How the Government Can Track Your Location
If not, click on it here. Below is a list of options for the phone, but you can ignore these for now if you're just trying to track a phone. The majority of the page is taken up by a big map, with a pin on it — hopefully pointing straight where your device is. If Find My Device can't locate your phone, you can try again by clicking the round arrow by the image of your phone, which will tell the tracker to try again.
Hopefully this time, it'll find your device. But you might need go to certain lengths to find your handset. The first option is Play Sound, which will make your device play a shrill sound for up to 5 minutes. If someone's near your phone, this will alert them to the fact you're looking for it, so hopefully they can help you out. To aid the communication is 'Secure Device'.
This lets you lock your handset and sign out of your Google Account. You can also leave a message to someone who finds the phone, including leaving a phone number to a friend or relative so the rescuer can contact you. Sometimes you might need to take the nuclear option though, if you have an inkling you won't get your phone back.
Erase Device totally wipes everything from your handset, including logging out of your Google account, so if you click this there's no going back — it's an irreversible option. Rural and desolate areas may see miles between base stations and therefore determine locations less precisely.
GSM localization uses multilateration to determine the location of GSM mobile phones, or dedicated trackers, usually with the intent to locate the user. The accuracy of network-based techniques varies, with cell identification as the least accurate due to differential signals transposing between towers, otherwise known as "bouncing signals" and triangulation as moderately accurate, and newer "advanced forward link trilateration " timing methods as the most accurate. The accuracy of network-based techniques is both dependent on the concentration of cell base stations, with urban environments achieving the highest possible accuracy because of the higher number of cell towers , and the implementation of the most current timing methods.
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One of the key challenges of network-based techniques is the requirement to work closely with the service provider, as it entails the installation of hardware and software within the operator's infrastructure. Frequently the compulsion associated with a legislative framework, such as Enhanced , is required before a service provider will deploy a solution. The location of a mobile phone can be determined using client software installed on the handset. In addition, if the handset is also equipped with GPS then significantly more precise location information can be then sent from the handset to the carrier.
Another approach is to use a fingerprinting-based technique,    where the "signature" of the home and neighboring cells signal strengths at different points in the area of interest is recorded by war-driving and matched in real-time to determine the handset location. This is usually performed independent from the carrier. The key disadvantage of handset-based techniques, from service provider's point of view, is the necessity of installing software on the handset.
It requires the active cooperation of the mobile subscriber as well as software that must be able to handle the different operating systems of the handsets.
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Google Maps. One proposed work-around is the installation of embedded hardware or software on the handset by the manufacturers, e. This avenue has not made significant headway, due to the difficulty of convincing different manufacturers to cooperate on a common mechanism and to address the cost issue. Another difficulty would be to address the issue of foreign handsets that are roaming in the network. The type of information obtained via the SIM can differ from that which is available from the handset. For example, it may not be possible to obtain any raw measurements from the handset directly, yet still obtain measurements via the SIM.
Crowdsourced Wi-Fi data can also be used to identify a handset's location.
Hybrid positioning systems use a combination of network-based and handset-based technologies for location determination. Both types of data are thus used by the telephone to make the location more accurate i. Alternatively tracking with both systems can also occur by having the phone attain its GPS-location directly from the satellites , and then having the information sent via the network to the person that is trying to locate the telephone.
In order to route calls to a phone, the cell towers listen for a signal sent from the phone and negotiate which tower is best able to communicate with the phone. As the phone changes location, the antenna towers monitor the signal, and the phone is "roamed" to an adjacent tower as appropriate. By comparing the relative signal strength from multiple antenna towers, a general location of a phone can be roughly determined.
Other means make use of the antenna pattern, which supports angular determination and phase discrimination. Newer phones may also allow the tracking of the phone even when turned on and not active in a telephone call. This results from the roaming procedures that perform hand-over of the phone from one base station to another. A phone's location can be shared with friends and family, posted to a public web site, recorded locally, or shared with other users of a smartphone app.
The inclusion of GPS receivers on smartphones has made geographical apps nearly ubiquitous on these devices.
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Specific applications include:. In January , the location of her iPhone as determined by her sister helped Boston police find kidnapping victim Olivia Ambrose. Locating or positioning touches upon delicate privacy issues, since it enables someone to check where a person is without the person's consent. In Malte Spitz held a TED talk  on the issue of mobile phone privacy in which he showcased his own stored data that he received from Deutsche Telekom after suing the company.
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He described the data, which consists of 35, lines of data collected during the span of Germany 's data retention at the time, saying, "This is six months of my life [ Spitz concluded that technology consumers are the key to challenging privacy norms in today's society who "have to fight for self determination in the digital age. China has proposed using this technology to track commuting patterns of Beijing city residents.
In Europe most countries have a constitutional guarantee on the secrecy of correspondence , and location data obtained from mobile phone networks is usually given the same protection as the communication itself. In the United States , there is a limited constitutional guarantee on the privacy of telecommunications through the Fourth Amendment. United States that the government violates the Fourth Amendment by accessing historical records containing the physical locations of cellphones without a search warrant.
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