It looks like the sale of an individual’s location information on the black market has come of age.
T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are selling access to their customers’ location data, and that data is ending up in the hands of bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it, letting them track most phones in the country.
Nervously, I gave a bounty hunter a phone number. He had offered to geolocate a phone for me, using a shady, overlooked service intended not for the cops, but for private individuals and businesses. Armed with just the number and a few hundred dollars, he said he could find the current location of most phones in the United States.
The bounty hunter sent the number to his own contact, who would track the phone. The contact responded with a screenshot of Google Maps, containing a blue circle indicating the phone’s current location, approximate to a few hundred metres.
Queens, New York. More specifically, the screenshot showed a location in a particular neighborhood—just a couple of blocks from where the target was. The hunter had found the phone
The hacker group CCC reported several years ago at a conference in Germany that the tools needed to ping a cell phone WITHOUT THE OWNERS AWARENESS were available. A phone could be pinged secretly and its GPS coordinents read. This GPS information is detailed enough to tell if two people (or at least their phones) are sleeping in the same or separate rooms of a house and if the phone is on the first or second floor.