Hi-tech mobile phone ‘listening devices’ have been found all over London – capable of ‘reading’ text messages, emails and listening to calls.
The devices – IMSI catchers, known as ‘stingrays’, are often used by police – but are available on the black market.
An investigation by VICE news used detectors and found the devices in use near Britain’s Parliament – and near the Ecuadorian embassy, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is living.
The suitcase-sized devices, called Stingrays, fool mobile phones into thinking they are ‘real’ mobile masts – and revealing their location.
An investigation by Sky News last year found up to 20 ‘Stingray’ devices active in London, using specialised detector hardware from German company GMSK Cryptophone.
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Experts said that these signals were ‘strong evidence’ that the fake masts were in use in London.
‘With IMSI catchers, it’s very difficult for them to be used in a targeted manner,’ Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, told Sky News.
‘In an urban space, thousands of people’s mobile phones would be swept up in that dragnet. What they do with that data, we don’t know.
‘We know police have been using them for years, but this is the first time that it’s been shown that they’re being deployed in the UK.’