Because we are in the Stupidest Timeline, this was the plot of Charlie's Angels.

Cops Can Find the Location of Any Phone in the Country in Seconds, and a Senator Wants to Know Why:

"I am writing to insist that AT&T take proactive steps to prevent the unrestricted disclosure and potential abuse of private customer data, including real-time location information, by at least one other company to the government," a May 8 letter sent from Wyden to the President and Chief Executive Officer of AT&T reads. [...]

In his letter to AT&T, which has similar text to letters sent to other carriers, Wyden writes that this check amounts of "nothing more than the legal equivalent of a pinky promise."

"The fact that Securus provides this service at all suggests that AT&T does not sufficiently control access to your customers' private information," the letter adds.

In Shocking Drop of Second Shoe:

Hacker Breaches Securus, the Company That Helps Cops Track Phones Across the US:

Most of the users in the spreadsheet are from US government bodies, including sheriff departments, local counties, and city law enforcement. Impacted cities include Minneapolis, Phoenix, Indianapolis, and many others. The data also includes Securus staff members, as well as users with personal email addresses that aren't explicitly linked to a particular government department. [...]

"Location aggregators are -- from the point of view of adversarial intelligence agencies -- one of the juiciest hacking targets imaginable," Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University, told Motherboard in an online chat. [...]

"Track mobile devices even when GPS is turned off," the Securus website reads. "Call detail records providing call origination and call termination geo-location data," it adds.

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13 Responses:

  1. Kevin says:

    Third act: "Senator Introduces Bill to Keep Senators' Cellphone Data Private". I'm sure that Dianne Feinstein's aides already have the draft copy on her desk.

    • MattyJ says:

      Most Senators carry a Jitterbug so I'm not sure there's much meat in there for any hackers.

      • thielges says:

        Even jitterbug locations can be tracked without GPS. They use cell tower triangulation instead.

  2. MattyJ says:

    Charlie's Angels (1976) is surprisingly prescient 40 years on. Major plot points at the time:

    A drug lord smuggling heroin.
    A serial killer that only kills women.
    Human trafficking/prostitution (multiple episodes.)
    Murder of a reporter that uncovered info about a scandal.
    An assassin murdering former military officers.
    Police corruption.

    And that's just the first season. I'm afraid to go through the second season plotlines to see what's in store for the rest of 2018.

    • jer says:

      All of those things were commonplace in 1976, so I guess what you wanted to say is that nothing has changed.

    • James says:

      Bosley was my role model throughout adolescence, he and that guy on the speakerphone.

  3. ennui says:

    it's a world where the most valuable business is a brand which contracts out the manufacture of cellphones. that's a world where the most valuable thing you can do is to create a "brand". that's what the advertising information economy is about and no privacy law is going to change what has become the fundamentals of profit growth.

    • NT says:

      At least a few years ago, the mandatory tracking device doesn't even report your location to the cops when you call 911. If you're in SF, calling 911 on a cell phone just connects you to the highway patrol.
      Those who would give up a little privacy for a little security may be a little naive.

  4. Rob says:

    Interesting related discussion (though I don't know enough to know how much is real and how much is preening): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17081684

  5. Jeff Bell says:

    It's Chekhov's database.

    s/go off/get leaked/

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