The location of your phone can be tracked even If your GPS is turned off, and used to track your location. This is done by a method triangulating the phone using cell towers and the signal from them in called Radio Direction Finding.
Quick defense tactic to counter this tracking is a faraday bag, get yours here and support our site in the process
When your phone connects to a cell tower the cell tower generally can tell what general direction your phone is from that tower based on the strength of the connection in different directions. This is the same concept of how wildlife tracking collars have used for decades and how the FCC tracks down pirate radio stations, this is because “cell service” is really just a radio signal sent out from the tower, same as any radio station, or hand held radio just on a different frequency.
The result of this is a general direction/heading from that tower that your phone could be found. With typical cell phones now the signal sent out by the cell tower is a wide beam
that spreads out and gets weaker over distance, imagine a cone with the wide end extending out from the tower.
Now if your phone can connect to multiple towers this gives multiple directions/headings that if laid over a map would create a cross point, al be it a wide one where theoretically your phone would be located. Now the more towers your phone can connect to the more accurate the location will be because the
the area within that cross point where your phone can connect to all the towers theoretically gets smaller the more towers there are. Now in most areas your phone will connect to 1 or maybe 2 towers with the exception of larger major cities where you may connect to more.
This method can also be used to track location via Bluetooth connection. It was announced a few years ago that the UK was using Bluetooth hotspots in trashcans and other city fixtures to track “traffic patterns” by connecting to peoples phones that walk near them.
Any device that uses cell service or any radio frequency, can be tracked in this fashion, Tablet, Car, laptops, smart watches, ham radio, etc. If it has cell service or uses radio frequencies, it can be tracked by radio direction finding.
S2_Underground has a great video on Radio direction finding on their #lbry channel.
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