Weekly Cell Phone News Review–March 24, 2014

State Courts Stepping Up on Cell Phone Privacy
In a span of ten days, three separate state Supreme Court decisions expanded privacy protections in cell phones in important ways. While residents of Massachusetts, Texas and Washington got a little more security, state and federal courts got a glimpse of how old and hallowed principles of privacy can survive the technological onslaught of the 21st century. Story by Hanni Fakhoury for The Jurist.

Wireless Carriers Hike Prices Across Canada
Canada’s big three wireless carriers have hiked the base prices for new plans by $5 in most markets over the past two months. Rogers, Telus and Bell Mobility now all charge $80 per month for new smartphone plans with a new contract, $5 more than what many of those same plans cost when they were introduced last year. The price hikes affect every province except Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The $80 a month plan includes 500 MB of data, unlimited nationwide calling, unlimited messaging, voicemail and call display. Existing plans are unaffected. Story by CBC News.

Being Smart About Phone Fees Overseas
You want to use your smartphone while traveling abroad. But choosing an affordable method can seem mind-numbingly complicated. Should you buy an international roaming plan? And if you do, what does 100 megabytes of data get you anyway? Perhaps you need a hot spot pass? Or a SIM card? If you don’t want an eye-popping phone bill, it’s essential to decide before you’re on the plane. Story by Stephanie Rosenbloom for the New York Times.

Why Were There No Phone Calls from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?
It’s a popular question on social media: Why didn’t passengers on board the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 make mobile calls? If metadata was detected from cell phones on Flight 370, surely it would shed more light on the missing plane’s flight path? The plane may have been flying too high or too fast to register with cell towers, according to telecoms experts, but careful analysis of the passengers’ cell phone records will need to be completed to be certain. “So far, we have not had any evidence of any telephone company of any member trying to contact,” said Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya at a news conference. Story by Frances Cha for CNN.

Cell Phones & Your Health: The 411
Cell phones–in fact, all electronics–give off energy waves known as electromagnetic radiation. In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer published the Interphone Study, which was conducted to figure out if mobile-phone use increases the risk of brain tumours. The researchers interviewed participants over five years using a very detailed questionnaire. While the majority of the roughly 14,000 respondents showed no increased risk of brain cancer or benign brain tumors over the course of 10 years, the results differed slightly for the heaviest 10% of callers. Story by Ruth Reader for Refinery 29.

Shocker: Your Cell Phone May Be Ruining Your Personal Life
Someone has finally decided to put some numbers behind the actual damaging effects that technology is having on our relationships and the results are fairly depressing. “Crucial Conversations” author Joseph Grenny recently looked into what he calls “electronic displays of insensitivities,” or EDIs, and reported an astounding 89 percent of his VitalSmarts.com survey of 2,025 individuals reported that this behavior has damaged a personal relationship. Ninety-percent say “that at least once a week, their friends or family stop paying attention to them in favor of something happening on their digital devices,” and one in four say that it has caused a “serious rift.” Story by Rachel Raczka for Boston.com.

Supreme Court To Rule on Cell Phone Privacy
The Fourth Amendment protects our “persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” That includes the cell phones in our pockets, and the many private messages, photos, and videos those devices contain. But what happens if we get arrested for a minor (or major) infraction? Do the police now have the lawful right to search our cell phones for incriminating material without a warrant? Or does the Constitution still act as a shield? The U.S. Supreme Court will address those questions next month when it considers a pair of cases testing the reach of the Fourth Amendment in the age of the smartphone. The Court’s response has the potential to impact the lives of countless of Americans in their dealings with the police. Story by Damon Root for Reason.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.