In my novel Ghost of the Gods a small plot element involves cellphones being subverted and turned into a mass surveillance tool. This possibility is not so much science fiction as it is science fact.
In Ghost of the Gods everyone’s cellphone covertly runs spyware that records all conversations going on in the room. It also records all phone calls, texts, emails, and reports location via GPS.
If you have a smart watch, this kind of spyware could even provide biometric data that assesses whether you were likely being truthful or lying. Your average smart phone also has a pair of cameras that could record your private moments. The spyware could also intercept every photo you take.
The spyware also has access to your health records, your credit cards, your bank accounts, your digital transactions, your browsing history, and contacts for all your friends and family. It has everything needed for identity theft, blackmail, ransom-ware, and far worse…
In Ghost of the Gods this mass surveillance system has the ability to tap into every conversation in the world taking place within earshot of every cellphone and display it on a clickable world map along with location.
Is there safety inside an elevator or other cellphone dead-spots? In Ghost of the Gods, no signal is no problem. The spyware simply records the data and transmits it later.
Are you worried about the government having access to all this information? I have nothing to hide so I’m not so worried about that, though maybe I should be? In Ghost of the Gods the conflict escalates when a cyber-terrorist secretly gains access to this surveillance network. History has taught us that every piece of tech and every backdoor ever created will eventually fall into the hands of criminals.
There is an interesting piece in the NY Times today titled, “The Apple Case Will Grope Its Way Into Your Future.” The upshot of this piece is that if Apple can be ordered to change the code in its phone to lower its security then it could also be ordered to turn any phone into a surveillance device. Sounds like all those paranoid visions of the future, including my own, may not be so farfetched after all. Sweet dreams…