Tagged: mobile

SCOTUS rules coppers must get a warrant to search cellphones

Coppers snooping cellphones

In an emphatic defense of privacy in the digital age, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police generally may not search the cellphones of people they arrest without first getting search warrants.

Cellphones are unlike anything else police may find on someone they arrest, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court. They are “not just another technological convenience,” he said, but ubiquitous, increasingly powerful computers that contain vast quantities of personal, sensitive information.

“With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the privacies of life,” Roberts declared. So the message to police about what they should do before rummaging through a cellphone’s contents following an arrest is simple: “Get a warrant…”

The Obama administration and the state of California, defending cellphone searches, said the phones should have no greater protection from a search than anything else police find. But the defendants in the current cases, backed by civil libertarians, librarians and news media groups, argued that cellphones, especially smartphones, can store troves of sensitive personal information.

“By recognizing that the digital revolution has transformed our expectations of privacy, today’s decision is itself revolutionary and will help to protect the privacy rights of all Americans,” said American Civil Liberties Union legal director Steven Shapiro…

In the cases decided Wednesday, one defendant carried a smartphone, while the other carried an older flip phone. The police looked through both without first getting search warrants…

A ride on horseback and a flight to the moon both “are ways of getting from point A to point B, but little else justifies lumping them together,” Roberts said…

The decision will protect cellphones from warrantless searches going forward, but it may not be of much help to defendants in pending cases, or those whose convictions are final, said lawyer Gerry Morris…He said that courts could allow evidence to be used from police searches of cellphones that were done in “good faith” and relied on the law as it stood when the searches were conducted.

Still a two-fold victory. We’ve acquired the sort of protection many folks – from geeks to civil libertarians – agree we need in a digital age. Now, the task remains to take the modernized version of privacy and stick in the eye of paranoids ranging from the White House and Congress to the NSA.

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HypeWatch asks: Does Wi-Fi really disturb fetal brains?

Even without much evidence to support concerns that prenatal exposure to wireless radiation leads to attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, the BabySafe Project is still promoting a “better safe than sorry” campaign to pregnant women.

Perhaps setting an iPad streaming television atop the baby bump does carry some level of some type of fetal health risk. Who knows? If so, what could possibly be wrong with a simple recommendation to tell pregnant moms to put a little distance between the device and the belly?

But a scare campaign targeting pregnant women, who already face a barrage of no-nos the second they learn they’re with child, also has its risks.

Without definitive science to back it up, words and phrases like “damage,” “behavioral disorders,” “may lead to long-term health consequences,” are pretty hefty terms to be throwing around…

Based on research from two Turkish universities, Devra Davis now believes irregular, erratic signals from wireless radiation interfere with the rapid neurological growth unique to prenatal cellular development.

Hugh Taylor, MD, chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale-New Haven Hospital, presented his evidence of the effects of cell phone radiation on 33 pregnant mice, published in Scientific Reports in 2012.

Taylor’s study showed that prenatal exposure to cell phones — kept on continuous active calls for the entire gestational period, up to 17 days — had a dose-response relationship with decreased memory and increased hyperactivity in exposed mice compared with unexposed controls (n=42).

That’s right, she considers cellphones as dangerous or more than devices using wi-fi. Taylor’s study had cellphone exposure full-bore 24/7 – unlikely behavior if voluntary.

Taylor suggested that the animal study eliminated possible confounders, such as mothers simply ignoring their children as they talk on their cell phone, as causation for behavioral problems rather than the wireless radiation.

But none of the references the BabySafe project gives are quite solid enough for a definitive clinical recommendation. Of the 20 scientific references presented by BabySafe, the majority were animal trials, and only one, a Danish study, involved humans. Their recollections of “using their cellphone a lot while pregnant”…

There is no doubt further research is warranted based on preliminary rodent studies that suggest potential harms. But likening cell phone use to asbestos and tobacco might be taking it a bit far for now.

There’s a reason this regular report is called HypeWatch. Whether the source of social and political activity advocated comes from within or without a legitimate medical community it generally concerns clinically unproven advice – disseminated as a special danger — so, we needn’t wait for proof!

A Faraday cage for your nether regions



Although there is yet to be conclusive evidence that radiation emitted by mobile phones and other wireless devices is damaging to male fertility, some studies have shown at least a potential link. This is why the makers of Wireless Armour have stepped in to try and provide some protection with nothing less than underwear that encases your nether regions in a Faraday cage.

Some studies have shown several effects of electromagnetic radiation on male fertility, including lower sperm counts, lower sperm motility, and changes to viability and morphology. Joseph Perkins’ solution is for men to don underwear made from a cotton weave material that has pure silver fibers incorporated into it. Perkins says these silver fibers form a Faraday cage that blocks the electromagnetic radiation emitted by wireless devices…

If you’re a.) convinced radiation from your phone has the potential to affect your fertility and b.) convinced a Faraday cage in the form of underwear is the solution, then Wireless Armour may be for you. If so, a pledge on Indiegogo of $24 is enough to reward you with a pair of Wireless Armour underwear if and when it gets turned into a full product. This means Perkins and co. will have to sell a lot of underwear to hit their funding goal of $50,000.

For those not convinced by the ability of Wireless Armour to fend off radiation, the silver mesh reportedly also increases the lifespan of the product and affords it antimicrobial properties. However, its makers are not claiming it will filter your farts in the same way as Shreddies are claimed to do.

Or you can cheap out and be satisfied with stuffing your tidy whities with strips of lead foil. I hear it works better than tinfoil. :)

Latest revelations on NSA tracking your mobile calls

Not a month goes by without former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, unleashing new government surveillance allegations, but on Wednesday, the Washington Post dropped a bombshell: The NSA is tracking cellphones around the world at a rate of almost five billion records per day. This revelation is particularly shocking because it affirms fears that the government is keeping tabs on the physical location of Americans.

1. The NSA can find you in a hotel and can probably tell if you’re having an affair…

2. Americans are definitely being tracked, but providing the exact number is “awkward”…

3. All the collected location data wouldn’t fit in the Library of Congress…

4. Don’t bother trying to hide. The NSA knows if you’re trying to avoid them…

5. And you don’t need to be a suspect to be targeted…

The Feds say that this kind of data collection is not protected by the Fourth Amendment; so, as far as Uncle Sugar is concerned, we’re all legitimate targets.

Read the full report over here.

Obama — are you bugging my phone?

The furore over the scale of American mass surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden shifted to an incendiary new level on Wednesday evening when Angela Merkel of Germany called Barack Obama to demand explanations over reports that the US National Security Agency was monitoring her mobile phone.

Merkel was said by informed sources in Germany to be “livid” over the reports and convinced, on the basis of a German intelligence investigation, that the reports were utterly substantiated.

The German news weekly, Der Spiegel, reported an investigation by German intelligence, prompted by research from the magazine, that produced plausible information that Merkel’s mobile was targeted by the US eavesdropping agency. The German chancellor found the evidence substantial enough to call the White House and demand clarification.

The outrage in Berlin came days after President François Hollande of France also called the White House to confront Obama with reports that the NSA was targeting the private phone calls and text messages of millions of French people…

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, made plain that Merkel upbraided Obama unusually sharply and also voiced exasperation at the slowness of the Americans to respond to detailed questions on the NSA scandal since the Snowden revelations first appeared in the Guardian in June.

Merkel told Obama that “she unmistakably disapproves of and views as completely unacceptable such practices, if the indications are authenticated,” Seifert said. “This would be a serious breach of confidence. Such practices have to be halted immediately.”

The sharpness of the German complaint direct to an American president strongly suggested that Berlin had no doubt about the grounds for protest. Seibert voiced irritation that the Germans had waited for months for proper answers from Washington to Berlin on the NSA operations.

Merkel told Obama she expected the Americans “to supply information over the possible scale of such eavesdropping practices against Germany and reply to questions that the federal government asked months ago”, Seibert said.

When the arrogance of Imperial America is confronted by the leader of a nation that survived the removal of privacy and liberty by the ultimate fascist dictator of modern times – history isn’t likely to come down on the side of sophistry and semantics to justify spying on your friends and allies.

Or your own tame citizens.

Researchers bypass Android encryption by freezing cellphones

frost-130307-2

Security researchers in Germany have discovered that physically freezing an Android smartphone can grant access to encrypted data.

Google’s encryption method, which has been a part of Android since the “Ice Cream Sandwich” release, was bypassed by exposing a smartphone to freezing temperatures for an hour, according to the BBC. After that time period, researchers were able to access previously encrypted contacts, browsing histories, and photos.

The test was conducted by researchers from Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany with Samsung Galaxy Nexus handsets, and the phones were cooled to 10 degrees below zero Celsius. Then the battery was quickly disconnected and reconnected, placing the handset into a vulnerable mode.

“This loophole let them start it up with some custom-built software rather than its onboard Android operating system,” the report said. “The researchers dubbed their custom code Frost — Forensic Recovery of Scrambled Telephones.”

The strange and involved process of bypassing Android encryption is not likely a concern to end users of Android devices, but could be an issue for corporations and governments that carry highly sensitive information on mobile devices. The researchers said that while they tested their methods with the Galaxy Nexus, other Android phones are also likely to be vulnerable.

Freezing the phone reportedly aids in the hacking of Android because the low temperatures cause data to fade from internal chips more slowly. Researchers used this phenomenon to obtain encryption keys and unscramble the phone’s encrypted data.

The complexity of circumstances, hardware and cost required mean nothing, of course, to corporate hackers and government snoops. One way or another, you and I are picking up the tab.

Making the market for stolen cell phones go away

Last Wednesday some U.S. wireless carriers implemented the first part of a national strategy to deter cell phone theft: a joint “blacklist” database of identifying information about cell phones reported lost or stolen.

As of now, cell phone dealers are supposed to check this database before honoring requests to reactivate allegedly “locked-out” phones, in order to prevent people from using stolen phones.

It used to be that when you reported a phone lost or stolen, your carrier would suspend service to that device. But the person who stole your phone (or someone who bought it from the thief) could still walk into a cell phone dealer and get your phone reactivated under a new account.

Chris Guttman-McCabe, vice president of regulatory affairs for CTIA (a global association of wireless carriers), explained: “The point of the blacklist database is to dry up the aftermarket for stolen phones. If you can’t reactivate a stolen phone, it’s just a worthless hunk of plastic and metal…”

…Under this plan, U.S. carriers that use GSM network technology (that’s AT&T and T-Mobile) committed to launching their databases by October 31…The other U.S. carriers, which operate CDMA-technology networks, still have over a year to get their lost/stolen phone databases up and running… According to CTIA, Sprint/Nextel has already implemented its database.

At first these CDMA databases will be carrier-specific; later the blacklists from all carriers will be integrated into a single database

One factor slowing the implementation of a centralized cross-carrier database of lost or stolen phones is the uneven pace of LTE network rollouts across the U.S. Some of the identifying information listed in the database is derived from wireless networks, and variations in network technology make it difficult to create consistent and reliable listings for individual devices.

So, while the carriers work to dry up the stolen phone aftermarket, take a moment to set up remote wipe service for your phone, remember to keep it locked, and beware of low-cost used phones available for sale on eBay, Craigslist, and elsewhere. If you purchase a device that turns out to be stolen and therefore can’t activate it, you won’t get your money back.

Turning an otherwise profitable product – therefore worth stealing – into a chunk of valueless plastic and electronics is the best way to end almost all theft of this type. Remove the market that rewards theft and you take away all the motivation for a thief.

Kind of like legalizing marijuana. The easiest way in the world to get gangsters out of the loop is to rrmove the profits they derive from scarce goods.

Kenya to switch off illicit mobile phones

Kenya has confirmed that a switch-off of counterfeit mobile phones will take place at the end of the month.

In addition, networks will be forbidden from activating new “fake” devices bought after 1 October.

Government officials said the move was designed to protect consumers from hazardous materials and to safeguard mobile payment systems.

They added it should also help them track users and limit violence ahead of March’s general election.

The action had originally been scheduled to take place at the end of 2011, but was twice delayed to give subscribers a chance to replace their devices. However, the Ministry of Information and Communications has said this would not happen again.

The Communications Commission of Kenya defines fake handsets as “copies of popular brands and models made from sub-standard materials” that have not been licensed by the organisation.

They are sourced from China and other parts of Asia, as well as Nigeria and South Africa…

Law enforcement agencies had…complained that some of the devices used duplicated IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identifier) codes, making it difficult to track down users suspected of using their handsets to plan crimes…

In addition, when the government publicised the switch-off in June it also linked the move to efforts to restrict fraud.

“In this era of mobile banking, use of counterfeit devices, which are manufactured without due consideration to the recognised security standards, may expose our mobile money systems as well as the wider banking and financial system to unnecessary risks,” said the communications secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo…

Another set of great reasons for government regulation and oversight of communications equipment. After all the blather about economics and freedom, the main product needed to be removed from the network is cheap crap which can erode communications and even endanger users.