It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of someone spying on a phone without a police wiretap was considered utterly ridiculous. Ordinary people weren’t important enough for surveillance. That is a comforting thought. For a long time, most sane people would have said it was impossible to spy on a person using their own technology. Edward Snowden showed us that there was a rabbit-hole, and we all live inside it. I decided to take a look at how deep the problem really goes. What I found didn’t make me happy at all.
Can someone spy on you through your phone camera? Yes, they can. In theory, it should only be the government initialism agencies (think CIA, DEA or FBI, etc.) who have the right to ‘spy,’ like that. The police can get permission in exceptional circumstances as well. The requirements for that level of privacy invasion are incredibly strict. Unfortunately, what is and what should be are not the same. Hackers, plus anyone who can locate and purchase the right programs, could also use your phone to spy on you.
Get Your Tinfoil Hat, Big Brother is Watching and Listening
It sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory, and it is. The problem is that it’s also true that the NSA can spy on you. In fact, not only is it possible, they already do. If you aren’t familiar with Edward Snowden and his revelations to the world about America’s spy capabilities then you might want to look it up. We live in a society that is just short of Orwellian.
Long Story Short
The short version of Edward’s story is that the government has the ability to electronically monitor you. They use it and collect the data to sift through. In theory, they’re looking for things like terrorist threats. It’s a smart system. Programs they use monitor phones and computers, or really any electronic communication device.
In addition to monitoring electronics, the NSA can turn them on at a distance. Any device that can connect to wireless internet is free game. Once upon a time, covering cameras up was something paranoid people did. Now it’s common sense. Privacy rights are unfortunately not what they used to be. So long as the government does the spying, you have zero recourse.
Eavesdropping Vs. Wiretapping
Eavesdropping is about overhearing something. Usually, someone does this to you on purpose. When a neighbor, friend or stranger amplifies, records or transmits your conversation it’s eavesdropping. Sometimes it is illegal, but it can happen by accident.
Baby monitors are known for both transmitting and receiving outside of their designated frequency range. More often than not they pick up wireless landlines or other baby monitors, but this kind of eavesdropping isn’t by design. It just happens.
When someone wiretaps you, they use a device or program to listen to your phone conversations. Realistically it is a physical connection to your system anywhere between you and the other side of the discussion. So, while it’s legal for the government to listen in, private wiretapping is not alright. Unfortunately, if a third party happens to overhear the conversation without tapping indirectly, the laws aren’t quite as clear. People can’t be arrested and charged with owning ears.
What if someone makes a copy of your conversation? Naturally, this might bother you. How bizarre is the thought that your phone might be taking a video or audio recording of you right now? Again, the government and law enforcement agencies can do this no matter how you feel about it. Private citizens are different. Some states have so-called One Party Consent. That means either person can record a conversation without the other knowing. Eleven states require Two Party Consent. Predictably, that means you both have to agree for it to be okay.
How Can I Tell if My Phone is Tapped
While it is not easy to tell a phone is being monitored, there are still some signs. When you know what to look for, it can tip you off to a possible problem. Whatever your reason for wanting it, privacy is your right. Or it is up to a point anyhow. You can check for these warning signs and you just might catch someone spying.
- Weird Text Messages- Have you been getting messages that are just numbers, symbols and letters? Messages that don’t make sense can be a glitch in the spy software, especially if you get them often.
- Watch Your Data- Does it seem like you keep running out of data sooner than you should? Your phone is transmitting something you aren’t aware of. It might be your information.
- Going Dark- Does your phone shut down when it shouldn’t? Spy software is known for being unreliable. Buggy software causes problems.
- Dead Battery- Got a problem with keeping a charge? Batteries can get old, but if you have more than one or two other signs, battery drain might be caused by your phone giving up your secrets.
- Strange Noises- Have you got gremlins, glitches and static when you make calls? A corrupted cell signal might be caused by listening software.
There is One device that seems to have some success at blocking outside hackers from listening through your phone. This inexpensive microphone blocker can be found on Amazon. Click Here for more details.
Can Anyone Just Spy on Me When They Want
Sadly, yes. Don’t get too paranoid just yet. They have to want it enough to pay for it, sometimes more than once. Also, they’d be risking jail and fines in most places. Anyone with sufficient motivation and desire can try their best to spy on you. It’s possible. Someone can tap your camera, steal your text messages and so on. No one wants to hear it, but it’s true. It’s also less likely than you might think.
There are dozens of online programs that offer to spy on anyone for you. In theory, you pay, then type in a phone number. Afterward, you can gain access to everything except live calls in most cases. This is good news/bad news because most of them don’t work. If you look at the online reviews there are more scams than spy programs.
On the other hand, some of the spy programs work. Modern phones are computers. Your computer or phone can get hacked. Spy programs are merely a commercial version of hacking.
How Can I Try it For Myself
Spy software is essentially hacking for dummies. You or anyone with the right program can use another persons’ phone camera. Downloading stored data is another option. Keep in mind; stolen information isn’t something you could use in a court case. You could even get in trouble for it.
You don’t have to do any of the hard work, but a good spy program is expensive. A fake spy program is also expensive, so buyer beware. Should you decide to try this for yourself, it’s pretty straightforward.
- Find a functional spy program. You will need to check reviews carefully. Often you will find one site gives a one-star review and the next gives four stars. Make sure the reviews aren’t paid for whenever possible.
- Download. Each app will have the directions you need to handle installing the program.
- Follow the steps. You probably need to sign up for an account. Likewise, you have to have the phone numbers for any devices you want to monitor. Add them to your program.
- Keep tabs on anyone. Please be aware that this might be very illegal depending on the circumstances. If you want to monitor your own underage children, it’s considered protecting them. Otherwise, you need consent.
When you discover someone has been monitoring your phone, using your camera, downloading your messages, it can be scary. What should you do about it? First, you need a new phone. Get a different model of phone. Definitely, change your number and consider switching services. Next, ask a lawyer what you can do in your area. Consider pressing charges.
Wiretapping is incredibly illegal. Not every state uses the term felony. However, those that do list wiretapping among them. You have rights, and a reasonable expectation of privacy is one of them.
As alarming as it is to know you can be spied on, it’s better than not knowing the truth. It is tough to avoid becoming paranoid, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. Sometimes, you have to face reality even when you don’t want to. It feels like a violation and it is a violation, but rights are a social construct. You have to act on your own behalf to protect your privacy and there is only so much you can do.
Can someone hack older phones? If you have an old fashioned flip phone with none of the bells and whistles, then probably not. Technology that doesn’t connect to wifi also doesn’t respond to it. A smartphone is a computer by another name. Your computer can get hacked. Your data can get stolen, so can your identity. You can even get a virus on a modern phone. That’s progress for you.
How do you stop your phone from listening to you? There are four ways to stop a cell phone from ‘hearing,’ what’s around it for certain. The first choice is to get rid of your phone, this is the most obvious and effective. Also, it’s probably the most expensive. Secondly, you can simply take the battery out. Lastly, you could put it in some sort of sound dampening container. The last choice is that you could jam your own signal.
Can someone track my phones’ GPS? Again, yes. GPS and any wireless signal can be co-opted. In the post-Snowden and Wikileaks era you probably already know that ‘big brother,’ tracking you isn’t a delusion for foil hat wearing lunatics. The government, police, hackers and anyone else with the right equipment or programs can follow a GPS signal. Technology is a wonderful thing unless it’s working against you.