NSA Probably Can’t Track Turned Off Smartphones

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NSA Probably Can’t Track Turned Off Smartphones
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Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) and other cell phone providers say claims that the National Security Agency (NSA) can locate cellphones even when they’re turned off don’t make sense because no part of the operating system is functioning, reports Tom Warren for The Verge.

NSA’s tracking method for switched off phones

All cellphones can be tracked when in use by determining which towers they are communicating with, and smartphones with GPS can be located even more precisely, but when The Washington Post filed a story saying the NSA had a nine-year-old method of tracking phones even when turned off, it created a stir. When a phone is off and the operating system isn’t running, you can’t use malware and there is no signal to track, so the feat seems impossible.

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There has been speculation that the NSA has malware that makes it appear the cell phone has been turned off while actually keeping it on, but even then the agency would have to infect the targeted phone beforehand (or infect as many phones as possible in case they ever want to use the capability; considering what we’ve l