Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


SOL: Big Brother Spying Extended Via Cellphones

Streets of London with Malcolm Aitken

Secret UK Government Backed Cellular Radar Project
Big Brother Will Soon Be Watching You

Imagine government officials "seeing" through walls into peoples’ homes and tracking their every move from hundreds of kilometres away. Yes it sounds like science fiction, but the UK government is reportedly secretly developing this technology today through a project called Celldar – for cellular [telephone based] radar.

The shapes made when radio waves emitted by mobile phone masts bounce off moving objects such as people and cars, will be picked up by the authorities using rapidly developing technology, according to the Guardian newspaper.

Signals bounced off fixed objects such as houses and trees will be filtered out.

Users could zoom in on an area hundreds of kilometres away, with a display showing moving people and vehicles.

The technology has been prototyped over short distances and developers are reportedly confident it can be extended.

Utilising a unit little bigger than a laptop computer, some users could even set up a “personal radar” in their vicinity.

The government also wants X-ray specs developed and researchers are working on the capability to 'see' through walls.

Government sources apparently say Celldar is for anti-terrorism defence, security and traffic control, but civil liberties groups are enraged.

“Its an appalling idea” says Simon Davies, director of Privacy International. “The government is just capitalising on current public fears over security to introduce systems that are neither desirable nor necessary,” he says.

One private security specialist, however, welcomed Celldar. “It will be enormously useful. Instead of setting up expensive and cumbersome surveillance equipment, police or the security services could start work quickly and easily almost anywhere.

“For tracking a suspect, preventing a potential crime or a terrorist strike or simply locating people it has enormous advantages.”

It is likely the technology would first be used to protect sensitive installations such as ports and airfields.

Since September 11, the UK government has targeted terrorism through legislation critics call excessive and repressive.

Senior police officers can now access mobile phone and email records without seeking permission from a judge or other official. Within two years, its expected mobile phones will all have satellite-locating devices built into them.


- Malcolm Aitken is a freelance journalist based in London. He can be contacted at

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Cheap Grace And Climate Change: Australia And COP26

It was not for everybody, but the shock advertising tactics of the Australian comedian Dan Ilic made an appropriate point. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a famed coal hugger, has vacillated about whether to even go to the climate conference in Glasgow. Having himself turned the country’s prime ministerial office into an extended advertising agency, Ilic was speaking his language... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Funeral Rites For COVID Zero
It was such a noble public health dream, even if rather hazy to begin with. Run down SARS-CoV-2. Suppress it. Crush it. Or just “flatten the curve”, which could have meant versions of all the above. This created a climate of numerical sensitivity: a few case infections here, a few cases there, would warrant immediate, sharp lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, the closure of all non-vital service outlets... More>>

Dunne Speaks: 25 Years Of MMP - And The Government Wants To Make It Harder For Small Parties
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the New Zealand’s first MMP election. Over the last quarter century, the MMP electoral system has led to our Parliament becoming more socially and ethnically diverse, more gender balanced, and to a wider spread of political opinion gaining representation. Or, as one of my former colleagues observed somewhat ruefully at the time, Parliament starting to look a little more like the rest of New Zealand... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>

Our Man In Washington: Morrison’s Tour Of Deception

It was startling and even shocking. Away from the thrust and cut of domestic politics, not to mention noisy discord within his government’s ranks, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison could breathe a sign of relief. Perhaps no one would notice in Washington that Australia remains prehistoric in approaching climate change relative to its counterparts... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Melbourne Quake: Shaken, Not Stirred

It began just after a news interview. Time: a quarter past nine. Morning of September 22, and yet to take a sip from the brewed Turkish coffee, its light thin surface foam inviting. The Australian city of Melbourne in its sixth lockdown, its residents fatigued and ravaged by regulations. Rising COVID-19 numbers, seemingly inexorable... More>>