13 January 2006

Who you call, when you call and for how long it's all for sale

AMERICAblog: All you need is the cell phone number you wish to track and a valid credit card.
I reported the other day that your cell phone records are on sale online for anyone to buy, without your permission. Well, this morning AMERICAblog bought former presidential candidate, and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (SACEUR), General Wesley Clark's cell phone records for one hundred calls made over three days in November 2005, no questions asked. (Clark's cell phone provider is Omnipoint Communications, which seems to be related to T-Mobile.)

All we needed was General Clark's cell phone number and our credit card, and 24 hours later we had one hundred calls the general made on his cell phone in November. The calls included a number of calls to Arkansas, to foreign countries, and at least one call to a prominent reporter at the Washington Post. To ensure that we actually had General Clark's correct cell phone number, we called the number this morning and the voice mail recording that answered said:

"Hi, this is Wes Clark, leave a message [unintelligible]."

News that cell phone records could be easily obtained is not a new revealation, but now with the disclosure that such a prominent citizen could also be affected has caused quite a mainstream media stir. Of course, the mainstream media is still in a slumber, not asking the appropriate questions and accepting at face value ludicrous explanations like someone can get records by contacting a cell phone company and pretending to be somebody else. Not that that can't and doesn't happen, but the mechanics of such a operation would not allow these services to offer fullscale availability of any cell phone customer's call data.

A Fox News report on Israeli spying in and on the U.S. lends claim that the culprit could be an Israel telecom.

Most directory assistance calls, and virtually all call records and billing in the U.S. are done for the phone companies by Amdocs Ltd., an Israeli-based private telecommunications company.

Amdocs has contracts with the 25 biggest phone companies in America, and more worldwide. The White House and other secure government phone lines are protected, but it is virtually impossible to make a call on normal phones without generating an Amdocs record of it.

In recent years, the FBI and other government agencies have investigated Amdocs more than once. The firm has repeatedly and adamantly denied any security breaches or wrongdoing. But sources tell Fox News that in 1999, the super secret national security agency, headquartered in northern Maryland, issued what's called a Top Secret sensitive compartmentalized information report, TS/SCI, warning that records of calls in the United States were getting into foreign hands in Israel, in particular.


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