UK police now asked to investigate phone 'pinging'

UK police now asked to investigate phone 'pinging'

A member of the board that oversees London's police force has asked it to investigate claims that News of the World reporters paid officers to obtain people's locations by tracking their cell phone signals, a practice known as "pinging" because of how cell phones signals bounce or "ping" off relay towers as they try to find reception.

Jenny Jones, a Green Party member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, cited claims that reporters at the now-defunct tabloid were able to trace mobile phones in return for payments to corrupt police officers.

The allegation was made by the late Sean Hoare, a former News of the World reporter who spoke to the New York Times about skullduggery at the tabloid. Hoare, who was fired in 2005, said that officers were paid 300 pounds (nearly USD 500) per trace. The paper cited a second unnamed former News of the World journalist as corroborating Hoare's claim. Hoare was found dead on Monday at his home near London; police say the death is not suspicious.

Jones is asking Scotland Yard to examine the records of all cases in which police accessed phone-tracking data "to ensure those were valid requests."

In an interview with The Associated Press, Jones said that going through the cell phone tracing requests "is a relatively simple way of finding corrupt officers" given that it would be clear who was being targeted and when.

"The information is there and you can check," she said.Pinging joins a host of alleged media misdeeds being put under the microscope as police, politicians, and the public weigh allegations that journalists at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World engaged in years of lawless behavior to get scoops.

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