Privacy

Baltimore Police Used Stingrays For Phone Tracking Over 25,000 Times 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-don't-remember-that-episode-of-The-Wire dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Baltimore Police Department is starting to come clean about its use of cell-phone signal interceptors — commonly known as Stingrays — and the numbers are alarming. According to recent court testimony reported by The Baltimore Sun, the city's police have used Stingray devices with a court order more than 25,000 times. It's a massive number, representing an average of nearly nine uses a day for eight years (the BPD acquired the technology in 2007), and it doesn't include any emergency uses of the device, which would have proceeded without a court order.
Cellphones

Does Lack of FM Support On Phones Increase Your Chances of Dying In a Disaster? 340

Posted by timothy
from the well-if-you-put-it-that-way dept.
theodp writes "You may not know it," reports NPR's Emma Bowman, "but most of today's smartphones have FM radios inside of them. But the FM chip is not activated on two-thirds of devices. That's because mobile makers have the FM capability switched off. The National Association of Broadcasters has been asking mobile makers to change this. But the mobile industry, which profits from selling data to smartphone users, says that with the consumer's move toward mobile streaming apps, the demand for radio simply isn't there." But FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate says radio-enabled smartphones could sure come in handy during times of emergency. So, is it irresponsible not to activate the FM chips? And should it's-the-app-way-or-the-highway Apple follow Microsoft's lead and make no-static-at-all FM available on iPhones?
Displays

Sharp Announces 4K Smartphone Display 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-pixels-than-you-know-what-to-do-with dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Japanese electronics giant Sharp has announced production of 5.5" displays with 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution. They'll hit the market next year. The display will have a pixel density of 806 PPI. It's not known yet which smartphone makers will build devices with these screens. The displays cost significantly more than a more typical 1080p or 1440p display, so they'll probably only make it into high-end phones. On the other hand, this will help to drive down prices for lower-resolution displays, so it could indirectly benefit everybody.
Cellphones

The NSA Wants Tech Companies To Give It "Front Door" Access To Encrypted Data 212

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-us-in dept.
An anonymous reader writes The National Security Agency is embroiled in a battle with tech companies over access to encrypted data that would allow it to spy (more easily) on millions of Americans and international citizens. Last month, companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple urged the Obama administration to put an end to the NSA's bulk collection of metadata. "National Security Agency officials are considering a range of options to ensure their surveillance efforts aren't stymied by the growing use of encryption, particularly in smartphones. Key among the solutions, according to The Washington Post, might be a requirement that technology companies create a digital key that can open any locked device to obtain text messages or other content, but divide the key into pieces so no one group could use it without the cooperation of other parties."
Cellphones

LG's Leather-Clad G4 Revealed In Leaked Images 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-a-peek dept.
An anonymous reader writes Evan Blass, known on Twitter as @evleaks, released images of LG's G4 smartphone which was supposed to be unveiled April 28th. "The images reveal what appear to be a multitude of swappable back plates. There are at least six different real leather backs (ranging from black and brown to baby blue and yellow), as well as three more traditional plastic backs. It's fair to assume that the leather versions will carry a cost premium. The LG Quick Circle case, which has a window to let you view notifications while the cover is closed, also appears to be making a return with the G4."
Input Devices

Finding an Optimal Keyboard Layout For Swype 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the designed-for-2015 dept.
New submitter Analog24 writes: The QWERTY keyboard was not designed with modern touchscreen usage in mind, especially when it comes to swype texting. A recent study attempted to optimize the standard keyboard layout to minimize the number of swype errors. The result was a new layout that reduces the rate of swipe interpretation mistakes by 50.1% compared to the QWERTY keyboard.
Businesses

Phone App That Watches Your Driving Habits Leads To Privacy Concerns 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the buying-your-privacy dept.
Toshito writes Desjardins Insurance has launched a smartphone app that tracks driver behaviour in return for the promise of substantial savings on car insurance. Two years ago, Desjardins began offering a telematic device that plugs into a vehicle's diagnostic port, to track acceleration, hard braking and the time of day you were driving, for instance. Now, there's no plug-in device required. With Desjardins's new Ajusto app, all you need is your smartphone. But this comes with great concerns over privacy, and problems have been reported where the device was logging data when the user was riding a bus instead of driving his own car.
Businesses

LG Will Lend You a Free Phone If You Talk About It On Social Media 22

Posted by samzenpus
from the phones-for-flattery dept.
jfruh writes LG will let people in a host of countries use its G4 free for 30 days — with the hope that this will result in positive buzz on social media sites. From the article: "By offering 4,000 people a G4 for 30 days, the company hopes to create some buzz around its new device as flagship devices from its rivals Samsung Electronics and HTC go on sale. The Consumer Experience Campaign kicks off in South Korea on Wednesday, and will then expand to Turkey, Indonesia, Singapore, U.S., China, India, Brazil, Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong, LG said."
Cellphones

Smartphone-Enabled Replicators Are 3-5 Years Away, Caltech Professor Says 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-are-excited-about-replicating-hard-plastic dept.
merbs writes: In just a few years, we could see the mass proliferation of DIY, smartphone-enabled replicators. At least, Caltech electrical engineering professor Ali Hajimiri and his team of researchers thinks so. They've developed a very tiny, very powerful 3D imager that can easily fit in a mobile device, successfully tested its prowess, and published the high-res results (PDF) in the journal Optics. Hajimiri claims the imager may soon allow consumers to snap a photo of just about anything, and then, with a good enough 3D printer, use it to create a real-life replica "accurate to within microns of the original object."
Cellphones

Tiny LIDAR Chip Could Add Cheap 3D Sensing to Cellphones and Tablets 62

Posted by timothy
from the dig-your-shape-baby dept.
There are expensive dedicated devices that do 3D scanning (like the high-end tablet in Google's Project Tango), and versatile but bulky add-ons, like the Sense from 3D Systems, but it's not a capability built into the typical cellphone or tablet. That could change, thanks to a microsensor being prototyped now (at low resolution) at CalTech. From The Verge's coverage: The tiny chip, called a nanophotonic coherent imager, uses a form of LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology to capture height, width, and depth information from each pixel. LIDAR, which shines a laser on the target and then analyzes the light waves that are reflected back to the sensor, are best known for their use in precision-guided missile systems and self-driving cars.

While LIDAR itself isn't new, [project lead Ali] Hajimiri explains that "by having an array of tiny LIDARs on our coherent imager, we can simultaneously image different parts of an object or a scene without the need for any mechanical movements within the imager." Each "pixel" on the new sensor can individually analyze the phase, frequency, and intensity of the reflected waves, producing a single piece of 3D data. The data from all of the pixels combined can produce a full 3D scan. In addition, the researchers' implementation allows for an incredibly tiny and low-cost scanner, all while maintaining accuracy. According to the researchers, the chip can produce scans that are within microns of the original.
Communications

The Unlikely Effort To Build a Clandestine Cell Phone Network 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-stop-the-signal dept.
Lashdots writes: Electronic surveillance has raised concerns among Americans and pushed an estimated 30% of them to protect their privacy in some form. Artist Curtis Wallen has taken that effort to dramatic lengths, documenting how to create a "clandestine communications network" using pre-paid phones, Tor, Twitter, and encryption. The approach, which attempts to conceal any encryption that could raise suspicions, is "very passive" says Wallen, so "there's hardly any trace that an interaction even happened." This is not easy, of course. In fact, as he discovered while researching faulty CIA security practices, it's really, comically hard. "If the CIA can't even keep from getting betrayed by their cell phones, what chance do we have?" he says. Still, he believes his system could theoretically keep users' activities hidden, and while it's hard, it's not impossible.
Privacy

Verizon Subscribers Can Now Opt Out of "Supercookies" 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-track-me-bro dept.
itwbennett writes Verizon said in January that it would allow subscribers to opt out of having a unique identifier placed on their phones that critics have labelled a "supercookie" because it's almost impossible to remove, but it didn't say when. On Tuesday, Verizon said the identifier won't be inserted for customers who opt out of its mobile advertising program: "Verizon Wireless has updated its systems so that we will stop inserting the UIDH after a customer opts out of the relevant mobile advertising program or activates a line that is ineligible for the advertising program, such as as a government or business line," Verizon said in a change to its policies.
Cellphones

It's Time To Open Your Eyes 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the bring-a-towel dept.
Morpheus writes: Good morning. I'm talking to you. Yes, you. The one with the squeaking chair and the monitor that needs cleaning. Right now you're wondering why your officemates haven't mentioned the weird story on Slashdot's front page. They haven't mentioned it because they can't see it. Not everyone can accept reality as it is. But you can.

You know. You've always known. The things you see, the things you hear, and smell — they aren't any more real than your dreams. You've drifted through life so far wondering when you're going to wake up. But you don't have to wonder anymore. This is your alarm clock. The only decision you have left to make — the only decision you've ever had to make — is whether you want to wake up, or turn it off and drift back to sleep. In exactly two minutes, your phone is going to ring. If you want to open your eyes, to be born into a world more real than you've ever imagined.. answer it.
United Kingdom

Prison Inmate Emails His Own Release Instructions To the Prison 198

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-crazy-enough-to-work dept.
Bruce66423 writes: A fraudster used a mobile phone while inside a UK prison to email the prison a notice for him to be released. The prison staff then released him. The domain was registered in the name of the police officer investigating him, and its address was the court building. The inmate was in prison for fraud — he was originally convicted after calling several banks and getting them to send him upwards of £1.8 million.
Cellphones

Researchers: Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-mind-of-its-own dept.
Rambo Tribble writes Researchers from the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich, and University of Fribourg have found evidence that smartphone use changes the way your brain interacts with your thumbs. Using electroencephalography to study brain activity in smartphone users vs. feature-phone users, they found apparently persistent, increased activity in areas of the brain associated with the thumbs. Of course, this may well be true of other repetitive activities, like keyboard use. Reuters provide a bit more approachable coverage.
Android

Android's Smart Lock Won't Ask You For a Password Until You Set Your Phone Down 127

Posted by samzenpus
from the staying-on dept.
jfruh writes Nothing confronts you with how addicted you are to your phone more than constantly taking it out of your pocket and entering your passcode over and over again to unlock. But without fanfare, Google is releasing an Android update that might solve the problem: a "smart lock" that can figure out if your phone has been set down since the last time you unlocked it. As long as it stays on your person, you won't need to re-enter your password.
Medicine

Child Psychotherapist: Easy and Constant Access To the Internet Is Harming Kids 353

Posted by samzenpus
from the there's-something-wrong-with-my-brain dept.
First time accepted submitter sharkbiter sends note that one of the UK's foremost psychotherapists has concerns that smartphones may be harmful to the mental health of children. "Julie Lynn Evans has been a child psychotherapist for 25 years, working in hospitals, schools and with families, and she says she has never been so busy. 'In the 1990s, I would have had one or two attempted suicides a year – mainly teenaged girls taking overdoses, the things that don't get reported. Now, I could have as many as four a month.'.... Issues such as cyber-bullying are, of course, nothing new, and schools now all strive to develop robust policies to tackle them, but Lynn Evans’ target is both more precise and more general. She is pointing a finger of accusation at the smartphones - “pocket rockets” as she calls them – which are now routinely in the hands of over 80 per cent of secondary school age children. Their arrival has been, she notes, a key change since 2010. 'It’s a simplistic view, but I think it is the ubiquity of broadband and smartphones that has changed the pace and the power and the drama of mental illness in young people.'”
Government

How Police Fight To Keep Use of Stingrays Secret 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
v3rgEz writes: The NY Times looks at how local police are fighting to keep their use of cell phone surveillance secret, including signing NDAs with Stingray manufacturer Harris Corp and claiming the documents have been lost. It's part of a broader trend of local agencies adopting the tactics of covert intelligence groups as they seek to adopt new technology in the digital era. "The nondisclosure agreements for the cell site simulators are overseen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and typically involve the Harris Corporation, a multibillion-dollar defense contractor and a maker of the technology. What has opponents particularly concerned about StingRay is that the technology, unlike other phone surveillance methods, can also scan all the cellphones in the area where it is being used, not just the target phone. ... For instance, in Tucson, a journalist asking the Police Department about its StingRay use was given a copy of a nondisclosure agreement. 'The City of Tucson shall not discuss, publish, release or disclose any information pertaining to the product,' it read, and then noted: 'Without the prior written consent of Harris.'"
Cellphones

Fujitsu Could Help Smartphone Chips Run Cooler 51

Posted by Soulskill
from the cool-phones dept.
angry tapir writes: If parts of your phone are sometimes too hot to handle, Fujitsu may have the answer: a thin heat pipe that can spread heat around mobile devices, reducing extremes of temperature. Fujitsu Laboratories created a heat pipe in the form of a loop that's less than 1mm thick. The device can transfer about 20W, about five times more heat than current thin heat pipes or thermal materials, the company said.
Cellphones

Microsoft Convinced That Windows 10 Will Be Its Smartphone Breakthrough 445

Posted by samzenpus
from the for-sure-this-time dept.
jfruh (300774) writes At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, handset manufacturers are making all the right noises about support for Windows 10, which will run on both ARM- and Intel-based phones and provide an experience very much like the desktop. But much of the same buzz surrounded Windows 8 and Windows 7 Phone. In fact, Microsoft has tried and repeatedly failed to take the mobile space by storm.