Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–August 25, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Might Handcuff School Safety
It’s been a longtime, informal practice in many schools: Principals–on occasion and when warranted–confiscate and search cellphones if students are suspected of wrongdoing. As classes open this month, though, a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling forbidding police from searching suspects’ cellphones may inadvertently make schools less safe, some principals, school parents and students say. Principals might now refrain from searching a student’s cellphone as part of an investigation and might not find evidence of the next act of violence, cheating or vandalism, giving educators a chance to prevent it. Story by Michael D. Clark for Cincinnati.com.

Cell-Phone Data Might Help Predict Ebola’s Spread
A West African mobile carrier has given researchers access to data gleaned from cell phones in Senegal, providing a window into regional population movements that could help predict the spread of Ebola. The current outbreak is so far known to have killed at least 1,350 people, mainly in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. The model created using the data is not meant to lead to travel restrictions, but rather to offer clues about where to focus preventive measures and health care. Story by David Talbot for the MIT Technology Review.

Lack of Cell Phone Reimbursement Creates Class Action Liability for California Employers
On August 12, 2014, the California court of appeal issued a sweeping decision that may spark a new wave of class action lawsuits against California employers.  In Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc., the appellate court determined that employers must reimburse employees for work-related phone calls made on personal cell phones or face liability-potentially on a class-wide basis.  Under California Labor Code section 2802, employers must reimburse employees for necessary expenditures incurred in performing their duties.  Now, at least a portion of an employee’s personal cell phone bill may constitute an expenditure covered by section 2802. Story by Remy Kessler and Ian A. Wright for Forbes.

NYPD Cops Have Been Warned Against Using Their Personal Cell Phones To Record Video or Take Photos While On Duty
Cops in the New York Police Department were sternly warned against using their personal cell phones to record video or take pictures while on duty unless authorized by a supervisor. The memo was sent out a day after rank-and-file cops were reminded that they can’t legally take action to stop someone from filming them while they’re on the beat. It also comes as the NYPD is considering the use of body cameras to record interactions with the communities they serve. Story by Thomas Tracy for the New York Daily News.

500,000+ Smartphones Hacked through SMS Malware
New reports show more than 541,000 Android smartphones have been hacked through a particularly vengeful form of malware. The malware in question grants the perpetrator the right to access any information on a person’s phone. This includes bank passwords sent through text messages for security purposes. Story by John Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

CBP, Maryland Prisons Look to Industy for Cellular Phone Protective Technology
U.S. border patrol agents watched on surveillance videos as suspected drug smugglers chatted on cellular phones. But when agents sought phone records for investigations into the suspected nefarious activity along the Texas-Mexico divide, commercial service providers came up empty-handed. There simply were no logs. How were the smugglers evading commercial providers? U.S. Customs and Border Protection turned to Lockheed Martin for its LUMEN Active Defense technology of sensors that can help detect rogue cellular base stations devised to circumvent cellular service providers. Story by Sandra Jontz for Signal Media.

Sprint Attacks T-Mobile with $60 Unlimited Data Plan
On Thursday, Sprint unveiled a $60 Unlimited Plan for individual customers. The new service offers unlimited voice, text messaging, and data for $60 a month. Sprint is marketing the new plan as the cheapest around, beating T-Mobile, its only national competitor offering unlimited data by $20 a month. AT&T and Verizon abandoned unlimited data plans more than two years ago. Story by Marguerite Reardon 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.