Even if you have turned geolocation and other location-tracking services off on your iPhone, those who are really intent on finding your whereabouts with the help of your smartphone, they can do so. Edward Snowden has designed an iPhone case that can hide the location of your smartphone – that is, no matter how high-tech gadgetry some surveillance agency is using to track you, it won’t be able to do so.
Edward Snowden, in case you don’t know, is a CIA-whistleblower whom the US government is trying to arrest for leaking classified information from the National Security Agency. He revealed how the US government carries out global surveillance programs that border on being illegal. Currently he is hiding somewhere in Russia. Here is the Wikipedia entry on Edward Snowden.
Obviously he wouldn’t like to be tracked but he would also like to use his iPhone just like any other Apple fan. But he knows that once he starts using his iPhone, it can be easily tracked by secret agents who are constantly on his trail. This is the reason why he is working on building an iPhone case that hides your location even when you’re using your iPhone.
Normally it is believed that if you put your iPhone or any other smartphone in “airplane mode” your device cannot be tracked, but this is a fallacy. Your iPhone is still transmitting GPS or radio signals when you’re using it in “airplane mode”. In fact, some government agencies, using this capability, can even turn on your phone remotely.
This phone tracking system was used, it is suspected, by the Syrian government to track and kill an American journalist named Marie Colvin. Edward Snowden wouldn’t like to meet the same fate, especially when he’s moving outside of Russia.
In the famous meeting in Hong Kong where he revealed the secrets of the NSA surveillance practices going on in the US, he had asked the present journalists to keep their smartphones in the fridge because radio signals can be used to activate microphones and cameras of modern smartphones (source Wired.com)
The case for the iPhone doesn’t exactly hide your phone, it just monitors the systems of your iPhone constantly to check whether its radio signals are being transmitted to reveal its identity or location, or not. As mentioned above, radio signals being emitted from your phone can be used to activate its recording and camera devices. As was the case with Mary Colvin, the radio signals can also be used to drop bombs on you.
Edward Snowden is reportedly working in collaboration with Andrew “Bunnie” Huang who is a well-known hardware hacker to come up with an iPhone case that can help you hide your location. They’re hoping to come up with a workable model/prototype by next year and start providing it to journalists working in hostile environments like Libya, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan (or more hostile environments like the US).