Can a Cell Phone Be Tapped?
Nowadays, in the era of globalization, privacy issues have become more and more complex, as technology brings, alongside other great discoveries, new possibilities of tracking and controlling data. Just like any type of discovery in the history of mankind, it can be used for good or for bad. If you really want an example, think of nuclear energy and the point is clear.
But let us not drift away, as we have an important question to answer: “can a cell phone be tapped?” The answer is simple: yes, cell phones can be tapped, and we will talk about this in the following paragraphs. As we said before, technology itself does not carry positive or negative aspects, so we will not take a civic or moral position. We will present details from a descriptive point of view, leaving aside controversies.
Telephone tapping, also known as wire tapping, involves not only cell phones, but also Internet conversations. Depending on the detail of the process, the jurisdiction and the legislation, this can sometimes be illegal. There are many ways in which a phone can be tapped and the history of this process goes a long way back. Basically, ever since the phone was invented, there were tapping procedures as well.
Even in the last decades of the 19th century, there were state institutions that began to do it. During the last century and a half, there were a lot of famous cases of phone tapping: Martin Luther King Jr. was tapped under the endorsement of U.S. officials; the Greeks had a big scandal caused by phone tapping in 2005, etc. Alongside these famous cases and the use of phone tapping by official authorities all around the world, technology developed in such a way that common people nowadays have access to it as well.
For this, you need special hardware and/or software. The hardware part has always been quite expensive, so individuals used it less than law enforcement agencies. However, with the boom of software in the last two decades, software solutions appeared just after computer soundboards. Also, not long after the first smartphones hit the market (Apple, Blackberry etc.), applications that enable recording and listening to conversations as a third party person became possible.
This step marked the real globalization of phone tapping, as software became extremely accessible. This is why the market evolved and prices dropped, up to the point when tapping a smartphone by using this sorts of programs became available for, virtually, any person that lives in an evolved country.
As technology evolves, so do these products. We cannot judge if this is good or bad, it really depends on the purpose for which one uses such tools. For example, tapping your kids’ phones to make sure they are safe is one thing, but tapping someone’s cell to blackmail him is a completely different matter.
To keep things short, yes, tapping a cell phone is possible, it is legal in many cases, and it can be done by basically anyone with the help of some special software. What matters most is to make sure you do it for the right (and legal) reasons.