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7. The volume of cellular phone traffic does not affect the ability to monitor cellular calls. Cell phones operate on radio frequencies that can be monitored by commonly available radio frequency scanners. It is easy to program a watch list of phone numbers into a computer that automatically picks out all calls to or from  the watch listed numbers and records the conversations. Although the law provides penalties for the interception of cellular telephone calls, it is easily accomplished and impossible to detect.

It is easy for an eavesdropper to determine a target's cellular phone number, because transmissions are going back and forth to the cellular site whenever the cell phone has battery power and is able to receive a call. For a car phone, this generally happens as soon as the ignition is turned on. Therefore, the eavesdropper simply waits for the target to leave his or her home or office and start the car. The initial transmission to the cellular site to register the active system is picked up immediately by the scanner, and the number can be entered automatically into a file of numbers for continuous monitoring.

Senior executives who discuss business on their car phones are especially vulnerable if any competitor or adversary could gain useful information by listening in on those conversations. Radio hobbyists have web sites where they exchange cell phone numbers of "interesting" targets. Criminal syndicates in several major U.S. metropolitan areas maintain extensive cell phone monitoring operations.

Related Topics: Cellular Phones, Intercepting Your Communications, Who's Doing What to Whom?