[nSLUG] Facebook, Google - Why avoid and what else to use?

Robert McKay robert at mckay.com
Mon Apr 22 21:29:32 ADT 2019

On 2019-04-22 13:32, mspencer at tallships.ca wrote:
>> However, Mike re: what you wrote about necessity of a phone:
>> Another line of thought here; you could keep your privacy by
>> purchasing a cheapo non-smart phone as well as a simple cellular usb
>> stick modem.

Not really.. both the non smart phone and usb dongle can be localised / 
triangulated by the cell network. US networks recently got into trouble 
selling this location data to bail bondsman. Your phone number will 
still be uploaded to Facebook/LinkedIn etc by anyone you've ever given 
it too, also linking you to them in the social graph. Moving into 5g the 
networks may even be able to track you when not carrying any phone at 
all.. basically synthetic aperture radar / real-time remote imaging or 
imagine a city inside a giant airport scanner. Combined with machine 
learning it will likely be possible to recognize people as they walk 
around and maybe even inside buildings. In any case it's trivial if 
they're carrying a phone - which almost everyone now does.. maybe it 
would seem suspicious if someone is walking around without one and merit 
extra scrutiny.. or if it becomes really unusual a wealfare visit by the 
nearest squad car. Particularly if they were walking erratically or 
carrying a weapon.

> Does the "stick modem" to which you refer just allow you to do dialup
> over the cellular link?

Not anymore.. back in the late 90s that's how it worked and I think it 
lasted into the early 2010s (so into the era of usb dongles), but it 
worked by having modem banks at the cellco (it was a straight data 
connection from the phone/dongle to the cellco) and these modem banks 
have been decommissioned on most networks.

>  Or does it behave like a wifi hotspot,
> getting you an IP address via DHCP?

Most dongles support a legacy mode where it acts a lot like a 
traditional modem with AT commands, except the only number you can dial 
is *99# which will connect you to a PPP session.. however this mode 
can't really take advantage of the >100mbps speeds of a modern 4g 
network, so they also support qmi or mbim which is usually presented as 
an Ethernet interface often with a DHCP server, although the qmi 
protocol can also configure the interface.


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