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Saudi Arabia Is Catching Women Who Leave The Country By Tracking Their Phones

Image via Shutterstock

Saudi Arabia is using military technology to track down the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers of cellphones of women who attempt to escape the oppressive society.

This is not the first time that Saudi society has faced controversy over tracking women. Earlier on, Apple and Google got flak for allowing an app for Saudi men to locate their wives and daughters to appear in their app stores.

Women who attempt to leave the nation can unfortunately expect to be tracked down in a variety of means, such as their friends getting interviewed, their social media being looked through and even their passports frozen. However, recently, Saudi government agents are also using a separate high-tech method.

The agents specifically seek out each cellphone’s unique 15-digit International Mobile Equipment Identity, a tactic usually adopted by military or intelligence services, according to INSIDER.

Women who successfully escaped the country related to the publication about their harrowing experiences. Two women, who wished to remain anonymous in fear of being found, said they fled in early 2019 and that Saudi security services stormed into their family homes after they were gone, demanding to see their cellphone packages.

Another woman who was caught in the nation of Georgia said she was informed by her attorney that Saudi intelligence traced her location through her IMEI number. She was then sent back to Saudi Arabia. In a more fortunate case, a woman who fled to Australia said that though the Saudi agents found her via the same method, she secured asylum before she was forced to go back.

The same technology is reportedly also used by the US National Security Agency to track phones belonging to Afghanistan targets in order to make accurate drone strikes.

Matthew Hickey, a professional hacker, explained that the problem cannot be solved by switching SIM cards, as companies can still find that the same phone is using different cards.

The solution lies in replacing the handset, complete removal and replacement of the chip, or using a phone with reprogrammable IMEI from the beginning.

[via Insider, cover image via Shutterstock]

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