What is IMEI and IMSI? Your phone is breaching your privacy right now

We all love our smartphones and we’ve become extremely dependent on them. Wherever we go, our smartphone is with us. A lot can be spoken about how they’ve made our lives easier, but all those facilities come with a caveat. In an interview with Joe Rogan, former intelligence consultant Edward Snowden spoke about how our privacy has gone for a toss with the advent of smartphones.

“Your cell phone is a spy!” It is a tracking device that logs information about your locations and movements throughout the day and reports that information to third parties. Many of us are aware of this spotlight on our daily travels, but we have traded this loss of privacy for the convenience of our ever-increasing reliance on mobile devices.

Just imagine, your phone’s screen is off. You’re sitting somewhere else and someone sends you a message. The screen will blink to life. Somebody from anywhere on the earth can dial your number and only your phone rings. How does that happen? This is because your phone is constantly connected to the nearest cellular tower and it’s constantly being tracked.


IMEI and IMSI number


“IMEI and IMSI are two globally unique identifiers that only exist anywhere in the world in one place. It makes your phone different from all the other phones. The IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) is burned into the handset of the phone. No matter what SIM card you change to, it’s always going to be the same and it’s always going to be telling the phone network that it’s this physical handset. The IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) is in your SIM card. It is what holds the phone number. It is the key to use that phone,” Snowden said in the interview.


Along with these numbers, your phone also has apps that may be collecting your personal data without your knowledge. When you allow an app to use your location, you are giving it the power to track you. Ideally, you should be able to monitor and control the connections that your phone is making but we’re a long way away from that.


“The central problem with smartphone use today is that you have no idea what it’s doing at any given time. The phone has the screen off, but you don’t know what it’s connected to. You don’t know how frequently it’s doing it,” Snowden said.


Data collection industry: The invisible monster


As of now, the powers that be are trying their best to keep their surveillance activities invisible. If there was a button (or an option) on your phone which allowed you to do what you want without being spied on, you would click that button. The reason you don’t do it is because there is no button like that.


“The fact that we read story after story, year after year, saying all your data has been breached here. This company is spying on you here. This company is manipulating your purchases or your search results. They are hiding these things from your timeline. They are influencing or manipulating you in many different ways. That happens as a result of a single problem – and that problem is inequality of available information,” Snowden said. He added that even though you’ve paid for the device, it’s the government or the corporations that really owns it.


The Urruda take

Privacy on the internet is a serious issue and there needs to be a lot more awareness created about it. We should have more control over our data and how it is getting used. We need some simplicity in the way we can protect our privacy, disconnect from unknown sources and stop corporations from spying on us.