don’t want to be tracked this way, turn off your mobile :slight_smile:


#4

True. We have to decide what we want. I cannot hope to be invisible and still be connected with the rest of the world. To use a phone I would need a cell tower and by connecting to the tower I end up giving away my location. The important thing would be to protect how much of my information I end up giving away. That is the part we can control to some extent. That is what we at /e/ are trying to achieve. Looks like with 5G this battle will only get tougher.


#5

For the type of digital transmission used by the cellular networks, the path delay (time it takes for the radio signal to get from you to the tower) must be compensated so all signals from the various phones arrive in their correct slot. This also means the network has a good idea of how far away from each tower you are. From there it is easy to triangulate your position. This is phone independent. I assume 5G due to the higher data rates needs the time compensation to be even more precise giving even better position estimates.

Note also that if your phone has bluetooth on, it is possible to find your position using that. Some stores do this to track your position inside the store, work out what things you are looking at, send you targeted advertising and so on. WiFi is less of an issue unless your WiFi is radiating a signal (hotspot, discoverable).

If you don’t want to be tracked, the only solution is not to have a phone.


#6

:smile: that is the only solution right now if you want to be invisible and off the grid.


#7

Is that true? I thought “airplane mode” would also accomplish that, am I wrong?

(P.S.: Just to be clear, I do not want to be off the grid; rather, I want the grid - or more specifically, those who control the grid - to give me full control over how information about me is used. But my question wasn’t about how to be off the grid, or how to be invisible; my question was, What will /e/ be able to provide to help with this problem? I take it the answer is, /e/ will not be able to help.)


#8

As mentioned multiple times on the /e/ site or on the forum /e/ helps control the personal data of the user from flowing out. Which was happening on our Lineage or google phones. As regards preventing an individual’s location details from showing up there is no way that can be prevented on a phone connected to a telephone network.


#9

Could that SnoopSnitch is something for you


#10

It doesn’t protect you from provider’s surveillance — only just from being hijacked by hackers or gov agents (man-in-the-middle attack). Moreover, nothing is guaranteed.

What do you mean here? Does the LineageOS have any privacy problems by default?


#11

LineageOS isn’t a privacy focused ROM. It keeps sending data to Google and doesn’t have MicroG.


#12

The FAQ here should be helpful, especially, " Isn’t Android free software? Can’t I just install LineageOS without both GApps and microG?"

https://lineage.microg.org/


#13

Location services use WiFi to help give you your location, for maps, etc. After all, wifi range is shorter than 5G towers, I think. The location service thus is given, over internet, your locations versus time. Even /e/ uses Mozilla for location services. You have to trust someone, or only use GPS passively.


#14

I’d like to learn more about that. I figured that if LineageOS is based on clean AOSP and not filled with bloatware, than it wouldn’t call home to Mountain View anymore (changing default settings of the stock dialer and moving from 8.8.8.8 DNS should finish this). What else is wrong with LOS?

I’ve been using MicroG version since the beginning, and that’s why I’m so surprised right now.


#15

There is a progression from full-in G00gle- or Apple-ized, to using Replicant or not even having your own phone. I see /e/ as an option a bit farther over than microg-lineage, but nothing is perfect; everything has compromises.