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The Dark Side of Tracking Used Cell Phones

Much has been made of the benefits of “pinging” – a technique that is able to pinpoint the location of used cell phones by using cell phone masts – to catch criminals or help those stranded in remote areas, but the dark side of the technology has come out as the scandal surrounding Rupert Murdoch’s News International organization continues to deepen in the United Kingdom.  Journalists from the now defunct News of the World paper are being accused of having bribed police officers to use “pinging” to track down the location of celebrities via their used cell phones and then pass that information onto reporters.
Pinging is illegal unless authorized by police or security services and to do so without authorization is punishable by imprisonment, which has already happened to one individual associated with the News of the World, former editor Clive Goodman, who was sent to jail four years ago back in 2007.
The allegations are being made by the respected US paper The New York Times and the UK’s The Guardian, with former News of the World journalist Sean Hoare having confessed to the latter that he was able to track down a contact in Scotland by using the method via his editor, Greg Miskiw.  “If you were told to find someone you could go to the news desk, who would give Greg a piece of paper,” Miskiw told The Guardian yesterday.  “Greg would sort it out.  It would cost 300 (UK pounds).”