Scary downside to phone-tracking services haunts one unlucky couple
We rely on our phones for so much that it’s little surprise that when we realize our handset’s gone missing, it feels like the world has fallen apart around us. That’s why phone-tracking services like Find My iPhone or the Android Device Manager have proven so invaluable, not just helping us locate our phones in times of crisis, but giving us some nice peace of mind the rest of the time. Unfortunately, something’s gone horribly wrong for one Atlanta couple, as both iOS and Android users have been incorrectly pointed to their house in search of missing phones.
More than a dozen times in the course of the past year, phone-tracking services have pointed users to the home of Christina Lee and Michael Saba. Once the police were even involved, looking for a missing girl, and telling them, “Your house is a crime scene and you two are persons of interest.” Of course, nothing came of that incident because just like every other time, the phone-tracking info was bogus.
No one seems to be able to work out exactly why users keep getting directed to their address: there’s no common carrier among the lost phones, and while theories suggest that cell-tower triangulation might have something to do with their bad luck, no one is particularly willing to do anything about it; the FCC has claimed that the matter is out of its jurisdiction. Other theories suggest WiFi-based location estimation or local IP addresses may play a role.
Frustrated and continuing to receive visitors looking for their missing phones (there have been two already this year), Lee and Saba are trying their luck once again with the FCC in the form of a formal complaint, as well as reaching out to their senator.