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5g privacy concerns are real, says Bell Labs researcher

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5g, the upcoming and the latest generation of cellular and mobile communications is raising several privacy concerns. Two of the most alarming issues are how 5g makes it easy to access the location of a user and the fact that Huawei, the Chinese giant is the leading manufacturer in the 5g space.

In general, a user’s location data can be obtained through applications which access GPS data or through the cell-network signals. Smartphones give you an option to deny the location sharing options with several applications. But, when you are connected to a mobile network, you are linked to a nearby cell tower for connectivity. By tracking the cell tower, your location data can be traced.

5g signals will have a shorter range when compared to 4G. Therefore, a greater number of towers are required to support 5g. In such cases, tracking a user becomes easy as his details can be obtained with greater accuracy and precision due to the increased and concentrated number of cell towers.

“You’re going to see a lot more indoor towers—in shopping malls, big office buildings, hotels and so on. So in that sense, you are going to get far more precise,” says Dr. Steve Bellovin, Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University.

The other threat to privacy is the fact that the world leader in 5g is Huawei. This Chinese giant has been frowned upon by the USA for a long time. To date, the USA had no solid evidence against Huawei. But then, an employee of Huawei was arrested for espionage in Poland and the company claimed that the allegations have nothing to do them. This incident is turning out to be evidence for the USA to suspect Huawei.

But if this Chinese giant is by any chance building a backdoor, then the Chinese will gain access to metadata as well as unencrypted traffic which will be a great threat to the US citizens’ privacy.

While there have been efforts in the direction of bringing 5g to the USA in this year itself, they have largely been futile or inaccurate. It is being said that 2020 might be the year when the world will be ready to experience 5g.

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