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theprizerevealed

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 26, 2016
183
12
I'm doing a bit of research on workplace privacy and work phones and I want to ask a question. Let's say you are required or you want to have a separate phone for work for privacy reasons.

You know that your employer will be monitoring your usage of the phone, text, data, telephone calls etc. You know they might be tracking your every move too. It's even technically possible to turn on an deactivated cell phone nowadays.

Is there some material that you could use to make lockbox that would block cell phone signals completely? That way when your workday is done then you simply turn off the mobile phone then drop it in the lockbox until the next workday.

Seems like a good way to prevent off duty spying by your employer.... just curious.
 

now i see it

macrumors 603
Jan 2, 2002
6,362
13,074
It's called "find a new employer".
I wouldn't work for a company that tracked me via cellular no matter how much they paid me.

But any metal enclosure will block cell signals. Find a metal box and put your phone in it, then call it. If it doesn't ring - it's blocked.
 
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theprizerevealed

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 26, 2016
183
12
I see there are some for sale on amazon that claim to work for cell signals, bluetooth and wifi. Does anyone have any experience with their effectiveness?
 
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LIVEFRMNYC

macrumors 604
Oct 27, 2009
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From my own experience, aluminum foil actually works. It's not just some TV myth.
 
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theprizerevealed

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 26, 2016
183
12
I want to elaborate on this topic concerning Airplane Mode for iPhones - does that feature disable the GPS hardware and cell tower communicating hardware of the phone so you cannot use it or does it only prevent calls from being received or ringing the phone? Let me add that I am aware that GPS does not track an iphone and that it is merely a signal the phone receives to calculate location. As discussed here: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7572126

I am mostly concerned with the tracking of phones that happen via cell phone towers. This is commonly used to track people's locations by the government.

So can that hardware that communicates with cell phone towers be disabled by Airport Mode?
 
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I7guy

macrumors Penryn
Nov 30, 2013
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Gotta be in it to win it
Why don't you turn the phone off?

But from what I can gather based on what I've read, airplane mode disables the cellular radios, not the GPS hardware. And of course wifi and bluetooth can be used in airplane mode.
 
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andiwm2003

macrumors 601
Mar 29, 2004
4,346
406
Boston, MA
If you want your work cell phone to be deactivated and non traceable then that means you won't use it and you won't be able to receive calls. So why not leave it at work (or at your desk in case you work from home) while you go out on your fun activities. In that case all the employer gets is that you might be at your desk.
BTW: Your concerns are why I always refused to use my private phone for work and have device management software installed on it. And I leave my workphone at home when I'm out doing private things unless it's one of those days where i need to be available. Then I bring both phones.
 
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theprizerevealed

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 26, 2016
183
12
If you want your work cell phone to be deactivated and non traceable then that means you won't use it and you won't be able to receive calls. So why not leave it at work (or at your desk in case you work from home) while you go out on your fun activities. In that case all the employer gets is that you might be at your desk.
BTW: Your concerns are why I always refused to use my private phone for work and have device management software installed on it. And I leave my workphone at home when I'm out doing private things unless it's one of those days where i need to be available. Then I bring both phones.


Generally speaking though, I would not want my private phone tracked by cell phone towers either so the answer would be equally interesting to me. There are many other reasons that I might want the phone activated without cellular being activated, such as using education apps, gaming for entertainment, watching movies offline, playing music, etc.
 
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ApfelKuchen

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2012
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Between the coasts
yeah, I wondered about lead....they use it in nuclear shielding after all....
No, for blocking radio signals aluminum, copper, or steel will be more effective than lead.

Lead is effective for blocking gamma rays and x-rays. The radios in cell phones work at much lower frequencies, where other materials are more effective.

As to the rest.... if you're concerned about cell towers, then turn on Airplane Mode. That turns off the cellular radio and wifi by default (you can turn wifi back on afterwards and still leave the cellular radio off).

If your phone is not sending/receiving cellular signals, then it can't be tracked by cellular towers. You can turn the power off, or turn Airplane Mode on to accomplish that goal. If the phone is in a metal box you can't use it, so you may as well just turn off the power - it has the same effect as a metal box without needing to buy a metal box.
 
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Erehy Dobon

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Feb 16, 2018
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Just get a used microwave oven -- working or not -- and leave that unplugged in your cubicle. When you are done for the day, just stick your cellphone in the microwave.

If you are super paranoid, get one of those lead-lined bags that photographers used twenty years ago for transporting film cartridges through airport X-ray machines. I'm guessing a few of those might still be available for sale online.

Put your phone in one of those bags then stick that in the microwave oven.

Your employer probably won't question your microwave oven. They will simply think you are too lazy to walk to the break room to pop your popcorn.
 
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ApfelKuchen

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I would get a new job, but you're looking for a faraday box or something similar.

The OP is voicing his/her concerns about what that employer may or may not actually be doing. If they're actually tracking the after-hours travels of their employees, then yes, get another job.

Practically speaking, many companies would not want the kind of backlash with employees, the public, and maybe even government that would occur if they were discovered to be tracking employees' off-hours activities.

I'm sure that for the vast majority of employers who install device management software, their concern with location tracking is no different than yours or mine when we enable Find My iPhone - finding the company's lost/stolen property.

Might they use Find My Friends-like capabilities as well? Sure, there are circumstances. If they're managing field service employees, drivers, etc. they want to know where they are, and those employees know they are being tracked. But outside of staff that's expected to be mobile? Employers might use those capabilities on a case-by-case basis when they have suspicions about an employee being off-campus when they ought to be in their office, suspicions that the employee is engaged in industrial espionage, etc. Overall, however, they have much better things to do than to observe the movements of their workforce.

What the vast majority of companies care about most is control/security of the company's data, efficiency of business operations (employees receiving communications in a timely manner, employees accessing the business systems and data they need to perform their jobs, etc.), restricting non-business use of company-owned equipment and resources, and that the employee is actually working (attendance, etc.).

But yes, we can weave all sorts of hypothetical scenarios about ruthlessly competent governments and employers spying on our every move. We can imagine that we are sufficiently important that we deserve to be the targets of spy movie-style surveillance. The thing is, most governments and employers are not ruthlessly competent and lack the kind of unlimited resources necessary to make good on our worst fears, and some of the stuff we see in spy movies is purely science fiction.
 
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jlc1978

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Aug 14, 2009
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yeah, I wondered about lead....they use it in nuclear shielding after all....

I don't know if lead would work, but health considerations aside the funny thing about nuclear shielding is some things are easily stopped and others see the same thing as transparent.
 
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jlc1978

macrumors 68040
Aug 14, 2009
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But yes, we can weave all sorts of hypothetical scenarios about ruthlessly competent governments and employers spying on our every move. We can imagine that we are sufficiently important that we deserve to be the targets of spy movie-style surveillance. The thing is, most governments and employers are not ruthlessly competent and lack the kind of unlimited resources necessary to make good on our worst fears, and some of the stuff we see in spy movies is purely science fiction.

My employer is ruthlessly tracking me. They check every phone bill to be sure only business calls are expensed, have access to all my contacts and private calendars, know where I am 24x7, know all my passwords, etc.

Then again, I am self - employed...
 
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Helmsley

macrumors 6502
Sep 4, 2017
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But from what I can gather based on what I've read, airplane mode disables the cellular radios, not the GPS hardware. And of course wifi and bluetooth can be used in airplane mode.

Correct. In iOS 8.2 and earlier, airplane mode did shut off GPS. The only way to shut it off now would be in Privacy then Location Services.
 
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