Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—January 30, 2017

Want to Track Cellphones? Get a Warrant, Lawmakers Say
Law enforcement cellphone tracking devices are coming under scrutiny in several states, where lawmakers have introduced proposals ranging from warrant requirements to an outright ban on the technology. Privacy and constitutional concerns, including Fourth Amendment search and seizure violations, are being cited with the proposed laws on cell-site simulators. The suitcase-size devices, widely known under the brand name Stingray, mimic cellphone towers and allow law enforcement to collect unique subscriber numbers and other basic data from cellphones in a particular area. The data can help police determine the location of a targeted phone—and phones of innocent bystanders—in real time without the users even making calls or sending text messages. Law enforcement officials say the devices are vital in helping to find suspects and victims, and to solve crimes. At least 13 states already require warrants to track cellphones in real time: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Utah and Virginia. Federal law enforcement officers also must get warrants, under policies put in place in 2015 by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security. Story by Dave Collins for the Associated Press.

That Old Phone Trump Uses for Twitter Could Be an Opening to Security Threats
President Trump has carried his Twitter habit into his presidency. He has also brought with him another tech habit that is causing concern. Mr. Trump has been using his old, unsecured Android phone to post on Twitter since moving to Washington late last week. The president’s desire to use his old, personal smartphone raises concerns that its use could be exposing him and the nation to security threats. He is using the Android smartphone mainly to post on Twitter, not to make calls. But it’s unclear what security measures have been put in place on the device and how vulnerable he could be to someone stealing data or breaking into his Twitter account. Story by Cecilia Kang for The New York Times.

UK Cops ‘Should be Able to Seize Mobile Phones Used Illegally by Drivers’
Drivers caught using their phones could have their devices confiscated in a “blunt and brutal” move to save lives. In a drastic proposal, police have suggested they should be able to seize devices or Sim cards to discourage drivers from using their phones at the wheel. The suggestion comes as police grapple with outdated legislation and a horrific number of crashes where mobile phones were found to be a contributing factor. Story by Brittany Vonow for The Sun.

Sony May Launch a Whopping Five New Phone Models at Mobile World Congress 2017
Mobile World Congress could be a pretty big event for Sony. According to a new report from Japan, the company is set to launch a hefty five new phones during MWC 2017, with that handful of models spanning all price brackets and power brackets. The report, from Sumaho Info, doesn’t mention specific names for the phones, but it does highlight some specs. And some of those specs are very interesting—one of the phones features the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, directly contradicting reports that we wouldn’t see any Snapdragon 835 phones at the show. Still, it’s possible that the new phone will be announced but not shipped out to customers for a few months. Story by Christian de Looper for Digital Trends.

U.S. Can Search Mobile Phones at Border, Canadian Minister Says
U.S. authorities are entitled to search the mobile devices of Canadians seeking to cross the border, a spokesman for Ralph Goodale, Canada’s public safety minister, said. Several Canadians traveling to attend Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States or Saturday’s protest march in Washington were turned away at the border earlier this week. One group was held for two hours and made to unlock and hand over their mobile phones for inspection before ultimately being denied entry. “When entering another country, including Canada, it has always been the case that goods accompanying a traveler may be searched to verify admissibility,” Scott Bardsley, the minister’s press secretary, said in an emailed statement. “Every country is sovereign and able to make its own rules to admit people and goods to manage its immigration framework, health and safety.” Story by Leah Schnurr for Reuters.

Google Working on Cheaper Pixel 2 Smartphones
Google had just launched its flagship device, the Pixel smartphone and rumours have already started doing the rounds about the next device, reportedly called Pixel 2. A report by 9to5Google suggested that the tech giant will start working on a smartphone with better camera features, and better features for dim light photography. The Pixel 2 smartphone could be getting waterproofing features and better processors. The smartphone will also come with a higher price tag, according to reports. The same report said, that Google has been testing low-cost Pixel smartphones as well which will have lower end features and might come at lower prices. The smartphone, as of now, is being called Pixel 2B. Story in The Financial Express.

Nokia Tries Again for Drone Test Using AT&T Mobile Phones
Nokia has reapplied for permission to conduct drone experiments using AT&T smartphones to test radio frequency signal strength after previous approval secured by the company last year went unused. “The (LG G2) will act as a controller which controls other two Samsung (S4 devices) and DRT receiver through Bluetooth,” Nokia wrote in its application. “The two Samsung (S4 phones) will be used to collect data operating in AT&T network. 1900MHz PCS and/or 1700MHz-2100MHz AWS bands. DRT receiver will scan PCS and/or AWS bands. The control system for the drone will operate in the unlicensed 2.4GHz band.” If approval is granted, the tests will be conducted near the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and along the Kansas Turnpike in Bonner Spring, both in Kansas over a six month period starting next month. Story by Diana Goovaerts for Wireless Week.

Study Says AI Can Detect Skin Cancer as well as a Dermatologist
Can an algorithm detect skin cancer as well as a dermatologist? Scientists say yes, at least, according to a new study out this week. A group of researchers at Stanford say they have trained AI to be as reliable as human dermatologists at detecting skin cancer and that the technology may someday be able work on smartphones. The researchers first trained a neural network using 129,450 photos representing more than 2,000 different types of skin conditions. Using one of Google’s image recognition algorithms, the teams says they were able to train the neural network to identify both malignant and benign skin lesions. They then worked with 21 human dermatologists, showing them images of some of the most common and deadly forms of skin cancer and asked whether they would recommend treatment based on what they saw. When they compared the algorithm’s performance with that of the dermatologists, they found the humans performed at the same level as the AI, the researchers said. Story by Karissa Bell for Mashable.

How to Turn Your Phone into a Wi-Fi Hotspot
While it may seem as if Wi-Fi is available everywhere, sooner or later you will go somewhere Wi-Fi is not. You still need to get on the Internet. What are you to do? Well, you may have a solution right in your pocket: a cell phone. Many cell phones let you turn your cellular connection to the Internet into a Wi-Fi connection for other devices. This is called creating a “hotspot.” Your cell phone will show as a Wi-Fi network that others can join. Connecting a tablet or computer to that hotspot is called “tethering.” Here is how to turn your phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Story by Carolyn Nicander Mohr for Voice of America.

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.