Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–August 10, 2015

Court Rules that Warrants are Required for Searches of Cell Phone Location History
In a decision that could have broad implications for law enforcement searches in the digital age, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday afternoon that officials must get a search warrant to review someone’s historical cell phone location data. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Virginia, overturned a previous ruling that investigators only needed a court order (and its lower standard of evidence) to use cell phone location data. Today’s ruling conflicts with decisions by other appeals courts, and will likely lead to a Supreme Court case on the issue. Story by Casey Tolan for Fusion.

Cellphone Privacy, The Workplace and NFL Superstar Tom Brady
The battle over NFL star Tom Brady’s suspension for tampering with game balls and obstructing an investigation is heading to federal court. So why is the issue of Brady’s reluctance or inability to share his cellphone records getting a lot of attention? NFL commissioner Roger Goodell upheld Brady’s four-game suspension in part because learned months into the  league’s probe that Brady had “destroyed” a Samsung smartphone that had text messages and e-mails the league wanted. If this sounds like a Fourth Amendment issue, the concept is related. The amendment famously states that people have the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” and such information can only be inspected via a warrant. Story by Scott Bomboy for Constitution Daily.

AT&T’s New Bundle Could Shake Things Up
We’re getting a look at what AT&T plans to do with DirecTV after buying it for $48.5 billion. Monday, AT&T announced its plan to bundle TV and mobile phone service into a package with an introductory rate of $200 a month. It’s a bundle that’s different from existing ones. That’s the benefit of owning DirecTV: reaching customers around the country without having to lay cable or fiber lines to their homes. Rolling mobile phones into the bundle is something the typical local cable company can’t do. But some analysts think AT&T’s offer, and the explosion in smartphone video, may force cable companies to change course. Story by Mark Garrison for MarketPlace.

Apple is in Talks to Launch its own Virtual Network Service in the US and Europe
Apple is in talks to launch a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service in the US and Europe, Business Insider has learned. Sources close to Apple say the company is privately trialing an MVNO service in the US but is also in talks with telecoms companies in Europe about bringing the service there too. An MVNO is a virtual carrier network that sees technology companies lease space from established carriers and sell it to customers directly. Story by James Cook for Business Insider.

50% of Teens Sext by Mobile Phone in Australia
One in two teenage boys and girls have used a mobile phone to send a sexually explicit image of themselves, according to the biggest sexting survey undertaken in Australia. Teenage girls are using their mobiles to send sexual images of themselves because they think it’s fun and sexy, rather than because they feel pressured by boys, the new research from the Australian Institute of Criminology found. Most of the 1200 teens surveyed who had sexted said they sent the image to a person with whom they had a relationship. Forty per cent had sent a sext to more than one person in the past year. Only six per cent of sexters reported sending an image on to a third party for whom the picture wasn’t originally intended. Story by Cosima Marriner for the Sydney Morning Herald.

HTC to Cut Costs, Discontinue Lower-End Smartphones
Smartphone maker HTC Corp. said it plans to cut costs and discontinue lower-end models, as it is hit by sluggish demand and weak sales in China. The company added that it expects to remain unprofitable in the third quarter. HTC was a top Android smartphone maker a few years ago, but it has posted losses recently as second-tier smartphone makers are struggling in a maturing market. Once the world’s top smartphone maker by volume, HTC in 2013 dropped out of the top 10 largest handset vendors by shipments. The Taiwanese company has in just a few years seen its global market share dwindle to less than 2% from double digits previously. Story by Lorraine Luk and Angela Chen for The Wall Street Journal.

China Curbs Online Payment in Fresh Blow to Internet Finance
China plans to tighten regulations governing the nation’s 270 online-payment firms including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s finance arm, dealing another blow to the booming business of Internet finance. Under draft rules published on July 31, the central bank will limit the amount an individual can pay online to 5,000 yuan ($805) per day through third-party payment accounts, unless the customer’s identity can be verified by a security token and electronic signature. The People’s Bank of China is seeking public feedback by Aug. 28. The central bank last month imposed stricter rules on the industry, which analysts expected to lead to sweeping changes and failures among online lenders. Story in Bloomberg.

Sony Unveils Smartphones with 13-Megapixel Front Camera for Selfies
Sony is trying to woo selfie-taking consumers with its latest two smartphones. Unveiled on Monday, the Xperia C5 Ultra and Xperia M5 both include 13-megapixel cameras on the front and back. That’s a change of pace since typically smartphone makers reserve the better cameras for the rear since since people traditionally take pictures of what’s around them. But the selfie craze of taking pictures of yourself apparently convinced Sony to adopt a hefty camera on the front as well. Story by Lance Whitney for CNet.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.