Does this phone make any direct connections to cellular towers?

I find the FAQ a bit confusing regarding this question:

“Does Purism comply with CALEA requirements?”

Does this phone make any direct connections to cellular towers? If not, I certainly count that a plus. If it does, then maybe you can get on Elon Musks StarLink network?

The modem connects to whichever network (ergo its towers) you have service with, same as any mobile phone. In the U.S., all mobile providers have to comply with CALEA for calls over PSTN.

Other nations will have their respective legal requirements, too.

The FAQ states:

Does Purism comply with CALEA requirements?

No, because CALEA applies to US based telecommunications providers, not to Purism. If the user of a Librem 5 phone uses a carrier in the US with a traditional “phone number”, that carrier must comply with CALEA for phone calls, as the phone call is sent over the carrier’s connection. Pure Matrix-to-Matrix calls are outside of CALEA requirements (Matrix nor Purism are telecommunications service providers). If the call touches the PSTN is becomes the carrier’s responsibility to adhere to CALEA. Matrix is an encrypted VoIP/messaging protocol not a telco.

So in the U.S. at least, calls over Matrix connections are exempt.

Maybe the FAQ entry could be stated more clearly, though.

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So you’re location is still unsecured? :unamused:
…given that your cell company is required to rat you out and the towers know where you are at?

Just use the HKS to switch off the modem (and Wifi) and you will disappear from the radar screens.

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The networks always have to know where you are, in order to provide service to your device. And yes, in the U.S. they’re obligated to provide your location, either approximate or precise, to law enforcement agencies when presented with a proper, signed legal demand. Other countries have their legal requirements, too, I’m sure.

In my case, I don’t care if the phone company, or even law enforcement or the government can discover my location. I only care about protecting myself from tracking by the tech companies that want to build a profile on me without my consent.

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OK. Some background. I’m an Extra-class Amateur Radio Licensee (that’s the third of three licenses which you have to test for and it enables you to work with satellites and microwaves) as well as a Software Developer (mostly Java) of +15 years and I work for a financial institution which is typically high-security. What I’m saying is that, if getting around the surveillance state in this manner hasn’t been done yet, someone will soon figure it out. Could be you or it could be you AND Elon.

Jus sayin…

You know, those satellites of his… they aren’t necessarily in US jurisdiction. I could be wrong about literally all of this, and that I admit but if I were someone trying to get people to allow me to install my hardware and software literally into people’s BRAINS as Tesla has recently announced… all of that would have to be ULTIMATELY secure from literally everyone, including the US Govt, and my company would have to be absolutely ABOVE reproach, morally speaking. That’s why I suspect that he’s got that one solved.

Maybe not, but you have to get back to the ground in someone’s jurisdiction… and that ground station could be required to disclose the location of users who’s data goes through it (theoretically) also receiving satellite signals, easy with low powered phone device. Sending signal back to the satellite, much less easy with low power. Not saying it isn’t possible just that it will probably adversely affect battery life by comparison to cellular.

So yeah, the phone will make direct connections to whatever service(s) you connect to and will need to be able to be identified and located in some capacity to get any responses back to you from the service you’re accessing.

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Unless I’m wrong, um, doesn’t the phone need the towers to actually make a phone call? To equate this to your location being unsecure is probably technically correct if they wanted to triangulate things? Am I on the right track here?

If you’re the sort of person doing things that has the authorities wanting a phone carrier to track you like this, then, err, what are you up to (don’t answer that)? If your activities are so nefarious then you should look at a different solution like an x-cellular phone (if these actually do what they claim anyway).

Agree Sat signals easier to receive than send. Location isn’t what I’m concerned about.
Disclosure is. Using terrestrial systems, there can be no real security regarding your location as it currently stands. You could only do it with ubiquitous WiFi and that isn’t going to work very well while your Nav’ing yourself to Grandma’s house 2 states away for Thanksgiving. :wink:

There still isn’t much info regarding Elon’s systems. His phones come with StarLink but I’m clearly making assumptions about how that works exactly.

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I think trusting Elon Musk would be too much for me.

It’s going to be dog hard to trust ANYONE with direct access to your fricken BRAIN. :wink:


Yeh. Regrettably correct. Worse by the day.

Not with the latest block of satellites. They are capable of inter-satellite communication, which means, very theoretically speaking, a call between two Starlink users could be completed without ever touching the ground, apart from the two customer endpoints of course (in other words, no ground station need be involved).

I wasn’t aware that Starlink allows mobile customers as yet, at least not in my country. Maybe it is being trialled in the US.

(So the implication is that your location is fixed permanently and hence known - just like a fixed line phone or a cable service. Worst case, the customer satellite dish hardware has a GNSS chip in it. Best case, it is not actually enforced right now at all. Middle case, the satellite system is checking that your location as recorded and disclosed is inside the beam footprint of the satellite that you are currently communicating with and LOS/AOS could even be used to confirm that more precisely.)

I would put my opinion this way: Elon will be pursuing Elon’s interests. If they align with yours, lucky for you. If they don’t align with yours, unlucky for you.

I’m pretty sure that sooner or later the US government will “explain” to Elon how cooperating with the US government is in Elon’s interests. :wink:

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And you have to emit radio waves into someone’s jurisdiction in order to do that. Those wavelengths are usually highly regulated, make no mistake that just because it’s a satellite you’ll get away from tracking. If the governing body requires the satellites beam back connections metadata for a given subscriber, they will.

Also, as far as I can tell, the satellites need to have a good idea of the position of the ground points, in order to perform beam forming towards them. I wouldn’t be able to tell how precise that is.


SpaceX strapped Starlink to a Starship launched a few months ago, but it didn’t work very well (not surprising, for a first try). They plan to support mobile use of their rig (RV, aviation, maritime, suborbital), but if you try it now you will lose signal if you stray too far from home. You can, however, drive to a campground and then go to their website and register the new service address.

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Perhaps but perhaps not. The push-back on privacy and security is pretty much GLOBAL which is what created the market for phones like the Librem 5 in the first place. If the market wants something badly enough, it usually gets it.

You can make the attempt with this toolkit: