They have the tech

You could do this on a particular target, but the OP seems to be envisioning some sort of massive untargeted campaign, similar to the meta-data thing. I don’t think that’s possible to do. People would quickly notice the extra data-traffic and unknown processes running on their celphones.

Collecting meta-data works because people already voluntarily send it to a few central locations, and the NSA just has to collect it there.

That can all be hidden from the cell phone owner. What they’d notice is their battery discharging faster.

So am I. I even worked in military intelligence.

We know that intelligence services are collecting enormous amounts of metadata. We know that intelligence services engage in warrantless wiretapping. That does not mean that your idea that the intelligence services engage in warrantless wiretapping of every individual and conversation, whether or not carried out on an active phone call, isn’t batshit crazy. Because it is. But if you believe that, remove the battery from your own cell phone, get two tin cans and a piece of string, and have fun…until they learn how to intercept the vibrations from the string. :eek:

It should be noted that the OP is retelling a story originally told by Shia Lebeauf on The Tonight Show.

That said, there are 3 billion calls placed in the US every day and the average call lasts for about 1.75 minutes. That’s 5,250,000,000 minutes of voice recording everyday. If the government uses a WAV format to record (and they should be, if they’re looking for uncompressed vocals), the government would need 48 petabytes of storage space every day to record all the calls.

First of all, that kind of bandwidth spike would be noticed by somebody. And secondly, that kind of data storage would take a big chunk out of the government’s Utah Data Center. Not to mention that it would be impractical (even using voice recognition software) to go through it all.

I have it on good authority that sales of tin foil are more closely monitored than ammonium nitrate and pressure cookers combined.

Agreed - doing this all the time for everyone would more than double the weight of the whole infrastructure. This would be sort of hard to hide.

It seems to me ridiculous that the government is recording every call for everyone in the U.S., much less recording every second of every day. It’s an intriguing possibility that they could record one particular target phone even when the phone isn’t in use. I believe that would be technically feasible, but the data transmission would be easily detectable if you were looking for it, so I doubt they’re even doing that.

Well, that’s a relief. As we all know, foreign agitators are absolutely forbidden to lie about their military service. It’s, like, Chapter One of The Foreign Agitator’s Handbook. Doing it could cost you your Agitator’s License.

Damn. My phone’s been hacked.

I’m impressed! I didn’t know if it was possible or not, but I certainly never thought it was trivial!

Frankly, this makes me feel slightly more secure, not less, as it gives law enforcement a possible tool to use against fairly ordinary crime. Used with a warrant, it could help catch bank robbers, for instance, while they are sitting and planning their crime, before they actually get to the bank.

And, again, I already knew about reflecting lasers against windows to hear conversations, and how much different is that, ultimately? Or how about focused microphones for eavesdropping on conversations between people outdoors? The two spies meeting at a park bench are not speaking as privately as they thought.

The tech does exist. Ordinary schlubs like us can get access to it. Privacy just isn’t the high priority for me that it is for many.

(I’ve never had much confidence in the privacy of my SDMB user name. If someone really wanted to find my real name, I’m pretty sure they could.)

What has that got to do with the price of tea in China? :confused:
Right off the top of my head, Timothy McVeigh (the OKC bomber) and the Fort Hood mass murderer were both US military veterans. And they are just two of many.

So your background is irrelevant, really.

Why are you so worried about the NSA listening in on your phone calls and other conversations? That’s a little paranoid, and weird.

I don’t think it’s very complex - it exists as a feature on two-way radios (I just procured and installed a system for my business customer) - the dispatcher can instruct a handset to report its location, or can open the microphone on it (either overtly, so the handset user knows help is coming, or covertly, just to eavesdrop).

That’s on digital walkie-talkie type systems, but there’s a lot of similarity and transfer of technology between solutions in this market and mobile phones.

Possibly the fact the NSA managed/manages to record every fucking cell-phone conversation in the Bahamas is merely a trial balloon for the future.

“The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas. According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government. Instead, the agency appears to have used access legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country’s cellular telephone network, enabling it to covertly record and store the ‘full-take audio’ of every mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas – and to replay those calls for up to a month.”
Slashdot 19th May 2014
Although there could be many reasons for the Bahamas: military, financial, tax dodges, drugs, money laundering etc., there doesn’t have to be any reason. Agencies have never seen a massive stash of useless information they don’t want to beaver away filing.

This may be a rhetorical question for the OP (and I’m not trying to spike your paranoia), but, what apps do you have on your phone? Even innocuous apps could be doing something that you might not actually want them to do.

Case in point: On my Android phone, some time ago, I downloaded a Flashlight app. Turn on the bright LED, turn off the bright LED. Today I went to use it and did not have my data plan enabled and was not logged in to a wireless network. The light went on for about 2 seconds, and then turned off. The next thing I knew, the browser on the phone was telling me it could not connect to the Internet.

Now, why would a flashlight app need to connect to the Internet?

I’m pretty sure it just wanted to download an ad to display; the programmer wants to eat, after all. However, it could just as easily have been sending the location of my phone, which is data (meta or otherwise).

Here’s what I’m getting at: If you are paranoid only about the NSA eavesdropping on you and/or your metadata and you have a bunch of apps on your phone, then you may need to expand your concern, and/or get rid of your apps.

While I am somewhat disturbed by the overreaching of the NSA in certain matters, I am actually quite alarmed at what data seemingly innocuous apps might be passing off to non-Government parties. In other words, while the NSA may be collecting data on everybody but which will probably never get used, certain metadata collected by other parties may make me a very real target for identity theft.