RUSH: Tim in Wynantskill, New York, nice to have you, sir. Welcome to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. It’s an honor to talk to you — and it’s pronounced Wynant-skill, New York. It’s about 50 miles east of Albany.
RUSH: I’ve never heard of it and I probably will never go there, but I appreciate the pronunciation correction.
CALLER: I have to repronounce [sic] it to people all day long wherever I happen to be traveling.
RUSH: So it’s Wynantskill?
CALLER: That’s correct.
RUSH: Okay. Well, I apologize. See, but that won’t take away from accuracy rating, because that’s not an opinion.
CALLER: Well, the reason for my phone call is Fox News ran a story a little over a week ago about that the FBI could actually turn your cell phone on and listen to your conversation even when your phone wasn’t on, and there really hasn’t been any play…
RUSH: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait just a second. They can turn your phone on and listen to your conversation even if your phone’s not on? So how will you have a conversation when your phone isn’t on?
CALLER: Well, what I find out between seeing that report and talking to you is there are technology through the cellular phone companies that allow them, with permission of the FBI to actually turn your phone on, even when your phone is off, and listen in. The technology does exist. My question to you is —
RUSH: Wait, wait. Hold it. Before you get to the question, I have to understand this. If your phone is off, then there’s no way you intend to have a conversation, so even if they can turn it on —
RUSH: — you’re not having a conversation because you think it’s off. So what are they listening to?
CALLER: The reason it’s true is even when your phone is off, there’s continual signals going to the local —
RUSH: I know that. I know that. But you’re talking about them listening in to a conversation that you’re having when you’re not having one.
CALLER: Well, they can listen to the conversation that’s going on in the room even though you may not be talking on the phone, and that’s a scary part.
RUSH: Okay. Let me see, now. I have here in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers, my new iPhone.
RUSH: The iPhone is off. Are you suggesting to me that if the FBI wanted to, they could call AT&T — this is the service provider for iPhones — and turn this phone on, even though I don’t know it’s on, and they could be listening to me right now talk to you on this phone that’s off?
CALLER: That’s exactly what the report on Fox said, and the only play I’ve been seeing on it is on the blogs on the Internet where it is given some play, and I’m flabbergasted this isn’t a national outrage. I’m just flabbergasted.
RUSH: Now, I heard the story. I don’t remember this detail, but I do remember the aspect that the FBI is able to listen in on cell phone conversation, but I was not aware that my innocent little iPhone here that’s powered down could be turned on at anytime. Actually, what he’s saying is it doesn’t needed to be turned on.
CALLER: That’s right. (cell breaking up)
RUSH: Well, no. What he’s saying is that this thing is constantly sending out a signal whether it’s on or off, and when it’s sending out a signal — see, the thing is, this doesn’t sound workable to me. I’m trying to understand this. I’m not talking to anybody on the phone. So if I think it’s off and they turn it on, or they tap into what’s happening with the phone, you’re saying they can hear a room conversation through the phone microphone, not listening to a phone call itself, just listening to what the microphone of the phone is picking up?
CALLER: That’s the crux of the story, that it was a way for Big Brother to go listen in, and the outrageous part of the story was that the federal government claimed that they were going to use the technology against organized crime. As if organized crime is the biggest issue facing our country today. It just sounds like BS.
RUSH: You mean like what’s going on in the NBA?
CALLER: Right. Let’s find out if the referee was actually taking money for the game.
RUSH: So organized crime is the biggest problem, not terrorism?
CALLER: That’s what this story was.
RUSH: All right. Well, look, we’ve been even while talking to you. We have been researching this and we found a story about this on ZDnet. I’m not going to have time to read it ’til the next break, but I’ll look at that, and I’ll be able to more accurately comment to you once having read the details of the story.
CALLER: May I ask you (garbled) before I go?
RUSH: All right, your phone’s breaking up, so the FBI is probably listening in here. I hope he’s okay out there.
RUSH: All right, we’ve got the details here on this cell phone being activated by the FBI, activating the microphone even when you think the phone is off, being used as an eavesdropping tool. This story is from last December. This story is almost a year old. ‘December 1, 2006 — The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone’s microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations. The technique is called a ‘roving bug,’ and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him. Nextel cell phones owned by two alleged mobsters, John Ardito and his attorney Peter Peluso, were used by the FBI to listen in on nearby conversations. The FBI views Ardito as one of the most powerful men in the Genovese family, a major part of the national Mafia. The surveillance technique came to light in an opinion published this week by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. He ruled that the ‘roving bug’ was legal because federal wiretapping law is broad enough to permit eavesdropping even of conversations that take place near a suspect’s cell phone. Kaplan’s opinion said that the eavesdropping technique ‘functioned whether the phone was powered on or off.”
The only solution you have to this is to peel your battery out of there. It’s the only thing you can do. If you have an iPhone, you can’t do that. You have to send the phone to Apple to get the battery replaced. You could take the phone apart if you want to, but it’s not as simple as in other phones. Now, here’s the thing. The judge, Lewis Kaplan, approved the roving bugs. So there was judicial oversight, precious judicial oversight. Like the FISA Court. There was precious judicial oversight here, before they activated the program. So how does this violate anything? If a judge approved it, how does it violate anything? (interruption) Well, I’m just reacting to… (interruption) I’ve known for a long time. I know how cell phones work. I’ve been told for years that when you think your phone is off, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s not transmitting. You can be tracked. If somebody knows your number, you can be tracked. The company can find out where you are. I first heard about this when I lived in Manhattan. People were crossing the George Washington Bridge or the 59th Street Bridge, and I forget how I found out about this. It was an event that alerted some consumer that his phone was being tracked. Oh! I’ll tell you what it was. There were thieves, electronic thieves stationed on the Manhattan side and the people crossing the 59th Street Bridge were having their phone numbers stolen because the phone is broadcasting all the information, whether it’s on or off. That’s where I first learned that all this was possible. I’ve not heard of this particular story, and I don’t know what’s triggered this in the last couple days because I’m aware this story being brought up again, but it’s nine months old.