Weekly Cell Phone News in Review—June 12, 2017

Privacy Rights For Cellphone Users In The US Will Be Tested In A New Supreme Court Case
Slowly but surely, the Supreme Court is beginning to shape constitutional protections for a digital age. This week, the high court agreed to hear Carpenter v. US, a case that will help define privacy rights related to cellphones. The court granted Timothy Carpenter’s petition challenging his convictions for robbery-ironically, of cellphone stores-based on cellphone location data that was obtained without a warrant. He says the gathering of this evidence violated the US Constitution’s fourth amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and requires police to show probable cause and to obtain a warrant from a judge before searching private items. The basic question presented then is whether location data-a record of pings a phone sends to nearby cell towers as it passes by them-is private. Police don’t see or hear the content of the communications by reading the records. But the information does tell a story, and cell towers are everywhere now, which means the story is more detailed today than in the past. Story by Ephrat Livni for Quartz.

U.S. Researchers Build System To Detect Cell Phone Hacking
Security researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new system called SeaGlass to detect anomalies in the cellular landscape that can indicate where and when cell phone surveillance devices are being used. Described in a paper published in the June 2017 issue of Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies, the system was deployed during a two-month period with SeaGlass sensors installed in ride-sharing vehicles in Seattle and Milwaukee, resulting in the identification of dozens of anomalies consistent with patterns one might expect from cell-site simulators. Cell phones are vulnerable to attacks from rogue cellular transmitters called International Mobile Subscriber Identity catchers, also known as cell-site simulators or Stingrays, surveillance devices that can precisely locate mobile phones, eavesdrop on conversations or send spam. Story in XinhuaNet.

Study Shows Networks Are Losing Viewers To Their Cell Phones
TVs are quickly becoming viewers’ second screen, a phenomenon made crystal-clear as networks aired their season finales last month. The live ratings for the shows  across all networks tumbled 30 and 40 percent from a year ago as viewers more and more turned to their mobile devices for entertainment. The the result are coming at a very inopportune time: as networks begin to talk their book to Madison Avenue, which is about to place some $70 billion in TV ad commitments. Only six of 61 returning network show finale episodes saw an uptick in ratings versus the prior year, according to Nielsen numbers for live plus same-day TV viewing in the 18-to-49-year-old category. Everywhere else, it can only be described as a bloodbath. Story by Claire Atkinson for the New York Post.

No, Your Phone Didn’t Ring. So Why Voice Mail From a Telemarketer?
There is a technology gaining traction called ringless voicemail, the latest attempt by telemarketers and debt collectors to reach the masses. The calls are quietly deposited through a back door, directly into a voicemail box, to the surprise and (presumably) irritation of the recipient, who cannot do anything to block them. Regulators are considering whether to ban these messages. They have been hearing from ringless-voicemail providers and pro-business groups, which argue that these messages should not qualify as calls and, therefore, should be exempt from consumer-protection laws that ban similar types of telephone marketing. But consumer advocates, technology experts, people who have been inundated with these calls and the lawyers representing them say such an exemption would open the floodgates. Consumers’ voicemail boxes would be clogged with automated messages. Story by Tara Siegel Bernard for The New York Times.

Samsung to Double Mobile Phone Capacity at Main Indian Factory
Samsung Electronics plans to double the production capacity for mobile phones and fridges at its main factory in India, expanding in a country where U.S. rival Apple Inc. has started assembling phones. The South Korean company said it would spend 49 billion rupees ($764 million) over three years to expand the factory on an additional 35 acres at the site on the outskirts of New Delhi. It also makes televisions at the plant. India is the world’s second biggest smartphone market and its fast becoming a battleground for handset makers vying for a bigger share as sales in Asian powerhouse China start to lag. Story by Sankalp Phartiyal for Reuters.

Huawei Claims to Have Overtaken Apple in Global Smartphone Sales by Volume
Chinese smartphone maker Huawei on Monday said it has overtaken iPhone-maker Apple in global sales volume to become second largest handset company globally. “Huawei overtook Apple in global sales volume share in December,” Huawei India Director for Product Centre Allen Wang said. He said the company’s share in December 2016 reached 13.2 percent globally whereas Apple was in the range of 12 percent. The company claims to have shipped 139 million smartphones last year. Though Samsung leads the global market in volumes, Huawei has overtaken the Korean technology major in some markets, Wang said. Story in Gadgets 360.

Your Cell Phone Bill Could Make It Easier To Get Credit
Payment histories for cell phones and utilities might help more people qualify for affordable credit without increasing the risk for lenders, according to a new study. Would-be borrowers who were unable to get loans from banks or other traditional sources because they had thin or non-existent credit histories might have been deemed eligible based on payments of telecommunication bills, monthly utility costs, loans from online lenders, and other alternative financial sources. Story by Kevin McCoy for USA Today.

Cellphones Provoke Courtroom Crackdown In Cosby Trial
The judge presiding over Bill Cosby’s sexual-assault trial in Norristown cracked down on court decorum rules this week, revoking a local reporter’s credentials and kicking renowned attorney Gloria Allred out of the courtroom for violating the ban on cellphones. Allred then caused a stir Wednesday afternoon when her cellphone rang toward the end of testimony by the accuser, Andrea Constand. Allred represents several other women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault, but is not formally involved in the criminal case. She was immediately asked to leave the courtroom, but was permitted reentry after a break. Story by Tommy Rowan & Jeremy Roebuck for Philly.com.


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.