There have long been rumours that the GSM mobile phone standard (or even the devices themselves) contains undocumented features. However, up to now such technology had never been used in any country in the world by special services for collecting information.
This makes perfect sense. The technology would become useless if criminals knew about it.
However, it had to happen one day. At the beginning of this year, the first court case was held where location data obtained using undocumented GPS enabled mobile phone features was used as evidence. A secret request was sent via the mobile phone operator to the telephones, which then sent their location coordinates to the operator. Rumours of this capability can be considered to be confirmed.
As could be expected, this secret technology was not used against minor fraudsters, copyright violators or paedophiles but against a serious national security threat.
At the beginning of the year, in the Netherlands, 12 Somali illegal immigrants were arrested in seven different locations in this way. Four of them were planning a terrorist attack in the country. Access to the private data of the accused was authorised by a court order.