The SINGLE Most Important Step to Protect Yourself from Government Spying

Unless You Know About This Spying Method, You Might Say Something Which Could Get You In Hot Water

Given that the NSA is tapping into your phone calls and spying on your Internet activities, you might have switched to a search engine which is more privacy-conscious.

You might have started using encrypted communications.  After all, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and the leading electronic privacy group – the Electronic Frontier Foundation – say that encryption helps to protect privacy.   On the other hand,  Tech Dirt points out that the NSA might consider you suspicious if you encrypt information, and so hold onto your data until they can decrypt it.

The above are all issues about which you are at least somewhat aware.

But there is a giant type of snooping which you probably don’t even know about.  Specifically, ABC News reported in 2006:

Cell phone users, beware.  The FBI can listen to everything you say, even when the cell phone is turned off. A recent court ruling in a case against the Genovese crime family revealed that the FBI has the ability from a remote location to activate a cell phone and turn its microphone into a listening device that transmits to an FBI listening post, a method known as a “roving bug.”

Experts say the only way to defeat it is to remove the cell phone battery.

“The FBI can access cell phones and modify them remotely without ever having to physically handle them,” James Atkinson, a counterintelligence security consultant, told ABC News.  “Any recently manufactured cell phone has a built-in tracking device, which can allow eavesdroppers to pinpoint someone’s location to within just a few feet,” he added.


According to the recent court ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan, “The device functioned whether the phone was powered on or off, intercepting conversations within its range wherever it happened to be.” 


“The courts have given law enforcement a blank check for surveillance,” Richard Rehbock, attorney for defendant John Ardito, told ABC News.


“Big Brother is upon us…1984 happened a long time ago,” he said, referring to the George Orwell futuristic novel “1984,” which described a society whose members were closely watched by those in power and was published in 1949.

Fox News covered the story as well:

CNET noted the same year:

The U.S. Commerce Department’s security office warns that “a cellular telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone.” An article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can “remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner’s knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call.”


Because modern handsets are miniature computers, downloaded software could modify the usual interface that always displays when a call is in progress. The spyware could then place a call to the FBI and activate the microphone–all without the owner knowing it happened.


A BBC article from 2004 reported that intelligence agencies routinely employ the remote-activiation method. “A mobile sitting on the desk of a politician or businessman can act as a powerful, undetectable bug,” the article said, “enabling them to be activated at a later date to pick up sounds even when the receiver is down.”

Given that the American and British intelligence agencies are trying tap every single communication, some rogue agency or contractor might be tapping your phone … even when it’s off.

Slate noted earlier this month:

Our cellphones have almost unlimited access to our daily lives—not just because we use them to talk, text, and search the Web, but because it’s really easy to turn on the GPS, microphone, or camera secretly from another location. If you’ve ever lost an iPhone, you may have used Apple’s “Find My iPhone” feature to remotely activate your phone’s GPS signal…. If Apple really is working with the NSA as part of PRISM, the technical requirements to locate a person through their phone would be no more difficult than that. For spy agencies, it’s no more difficult to activate your phone’s microphone the same way, letting them listen in on your conversations even when you aren’t making a phone call.

The NSA has also inserted its code into Android’s operating system … bugging three-quarters of the world’s smartphones.  And Google can apparently remotely turn on your phone’s camera and recorder at any time.

The Wall Street Journal notes:

The FBI develops some hacking tools internally and purchases others from the private sector. With such technology, the bureau can remotely activate the microphones in phones running Google Inc.’s  Android software to record conversations, one former U.S. official said.

Indeed, even private hackers might be listening in. Specifically, private parties without security clearance may be activating your microphone or camera without your knowledge (and see this).

Indeed, commercially-available, off-the-shelf software allows people to spy on you:

Your iPhone, or other brand of smartphone is spying on virtually everything you do (ProPublica notes: “That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker“) … and sending the information to private companies.

And CNET pointed out 7 years ago:

Malicious hackers have followed suit. A report last year said Spanish authorities had detained a man who write a Trojan horse that secretly activated a computer’s video camera and forwarded him the recordings.

So the single most important step to protect yourself from government – or private – spying is to remember that your conservations might not be private when your cellphone is nearby … even if it is turned off.

Note:  If you have a microphone in your car, that might also open you up to snoopers. As CNET points out:

Surreptitious activation of built-in microphones by the FBI has been done before. A 2003 lawsuit revealed that the FBI was able to surreptitiously turn on the built-in microphones in automotive systems like General Motors’ OnStar to snoop on passengers’ conversations.

When FBI agents remotely activated the system and were listening in, passengers in the vehicle could not tell that their conversations were being monitored.

And Fox news notes that the government is insisting that “black boxes” be installed in cars to track your location.

And see this.

Update: The microphone and webcam on your computer might be spying on you as well.

This entry was posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology. Bookmark the permalink.
  • dredd

    This kind of social regression is recorded in history on many occasions.

  • JohnH

    Sounds like it’s time to keep the phone in a well-padded metal box….

    • william_stanley

      And to put Obama’s seditious conspirators and parasites in federal prison cells.

      • Bush is Hitler – Obama is Bush

        Free the current Guantanamo Bay inmates… To make room for the Bush and Obama administrations!

      • Dead_Mariner

        Looks like all the cases cited in this article happened long before O came into the picture. FAIL bagger…

        • R_Rindt

          Well he hasn’t exactly helped matters. In fact he has now made things far worse. Autistic chimpanzee on pcp

    • John

      Ever hear of infowars? Check it out for the unadulterated version of the latest world and USA news.

  • gozounlimited

    What you are not being told in the media about Edward Snowden’s former company Booz Allen Hamilton is that it is not only spying on you, but it is probably checking out your tax returns, too, and also receiving some of your tax money in government contracts, which it then funnels to CIA-connected/Military Industrial Complex-connected/NWO-connected individuals and organizations.

    Something like this: Your tax money (taken from you by force) -> IRS -> Booz Allen Hamilton ->Bill/Hillary Clinton Foundation -> foreign bribes -> more contracts for the Military Industrial Complex -> more spending by foreign governments -> more foreign aid from the US government -> more US government spending -> more taxes needed -> more taxes from YOU.

    Oh … and they are spying on you, too.

    But Edward Snowden … yeah HE is the bad guy here. Uh huh … move along … nothing to see here.

    • William Dueck

      Wait, Snowden is honest because Booz Allen is dishonest?

      suggesting Snowden accepted the job with Booz Allen as an NSA
      contractor, but had no clue what he’d be doing, and was shocked and
      surprised by what he learned over a several years work history with Booz

      That’s rich. Apparently you’ve never been offered a
      job with Booz Allen as an NSA contractor. Nothing Snowden has reported
      would have been “news” to him after his first hour on-site or on the
      job. So his several years of raking in fat pay, that was done… why,

      • Mark

        So, based upon your tone apparently you were been offered a job at Booz Allen and are speaking from experience?
        Or are you just making stuff up?

        • Pravda01

          Funny thing about your American IT companies is they give programmers full access to production data! I have worked for many closed shop IT center which are located in the free World (not USA) and we had never the need to access real production data! It is about working method of sloppy America!

        • farang

          Dueck is famous for pulling his *facts* out of his a$$. Too bad there isn’t an “ignore” function to make him vanish from adult converstations.

      • Pravda01

        NSA employs 850.000 people – that is the new American job program of the century!

        1/2 of the population has to live in poverty and is controlled by 49% thugs which are working for the 1%, in order to keep them in power.

      • Bush is Hitler – Obama is Bush

        I worked at Google for a few years without knowing they were involved in anything other than making a great search engine, my favorite smartphone OS and a few other applications…

        So yes, it IS possible to work for the bad guys without realizing what’s going on.
        You don’t tell your potentially-not-so-loyal slaves what you do unless they need to know.

        • philliesfan136

          William is a gov. troll. Great point.

      • philliesfan136

        Are you stupid, …….. obviously, he realized after some time how insidious there programs were, and decided he could not be complicit, so he did what he did. That’s obviously why, exactly.

      • Zimbawbwei

        You’re so transparent, Dueck. Try harder. If you’re the best our government has, we’re double-secret screwed.

  • Pravda01

    The reason why we cancelled all our smartphones and changed back to old cheap cell phones (you still can browse the web or your e-mails if you have to). Phone costs us in retail 36 USD and we have a prepaid plan (saves tons of money) and we can take out the battery!!!

    Moreover we stopped using Google products and installed the Yandex browser (based on open source chromium without the Google spy applications). Moreover Yandex tells you which sites has hacking tools installed or accesses remote servers to do so (when Google does not) and yes you can decide whether to go there or not.

    There are also clouds outside the country which run on VPN’s, install nothing on your computer etc..

    If we all stop using Google for a couple of month that will hurt their business and they will have to change their policies. If you run Mac or Windows – your should consider a Virtualbox with a Linux system installed inside.

    Peace – and may the good forces with us! Against all evil and the Jewish occupation and control of North America.

    • Barbara

      Please donot promote hate or evil. One could easily write that you are evil or promote hate regarding whatever you nationality might be.

    • Bush is Hitler – Obama is Bush

      Running Virtualbox with Linux inside on top of Windows or Mac OS is not going to protect you — the host machine (using the compromised Windows/OS X kernel) can read the virtual machine’s memory.

      The other way around is better: Run Linux, then run Windows/OS X in VirtualBox for the applications you really can’t/don’t want to replace. That way they can still access what’s in the VM, but they can’t access anything from the host OS.

    • jc

      Do you think they would allow you to render it useless by taking out the battery?
      Taking out the battery does not work, there is an onboard battery on the circuit board that is charged by the primary removable battery

      • tsisageya

        Just a thought. Stop using cell phones?

        • Katy Henderson

          Def in a SHTF situation find other means to communicate if necessary….

    • yod sun

      You forgot the muslim occupation of North America and Eu

  • jim_robert

    Well, I WAS going to comment, but seeing that Facebook, Obama, the NSA, my mother-in-law and total population of Fresno, CA. **already** know what I was going to say, I guess there’s no need to post this.

  • jc

    Why would they allow you to render it useles by taking the battery out? Taking the battery out doesn’t work. There is an onboard battery on the circuit board. It Charges itself from the removable battery.

    • Viliami Tuanaki

      stop repeating this, there is an on-board battery but it can’t power on the phone. All it does it keep track of the time. No voice-recording features at all with this low powered battery.

  • Melia Sese

    This is awfully fishy … in 2004 there weren’t any ‘smart’ phones. Notice the use of words like “could” and “might” in this text. Similar to the type of scare tactics used by financial newsletter hucksters who proclaim the “end of America” – to an audience who has already been conditioned to believe it. Then it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Just who is/are “Washington’s blog” anyway? Shouldn’t they be afraid that they’ve tipped us all off about how this nefarious plot works? After all, the FBI “could be” listening, and don’t they know the NSA has this entire post in their database … come on, now. It’s not supposed to be THIS easy to fool the bumpkins.
    I may have been born at night, but it sure wasn’t LAST night.

    • Barbara

      No. Just naive.

      • Melia Sese

        You’re not too bright, are you? These ideas just fly right over your hillbilly brain, don’t they? OK, then, better get rid of your cellphone, else the spooks might find out where you’re planning your next anti-government meeting … mustn’t have that. Molon Labe, suckas.

        • Gassy McGassy

          Where better to hide but in plain site?

        • Gassy McGassy

          Where better to hide but in plain site?

    • Frak the NSA

      I had a smart phone 2003. I don’t know where you are assuming they didn’t exist before 2004. Heck, before 2003 people had Blackberries.

  • jc

    there is an onboard battery on the
    circuit board that is charged by the primary removable battery

  • jc

    Taking out the battery does not work

  • kayakhigh

    OK I will admit it… …for the last ten years I have kept a bandaid on my Laptop-Cam, and a small piece of duct tape on the mic. It’s the first thing I do when I get a new laptop.

    • Biggly

      Me too!

  • guptil

    Oh wow, that’s the least self-aware quote I’ve ever read. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a quote from that very same day advocating the opposite for a cop.
    Fuck man, these assholes think this party’ll never end, but the longer it goes the worse it’s gonna be.

  • Tommy

    The US Military (NSA) has required all Internet connected electronic device makers (Samsung, HTC, Apple, Google, Microsoft, GM, Chrysler, Ford, etc) to embed backdoor access in all software & hardware in those products to allow them (NSA) to monitor us instantly and easily (PC’s, smartphones, OnStar System, tablets, xBox, Skype, Office 365, Skype, DropBox, laptops, PC’s, cars, trucks, etc). Using this back door access the NSA now has the capability to store everything and anything about each of us (device audio, video, keyword searches, email content, web sites visited, contacts, GPS locations, etc) . They have your voice-print, and face image (for facial recognition). They (the NSA) have admitted they can turn on any of your devices at any time and use the microphones and/or cameras and convert all your conversations to text and store it forever.


    • HappenedToMe

      Actually, they have been saving every text, conversation, and picture on every device for years now. And it is all available to those with influence anytime they want, if one of the little people get out of line…

    • MN urbanist

      somebody should use this backdoor access to hack into NSA officials’ devices and spy on them. Taste of their own medicine!

      • Who Knew.

        This is true. In film class I learned that televisions can work just like Cameras. What they don’t realize is that the more access they have the more talented hackers can get into their private information. I will never forget the time that I accidentally accessed every single computer on the WIFI at my college. I was trying to do something and suddenly I had millions of songs on my computer. When I looked I had all these files. At the time I was starting to learn about servers. I realized that I had access to everyones computers. I showed my friend and she asked for the hook up. But I didn’t because that was dangerous. I didn’t look at anyones stuff I just listen to the music. I learned how to access the Internet from my desktop and never even open a browser. It was insane. Essentially the Internet is just a bunch of linked computers. The really big computers are called servers. Basically I could write a virus. I know it is a bad word but I could right a virus that would infect any other computer trying to access my information. It is so possible. The door works to ways.

  • Tumbleweed

    The country worked well before cell phones and it can again! There is no reason for everyone to be connected to the government 24/7!

  • Concerned Citizen

    maybe that’s why they make phones with batteries that aren’t easy to take out, like the iPhone!

    • Petra

      That is exactly why.

  • zordana9

    See ‘SMART’ think ‘SPY’.

  • Kristen

    There are sites on the internet that show you how to take the microphones out of your cells, I did it 2 mine and it was easy.

  • Collin Macfergus

    OK, I get there is a government phone tapping problem. Your article explains that very clearly, however, your concluding arguments should include steps for addressesing the problem or point me to a solution. Please, will someone tell me that somebody has developed an app to stop government phone tapping?

    • hahaha

      Study operating system code and write a software to reverse hack the people looking at your personal information. Send the a worm and corrupt their mainframes. What these people are hoping is that the general population will have no defense.

    • Katy Henderson


      • Katy Henderson


  • lincoln chase

    If I find out that this govenment’s personnel have violated my constitutional rights specifically and individually, I can guarantee that their spouses and their children as well as their grandchildren will become fair game!

  • I have done nothing to be concerned over on the webcam.

  • for online protection this works

  • Waxil Davidson

    What about turning off the antennas?

  • gogoes

    This all will eventually work against them It is like being in grade school all over again when you knew that the girl you secretly hated was spying on the phone call in a secret three way call. Remember mean girls. Your first attack was like what the hell just happened. Then you realized that you could use it against them. You could say exactly what you wanted them to know knowing they were listening. It is no different that that. Our government is trying to hard and their egos are so big they are going to end up letting real harm come to it citizens.Even before this whole Edward Snowdin thing I am sure terrorist were doing this mean girl tactic. All they have to do is fake a conversation and pretending they are going to attack one place and then attack a completely different. Our government that thinks they are so cool and powerful would not even be able to protect us. Because they have gotten lazy and content with just bugging peoples phones and computers. As if people can communicate without computers and phone. It’s scary to think that this is how they protect us. Just by spying on us. It does not make any sense. No person who is planing to harm us is ever going to put anything in a place where it can lead back to them like a computer. It just makes me feel unsafe from terrorist and unsafe from our government. The overall feeling is unsafe. If you know anything about computers you can take it apart and remove any hardware that is not needed for it to run. Also you could just wipe it clean with a magnet. They are not hard to build and then just work of the CPU without an operating system. You know C:/. This idea that they have that they can control the seriously dangerous people by spying on computers and crap isn’t protecting any of us. Not for one second. If anything they are making us even more unsafe. Anyone can write an operating system. Anyone. I would not be surprised if the people who hate our country don’t have their own operating system. Hard ware is easy. Anyone can build a computer. I built my first one when I was in a 6 grade computer camp. It is not hard. The thing is that all these NSA computer nerds have found out how they can do what they love HACKING do it legally and get paid. They are totally taking advantage of our government and the men in suits that run our country know so little about computers that they actually think they are protecting us. They don’t realize that if anything they are leaving open a terrible door for a serious attack both physical and cyber.

    • Midori

      They want us to feel unsafe. That’s the point. They’re keeping tabs on this and just about everything they can get their hands on. ((Yes, you big control-freakish government people [although some of you may be nice]. I don’t know, I kinda feel like we have a love/hate relationship, you know? One day I’m all stupid government. I call for anarchy. The next day I’m all prosecute him! Yes, yes, I’m exercising my free speech and I know you hate it.)) But here’s the thing – they’re afraid. They’re trying to water us down because they’re afraid. And they’re good at making illusions. As strong as they can be all that is is brute strength and they’re real, real weak. As much control as they think they have – and think we don’t know about – they’re hiding because their afraid. They can’t take us how we are so they have to butter us up and stimulate controlled fear in us, manipulating our emotions to relieve their insecurities. If we’re more afraid of them than they are of us than they think they’ve already won the battle. They haven’t. As long as people aren’t afraid to say their opinions in broad daylight, as long as they continue to post and wear what they want – as long as they continue to exercise freedoms that they know are considered restricted – the government is in a state of unrest.To quote Divergent: Fear doesn’t shut you down; it wakes you up.

  • Maia

    This can be done with mobile devices, smart televisions, vehicles, computers and even landlines. Obviously, someone would have to really want your information, but it is absolutely possible and VERY difficult to detect.

    John H., you have the right idea. Much more than a faraday cage, the government is slowly starting to employ mobile device storage boxes in their secure spaces, recognizing what a huge spying problem mobile devices create. They provide RF supression and acoustic sound masking to avoid both audio and video recording of any information outside of the box. There are quite a few versions and only a small handful that actually meet the technical specifications required to defeat these threats, but they are out there…pretty pricey in a quantity one, though!

  • Paul DeSimone

    There is an inexpensive phone camera blocker on the market to protect you from Prying eyes. The product can be purchased from or . It is removable and reusable, but will not fall off in your pocket or in your purse like others on the market.

  • edward presto

    As far as I know people could only remotely track their target phone when it is turn on. But before that one must have physical access to the target phone for at least 5 minutes to install the spy software. Once it is installed you can now monitor the phone even without physical access from any where in the world using a computer or device that could access the internet.

  • Drock

    I dont think there are counter measures to prevent spying unless we stop using all the electronic devices. Govt agencies collecting data is somewhat ok, but when digital terrorists and other hackers use the same its something to worry about. I bought one of those 3d smart tv’s few months back only to find out that when connected to my wifi router, tv send informations like the filenames of media I played thru a thumbdrive,videos watched thru netflix etc..

  • mike

    Silly counter argument for those who posted that taking out the battery does not work because there is an internal battery that it’s charged by the primary battery
    How is the internal battery getting charged if the primary one is disconnected ?
    If the primary battery is good for 3 hours how long does the internal battery last ?

  • czr

    Why would all these legal hackers want to waste gov. funds listening to skype and smart devices. What is the point? What is the goal? Considering someone learned that there was a threat to smash planes into buildings BEFORE 9-11 and no one seemed to check that out so therefore no one is using that data or so it seems. Like one person here comments that it appears these hacker spies are just listening and what?? eating potato chips and laughing.and listening to sex talk? What is it that is going on? No doubt there has been information gathering by Gov. Agencies that they believed had some anti-gov agenda but the groups that have been targeted most times had no weapons or power. The groups living in the woods with guns and hate for anything that moves beside themselves don’t really get as much attention as some little kid selling lemonade not paying profit taxes. So everyone and everything is being observed,right,left rich and low income. So no one is safe and being afraid is not going to help us. I just wonder how long it will be before some those hackers can’t resist blackmailing people with information considering how many dishonest car repair and contractors there are. You can bet on it.

  • Tripps

    I don’t know why anyone would waist a min spying on me, for what I’ve paid for this phone
    I would think it would be secure

  • Jose Abarca

    They should mind there own business on innocent people,this should be a civil rights case.

  • Tjallen

    . I have been raped by this stuff. Tjallen In Charlotte North Carolina Put this app tapping my complete cell phone my every thought and my every message if I’m right or wrong he would still be worse than I am. He ULTIMATE RAPIST

  • Tjallen


  • Tjallen

    Tedallen Write me buy this track my every movement I was GPF He read my every thought he see my every picture He is the ultimate right and he did it from his company computer to remotely. I will be on our doorstep at 9 a.m. If this man without balls does not apologize. All it will take for him not to go to prison and to go to jail is to apologize.

    • Tjallen

      and he can’t even get his member to work. So why would he even care when I would do he wanted nothing to do with me He would rather build this crap and ignore me then jus he does I love big Bubba as a roommatet touch me

  • zoekaitlyn

    Spy cell phone tracker Movement of the phone is tracked in Real time which means that as the phone moves the pointer on the map will move as well. You will see the movement of the phone every step of the way. Lag time of actual movement displayed on the map

  • I am the king

    no way the government can access my cell phone… i can’t even get a signal. and when I do it’s all gobbledegook!

  • Anita Crigler Pankins

    This is crazy my name is Ms Anita Crigler Pankins I’m getting well known around the Globe President is tapping my phone and there what can Ms Anita Crigler Pankins do ?

  • Judi Ann Waller Cook

    Wow…why does our government consider all Americans to be bad?

  • Governmental spying is one thing and what about the commercial spying provided by mSpy ( ) or Flexi ? How can we protect ourselves form it ?