Privacy International still awaits answers from Apple, BlackBerry, and others.
Back in July 2013, The Washington Post reported that nearly a decade ago, the National Security Agency developed a new technique that allowed spooks to “find cellphones even when they were turned off. JSOC troops called this ‘The Find,’ and it gave them thousands of new targets, including members of a burgeoning al-Qaeda-sponsored insurgency in Iraq, according to members of the unit.”
Many security researchers scratched their heads trying to figure out how this could be so. The British watchdog group Privacy International took it upon itself to ask eight major mobile phone manufacturers if and how this was possible in August 2013. On Monday, the group published replies from the four firms that have responded thus far: Ericsson, Google, Nokia, and Samsung. (Apple, HTC, Microsoft, and BlackBerry have not yet sent in a response.)
A research officer at the organization, Richard Tynan, wrote that “two themes stood out among the companies that replied: hardware manufacturers claim that they strive to switch off almost all their components while the phone is powered down, and if tracking occurs it is likely due to the installation of malware onto the phone.” Here are a few of the responses: