Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–June 16, 2014

Cellphone Operator Reveals Scale of Government Snooping
Vodafone, one of the world’s largest cellphone companies, revealed the scope of government snooping into phone networks, saying authorities in some countries are able to directly access an operator’s network without seeking permission. The company outlined the details in a report that is described as the first of its kind, covering 29 countries in which it directly operates. It gives the most comprehensive look to date on how governments monitor the mobile phone communications of their citizens. The most explosive revelation was that in a small number of countries, authorities require direct access to an operator’s network–bypassing legal niceties like warrants. It did not name the countries. Story by Danica Kirka for the Associated Press.

Starbucks To Introduce Wireless Charging In Their Stores Across U.S.
Starbucks has a new offer on the menu and its caffeine free. The coffee giant is teaming up with Duracell to offer wireless charging of smartphones along with their usual caffeine hit. The charging points will be fixed into the tables and counters and whenever a compatible device comes in contact with it, the battery will start charging automatically. At present, there are two ways to charge your cellphone wirelessly: Qi and PMA. Starbucks will be using the latter which means it’ll become mainstream in coming years. Story by Akhilesh Garud for Crazy Engineers.

Cellphones May Damage Sperm Quality, New Study Suggests
Keeping your cellphone in your pants pocket may help you quickly answer a call, but new research suggests this habit may have some damaging health effects for men – notably wannabe fathers. A new study, published in the journal Environmental International, suggests that men who keep their cellphones in their pants may inadvertently damage their sperm, decreasing their fertility. Story in Fox News.

The Government Can No Longer Track Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant
The government and police regularly use location data pulled off of cell phone towers to put criminals at the scenes of crimes–often without a warrant. Well, an appeals court ruled that the practice is unconstitutional, in one of the strongest judicial defenses of technology privacy rights we’ve seen in a while. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that the government illegally obtained and used Quartavious Davis’s cell phone location data to help convict him in a string of armed robberies in Miami and unequivocally stated that cell phone location information is protected by the Fourth Amendment. Story by Jason Koebler for MotherBoard.

Two People Die Trying to Retrieve Smartphone from Toilet
Last week, a woman in China accidently dropped her new smartphone into an open pit toilet, and her husband jumped in to retrieve it. But the man was quickly overcome by the fumes and passed out in the cesspit. His mother jumped in to rescue him, but she, too, lost consciousness from the gases. But they both died from suffocation. Four other people jumped in, trying to save the husband and his mother. All four had to be rescued and were taken to local hospitals in Xinxiang city, Henan. Story by John Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

Police In These 15 States Use Tracking Devices To Collect Data From Cell Phones
Local and state law enforcement in 15 states use fake cell towers, also known as “stingrays,” according to a map released by the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday. Stingrays are used to track the location of targeted phones, and can also intercept phone calls and text messages. Story by Maya Kosoff for Business Insider.

Montana Only State with No Statewide Ban on Texting Behind the Wheel
Montana is now the only state in the U.S. that does not have a statewide ban on texting behind the wheel for at least some drivers. The Montana Highway Patrol says cellphone use by drivers has contributed to more than 1,600 crashes in the past 9 years. According to AAA, 44 states ban texting while driving for all ages. Four states only outlaw it for young or novice drivers and Arizona bans bus drivers from being on a cell phone. Story by Beth Saboe for KBZK.

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.