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Is Your Mobile Provider Tracking Your Location? This Technology Could Stop It.


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Artist's impression of a cellphone user being tracked.

Researchers at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering and Princeton University have found a way to prevent the tracking of users on existing cellular networks.

Credit: iStock

A new system devised by researchers at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering (USC Viterbi) and Princeton University can thwart the tracking of cellphone users by network operators while maintaining seamless connectivity.

The Pretty Good Phone Privacy software architecture anonymizes personal identifiers sent to cell towers, effectively severing phone connectivity from authentication and billing without altering network hardware.

The system transmits an anonymous, cryptographically signed token in place of a personally identifiable signal to the tower, using a mobile virtual network operator like Cricket or Boost as a substitute or intermediary.

USC Viterbi's Barath Raghavan said, "Now the identity in a specific location is separated from the fact that there is a phone at that location."

The system also ensures that location-based services still function normally.

From USC Viterbi School of Engineering
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