US government mandates special "emergency alerts" chip in all cell phones by 2012

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dandv

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Aug 6, 2006
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US government mandates special "emergency alerts" chip in all cell phones by 2012

Yet another Big Brother measure destined to shove presidential messages to every cell phone user, eat battery juice, and add to the phone's cost:

A new national alert system is set to begin in New York City that will alert the public to emergencies via cell phones. [...] starting next year, all cell phones will be required to have the chip that receives alerts [...] The Droid X already has the chip. The system will use GPS technology to send geographically-targeted alerts: information about public safety threats, Amber Alerts for missing children, and presidential messages. Users can't opt out of the presidential messages. [The alerts] eventually might include audio and video content.

article-1385454-0C0042A800000578-812_468x629.jpg


Below is a summary I cobbled together from the scarce information provided by the FCC here and here, and from press coverage.

The service is called "Personal Localized Alerting Network" or "PLAN" (technically called the "Commercial Mobile Alert System") and is scheduled to be available in New York by the end of 2011 and throughout the United States by April 2012, as a consequence of the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act passed by Congress in 2006, which allocated $106 million to fund the program[1].

All new phones will be required to have the special chip, and according to AT&T spokesman Robert Quinn, some iPhones and Android phones already have it. It is confirmed that the Droid X (released in June 2010) does support PLAN and has a special "Emergency Alerts" app. Although this means the chip has been out there for at least one year, there is no precise list of which phones have the chips.

Carriers that will participate ahead of schedule are AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. The alerts will be text-like messages of 90 characters or less, and they'll be geographically targeted using GPS technology (does this mean that the chip will send your location continuously?). Alerts will be accompanied by a unique attention signal and vibration (helpful to people with hearing or vision disabilities). The PLAN alert will appear as a pop-up text, different from regular text messages. PC World reported that the alerts "eventually might include audio and video content".

Alerts will be pushed via wireless carrier cell towers, but are designed to not suffer from the congestion that can affect regular SMS text messages.

The CMAS Third Report and Order mentions that cost recovery is left as a decision for carriers: they may choose to absorb the costs themselves, or pass them on to customers.

Phones that already have the PLAN technology

* Motorola Droid X (sources)
* Sanyo Innuendo (source: Sprint spokesperson Crystal Davis, 571-288-6806, crystal.davisATsprint.com via Business Wire)
* Sanyo Vera (source: as above)
* Sprint "plans to launch more PLAN-capable mobile devices later this year, and include PLAN technology in all new Sprint phones by the end of 2011." (source: as above)

Has anyone heard of this? It's been 3 weeks since the news was out and I haven't seen any followup in the media. The technical information is also extremely scarce. A few questions can be raised.

Concerns with the PLAN chip

UPDATE: see a comment from reddit, which addresses most of these issues.

1. Why is there so little precise technical information on a measure that will affect every single phone manufactured since 2012?

2. The cited reason for having an extra chip embedded in each cell phone is that the current SMS infrastructure can get congested in times of emergency. However, PLAN still uses wireless carrier cell towers to push messages (as opposed to a different frequency, like the ones used for radio clock synchronization or GPS). The GSM standard already supports Cell Broadcast (CB) messaging. This FCC paper from 2007 states that "Cell broadcast is already resident in most network infrastructure and in most phones, so there is no need to build any towers, lay any cable, write any software, or replace terminals". What is the exact justification of the extra chip? If the existence of the chip is a misunderstanding of the media, then why don't existing phones work with the system already? Why do we need new phones that are "PLAN-capable"?

3. Why limit the system to 90 characters of text, instead of relying on the existing multimedia message infrastructure, which can be used to send, for example, such critical information as a photo of an evacuation map? Also, the system is not backward compatible with the over 300 million mobile phones already in place in the United States, while using SMS is (more on these issues). It will take a few years (5?) for all phones to support PLAN. How many lives will be lost in the meantime? SMS is available now. Also, old people, the ones most likely to be affected by certain kinds of emergencies, tend to use very simple phones and to be very late adopters of new technology. Their phones do support SMS though.

4. Does the technology use GPS, as BBC mentions? The battery drain and surveillance implications are major.

5. Users can't opt out of “Presidential” messages. What safeguards are in place that would prevent an oppressive government from abusing this technology?

6. The design of the system is not available. How can the users know that it won't be abused? The chip could be programmed to snap a picture from the phone's camera, or to covertly record audio, upon receiving a certain signal. Remote activation of a phone's microphone has already been done by the FBI using the so-called roving bug.

7. What is to prevent the government-required software from receiving a certain signal or message which would disable the cell phone or its Internet access (useful in times of civil unrest, as has been seen in the Arab Spring revolts)?

8. Will rooting phones or custom ROMs become illegal, especially if one modifies the function of how the PLAN network interacts with the smartphone?

Sources and media coverage

The only first-hand press coverage I've seen dates from May 10-11, and there's been nothing since.

* National Emergency Alert System Set To Launch In NYC, with audio from the announcement. 800+ users comments, mostly against the idea. "For now, the alerts are capable on certain high-end cell phones but starting next year, all cell phones will be required to have the chip that receives alerts."
* Engadget - text of the press release. "Participating carriers are including PLAN chips in their new phones, and many recently purchased phones already have the chip and only will require a software upgrade."
* Wired: Bloomberg, FEMA, FCC Detail NYC Emergency Notification System: "The assembled wireless-company executives, including AT&T CEO Randall L. Stephenson and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, pledged their support for the system and said new devices will be equipped with a PLAN chip. [...] a list of compatible phones would be posted soon on the FCC’s website [...] Officials didn’t go into detail about the technical specifications of the new network."
* PC World: FCC Calls for Mobile Alert System (2008): "The alerts initially would be text only, though with vibration and audio signals for people with disabilities. They eventually might include audio and video content." (confirmed at FCC's site)
* MacDailyNews: U.S. gov’t mandates special chip in all cellphones; users can’t opt out of presidential messages: "It will use GPS technology and will send some of the alerts based on the location of the phone user."
* Daily Mail UK: Don't write off a text message from the president as a prank: It's an emergency and he might just save your life...: "A special chip is required to allow the phone to receive the messages"
* NY Times: Emergency Alert System Expected for Cellphones: "special chip [...] is currently included in some higher-end smartphones like the latest iPhones"
* USA Today: Cellphones get emergency alerts: "Some current cellphones, including some iPhones and some Android phones, already have the circuitry required to receive PLAN alerts. The iPhones that have the capacity to get alerts, says AT&T's Robert Quinn, will require software modifications. New AT&T phones due out in October will be PLAN-ready."
* NY Post: "Officials said at least three models already have the chip: the Droid X, the iPhone 4 and the Innuendo." The emergency alert feature and app (which can't be uninstalled) are confirmed on the Droid X. Note that the Droid X was released in July 2010.
* BBC: Mobile phone emergency alert system to launch in US: "Mr Bloomberg unveiled the Personal Localized Alerting Network, or Plan, on Tuesday, explaining that the system will implemented through a special chip installed on new mobile phones. The system works through GPS technology and will send some of the alerts based on a user's location."
* AFP: US alert system targets mobile phones: "The alerts will be text-like messages of 90 characters or less."
* Associated Press: Cellphone alert system announced in NYC: "A special chip is required to allow the phone to receive the messages. Some smartphones already have the chip, and software updates will be available when the network goes online later this year."
* FEMA page - no technical details, and nothing beyond what the press said
* slashdot and reddit

Specs

CMAS/PLAN specs I dug up. They seem to indicate that Cell Broadcasts will be used, but all specs are paywalled from $125 and up.
 
Last edited:

BonesRed

Senior Member
Apr 27, 2010
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0
Lower East Side, NYC
Hadn't heard about this at all. I'm not for it, I don't see why I can't just opt-in to a service like this, no special chip required at all. When I was in college, after the VA Tech shootings the University started a service to alert everybody in case of an emergency. Hell, my job has an automated system that tells us when there's an unexpected closing. But apparently the government needs a chip for that purpose. Absurd.
 

dschneider81

Member
Jun 29, 2010
11
1
0
Call me naive, but I'm not as paranoid about this. Sure, the gubmint does all sorts of monitoring they shouldn't, but going so far as to install a special chip in every cell phone in the country? They can't hide that. It's out in the open, to be dissected and shown to the world for what it is. I can't imagine they'd do something so brash. They'd never live it down.
 

SuperDeform

Senior Member
May 5, 2011
946
10
38
How much you wanna bet there's going to be a lot more in that chip than just something allowing you to receive warning messages.

How about full on tracking and voice recording?
Patriot Act.

I seen sum videos on yutube dat most new cellphones r bein tapped to hear your voice conversations bcuz of terorist acts :(
 

Dirk

Senior Member
May 11, 2009
12,424
3,809
0
I see the Tin-Foil hat brigade have come out in force..

paranoia.jpg


How is this not a good thing?

The Police cannot be everywhere at once, but the public is! If a child goes missing and a member of the public sees them, how is that not WIN for the child?

tin-foil-hat.jpg
 

LordManhattan

Senior Member
Oct 20, 2007
15,047
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Kepler-34b
If you haven't done something wrong, then you don't have to worry..

But wait, that's not the discussion is it? It's healthy to be a little bit skeptic, but paranoid? Not so much.
 

dandv

Senior Member
Aug 6, 2006
214
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0
California
wiki.dandascalescu.com
The "nothing to hide" argument again

If you haven't done something wrong, then you don't have to worry..

This is the common "nothing to hide" argument. It suffers from four problems:

* aggregation: if you bought a book on cancer, that won't raise any flags, but if you bought a wig as well, that suggests you're undergoing chemotherapy, something you might not want to be known

* exclusion - people are most of the time unaware of what information is being kept or tracked about them. When they accidentally find out to what extent they are being monitored, the reaction is one of shock.

* guilt by associaton - since you have no idea how your information is used and aggregated, what if some of the purchases you make or places you visit happen to match a pattern observed in actions of government enemies (not terrorists, but "hostile or critical journalists, campaigning lobbyists, businessmen who are likely to sponsor rival parties, people who oppose the party leader's favourite idea of the year")? Once you get on a watch list, even due to an error, it's extremely hard to get out of it. Read Hasan Elahi's story of how he was inadvertently detained by FBI agents in 2002, and since then, he publishes everything he does online, so that he can be monitored properly ("The government monitors your movements, but it gets things wrong. You can monitor yourself much more accurately").

* distortion - if you buy books on cellphone hacking, the government might think you want to thwart surveillance or avoid a roving wiretap; while you might simply be doing security research or writing a novel

More at http://tinyurl.com/debunk-nothing-to-hide .
 
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matchosan

Senior Member
Nov 26, 2009
84
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Mililani, Hawaii
Did someone say the sekrit word?

Exactly. We have all the infrastructure we need for text message; they are fast, cheap, and don't require forcing manufacturers to add yet another chip into the phone.

There is money to be made. If each chip costs $10 to install. Think of all the denirro they are going to make. Plus some sort of upkeep tax to pay the director head(read: ol'bud:D) with.
 

CardnalSyn

Senior Member
May 9, 2011
53
3
0
what better way to keep track of ppl than a chip in a cell phone? Come on ppl...EVERYBODY has cell phones. Next its gonna be RFID tags under ur skin...
666...
 

abrigham

Senior Member
Nov 26, 2008
75
3
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Pensacola, FL
Personally, I like the idea of getting alerts like this, and I think their execution does make some sense. Let me explain: In order for them to use the text message infrastructure to do a mass broadcast, they would first have to get the message to the service providers who would then have to transmit the message to their customers - adding in potential points of failure. Or, they would have to get the providers to hand over a list of all current cell phone #'s to send the alerts directly (which would cause even more uproar) and would cost manpower on both sides in order to keep that list up to date. With the new chip/firmware, it takes all of that out of the equation - no "middle man" needed and the government doesn't have to maintain a list of phone numbers. I'm also guessing that the way you would opt-out would be to essentially turn off the chip through a software switch.

That being said, as much as I understand the thought process and them wanting to be able to broadcast messages to all cell phone users, I too would much rather it be an opt-in type of service - which would negate my entire argument above :)
 
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matoya

Member
Feb 23, 2011
41
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Hmm... a government required chip in every cell phone? I'm not usually a conspiracy kind of person, but why do I get the feeling that no good can come of this?
 
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dardragon

Member
Oct 14, 2010
33
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STOP WASTING MY PRECIOUS HARDWARE SPACE!!

They could've used that spot to place some other chip to improve the phone and just make an app or something

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I897 using XDA App
 

dandv

Senior Member
Aug 6, 2006
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wiki.dandascalescu.com
With the new chip/firmware, it takes all of that out of the equation - no "middle man" needed and the government doesn't have to maintain a list of phone numbers.

Those are good points. Also, in times of emergency, the phone network might become congested, while broadcasting to the chip is essentially a multicast message, which can't suffer from congestion.

As long as the chips are not identifiable and don't transmit information back, I'm okay with them (minus concerns about extra cost and battery drain). They'd be like a GPS receiver, or an atomic clock receiver.

But how can we verify that? Who will manufacture them? Will their hardware and software designs be public? Probably not, so as not to increase the risk of abuse by those who'd love to spam millions of people.

That being said, as much as I understand the thought process and them wanting to be able to broadcast messages to all cell phone users, I too would much rather it be an opt-in type of service - which would negate my entire argument above :)

Unfortunately, that wouldn't work, due to human psychology: people are way less likely to opt into a service that has dubious benefits, and opting in takes effort.

For example, consider organ donation in case of a fatal traffic accident: in Germany, which uses an opt-in system, only 12 percent give their consent; in Austria, which uses opt-out, nearly everyone (99 percent) does. The only difference is in the organ donor registration form:

Germany: Check this box if you would like to be an organ donor.
Austria: Check this box if you would not like to be an organ donor.

I'm also guessing that the way you would opt-out would be to essentially turn off the chip through a software switch.

But you can't opt out of presidential messages. And one can imagine those messages being used for more than emergency alerts. The US lives in climate of terror that makes Americans believe that TSA pat-downs improve security (they don't, they kill people because more take the freeways instead of planes, and about 500 extra people die each year in traffic casualties; plus $4B in lost business).

Presidential messages you can't opt out of are an easy way to escalate the fear-mongering with "terror threat alert" messages. They can later serve as a political platform capable of previously unbelievable reach, pushing the presidential propaganda down the throat of hundreds of millions of cell phone users.

But if we think like psychologists again, what will be the government's response to the comment above? Probably something like "People who hate the presidential messages will just ignore them, so calm down".

And that is exactly the problem: potential mass indoctrination of those who are mildly in favor of the regime, or who are neutral, or not pissed off enough with it. And this is how you get the most converts; not by targeting those vehemently against your opinion. And converts equals votes.
 
Last edited:

zman519

Senior Member
Oct 27, 2010
2,221
249
143
the Land of Beer & Cheese
This is total MOD EDIT: LANGUAGE I don't want "them" sending me crap! If they want ppl to hear them then the U.S. gov. Can make a MOD EDIT: LANGUAGE app!

Sent from the Drivers Seat of my Suby txting and Driving doing 100MPH+ in a school zone! Ha.
 
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    US government mandates special "emergency alerts" chip in all cell phones by 2012

    Yet another Big Brother measure destined to shove presidential messages to every cell phone user, eat battery juice, and add to the phone's cost:

    A new national alert system is set to begin in New York City that will alert the public to emergencies via cell phones. [...] starting next year, all cell phones will be required to have the chip that receives alerts [...] The Droid X already has the chip. The system will use GPS technology to send geographically-targeted alerts: information about public safety threats, Amber Alerts for missing children, and presidential messages. Users can't opt out of the presidential messages. [The alerts] eventually might include audio and video content.

    article-1385454-0C0042A800000578-812_468x629.jpg


    Below is a summary I cobbled together from the scarce information provided by the FCC here and here, and from press coverage.

    The service is called "Personal Localized Alerting Network" or "PLAN" (technically called the "Commercial Mobile Alert System") and is scheduled to be available in New York by the end of 2011 and throughout the United States by April 2012, as a consequence of the Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) Act passed by Congress in 2006, which allocated $106 million to fund the program[1].

    All new phones will be required to have the special chip, and according to AT&T spokesman Robert Quinn, some iPhones and Android phones already have it. It is confirmed that the Droid X (released in June 2010) does support PLAN and has a special "Emergency Alerts" app. Although this means the chip has been out there for at least one year, there is no precise list of which phones have the chips.

    Carriers that will participate ahead of schedule are AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. The alerts will be text-like messages of 90 characters or less, and they'll be geographically targeted using GPS technology (does this mean that the chip will send your location continuously?). Alerts will be accompanied by a unique attention signal and vibration (helpful to people with hearing or vision disabilities). The PLAN alert will appear as a pop-up text, different from regular text messages. PC World reported that the alerts "eventually might include audio and video content".

    Alerts will be pushed via wireless carrier cell towers, but are designed to not suffer from the congestion that can affect regular SMS text messages.

    The CMAS Third Report and Order mentions that cost recovery is left as a decision for carriers: they may choose to absorb the costs themselves, or pass them on to customers.

    Phones that already have the PLAN technology

    * Motorola Droid X (sources)
    * Sanyo Innuendo (source: Sprint spokesperson Crystal Davis, 571-288-6806, crystal.davisATsprint.com via Business Wire)
    * Sanyo Vera (source: as above)
    * Sprint "plans to launch more PLAN-capable mobile devices later this year, and include PLAN technology in all new Sprint phones by the end of 2011." (source: as above)

    Has anyone heard of this? It's been 3 weeks since the news was out and I haven't seen any followup in the media. The technical information is also extremely scarce. A few questions can be raised.

    Concerns with the PLAN chip

    UPDATE: see a comment from reddit, which addresses most of these issues.

    1. Why is there so little precise technical information on a measure that will affect every single phone manufactured since 2012?

    2. The cited reason for having an extra chip embedded in each cell phone is that the current SMS infrastructure can get congested in times of emergency. However, PLAN still uses wireless carrier cell towers to push messages (as opposed to a different frequency, like the ones used for radio clock synchronization or GPS). The GSM standard already supports Cell Broadcast (CB) messaging. This FCC paper from 2007 states that "Cell broadcast is already resident in most network infrastructure and in most phones, so there is no need to build any towers, lay any cable, write any software, or replace terminals". What is the exact justification of the extra chip? If the existence of the chip is a misunderstanding of the media, then why don't existing phones work with the system already? Why do we need new phones that are "PLAN-capable"?

    3. Why limit the system to 90 characters of text, instead of relying on the existing multimedia message infrastructure, which can be used to send, for example, such critical information as a photo of an evacuation map? Also, the system is not backward compatible with the over 300 million mobile phones already in place in the United States, while using SMS is (more on these issues). It will take a few years (5?) for all phones to support PLAN. How many lives will be lost in the meantime? SMS is available now. Also, old people, the ones most likely to be affected by certain kinds of emergencies, tend to use very simple phones and to be very late adopters of new technology. Their phones do support SMS though.

    4. Does the technology use GPS, as BBC mentions? The battery drain and surveillance implications are major.

    5. Users can't opt out of “Presidential” messages. What safeguards are in place that would prevent an oppressive government from abusing this technology?

    6. The design of the system is not available. How can the users know that it won't be abused? The chip could be programmed to snap a picture from the phone's camera, or to covertly record audio, upon receiving a certain signal. Remote activation of a phone's microphone has already been done by the FBI using the so-called roving bug.

    7. What is to prevent the government-required software from receiving a certain signal or message which would disable the cell phone or its Internet access (useful in times of civil unrest, as has been seen in the Arab Spring revolts)?

    8. Will rooting phones or custom ROMs become illegal, especially if one modifies the function of how the PLAN network interacts with the smartphone?

    Sources and media coverage

    The only first-hand press coverage I've seen dates from May 10-11, and there's been nothing since.

    * National Emergency Alert System Set To Launch In NYC, with audio from the announcement. 800+ users comments, mostly against the idea. "For now, the alerts are capable on certain high-end cell phones but starting next year, all cell phones will be required to have the chip that receives alerts."
    * Engadget - text of the press release. "Participating carriers are including PLAN chips in their new phones, and many recently purchased phones already have the chip and only will require a software upgrade."
    * Wired: Bloomberg, FEMA, FCC Detail NYC Emergency Notification System: "The assembled wireless-company executives, including AT&T CEO Randall L. Stephenson and Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, pledged their support for the system and said new devices will be equipped with a PLAN chip. [...] a list of compatible phones would be posted soon on the FCC’s website [...] Officials didn’t go into detail about the technical specifications of the new network."
    * PC World: FCC Calls for Mobile Alert System (2008): "The alerts initially would be text only, though with vibration and audio signals for people with disabilities. They eventually might include audio and video content." (confirmed at FCC's site)
    * MacDailyNews: U.S. gov’t mandates special chip in all cellphones; users can’t opt out of presidential messages: "It will use GPS technology and will send some of the alerts based on the location of the phone user."
    * Daily Mail UK: Don't write off a text message from the president as a prank: It's an emergency and he might just save your life...: "A special chip is required to allow the phone to receive the messages"
    * NY Times: Emergency Alert System Expected for Cellphones: "special chip [...] is currently included in some higher-end smartphones like the latest iPhones"
    * USA Today: Cellphones get emergency alerts: "Some current cellphones, including some iPhones and some Android phones, already have the circuitry required to receive PLAN alerts. The iPhones that have the capacity to get alerts, says AT&T's Robert Quinn, will require software modifications. New AT&T phones due out in October will be PLAN-ready."
    * NY Post: "Officials said at least three models already have the chip: the Droid X, the iPhone 4 and the Innuendo." The emergency alert feature and app (which can't be uninstalled) are confirmed on the Droid X. Note that the Droid X was released in July 2010.
    * BBC: Mobile phone emergency alert system to launch in US: "Mr Bloomberg unveiled the Personal Localized Alerting Network, or Plan, on Tuesday, explaining that the system will implemented through a special chip installed on new mobile phones. The system works through GPS technology and will send some of the alerts based on a user's location."
    * AFP: US alert system targets mobile phones: "The alerts will be text-like messages of 90 characters or less."
    * Associated Press: Cellphone alert system announced in NYC: "A special chip is required to allow the phone to receive the messages. Some smartphones already have the chip, and software updates will be available when the network goes online later this year."
    * FEMA page - no technical details, and nothing beyond what the press said
    * slashdot and reddit

    Specs

    CMAS/PLAN specs I dug up. They seem to indicate that Cell Broadcasts will be used, but all specs are paywalled from $125 and up.
    4
    How much you wanna bet there's going to be a lot more in that chip than just something allowing you to receive warning messages.

    How about full on tracking and voice recording?
    Patriot Act.
    1
    The "nothing to hide" argument again

    If you haven't done something wrong, then you don't have to worry..

    This is the common "nothing to hide" argument. It suffers from four problems:

    * aggregation: if you bought a book on cancer, that won't raise any flags, but if you bought a wig as well, that suggests you're undergoing chemotherapy, something you might not want to be known

    * exclusion - people are most of the time unaware of what information is being kept or tracked about them. When they accidentally find out to what extent they are being monitored, the reaction is one of shock.

    * guilt by associaton - since you have no idea how your information is used and aggregated, what if some of the purchases you make or places you visit happen to match a pattern observed in actions of government enemies (not terrorists, but "hostile or critical journalists, campaigning lobbyists, businessmen who are likely to sponsor rival parties, people who oppose the party leader's favourite idea of the year")? Once you get on a watch list, even due to an error, it's extremely hard to get out of it. Read Hasan Elahi's story of how he was inadvertently detained by FBI agents in 2002, and since then, he publishes everything he does online, so that he can be monitored properly ("The government monitors your movements, but it gets things wrong. You can monitor yourself much more accurately").

    * distortion - if you buy books on cellphone hacking, the government might think you want to thwart surveillance or avoid a roving wiretap; while you might simply be doing security research or writing a novel

    More at http://tinyurl.com/debunk-nothing-to-hide .
    1
    Personally, I like the idea of getting alerts like this, and I think their execution does make some sense. Let me explain: In order for them to use the text message infrastructure to do a mass broadcast, they would first have to get the message to the service providers who would then have to transmit the message to their customers - adding in potential points of failure. Or, they would have to get the providers to hand over a list of all current cell phone #'s to send the alerts directly (which would cause even more uproar) and would cost manpower on both sides in order to keep that list up to date. With the new chip/firmware, it takes all of that out of the equation - no "middle man" needed and the government doesn't have to maintain a list of phone numbers. I'm also guessing that the way you would opt-out would be to essentially turn off the chip through a software switch.

    That being said, as much as I understand the thought process and them wanting to be able to broadcast messages to all cell phone users, I too would much rather it be an opt-in type of service - which would negate my entire argument above :)
    1
    As long as the chips are not identifiable and don't transmit information back, I'm okay with them (minus concerns about extra cost and battery drain). They'd be like a GPS receiver, or an atomic clock receiver.

    Sure, the chips would most likely be receive only in some low freq band such as 400Mhz, but they could EASILY instruct your phone to start logging the phones GPS position "which would probably also be in this chip" and then just send the data back through the cell network when deemed neccessary! I wouldn't at all doubt the "chip" would have gobs of NVRAM in it.. so you better burn or crush that phone or all its secrets could be revealed. This is almost like them pushing to make "black boxes" mandatory in future vehicles.. people... its coming!
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