Special Reports
Is the �echo� a sign of cell phone tapping?
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 29, 2008, 00:16

(WMR) -- The complaints are coming mostly from journalists and political activists, however, they all ring of the same problem: some twenty percent of cell phone calls are met with the receiver hearing his or her own voice coming back in an echo. And its a new phenomenon. The caller can hear the person called repeating �Hello� over and over again but the receiver can only hearing his or her own voice being pinged back.

The �echoing� is not limited to particular cell phone service providers or cell phone types. Customers of AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are reporting the same problem with phones from Nokia, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, and Ericsson.

Technicians report that echoes occur when there is not a complete connection or if there is a third party connection on the call. While echoing has been a minor problem in the past, the frequency of complaints is increasing and affecting journalists and political activists from Washington, DC to New York City and California to Texas.

Government agencies are already able to remotely activate a cell phone and use the microphone to listen in on conversations. The only way to prevent this surveillance is to agree to �batteries out� conversations, something that is employed more and more among journalists while talking to sources as well as others concerned about high-tech snooping from �roving bugs.� Similarly, removing the battery from a cell phone also disables the Global Positioning System and cell tower triangulation capabilities used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to track the location of the user, according to U.S. intelligence sources.

WMR has learned that the Bush administration, in its final months in office, has made several strategic and tactical moves to ensure that the wireless industry comes into full compliance with government eavesdropping policies and technical compliance with them. The echoing of cell phone calls appears to coincide with these Bush administration moves and is an indication that the policy has been given priority over the technology.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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