Wireless Shorts

HTC-Incredible-S-SmartphoneToday’s blog covers several interesting bits of news out of the cellular world.

New Cellphone Tracking Rules: The Justice Department recently declared that US prosecutors and federal law enforcement agencies will need to get a search warrant if they want to use tools to track the location of a cellphone.

It’s been reported that the FBI and the DEA have been using cell phone simulators without warrants. These devices mimic a cellphone tower and gather information on all of the cellphones within range without actually processing calls. The ACLU has estimated that at least 53 different agencies have been using cellphone simulators, but it may be even more since many of them have been secret about the process.

Privacy advocates have complained that these devices pick up information about every cellphone within range of the cellphone simulator and not just those people who are being tracked. Under the new guidelines these agencies will have to immediate delete any information they gain that does not apply to a specific person being tracked.

California Requires Warrant to Search a Cellphone: In a related story, California just passed the California Electronics Communications Privacy Act which now requires police to get a warrant to search a cellphone. California joins Maine and Utah as the only other two states that provide this protection for citizens.

Until now, and still in most states, police often routinely search cellphones from people who get arrested, often just fishing for information rather than having any specific reason to check a given phone.

Faster Cellphone Web Browsing: Google has announced a new technology that is going to dramatically speed up web browsing on cellphones. Until now cellphones have been designed to quickly process data coming from apps, but as anybody who has tried to read native web pages from their cellphone knows, the process of downloading and displaying traditional web pages has been painfully slow.

Google is calling the technology Accelerate Mobile Pages (AMP). In practical application AMP is going to change the time required to open a web page from many seconds down to milliseconds. Google is going to make the technology available to everyone, but the consensus is that it will still mostly benefit them. Applications like sites like Facebook have captured more mobile traffic than Google and this technology can make their search engines and other applications relevant on cellphones.

Young People Think it’s Okay to Track a Lover: A survey in Australia showed that over half of young people between 16 and 24 think that using technology to track a lover is okay. This includes practices such as looking through a mate’s phone or installing apps that track and follow their location.

But older people in the survey overwhelmingly, at 84%, thought that tracking somebody’s cellphone usage is a violation of privacy and trust. The folks giving the survey were not able to pinpoint why the younger generation largely thinks this is okay other than to postulate that this is the first generation that has grown up with cellphones available since birth.

Selfies More Deadly Than Sharks: So far in 2015 there have been 8 worldwide deaths due to shark attacks but 15 deaths due to people taking selfies. This includes incidents like the Japanese tourist who fell down the steps of the Taj Mahal while taking a selfie. It also includes a man killed while taking a selfie during the running of the bulls in Pamplona. There have been a few such deaths in Russia this year prompting the government to put out a TV commercial warning people to be careful when taking selfies.

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