Category Archives: Mobile Phones

Blackmail Insurance Sale & The Germ Code

‘In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss reputational apartheid and delusion insurance as we all become blackmailable. In the second half, Max interviews microbiologist, Jason Tetro, author of The Germ Code, about what germs can teach us about the modern economy and about the similarities between Las Vegas and C.Dificile.’ (Keiser Report)

TSA whistleblower says new phone rule is more security theater, will make fliers less safe

Steve Watson writes for Prison Planet:

TSA Whistleblower: New Phone Rule Is More Security Theater, Will Make Fliers LESS Safe TSA‘A former TSA agent has described the new rule mandating fliers to power up electrical devices at the TSA’s behest as “absurdist” and “theatrical”, saying it will not prevent any terrorist wanting to set off a bomb, and will likely make it easier to do just that.

Writing in the London Guardian, Jason Edward Harrington, a former TSA agent at Chicago’s O’Hare International, notes how he knew this rule may come into effect, and even wove it into a satirical piece he wrote on the TSA a year ago.

Now a whistleblower and a blogger, Harrington writes “I knew a checkpoint power-up directive was not at all outside the realm of airport-security possibility, because I was a TSA agent for six years – and the TSA can be as reactionary and absurd as it is technologically inept.”

“It should come as no surprise to you when this new measure joins the never-ending parade of blanket security directives that may actually make us less safe.” Harrington adds.’

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Why Opposing the Israel Lobby Is No Longer Political Suicide

Phyllis Bennis writes for The Nation:

Palestinian woman‘[...] Something is different this time. And not only that the assault is different, and worse. The difference is the political environment in which this attack is happening, especially the political environment here in the United States. For those of us who’ve been working on changing US policy in the Middle East for decades, the bad news is in front of us every day: that policy hasn’t changed, and billions of dollars in aid money and uncritical political, diplomatic and military support for Israel remains constant.

But there is some good news. It’s only obvious when you can back up for a moment to look past the daily bad-news reality. The good news is that the discourse has shifted dramatically—in mainstream news coverage, punditry, pop culture and more. It’s much better than ever. They don’t get it right, still, but things are changing. Twelve years ago, during the siege of Yasir Arafat’s compound in Ramallah and the surrounding of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, we didn’t hear many Palestinian voices in the mainstream press. In 2006, during Israel’s attack on Gaza,The New York Times and NPR didn’t send their reporters to the Khan Younis refugee camp or to Gaza City.

But the coverage had already begun to shift during Cast Lead, the three-week Israeli war against Gaza in 2008–09, and we realized then how much the media changes reflected the overall discourse shift. Despite Israeli efforts to exclude the international press, Al Jazeera and other Arabic channels were broadcasting live out of Gaza. The Times had a terrific young stringer, Taghreed el-Khodary, filing hour by hour. Israel probably wouldn’t have allowed her into the Strip, but they couldn’t stop her, she was already there—born and raised in Gaza and living with her family.’

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Wearable GPS tracking for children, to ease parents’ minds

CBS News reports:

LG Announces KizON, a smartwatch designed to let parents keep track of where their child is and listen to what they are up to. Courtesy photo of LG Electronics.‘For parents who are worried about keeping track of their children, technology offers a possible solution: kid-friendly wearable devices with GPS tracking built in.

Wearable technology has exploded in recent years, with health monitoring technology such as Fitbit, and wearable computers, such as Google Glass. There are wearables for adults — even wearables for pets – so it makes sense that companies would design models with kids in mind.

One such option is kidsport GPS, a GPS-equipped wristband or ankle bracelet that promises to let parents know where their kids are, whenever they want.’

WATCH THE REPORT…

Latest NSA leaks show extent to which ordinary Web users are caught in the surveillance net

Barton Gellman, Julie Tate and Ashkan Soltani report for The Washington Post:

‘Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post. Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents. The surveillance files highlight a policy dilemma that has been aired only abstractly in public. There are discoveries of considerable intelligence value in the intercepted messages — and collateral harm to privacy on a scale that the Obama administration has not been willing to address.’

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TSA targets mobile phones and electronics in new security policies

Jon Swaine reports for the Guardian:

Transportation Security Administration screeners check passengers as they prepare to board flights. tsa‘Passengers using airports that offer direct flights to the US may be forced to switch on their mobile phones and other electronic devices to prove to security officials that they do not contain explosives, it was announced on Sunday.

“During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones,” the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said in a post on its website. It warned: “Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening.”

The TSA did not disclose which airports would be conducting the additional screening. It was reported last week that passengers at British airports travelling to the US were facing extra checks on phones. Belgian officials said passengers there would also have devices checked. Britain’s Department for Transport (DfT) advised that the new restriction meant any electronic device with a flat battery would not be allowed on flights, the Press Association reported.’

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Many Pick Electric Jolt Over Solitude in Study

Michelle Fay Cortez reports for Bloomberg:

‘How far would you go to avoid being alone with your thoughts? People vastly prefer passive activities like reading or listening to music over spending just a few minutes by themselves. Being alone with no distractions was so distasteful to two-thirds of men and a quarter of women that they elected to give themselves mild electric shocks rather than sit quietly in a room with nothing but the thoughts in their heads, according to a study from the University of Virginia.

While the ability to mentally detach is unique to humans, it’s not often done, the researchers said. In a hyper-connected world with constant Internet access and entertainment options, U.S. Department of Labor data show 83 percent of Americans don’t spend any part of their day just thinking. The series of 11 experiments detailed in the journal Science show the extent people will go to avoid the experience.’

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New lamp post sensors will scoop up ‘big data’ in Chicago

David Heinzmann reports for Chicago Tribune:

united states, network, internet of things, chicago‘The curled metal fixtures set to go up on a handful of Michigan Avenue light poles later this summer may look like delicate pieces of sculpture, but researchers say they’ll provide a big step forward in the way Chicago understands itself by observing the city’s people and surroundings.

The smooth, perforated sheaths of metal are decorative, but their job is to protect and conceal a system of data-collection sensors that will measure air quality, light intensity, sound volume, heat, precipitation and wind. The sensors will also count people by measuring wireless signals on mobile devices.

Some experts caution that efforts like the one launching here to collect data from people and their surroundings pose concerns of a Big Brother intrusion into personal privacy. In particular, sensors collecting cellphone data make privacy proponents nervous. But computer scientist Charlie Catlett said the planners have taken precautions to design their sensors to observe mobile devices and count contact with the signal rather than record the digital address of each device.’

WATCH THE REPORT @ CHICAGO TRIBUNE…

Phone Thieves Beware: Android, Nokia to Get Kill Switches

Christie Smythe and Todd Shields report for Bloomberg:

All New Android & Windows Phones Will Have 'Kill Switch'Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. will incorporate a “kill switch” into the next versions of their smartphone operating systems as evidence mounts that such security measures may be deterring theft. Mobile phone technology companies have faced pressure from public officials over the past year to add mechanisms for disabling the devices if they’re lost or stolen to help curb resale potential. More than 30 percent of robberies in major cities involve mobile phones, with smartphones often targeted because of their high value, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, said in a statement today it will add a “factory reset protection solution” to its next version of Android. Microsoft’s Vice President for U.S. Government Affairs Fred Humphries said the Redmond, Washington-based company will offer new theft-deterrence mechanisms in an update for phones running its software, including those made by Nokia Oyj. “With these additional features, we’re hopeful that technology -– as part of a broader strategy -– can help to further reduce incentives for criminals to steal smartphones in the first place,” Humphries said today in a blog post.’

READ MORE @ BLOOMBERG…

 

Cops hid use of phone tracking tech in court documents at feds’ request

Megan Geuss reports for Ars Technica:

‘On Thursday evening, the ACLU published a 2009 e-mail exchange (PDF) between police departments in Sarasota, Florida, and North Port, Florida, indicating that local law enforcement had concealed the use of cell phone-tracking Stingray devices in court documents. Stingray is a trademark, but it has come to generally mean devices that can be used to track phones or even intercept calls and text messages.

Although the Sarasota Police Department and the North Point Police Department did not own Stingray devices, the two departments had borrowed the cell phone trackers from the US Marshals Service (USMS), which requested that they hide the use of the Stingrays from judges and defendants. The issue was discussed in the e-mails when the Sarasota Police Department realized that a North Point detective had been too explicit in a probable cause affidavit (PCA), specifically detailing “the investigative means used to locate the suspect.” The Sarasota Police asked that the North Point Police seal the old affidavit and submit a new, more vague one.’

READ MORE @ ARS TECHNICA…

How GCHQ can take over your phone or PC

From Private Eye:

menwith hill.jpg‘New documents from Edward Snowden published in the United States show how Britain’s GCHQ has been involved in developing spyware that can take over an individual computer or mobile phone and spy on its owner. While separate revelations from Vodafone last week that spooks and police have an active “listening pipe” into its communications were chilling, papers from the US National Security Agency reveal how Britain’s eavesdroppers have moved on from intercepting outbound communications to actively developing “implants” – pieces of malware which infect a targeted computer or phone and take anything from it the spying services want.

These implants then “own” the target’s hardware and can read email, turn on a computer’s microphone as a transportable bug or the webcam to take photos, as well as download huge amounts of data. For the individual who is targeted, it is like having a live bugging operation about their person or in their home. Such widespread snooping could be done on millions of computers, according to the NSA, which describes it as “aggressive”. The implants infect a computer without the user’s knowledge via spam email or by redirecting the user’s browser to a fake Facebook server. The NSA documents revealed by Snowden show that GCHQ, via its listening station at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, took the lead in ensuring that anyone who had visited Yahoo or Hotmail could be infected with an implant. The potential for such all-encompassing snooping prompted GCHQ to remark in a document dated April 2013 that its involvement in such practices “may be in jeopardy due to British legal/policy restrictions”.’

READ MORE @ PRIVATE EYE…

5.4 Million Dead in Conflict Mineral Wars to Put an iPhone in Your Hands

Abby Martin reports on the disclosures of hundreds of multinational corporations being unable to definitively prove that their products aren’t made with ‘conflict minerals’.’ (Breaking the Set)

Warrantless cell phone tracking ruled unconstitutional in U.S. federal court

From The Associated Press:

Shadow of man on a cell phone‘Investigators must obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to obtain cellphone tower tracking data that is widely used as evidence to show suspects were in the vicinity of a crime, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined people have an expectation of privacy in their movements and that the cell tower data was part of that. As such, obtaining the records without a search warrant is a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures, the judges ruled.

…The ruling does not block investigators from obtaining the records — which show which calls are routed through specific towers — but simply requires a higher legal showing of probable cause to obtain a search warrant rather than a less-strict court order.’

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Our Phone Obsession Is Turning Us Into Zombies

Will Durst writes for Alternet:

‘You see them staggering down our streets, heads bowed as if in prayer making the occasional grunting noise. Mindless drooling de-animated human husks walking blindly into fountains, crosswalks and lamp posts. Wake up People. We are in the middle of a science fiction movie here. Welcome to the Invasion of the Phone Zombies.

Yes, the Zombie Apocalypse has materialized and we are it. Everywhere you look you find the deathlike trance- frozen faces of we necromantic slaves with twitching fingers. Spending endless empty hours mesmerized by our tiny screens. An entire society that can’t remember its own phone number, much less that of any significant other. Of course, compared to our magical phones, there are no significant others.

Our smart phones are being manipulated by some very dumb people. Sure, amazing things can be accomplished: check the weather patterns in Outer Mongolia. Translate French past participles into Farsi. Order a chess set made out of imitation crab meat in the shape of the characters from 12 Years a Slave and have it delivered to our house before getting back from work. But in the meantime, we are developing the attention span of high- speed lint. And the personalities.’

READ MORE @ ALTERNET…

We are losing the art of reading

Andy Miller writes for The Guardian:

A hand taking Charles Dickens Martin Chuzzlewit  from a bookshelf‘[...] The fact is that when reading a book there is no substitute for reading a book. I have just written one about 50 “great” books, the research for which involved staring at lines of words on pages until first the lines, and subsequently the pages, ran out, and then thinking about them until I knew what I wanted to commit to paper. Some of the books are from the canon, and can be considered “classics” – Pride and Prejudice, Middlemarch, Moby-Dick – and some are most certainly neither: The Da Vinci Code and, in the words of the Guardian’s reviewer, “something called Krautrocksampler” by Julian Cope. The experience led me to conclude that although we love to argue about books, acquire them, express strong opinions about The Goldfinch, etc, etc, more than ever we seem to be losing the knack of reading them.

In a New York Times blog, Karl Taro Greenfield talked about “faking cultural literacy”. “What we all feel now is the constant pressure to know enough, at all times, lest we be revealed as culturally illiterate,” he writes. “What matters to us, awash in petabytes of data, is not necessarily having actually consumed this content first-hand but simply knowing that it exists.”‘

READ MORE @ THE GUARDIAN…

Ads, ads everywhere: Google has a plan to put them on everday items

Michael Rougeau reports for Tech Radar:

Ads, ads everywhere: Google has a plan to put them on everday items‘If there’s one thing Google isn’t serving enough of, it’s ads.

Thankfully the company might someday address that, if it follows through on a proposal that it could put ads on everything from thermostats and refrigerators to car dashboards, watches and glasses. The search (an ad) giant outlined its proposal in a letter to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

These everywhere-ads are currently hypothetical. At least we have no proof that they’re otherwise. And a Google spokesperson told TechRadar that the letter “does not reflect Google’s product roadmap.” Hm.’

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Vodafone reveals how governments around the world intercept calls and messages

James Vincent and Ian Johnston report for The Independent:

Photograph: Carl Court/AFP

‘Secret cables allow government spies in many countries to listen in to conversations on Vodafone’s network, the telecom giant has revealed. The company’s first ever Law Enforcement Disclosure Report detailed the legal interception of various types of content (from messages and phone calls to metadata such as call time and location) for the 29 countries in which it operates.

The direct-access wires or pipes are connected to its network, allowing conversations to be recorded and mobile phone users to be tracked. In six of the countries, the wires are a legal requirement for telecoms companies. Vodafone did not reveal the countries have such permanent access for fear of retaliation against its staff, but called upon governments to change “legislation which enables agencies and authorities to access an operator’s communications infrastructure without the knowledge and direct control of the operator”.’

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The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in the Bahamas

Ryan Devereaux, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras write for The Intercept:

‘The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas. According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government. Instead, the agency appears to have used access legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country’s cellular telephone network, enabling it to covertly record and store the “full-take audio” of every mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas – and to replay those calls for up to a month.

SOMALGET is part of a broader NSA program called MYSTIC, which The Intercept has learned is being used to secretly monitor the telecommunications systems of the Bahamas and several other countries, including Mexico, the Philippines, and Kenya. But while MYSTIC scrapes mobile networks for so-called “metadata” – information that reveals the time, source, and destination of calls – SOMALGET is a cutting-edge tool that enables the NSA to vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation in an entire country. All told, the NSA is using MYSTIC to gather personal data on mobile calls placed in countries with a combined population of more than 250 million people. And according to classified documents, the agency is seeking funding to export the sweeping surveillance capability elsewhere.’

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Look Up

Edward Snowden: Everyone is under surveillance now

From the AP:

Edward Snowden Meets With German Green Party MP Hans-Christian Stroebele‘The US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned that entire populations, rather than just individuals, now live under constant surveillance. “It’s no longer based on the traditional practice of targeted taps based on some individual suspicion of wrongdoing,” he said. “It covers phone calls, emails, texts, search history, what you buy, who your friends are, where you go, who you love.” Snowden made his comments in a short video that was played before a debate on the proposition that surveillance today is a euphemism for mass surveillance, in Toronto, Canada. The former US National Security Agency contractor is living in Russia, having been granted temporary asylum there in June 2013.

The video was shown as two of the debaters – the former US National Security Administration director, General Michael Hayden, and the well-known civil liberties lawyer and Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz – argued in favour of the debate statement: “Be it resolved state surveillance is a legitimate defence of our freedoms.” Opposing the motion were Glenn Greenwald, the journalist whose work based on Snowden’s leaks won a Pulitzer Prize for the Guardian last month, and Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of the social media website Reddit.

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​California’s smartphone kill-switch bill flops in the state senate

Sean Buckley reports for Engadget:

US carriers can all collectively breathe a sigh of relief today: California’s mobile kill-switch bill is dead, at least for now. The would have required all smartphones sold in the state to include a remote-kill feature designed to render stolen phones useless. The bill was designed to curb phone robberies by making the crime less lucrative. If carriers didn’t comply, the state would have been able to fine them $2,500 for every unsupported device sold.

Although the fine would have only been enforceable in California, the bill could have put the remote-kill feature in phones nationwide. In fact, it still might: though the bill failed to garner enough votes to move on to the state assembly, it still has the option to return to the senate in the future.

Digital connectivity surpasses the personal one

Sarah Bostock reports for The Foreigner:

68% of some 4,000 people in eight countries Qualcomm surveyed in cooperation with Time said they sleep with their mobile phones beside their bed. Just 13% slept with their phone in a different room. When it came to making it through a power cut, 34% revealed they could last a few hours, whilst only 19% thought they could survive a week without their phone.

Regarding the internet, company NORDICOM recorded that Norwegians used this for an average of 80% per day, which increased to 85% in 2013. Time spent online rose from 95 to 112 minutes. This is partly explained by people now reading news publications digitally rather than their printed versions. 52% of the Norwegian population read the newspaper online, against 51% printed.

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Jim Hightower: NSA Spying Is Here to Stay

Jim Hightower writes for Creators.com:

[...] The three billion phone calls made in the U.S. each day are snatched up by the agency, which stores each call’s metadata (phone numbers of the parties, date and time, length of call, etc.) for five years. Each day telecom giants turn over metadata on every call they have processed. Every out-of-country call and email from (or to) a U.S. citizen is grabbed by NSA computers, and agents are authorized to listen to or read any of them.

The agency searches for and seizes nearly everything we do on the Internet. Without bothering with the constitutional nicety of obtaining a warrant, its XKeyscore program scoops up some 40 billion Internet records every month and adds them to its digital storehouse, including our emails, Google searches, websites visited, Microsoft Word documents sent, etc. NSA’s annual budget includes a quarter-billion dollars for “corporate-partner access” – i.e., payments to obtain this mass of material from corporate computers.

Snowden says that in his days as an analyst, he could sit at his computer and tap into any American’s Internet activity – even the President’s. The sheer volume of information sucked up by the agency is so large that as of 2008, it maintained 150 data processing sites around the world. NSA’s budget is an official secret, but a Snowden document shows that it gets about $11 billion a year in direct appropriations, with more support funneled through the Pentagon and other agencies.

President Obama recently announced an “overhaul” of the NSA’s collection of bulk phone records. The reform may require phone companies to store metadata it collects for 18 months for the NSA’s use with the approval from a special court. This might sound reasonable, but it is still gathering bulk data on millions of innocent Americans – by corporations for the government. And what about Internet, email and other surveillance? NSA is too heavily vested in its programs; it is not going to give up spying on us.

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Is The Internet Addictive?

European Court Strikes Down ‘Invasive’ Law Allowing Governments To Collect Private Metadata

From AFP:

barrosoThe European Court of Justice on Tuesday struck down an EU-wide law on how private data can be collected and stored, judging it too invasive — despite its usefulness in combating organized crime and terrorism. By allowing EU governments to access the data, “the directive interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data,” the court said.

The decision to scupper the Data Retention Directive, which was issued in 2006, comes as Europe weighs concerns over electronic snooping in the wake of revelations about systematic US snooping of email and telephone communications. The directive called for the European Union’s 28 member states to store individuals’ Internet, mobile telephone and text metadata — the time, date, duration and destination, but not the content of the communications themselves — for six months to two years, with national intelligence and police agencies having access.

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Wearable Tech: The Surveillance Grid Of The Future?

Daniel Taylor writes for Old-Thinker News:

Smartphones are fading. Wearables are next” – CNN Money

Edward Snowden’s now infamous NSA leaks have sparked intense debate across the world. The leaks confirmed what many already knew; The NSA is listening to our phone calls, monitoring social networks and more.

This is only the beginning of an Orwellian, Minority Report future.

In the near future, consumers will be adorning themselves with wearable technology that will weave an incredibly detailed picture of their lives. A cloud of information will float around you with details on sleep habits, what you ate for breakfast, who you are meeting for dinner, your heart rate, and much more. Insurance companies will likely harvest this data to adjust your rates. Governments will undoubtedly hack into this cloud of personal data to track down dissidents. Marketers will have access to a goldmine of personalized information that will be used to market products.

These wearables are sold to the public as a means of making life easier, which they undoubtedly will. With that convenience there will be a price to pay in privacy.

READ MORE…

UK Gang Members Love Social Media Too

Joseph Cox writes for Vice:

The criminal underworld isn’t shy when it comes to using social media. Mexican drug cartels intimidate citizens over Twitter, British extremists document jihad holidays on Instagram, and Brazilian drug dealers flaunt their assault rifles and earnings on Facebook.

Those involved in the UK underworld are no different, flaunting pictures of gang tattoos, wads of cash, and sports cars publicly and on pretty much every online platform their phone’s coverage can reach.

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Cyber-bullies could face two years in jail under new internet troll rules

Samuel Gibbs reports for the Guardian:

People convicted of cyber-bullying and text message abuse could face up to two years in prison, under plans backed by the government. The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has backed an amendment to the criminal justice bill that would target new rules at combating trolls that sexually harass and verbally abuse people on the internet or via mobile phones in England and Wales.

The amendment, due to be discussed in parliament on Thursday, was proposed by the Conservative MP for Ealing Central and Acton Angie Bray, after one of her constituents said her 14-year-old daughter had been “verbally raped” by 2,000 obscene texts sent by an older man, who escaped conviction. “Just tabled amendment to criminal justice bill to make life just a bit harder for cyber-bullies and sex pests using texts to harass victims,” said Bray on Twitter.

READ MORE…

BBC poll considers web freedoms and surveillance in 17 countries around the world

Psychiatrist links selfie addiction to narcissism and mental illness

Fiona Keating reports for the International Business Times:

Miley Cyrus is no stranger to the selfieThe growing trend of taking smartphone selfies is linked to mental health conditions that focus on a person’s obsession with looks.

According to psychiatrist Dr David Veal: “Two out of three of all the patients who come to see me with Body Dysmorphic Disorder since the rise of camera phones have a compulsion to repeatedly take selfies.

“Cognitive behavioural therapy is used to help a patient to recognise the reasons for his or her compulsive behaviour and then to learn how to moderate it,” he told the Sunday Mirror.

19-year-old Danny Bowman’s selfie addiction spiralled out of control, spending ten hours a day taking up to 200 snaps of himself on his iPhone.

READ MORE…