Trace cell phone call

Bengtsson co-founded a non-profit organization in Stockholm called Flowminder that crunches massive call data sets with the aim of saving lives.

Trace the location of any mobile number with missed call

Yet as data-for-good projects gain traction, some researchers are asking whether they benefit society enough to outweigh their potential for misuse. That question is complicated to answer. Aid agencies are secretive about the details of their projects. The GSMA celebrates some data-for-good analyses as weapons against epidemics and disasters, but rarely points to peer-reviewed research to support the claims. And in the fields of public health, computer and social science, a decade of published call-record studies have yet to notably assist the communities they track.

Meanwhile, concerns are rising over the lack of consent involved; the potential for breaches of privacy, even from anonymized data sets; and the possibility of misuse by commercial or government entities interested in surveillance. When historians look back on this era, they could well call it the age of the mobile phone. In , more than 5 billion people owned them — up to two-thirds of the global population. Although not everyone owns a phone, Flowminder and other researchers have shown that call-record analyses can estimate the distribution and movement of populations.

Government agencies, including those in the Netherlands, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo DRC , are now exploring how call records can feed into censuses. Aid organizations also use these data. Flowminder and the UN team estimated how many people fled the capital Kathmandu after the quake, where they went and when they returned.

Rivers says the agency conducts such projects around the world, but declined to name other examples. It rarely makes reports public.

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He says one reason for the secrecy is that phone companies that make their data available fear a backlash from subscribers who do not want their location shared, even anonymously. In general, researchers glean results from anonymized call-detail records that show roughly where and when text messages and phone calls are made.

During the peak of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in , epidemiologists at Flowminder, the UN and other institutions pushed for access to anonymized call records, arguing that the information could help to curb the crisis. Unlike highly transmissible, airborne infections, the Ebola virus spreads only through direct contact with infected bodily fluids. That time, says Erikson, could have been better spent handling the escalating crisis. Liberia decided not to allow the studies, citing privacy concerns.

But Bengtsson and his colleagues gained access to anonymized call records from Sierra Leone.

Tracing a cell phone location isn't as hard as you think

Despite the modest result, magazines ran headlines saying that call records could predict where Ebola strikes. Sean McDonald, a digital-governance researcher at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, cautions that crises can be used as an excuse to rapidly analyse call records without frameworks first being used to evaluate their worth or to assess potential harms. In interviews with Nature , Bengtsson was forthcoming about the limits of call-record analyses, saying they cannot curb Ebola.

But he still considers them invaluable, because they could tell officials or aid workers how a population moves, and that might prove useful — although he was not specific about exactly how. Epidemiologists have explored how call records might help to combat other diseases, including malaria in Africa and Asia, dengue in Pakistan and cholera in Haiti. In , researchers studied records from nearly 15 million mobile-phone subscribers in Kenya 4 , and quantified the seasonal migrations of people who travel to work on tea plantations northeast of Lake Victoria, where malaria is a problem. The researchers suggested that officials ramp up malaria surveillance in the towns to which the workers return.

Her team has partnered with Telenor, a Norwegian telecommunications company with operations across Asia.

In a study reported this April, the researchers combined analyses of call records in Bangladesh with information on the movement of malaria parasites, gleaned from genetic analyses of the parasite in blood samples. They found that malaria might be imported into southwest Bangladesh from several places in the country 5. The same practical argument could be made against research on parasite genetics. Phone companies mostly analyse the records to boost their businesses, says Robert Kirkpatrick, director of UN Global Pulse, an initiative to harness big data.

Migrants on the shore of Djibouti raise their mobile phones to try to capture reception in neighbouring Somalia. Other phone operators took over the challenge. The team posted online maps identifying refugee workplaces and homes, and mapped migrations of refugees to hazelnut plantations in Turkey. The team suggested that migrant workers could benefit from more clinics and child care there.

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And critics argue that open-ended analyses, such as the refugee challenge, play fast and loose with sensitive information for the sake of exploring big data — rather than doing good for the people in the studies. Another way to find out whether refugees are isolated would be to ask them questions, which allows them to decide what to share, she adds. Anyone who might want to harm any of the 3. But call-record intelligence might help policymakers by giving them quantitative information about refugee movements.

And an ethics committee vetted the results: when research indicated refugees were working at a location illegally, for example, the committee told them not to publish the finding. Responding to the charge that such data challenges have not helped people, Kirkpatrick says exploration was a necessary first step. The next phase in call-records research, he says, should be cost—benefit analyses that look at the investment needed to conduct a study, roll out an intervention and appraise the advantages for communities.

In the meantime, exploratory studies continue. But Bengtsson and others are addressing concerns about consent and data security, not least because one negative story — even if the harm is minor — could trigger a backlash that might stop phone companies from opening up their call records to study at no charge. Some pressure to change has come from within the community. To lessen the chance that a person acting in bad faith could get hold of the records and identify individuals, many researchers now try to conduct their analyses on data that remain on phone-company servers.


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This reduces the number of extra, unapproved questions that the results can answer. Risk varies from country to country. Others have a history of human-rights abuses. Researchers analysing call records from nations with over-reaching governments often justify their work by saying that the information they access pales in comparison to what authorities see.

Unknown, unavailable or out-of-area calls are not traceable because they don't contain the data needed for a successful trace. On the other hand -- and maybe surprisingly -- private, blocked or restricted calls can usually be traced just fine.

How To Track a Phone Number: The Definitive Guide

A successful trace captures the calling party's phone number and -- if the phone number is serviced by CenturyLink -- the name and address as well. The phone number, name and address if available are turned over to the CenturyLink Call Identification Center. For legal and privacy reasons, we aren't able to share this data with you.

We can only release this information if we receive a subpoena, court order or -- in some cases -- a call from a law enforcement agency. Under normal circumstances, 3 successful traces of calls -- originating from the same number -- are required before CenturyLink or local law enforcement can take action.

Part 1: Track A Cell Phone Location by Number In Real-Time with Spyic

Once you've traced a number 3 times, you can request action be taken against the calling party. You can also contact your local law enforcement agency. Tell them that you've been receiving harassing calls and that you've traced those calls. Be sure to get the name of the officer who records your complaint. Make a note of the date and time you called, the agency's complete name, phone number and fax number.


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  6. If an officer opens a case for you, write down the case number. If your law enforcement agency has questions, have them contact the CenturyLink Law Enforcement Support Team at Use Call Trace to identify harassing calls. The next time you receive a harassing call:. Hang up on the caller or don't pick up at all.

    Locate a phone number

    Lift the receiver and listen for the dial tone. Press Dial. Follow the recorded instructions.

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