Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–September 2, 2014

Cell Phone Kill Switch Would Aid Criminals
In reaction to occasional violence involving robberies, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 962 on Monday, August 26, to launch the first-in-the-nation requirement that all smartphones sold in California be equipped with “kill switches.” These switches allow owners to remotely render the phone useless if stolen, according to the Los Angeles Times. But the measure will create opportunities for criminal gangs to use the kill switch protocol to commit other crimes and conduct mass shakedowns. Story by Chriss W. Street for Breitbart News.

5 Cyber Risks That Can Affect Your Mobile Phone, Tablet
Each year, an increasing number of students return to school equipped with personal devices that include mobile phones, tablets and laptops. In addition, schools increasingly store online information such as students’ personal information, grades and virtual tests. With this digital shift, today’s students and educational institutions need a lesson in cybersecurity in order to prevent sensitive information from being compromised. Mobile-equipped students must be aware of several cyber risks. These include: Story by Andreas Baumhof for The Business Journals.

FCC Fines T-Mobile $819,000 For Selling Phones That Don’t Work With Hearing Aids
Within reason, everyone should have the right to communicate over the phone, even if they live with some form of hearing loss. For that reason, the Federal Communications Commission requires mobile phone carriers to sell a certain number of handsets that work with hearing aids. The agency says that T-Mobile failed to do this, and has fined them $819,000. Story by Laura Northrup for Consumerist.

The Smartphone Turns 20
Many Americans have been using smartphones for the last decade, but these phones have actually been on the market for 20 years. This month, the IBM Simon celebrated its 20th birthday, and it will now be on display at the Science Museum in London. The device cost nearly $900 when it was introduced and it weighed over 1 pound. It could not connect to mobile Internet, and it had a battery that only lasted an hour. Nevertheless, this phone was the grandfather of modern day iPhones and Androids, and its development has truly changed the way we communicate and search for data. Story by John Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

For Sale: Systems That Can Secretly Track Where Cellphone Users Go Around The Globe
Makers of surveillance systems are offering governments across the world the ability to track the movements of almost anybody who carries a cellphone, whether they are blocks away or on another continent. The technology works by exploiting an essential fact of all cellular networks: They must keep detailed, up-to-the-minute records on the locations of their customers to deliver calls and other services to them. Surveillance systems are secretly collecting these records to map people’s travels over days, weeks or longer, according to company marketing documents and experts in surveillance technology. Story by Craig Timberg for The Washington Post.

Committee on Shut Lanes Subpoenas Cellphone Records of a Top Christie Aide
The New Jersey legislative committee investigating the mysterious closing of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge last September has subpoenaed a cellphone carrier in an effort to uncover text messages exchanged by Gov. Chris Christie and a top aide as the governor’s administration sought to contain the fallout from the ensuing scandal. Story by Kate Zernike for The New York Times.

BYOD Benefit Dampened by California Court
The cost-saving benefits of the BYOD (bring your own device) trend may be coming to an end for businesses. A California court last week ruled companies must reimburse employees for at least part of the expense for using their personal devices for work purposes. While the ruling may make BYOD less palatable to employers, it will open new professional and managed services opportunities for solution providers to measure and track mobility expenses. Story by Larry Walsh for Channelnomics.

Calling 911 From A Cellphone Indoors Could Make It Hard For First Responders To Find You
A majority of cell phone owners thought that when dialing 9-1-1 from within their home, first responders could locate them at least to their block, however, that’s not the case. Wireless companies use GPS for location services, which works best in rural areas and outdoors but doesn’t provide an accurate location to first responders if a 911 call is made from indoors in urban areas. Under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), cellphone service providers meet the guidelines if an accurate location is given to 911 call centers for only outdoor wireless 911 calls. However, the FCC is working to update this rule because of the increasing number of Americans who are turning off their land-lines and turning on their cellphones indoors. Story by Emily Hill for AL.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.