Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–October 20, 2014

FBI Director Demands Access To Private Cell Phone Data
Cell phone encryption will prevent the federal government from stopping terrorists and child molesters unless the government is given special access, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey told a Washington, DC, think tank on Thursday. Comey, who noted that “both real-time communication and stored data are increasingly encrypted,” said that the trend by service providers to encrypt their customer data could prevent the government from lawfully pursuing criminals. Story by Seth Rosenblatt for CNET.

Can Apple Pay Do to Your Wallet What iTunes Did for Music?
Though mobile payments at U.S. retail stores will nearly double this year to $3.5 billion, they remain a rounding error on the more than $4 trillion worth of in-store credit card and cash transactions. Cash and cards are simply good enough. That was before Apple jumped into the market with Apple Pay in a bid to take mobile payments mainstream. When Apple Pay launches Monday on new iPhone 6 models, all it will take to buy a sandwich at Subway or an air-chilled chicken at Whole Foods Market is to hold your iPhone near a wireless reader and press your thumb on the home button. The iPhone’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor, already used to unlock the phone, recognizes it’s really you. Behind the scenes, a payment processor such as Visa recognizes an encrypted version of your credit card such as the one in an iTunes account, along with a one-time security code for that particular transaction, and approves the sale—all in less than 10 seconds. Story by Robert D. Hof for MIT Technology Review.

Florida Supreme Court Rejects Cell Phone Tracking By Police
Pointing to privacy rights, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday said police need to get warrants before using cell-phone information to conduct “real-time” tracking of criminal suspects. Justices, in a 5-2 decision, sided with a man who was arrested in 2007 in Broward County after a search of his vehicle uncovered a kilogram brick of cocaine hidden in a spare-tire well. Police tracked the man through location information given off when cell-phone calls are made. Story by Jim Turner for The News Service of Florida.

New York City Is Ending Its Ban on Cellphones in Schools
New York City is preparing to end its ban on cellphones in schools, dooming an industry that sprang up near dozens of schools where teens could park their phones in a van for a dollar a day. Mayor Bill de Blasio—apparently the first mayor to have a child in New York City public schools while in office—promised to end the ban during his campaign and acknowledged last month that his own son brings a phone to Brooklyn Technical High School. He gave no date for ending the ban but said that for parents it’s “very, very important to know how to reach their kids.” Story by Karen Matthews for the Associated Press.

New Technology Prevents Cell Phone Use While Driving
Almost everybody acknowledges the danger of using a hand-held cell phone while driving, yet over a three-year period in the U.S., 180 people were killed in car accidents involving cell phones. The National Safety Council said more than a quarter of all car accidents in the U.S. were related to cell phone use. Yet, when the phone rings, many drivers cannot keep themselves from reaching for it. A group of engineering students at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, have now developed a phone app that prevents the driver from talking or texting on a cell phone, while the passengers’ phones operate normally. Story by George Putic for Voice of America.

Smartphone Breathalyzers Could Keep Drunk Drivers off the Road
Drunk driving is a major problem in the United States, costing the country an average of $199 billion a year. The safety concerns are huge, but there are some smartphone adaptable breathalyzers that can help minimize the chance of driving under the influence. Story by Lynn Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

Surgeons Forced To Carry Out Open Heart Surgery By Mobile Phone Light
It is among the most delicate of operations, requiring fine precision from a steady hand. But for a team of cardiac surgeons in Kyrgyzstan, performing open heart surgery was made all the more complicated when their operating theatre was plunged into darkness. In the midst of the blackout the dedicated doctors refused to let their patient suffer, instead completing the life-saving operation by mobile phone light. Story by Lizzie Parry for Mail Online.

Can Mobile Phones Help To Improve Food Security?
Around three-fourths of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas. The rural poor, and their very specific needs, must therefore be at the centre of any attempt to tackle global poverty and the issue of food security. But what are these very specific needs? Often they’re things that people in urban areas take for granted-access to certain products or devices, to physical infrastructure, and to new technologies and ideas. These challenges have a range of negative effects. They can restrict educational opportunities. They can prevent people from getting the healthcare they need. They can also limit agricultural output, meaning the rural poor are often not able to produce the food they need. A growing body of evidence suggests that information and communication technologies-and especially mobile phones-can help address these problems. They open up access to information and training opportunities. For this reason, they can bring about improvements in almost all areas, including health, education, financial services, and agriculture and food security. Story by Maximo Torero for World Economic Forum.

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.