FBI touts mobile phone as eavesdropping tool

Now here's an interesting one - apparently the FBI has started using a mobile phone as a means of remote surveillance.

From what I can glean from the US newswire reports, the FBI has discovered a a hidden feature in the programming code of certain mobiles that allows the microphone to remain active at all times.

I'm presuming here that the mike records the voices in the vicinity of the phone for a pre-determined period, then allows the FBI to call in - or the handset to call out - for file retrieval.

The FBI calls its technique a `roving bug,' but has declined to reveal how it all works.

The system is far from theoretical, as it was apparently used quite recently against the members of a New York organised crime family who were concerned about conventional bugging techniques.

The FBI's surveillance technique came to light in an opinion published last week by US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who ruled that the roving bug technique was legal because US federal wiretapping law is broad enough to permit eavesdropping even of conversations that take place near a suspect's mobile phone.

The case bought back memories of the NEC P3 analogue cellular handset which was launched in the late 1980s, early 1990s.

The handset had a vast memory for its day - I think there was 64K of spare RAM - that allowed the handset to `tumble' mobile number serial numbers out of the ether for cloning at a later stage (allegedly) or, alternatively, you could run an application that allowed the mobile to be switched on remotely.

Happy days...