A phone tracking system is a system which relies on triangulation of transmitter tower data to pinpoint the location of a cell phone. There are a number of ways in which this can be accomplished. Many countries require that cell phones be fitted with GPS transponders which can be used by phone tracking systems, and a phone without a transponder can still potentially be tracked by systems with access to the network of phone towers. Using the system, people can determine the area a phone was in when it placed its last call or accessed the data network most recently.
There are a wide range of uses for phone tracking systems. Some parents use these systems with the phones of their children so that they can keep track of their movements or come to their assistance if they are in trouble. Such systems may also be integrated into programs which monitor driving activity, with the phone's transponder being used to generate data about where a car was driven and how fast. A phone tracking system can also be used to track phones on the same plan, as for example when members of a couple share a cellular provider and have their locating devices turned on.
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People who use their phones to get directions can also take advantage of access to a phone tracking system. When they log into a program which offers directions, the program locates the phone, and then provides advice on how to get to another location. Likewise, a phone tracking system can be integrated into a program which searches for products and services, allowing people to look up the closest pizza joint, office supply store, church, or any other location of interest and to get directions from their locations.
Members of law enforcement also utilize such systems. When people place calls to emergency services with cell phones, those calls can be automatically tracked to give the location, which is useful in the event that the call is dropped or the phone is turned off. Likewise, law enforcement may use a mobile phone locator to attempt to track a criminal or to follow a subject of interest in a case. The phone tracking system can provide information which may be used to build evidence for a case or to apprehend a criminal.
The legality of such systems varies. In some nations,where there are concerns about privacy, there are limitations on how such systems can be used, by whom, and in which circumstances. People who attempt to access the system illegally may face penalties. In other nations, there are fewer restrictions, and civilian access to phone tracking systems may be quite widespread.