Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–March 31, 2014

White House Unveils Plan to End NSA’s Bulk Collection of Phone Data
The Obama administration on Thursday announced details of its plan to end the government’s vast bulk collection of data about phone calls made in the United States, including new procedures to get judicial approval before asking companies for such records. Under the plan, phone companies would have to provide data from their records quickly and in a usable format when requested by the government, a senior administration official told reporters on condition of anonymity. The plan would also allow the government to seek such data without a court order in a national security emergency. Story by Roberta Rampton and Mark Hosenball for Reuters

Cellphone Use Causes Over 1 in 4 Car Accidents
The National Safety Council’s annual injury and fatality report, “Injury Facts,” found that the use of cellphones causes 26% of the nation’s car accidents, a modest increase from the previous year. Only 5% of cellphone-related crashes occur because the driver is texting. The majority of the accidents involve drivers distracted while talking on handheld or hands-free cellphones. So far, 12 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have made it illegal to use handheld devices while driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Out of the 43 states that have banned texting while driving, all but five have primary enforcement of their laws, meaning an officer may cite a driver for texting without any other traffic violation taking place. Story by Gabrielle Kratsas for USA Today.

Smartphone Kill-Switch Could Save Consumers $2.6 Billion Per Year
Technology that remotely makes a stolen smartphone useless could save American consumers up to $2.6 billion per year if it is implemented widely and leads to a reduction in theft of phones, according to a new report. Law enforcement officials and politicians are pressuring cellular carriers to make such technology standard on all phones shipped in the U.S. in response to the increasing number of smartphone thefts. They believe the so-called “kill switch” would reduce the number of thefts if stolen phones were routinely locked so they became useless. But carriers have resisted these requests and there are now bills proposed at the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and California State Senate that would mandate such a system. Story by Martyn Williams for ComputerWorld.

World Leaders Say Broadband Can Solve Global Development Gap
Broadband connectivity continues to be on the world’s stage. Access to broadband could be the universal catalyst that lifts developing countries out of poverty and puts access to health care, education and basic social services within the reach of all, according to the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which met in Dublin last week. Story in WRAL TechWire.

Cellphone Bans May Not Prevent Accidents
A new study has found that cellphone bans have little effect on accident rates, even though they do affect driving habits. A recent study by a graduate student at Texas A&M University finds that visible cellphone use drops about 50 percent when a state begins its ban. Simply put, driving habits change when states ban cellphone use, which means that drivers perceive that the new laws will be enforced and fines levied. But it’s less clear whether their transformed behavior prevents accidents. Story by Casey B. Mulligan for the New York Times.

T-Mobile’s free international roaming
For people who travel overseas a lot, it sounds almost too good to be true: unlimited international data roaming and texting at no extra cost. But that’s exactly what T-Mobile USA started offering its U.S. users earlier this year as part of its price battle with AT&T. Story by Martyn Williams for PC World.

7 Best Security and Safety Apps for Women
Attacks on women are at an all time high and even highly secured cities aren’t safe anymore. But there’s hope. At any such unfortunate time, your smartphone can be your best friend and protector. Loaded with security apps for women, your smartphone can help you send emergency alerts to chosen people and also let people know about your whereabouts if anything goes wrong. We provide you with some of the best applications that help you send out a distress signal, book safe cabs or simply let your folks know where you are at all times. Story by Shreya Punj for ThinkDigit.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.