TV SMITH's Dua Sen: The Truth Is Out There
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


by TV Smith

A leading local mobile phone operator has introduced a new service that allows its subscribers to locate their friends without the hassle of a voice call. With this innovative service, you can now find out in an instance, where your loved ones are without them even realising.

In case you didn't know, a GSM-type handphone constantly sends out information about its location back to a central computer at the telco, usually accurate to within a few meters, provided it is switched on. There is nothing insidious about it. The mobile phone habitually and silently calls back the mothership to report its position, thereby enabling incoming calls to be routed to the user at any geographical location covered by the network. This technology allows the freedom of movement and seamless roaming that is automatic, transparent and often taken for granted.

However, law enforcement, espionage and surveillance agencies around the world have been known to use this 'bonus' system feature to track and follow targets. In other words, (and in theory), someone, somewhere knows which political party meetings you attended or the place you hang out without the need to trail you in person.

The electronic breadcrumbs left behind can be useful when tracking down criminals and kidnapped individuals. At a fee, many telcos worldwide now package this as an additional service that provides subscribers with a fast and simple way to keep an electronic eye on their child or loved ones. An employer could also use such a service to keep track of employees out in the field.

The concept is both fascinating and frightening as the issue of (potential) privacy intrusion immediately comes to mind. Fortunately in this case, the person whom you plan to stalk electronically needs to agree to the plan first. It is however, unclear (to me) whether the target would be alerted to subsequent requests for location after the initial permission. The request and permission process is done via SMS and is almost instantaneous.

Just key in "FIND 0141234567" (replace with the friend's mobile number) and send the SMS to the number advertised using your pre or post paid phone. Within seconds, you will receive a revealing message; "0141234567 is in Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar" (example), together with a timestamp. For each trace request there is a 15 sen charge with an additional 30 sen charge upon each successful trace.

I personally think this service is extremely useful and could help allay unwarranted suspicions, reduce domestic disputes and even hasten sticky divorce cases. With a little creative thinking and ingenuity, Malaysian women can now track their wayward husbands or boyfriends down to a few meters, with or without their permission. How? Simple, but please bear in mind that the following idea is not related in anyway to the usage intended or advertised by any mobile operators and I will not be responsible for any consequences arising out of its use.

With the disclaimer out of the way, here's how. With him unaware, do the initial 'electronic handshake' between your phone and his. Without his knowledge, send the request from your mobile to his mobile and accept the request appearing on his phone yourself. Come next evening you'll know whether he is really at his office or busy somewhere in Jalan Alor.

Better still, do not depend on his phone as he might wise up to the surveillance and shut off the phone when he is at dark and secretive places. Just buy a cheap mobile phone and do the initial request confirmation with your own phone. Make sure you engage the silent mode, disable all lights, vibration and tones.

Wrap the phone in an unsuspicious-looking decoy and plant it in his vehicle. Avoid using foil or any metallic material to wrap the phone as it might shield the radio frequencies, thus disabling the phone and the plan. As such, the boot might not be an ideal hiding place. A good place could be underneath the car seats or inside the glove compartment. With a fully charged battery, most new models can last up to a week on standby. Just replace the battery with a fresh one every other week. Test everything in advance.

Through this new bugging or homing device, you can now accurately pinpoint his location to that spa in Puchong or to the mistresses' apartment in Tivoli Villa. The Sunday jog or golf game could well be spent at afternoon tea dances in some dingy bars somewhere, but at least you now know where he stands. The truth is out there, somewhere.

* The first (self) documented case of a local e-stalker is Ms Arni of Arni The Soul Saver fame.

© 2004 TV SMITH
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