Locating a cell phone in flight mode – How does it work and is it allowed?

cell phone tracking mobile phonesThere are a number of myths surrounding cell phones, data protection is an important issue and while many people have no problem with the fact that their “cell phone is listening in”, others are concerned. Smartphones house sensitive data and almost our entire digital life, it is important to pay attention to protection and only use a secure Wi-Fi connection.

Unwanted tracking is not legal, but can never be completely ruled out. There are ways to prevent this and to surf undetected with your cell phone. However, there are also times when tracking is useful and desirable, for example if your cell phone is lost or stolen or the owner is in an emergency. In this case, a number of conditions must be met for tracking to be successful.

When can a cell phone be tracked?

There are many options for locating a cell phone, some of which can be retrofitted at any time, and many devices already offer such a service when purchased.

Location via GPS or apps

Many devices are already equipped at the factory so that they can always be localized, and a location service from the provider can then locate the device if necessary. This service is offered by Apple, Microsoft and Google. The cell phone is then tracked via GPS, and WLAN can also be used for localization. Apple offers this service collectively with the Apple ID, so all connected devices, Iphone or Ipad, can be found at any time. Activating the GPS function is essential for this procedure so that the location can be determined to within a few meters. GPS signals are only clearly perceptible outside enclosed spaces; inside thick walls or in underground car parks, it is difficult or even impossible to reliably locate the device.

The phone’s location service must always be activated to use these options; if this is too unsafe, you can deactivate this function for certain apps on the smartphone. Annoying if the cell phone goes missing and cannot be located because the service is inactive.

In addition to the integrated functions, cell phones can be equipped with special apps for locating cell phones ; these location services are usually only partially free of charge. They allow you to locate your cell phone via a computer, for example. This service can then be subject to a charge, and the use of such apps is usually linked to a monthly fee ; this subscription then grants you access to all functions.

Depending on the app and manufacturer, other functions can be used in addition to tracking, such as virus protection for the smartphone or automatic image recording in the event of a theft report, so the cell phone can be better protected against theft.

When can a cell phone not be located?

In the case of professional theft, the thieves already take the necessary precautions to ensure that the cell phone can no longer be located.

Locate cell phone without SIM card

Depending on the model, the cell phone can no longer be located without a SIM card. If you want to be on the safe side, remove the battery or set the device to airplane mode. With many models, it is not possible to remove the battery as it is usually permanently installed.

Locate cell phone if lost

If you have deactivated the location services and switched on airplane mode , you often have no chance of finding your cell phone again. The cell phone can only be located if it is connected to a transmitter, GPS or WLAN; this is not possible in flight mode or on standby. This means that no connection to the phone can be established, it disappears and the location cannot be called up. Airplane mode interrupts the connection to the WLAN network, the Bluetooth connection and the mobile phone provider, so if you want to deliberately prevent localization, you have done everything right, but this can be a hindrance in the event of loss or theft.

Cell phone tracking – legal or illegal?

Missing smartphones may be located by the owner through tracking; in these cases, location tracking is absolutely legal.

The situation changes when it is not the device itself that is to be found, but the person; the police are exclusively responsible for searching for people .

Locate cell phone – Conclusion

The use of tracking services on smartphones, Android or iOS, gives owners the opportunity to find their devices again in many cases. Finding lost cell phones is often not possible because certain requirements must be met in order to determine the location. If there is no WLAN connection, other Internet connection or contact to the mobile network, it is simply not possible to locate cell phones. As a rule, these services are used to request information about your own cell phone, in which case you should always make sure you are connected to the Internet or mobile phone cells. For example, anyone who uses this function solely to determine the location of people is committing a criminal offense.

If it is not possible to locate your own phone and theft is suspected, the owner must act quickly to prevent the theft of sensitive data. Not every app on the phone is specially secured and can be viewed by almost anyone. First, the SIM card must be deactivated by the provider to prevent misuse of your own data . Anyone who uses their phone for banking must also be careful and ideally inform their bank directly to avoid further damage. It is important that all possible connections to private data are interrupted immediately, and the theft or loss should always be reported to the police. Although the phone is rarely recovered, the insurance company requires a report in the event of theft in order to reimburse the costs of stolen devices .

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