According to a story from the UK edition of Vice (a story which, I hasten to add, relies on a source named ‘K2’ and should therefore be taken with the requisite gallon of salt), drug dealers in the fair city of Birmingham have turned to dumbphones in an attempt to evade the police.
The particular handset of choice is said to be the Nokia 8210, of which Mr K2 has a handful:
“Every dealer I know uses old phones, and the Nokia 8210 is the one everyone wants because of how small it is and how long the battery lasts. And it was the best phone when it came out. I couldn’t afford one in Jamaica back in the day, but now I’ve got four.”
The logic, of course, is that smartphones are both more hackable and, thanks to the on-board GPS, they reveal more about where you’ve been than rudimentary cell triangulation. And, to an extent, that’s probably true. A smartphone compromised by the long arm of the law is far more likely to give the man juicy information than an equivalent dumbphone. And, it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that the UK’s newly formed National Crime Agency, with the help of buddies over at GCHQ (the UK NSA), have been hacking into drug dealer’s iPhones.
Switching to a burner phone definitely isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card for criminals though: common police tactics like cell geolocation and call tapping don’t have anything to do with the target handset, and will work on basically anything with a SIM card slot.
Reading between the lines, though, it’s a good example of another profession that’s dumbing down in order to up security. In the wake of the Snowden leaks, governments and criminals alike have increasingly turned to old-school, internet-incapable tech to try and avoid hacking.
Most famously, the German government has switched back to mechanical typewriters to avoid any kind of hacking. Maybe the fact that our nuclear launch codes are run off floppy discs isn’t so bad after all. [Vice via TechDirt]