[LINK] Oz/Times: 'Phone sniffer could find you in trouble'
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Fri Apr 4 16:42:51 EST 2008
[Comments at end]
Phone sniffer could find you in trouble
The Australian, reprint from The [London] Times
Adam Sherwin, London
April 02, 2008
HUSBANDS and wives who are not where they are supposed to be are in
danger of being "sniffed" out by a mobile phone service that gives
suspicious partners an electronic map showing the location of their
The Social Network Integrated Friend Finder (Sniff) is a new
application, accessed via Facebook or mobile phone, that could bring
an end to frantic "Where r u?" text messages.
The service, popular in Scandinavia, promises to provide users with a
detailed map of their friends' locations, any time and anywhere.
However, there are fears that Sniff could be abused by employers to
remove the last vestiges of privacy from staff.
Useful Networks, the US company behind Sniff, promised that only
consumers who gave their permission could be electronically tracked
by the service, which operates across all mobile carriers.
Having found the service popular in Scandinavia, Useful Networks,
owned by the US giant Liberty Media, hopes to introduce sniffing to
Britain this month.
The company plans to charge users about 75p ($1.63) for each location
sniff, with the results formobile customers sent by return SMS.
It will be the first Facebook application to apply premium charges to
customers' mobile bills.
The heaviest users in Sweden are wireless-connected members of the
social networking site, who have integrated the application into
their personal profile page.
Sniffing works through similar technology to that used by the police
to track down suspected terrorists or missing children via their
The phone sends a signal to nearby base stations. Positioning
software performs a triangulation calculation on the information from
the base stations and converts it into a geographical location.
Useful Networks chief executive Brian Levin told The Times: "Personal
privacy is paramount and sniffing should only be used by people you
"It is a fun way to solve the proven most popular text message, 'Where r u?'."
Travellers who find themselves lost in a new city could also make use
of the service.
"You can sniff yourself if you really need to," Mr Levin said.
But employees who are enjoying a long lunch or a secret liaison
instead of the business meeting in their diary could also find
themselves sniffed out.
Last week, the German supermarket chain Lidl was accused of using
Stasi-style methods to spy on its staff and collect details of their
[Generally, the report is accurate. But this bit?
" ... the service ... operates across all mobile carriers"
[ Given that the article emerged on 1 April, opinion is divided as to
whether it's a spoof or not. ]
Roger Clarke http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre Uni of NSW
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