But there was nothing extraordinary about what Verizon Wireless apparently did. Hundreds of thousands of times every year, cellphone companies turn over personal call records to law enforcement with neither a warning nor a judge’s involvement. Privacy activists said it’s no way for carriers to treat paying customers. They said they hope the AP controversy will force the big cell companies to change their ways.
“This is the phone companies putting the interest of law enforcement before their customers, and that’s wrong,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union. “None of them tell users. They all suck.”
I love just how direct Chris is these days when speaking with the press about the telcos and their utterly abhorrent practices.
The traditionally advocated uses for NFC have been to replace RFID chips in travel cards, such as the Oyster card in the UK, and RFID chips in credit cards, such as MasterCard’s PayPass.
The problem with these replacements is a simple one, however. Smartphone batteries run out. They do so with alarming regularity, and they do so at inopportune moments. I don’t care what phone you say you have, and I don’t care if you say it doesn’t happen to you, because it does. You end up staying out late, or you leave your charger at home by accident, or you just plain use the phone too much during the day, and then when you need the phone to work, it doesn’t because it’s out of juice.
The phone running out of power is bad enough when it means you don’t have maps and directions. That’s annoying. But even worse is the battery going flat when you need the phone for mass transit or paying for stuff.
And yet that’s precisely the value proposition that NFC offers: go out for a night on the town and get stranded with no money, no subway ride home. The only way to be safe is to take your credit card and travel card with you anyway, and if you’re doing that? Well you don’t exactly need NFC then, do you?
Peter Bright, “Mobile World Congress is Mean Girls, and NFC isn’t going to happen”
(Source: Ars Technica)
While the technology that the IT World article discusses isn’t terribly novel - I was given a paper conducted by grad students on this topic a few years ago, and they had a working prototype of similar systems - I find it incredibly worrying that ambient information that smartphones expel is being used for purposes in excess of why the information is transmitted in the first place. We don’t live in a (Western) world where lacking a cell phone is common; for many people a mobile phone is critical to their business or livelihood. Indeed, when you go to other areas of the world where mobile penetration is even higher because of exorbitant costs associated with laying down fibre, mobiles are even more important on a daily basis.
As such, and any suggestion like “if you don’t want to be tracked, don’t own a phone” misses the point around privacy concerns related to mobile phone tracking. In effect, it shouldn’t be up to the individual to unilaterally defend themselves from further expansions of private surveillance capabilities. Instead, those capabilities should be limited by law, by regulation, and by a minimalistic sense of ethics. Tracking where people are walking, and giving them an option to opt-out of tracking by visiting a website they’ve never heard of and digging into its depths is not a sufficient way to ‘empower’ individuals.
Tumblr user nugnug provides an excellent list of the core “what’s missing” in Windows Phone right now and that will continue being absent after the 7.8 update:
- rotation lock - I surf the net when I’m lying down. Everyone does. This is such an important feature and yet, where the hell is it?
- screen capture - I can’t take screenshots on my phone! What is this!? How can I blackmail people and post the stupid things they say on Facebook?
- customized sounds for messaging, etc. - We can customize our ringtones, so why not the rest?
- notification center - This ain’t happening. I already know this cause they didn’t have time to make it. Lame.
- separate volume controls for phone sounds and media - I want to listen to music at a really low volume but that means I won’t be able to hear my phone ring. A dilemma that can be easily rectified.
- the forward button and “find on page” function in IE - there’s a java fix someone else kindly made, but there shouldn’t be a need. It’s a basic function that should be included in all internet browsers.
- Wifi turns off when in sleep mode - the biggest reason why my whatsapp messages arrive hours later is because my phone, which relies on only Wifi when I’m at home, turns off Wifi when it goes to sleep. Ugh.
- Blutooth file transfers - I WANNA GIVE MY FRIENDS STUFF WITHOUT USING MY NET DATA BUT I CAN’T.
- multi selection - let me delete multiple photos on my phone at a time. PLZZ.
- editing the dictionary - there are some words I made up, I would like to delete please.
- improvements in the calendar - by far the most used section of my phone, it holds all my schedules and Facebook events and works seamlessly. So why not build on it? Include a weekly view, allow me to change colours on some of my personal entries.
- automatic sleep mode - not too fussy, but this would be really cool. If I set a time e.g. from 11pm to 8am, my phone will sleep between those hours and I won’t get any notifications between those times.
- closing apps from the multitasking view - not too important
I have to admit that some of the items aren’t top of mind for me: I don’t really care about the sleep mode, don’t see the point of closing apps from the multitasking view, and am not interested in bluetooth sharing. That said, every other suggestion is much, much needed.
I would also add to the list that scrolling in the 7.8 update needs to change; in the older version 1 Windows Phones scrolling would accelerate the more your scrolled up or down, whereas the current generation of 7.5 phones feature a static scrolling rate. This speed simply feels slower than earlier - and less capable - hardware and software iterations of Windows Phone.
You hereby grant Ninja Tel permission to listen to, read, view and/or record any and all communications sent via the network to which you are a party,” one section stated. “Before you get all upset about this, you already know full well that AT&T does this for the NSA. You understand that you have no reasonable expectation of privacy as to any on the Ninja Tel network. You grant Ninja Tel a worldwide, perpetual, assignable, royalty-free license to use any and all recorded or real-time communications sent via the Ninja Tel network to which you are a party. Don’t worry, most of this is for the lulz.
Ninja Tel Terms of Service (read more at Ars)