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Privacy Advocates Call For Improved Mobile Security

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(credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

(credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Ian Bush Ian Bush
Ian Bush is an anchor, reporter, news editor, and technology editor&nb...
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By KYW tech editor Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Cell phone makers and wireless service providers aren’t doing enough to keep our calls and texts secure. That from privacy advocates who say we deserve better for the money we spend every month.

The DEA is warning its agents that iMessages — the way Apple device users chat — can’t be intercepted because they’re encrypted and sent through the iPhone and iPad maker’s servers, not your cell carrier.

That’s not novel technology, says Chris Soghoian, the principal technologist in the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project at the ACLU.

“It’s 2013, and Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft [with Skype] are all using encrypted communications tools,” he explains. “Which means you can securely check your email at a Starbucks; it means you can securely check your Facebook account over a public WiFi network.”

Unlike mobile calls and texts, which Soghoian says can be tapped with simple equipment.

“If the police want to listen to your calls, they don’t need to get the assistance of the phone company, they can just show up outside your house,” he says. “And if a criminal or identity thief wants to do so, they can do so too.”

CNET  was the first to report on the DEA memo earlier this month. Julian Sanchez at the Cato Institute has a different take.

Soghoian says you don’t have to be a drug dealer to want privacy:

“We’re paying these people $80/month for phone service and they offer something that is less secure than Skype, Facebook, or Google — companies who give people services for free,” he says. “Delivering a secure voice or text message communication service to consumers is not rocket science in 2013. There are plenty of Silicon Valley companies that build these features into their products and give them away for free.”

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