Your Phone Is Wide Open

How we’ve surrendered privacy for the sake of distraction

Allan Milne Lees
7 min readMay 25, 2024
Image credit: Buzzfeed

Thanks to our desire to ensure every waking moment can be filled with mindless distraction, most people in the West now spend an astonishing five hours per day staring at the shiny screens of their phones. While a tiny fraction of this time is consumed with actual communication with other humans and an even more miniscule fraction is dedicated to complying with corporate two-factor authentication requirements, the vast majority of the the daily five hours is spent gawping at TikTok and other equally intellect-crippling ways to turn one’s brain into insensate mush. The consequence of our phone addiction is that our phones are always on and thus always connected to the network. Being always connected to a network means that malign actors have no difficulty whatsoever in turning our phones into the perfect way to know where we are and what we are doing.

There are several reasons why our phones are so vulnerable to being converted into spy-in-your-hand devices but the most glaring hole in our cellular infrastructure comes from the way in which call control is implemented. Everything going into your phone and coming out of it via the cellular network is controlled by a signaling system developed back in the 1960s at a time when cellular phones didn’t exist and security wasn’t even a…

--

--

Allan Milne Lees

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.