The war between good and evil is a constant battle of wits. Though the law may create devices and technology to prevent and halt criminal activity, criminals will try and find ways to conquer what stands in their way. And this is exactly what’s happening with cell phones today. Cell phones may seem like harmless means of communication, but when fallen into the wrong hands, they become essential tools for the criminal mastermind.
Cell Phone Cameras
For a while, camera phones were actually helping to catch criminals. Citizens were taking the law into their own hands, recording robberies and other felonies, as they happened, and turning them into the police. But criminals have smartened up. Now, criminals are using camera phones to assist in robberies! It is a cold, calculated method of stealing. One gang member will photograph potential victims as they walk into the bank and choose the ones withdrawing the largest sums. Another gang member will wait outside until informed of who their target is. Once they know, they will follow that person and eventually rob them. Because of the increasing numbers of robberies of this nature, especially in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, police officials are urging banks to enforce a no cell phone policy.
Prepaid Cell Phones a.k.a “Burners”
Yet another useful and highly perilous tool for criminal activity is the prepaid cell phone. It’s cheap, disposable and cannot be traced. Moreover, within the last year, terror suspects in Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Texas were arrested with hundreds of prepaid cell phones at one time. The concern is that criminals are making a lot of money, which is going unreported and that money could end up funding terrorist organizations. Because prepaid cell phones facilitate criminal activity, several states as well as many other countries around the world, want to pass laws forcing consumers to provide identification such as a passport when buying prepaid cell phones. Doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, however there is great concern that this would be yet another intrusion on people’s privacy.
Wiretapping used to be an effective way of tracking criminals but now with the help of VoIP programs such as Skype, police have a much harder time getting through the red tape of wiretapping Skype-to-Skype communications. For one, Skype’s 256-bit Rijndael encryption is twice as thick as the one used for processing credit cards, making it nearly impossible to crack. Criminals in Italy have been using Skype and other VoIP systems for purposes of arms and drug trafficking, prostitution rings and organized crime. Skype will not share its encryption data with authorities, and as of yet, Internet telephony companies are not required to cooperate with police. A serious advantage to the criminal element, the National Security Association is offering hackers a reward if they can break the encryption key.
Cell Phone Jammers
Cell phone jammers were created with the purpose of preventing cellular eavesdropping. Now really, who would require such complete assurance of privacy? Not to say that anyone particularly wants someone listening in on their phone conversations, but we all have a pretty good idea who this device is useful to. Phone jammers are actually illegal in the United States, though other countries do allow them under certain circumstances. In countries where jammers are legal, corporations can use them to enhance security. Other countries use them to create a quiet atmosphere, such as in churches or theatres.
Even though they are illegal, criminals in the U.S. have been able to acquire them through the Internet. Police in Georgetown, Massachusetts, suspect that a robber may have employed the use of a cell phone jammer in order to prevent victims from dialling 911 from their cell phones. The robber was said to have been carrying a suspicious gym bag, which may have contained the jammer, but it exploded before any investigation could be made