An international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) is a unique number, usually fifteen digits, associated with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network mobile phone users. An IMSI catcher is a device, used by the NSA drone program, the police, criminals, Chinese spammers and spies all around Washington DC and the world to spoof the identity of a GSM cell tower and intercept cellular voice and data communication. They come in all sizes and flavors, from tiny or body-worn professional surveillance devices, to easy to order off the shelf solutions, to Chinese DIY (links in Chinese) and have spawned efforts to retaliate with an IMSI-catcher-catcher. IMSI-catcher technology has become increasingly widespread, with far-reaching constitutional and technical implications.
Texting can be a real pain in the neck (and what to do about it)
In This Horror Film, Blood Is All Too Real [New York Times] ‘Terror at the Mall’ on HBO documents an Attack in Kenya.
One year ago, gunmen from the Shabab militant group in Somalia laid siege to the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Armed with AK-47s and grenades, they stalked their victims from a gourmet burger restaurant at the entrance to the vegetable aisle of a grocery store at the back. The British filmmaker Dan Reed assembled thousands of hours of footage gleaned from more than 100 security cameras inside the mall, video from television crews and modest cellphones, as well as still photographs. Then he and his team tracked down more than 200 people and interviewed 82 of them on camera, many survivors or their rescuers.[more inside]
The Supreme Court has unanimously reversed (large PDF) the California Court of Appeals in Riley v. California, deciding that police cannot search the contents of a phone without a warrant during an arrest, and that "the fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought." [more inside]
What Good Is Information? - "The internet promised to feed our minds with knowledge. What have we learned? That our minds need more than that" [more inside]
The guardian of the nation’s etiquette, Debrett’s, has now issued a handy 10-point guide to mobile (cell) phone etiquette in the digital age
I Forgot My Phone (SLYT)
Fox steals cell phone. Fox sends texts with stolen cell phone. Cuteness ensues. [Cached version] [more inside]
One year ago, America was gripped with controversy over the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, who claimed he was shooting in self-defense under the "Stand Your Ground" statute, while many believe the shooting, subsequent police inaction, and even the court actions had racial undertones - given Martin was black and Zimmerman Hispanic. Now, furor somewhat quieter, the trial is beginning, with startling (and occasionally hilarious) presentations and demands from each side, including cellphone photos and texts from Martin's phone showing drugs and someone holding a gun, which the defense claims the prosecutors withheld, a list of words Zimmerman's attorneys want not to be used during the trial, which include any mention of racial profiling, and a (rejected) request that all 500 potential jurors be sequestered until their selection. [more inside]
The comment period for the DRAFT Wireless code [PDF] to address some cellular provider abuses is expiring soon (February 15th). Comments can be made here. Highlights of the draft code include:
- A $50 (or less) monthly cap on incurred fees.
- A limitation of cancellation fees equal to the remaining amount of the prorated incentive amount
- Mandatory unlocking at no cost for non subsidy phones with no waiting period.
- Limits on deposits and non payment cancellations.
- No termination fee, 15 day cooling off period
- Mandatory listing of limits on "unlimited" plans.
An iOS application developer has come up with an extreme way of fighting software piracy—by auto-posting "confessions" to its users' Twitter accounts. "...Enfour, the maker of a variety of dictionary apps, is auto-posting tweets to users' accounts to shame them for being pirates. But the auto-tweeting seems to be affecting a huge portion of its paid user base, not just those who actually stole the apps." Follow-up. A personal account: Can’t spell “pirate” without “-irate”: on DRM and punishing the customer [more inside]
Verizon draws fire for monitoring app usage, browsing habits: Verizon Wireless has begun selling information about its customers' geographical locations, app usage, and Web browsing activities. The company this month began offering reports to marketers showing what Verizon subscribers are doing on their phones and other mobile devices, including what iOS and Android apps are in use in which locations. Verizon says it may link the data to third-party databases with information about customers' gender, age, and even details such as "sports enthusiast, frequent diner or pet owner." [more inside]
"Maintaining this level of surveillance is very burdensome for companies. According to the letters, AT&T has more than 100 full time employees assigned just to handle law enforcement requests, Verizon has 70, and Sprint has a whopping 226. That’s a lot of people power devoted solely to surveillance." Mobile Phone Surveillance by the Numbers.
Around 1992 Mondo 2000 magazine asked: "R.U A Cyperpunk?"
Met Police to extract suspects' mobile phone data [BBC] The Metropolitan Police, covering Greater London, are set to expand their search powers by making it standard practice to swipe contact details, call logs, and texts off of the mobile phones of anyone in custody - and retain that data - regardless of whether the suspect ends up charged with a crime or not. Clearly not everyone is over the moon about this, seeing it as the latest sign of the steady erosion of communications privacy in the UK and a potential breach of human rights law.
A study of mobile phone records shows according to Professor Robin Dunbar (of Dunbar's Number), that women drive romance, that they phone their spouses most until their daughters are old enough to have children, and that we may be heading for a renewed matriarchy.
A picture is worth a thousand words and a billion dollars. Facebook has bought Instagram for $1 billion in a combination of cash and shares of Facebook. This is striking for since Instagram was valued at $500 million last week, though, right before the purchase they raised $50 million in venture capitol showing they have the ability to raise lots of money quickly. Instagram is notable for having 30 million users despite having been iOS-only until recently creating an Android app. Facebook had been rumored to be working on a photo sharing app, however, like Microsoft buying Skype, the user base was may have been real value, not the easily replicable technology. For those that rue this news, there are alternatives to host your sepia toned cell phone pictures.
Twitter is being used as a crime-fighting tool by a tech-savvy village chief in Kenya. Francis Kariuki, the administrative chief of Lanet Umoja, has used the micro-blogging site for everything from tracking down missing sheep to stopping home invasions.
These Are The Prices AT&T, Verizon and Sprint Charge For Cellphone Wiretaps. After a flurry of public records requests to over 200 police departments, the ACLU has obtained a trove of documents detailing police tracking of cell phone location, call logs and more, including a price list for subscriber information from every major US carrier. [more inside]
What do you do when your viola recital gets interrupted by someone in the audience getting a call on their cellphone? Improvise.
An incessantly ringing iPhone in the front row prompted NY Philharmonic conductor Alan Gilbert to halt last night's concert. [more inside]
After investigating a tragic crash involving two school buses and a third passenger vehicle in Missouri last year the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended this week that state and local governments ban all forms of cellphone communication while driving, including texting and talking using handsfree devices. [more inside]
This marvel of technology is both a mobile phone (with a flip-top case!) and a portable music player, a fashionable item that modern women will want to carry around the streets. The recommended accessories are an umbrella and a fire hydrant, because it's 1922. From the vaults of British Pathe (see also). [more inside]
The Portable Rotary Phone is an original black rotary-dial phone that has been modified to be a cellular phone.
Where's My Cell Phone? Can't find your cell phone? No one around to call it for you? This may help.
Should Cops Be Allowed to Scan Your Phone During a Traffic Stop? In Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a complaint [PDF letter here] alleging that Michigan State Police officers used forensic cellphone analyzers to snoop in drivers' cellphones during routine traffic stops. [Before they fulfill an ACLU FOIA request, the MSP wants a $272,340 deposit up front to cover their costs of retrieving analyzer data, which is obtained without the cellphone owner's knowledge.]
Shortly after the unrest in Libya started, the country was cut off from the internet, cell phone infrastructure was limited and used to send SMS messages calling on subscribers to attack foreigners, and satellite phones were jammed. In response, engineers have recently re-routed some of the national cellphone network to make a new system, Free Libya. [more inside]
AT&T has announced plans to acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom, creating the largest wireless provider in the United States. [more inside]
"If you get arrested in California, better hope there are no incriminating texts or e-mails or sensitive data stored on your phone. On Monday, the California Supreme Court ruled [PDF] that police in that state can search the contents of an arrested person's cell phone." [more inside]
With video cameras becoming increasing smaller, cheaper and ubiquitous, questions are arising about the use of them on multiple levels, from governments monitoring their citizens, to private citizens keeping an eye on government and each other. [more inside]
"With Google Mobile, you can search for things nearby without entering your location. Just type or speak what you're looking for." [more inside]
"That stainless steel band that runs around is the primary structural element of the phone. And there are these three slits in it. It turns out, this is part of some brilliant engineering which actually uses the stainless steel band as part of the antenna system... it's never been done before. And it's really cool engineering!"Less than three weeks after Steve Jobs announced the iPhone 4's (previously) revolutionary signal-boosting design, the internet discovers a fatal flaw that causes calls to drop when the bottom-left corner is touched. Jobs personally offered one customer a solution via email: "Just avoid holding it in that way." Apple's marketing department apparently didn't get the memo. [more inside]
Flash Mobs Take Violent Turn in Philadelphia
[H]undreds of teenagers have been converging downtown for a ritual that is part bullying, part running of the bulls: sprinting down the block, the teenagers sometimes pause to brawl with one another, assault pedestrians or vandalize property. . . . The flash mobs have raised questions about race and class. Most of the teenagers who have taken part in them are black and from poor neighborhoods. Most of the areas hit have been predominantly white business districts. In the flash mob on Saturday, groups of teenagers were chanting “black boys” and “burn the city,” bystanders said.Bill Wasik is not proud.
Karsten Nohl and a team of fellow researchers has cracked the 64-bit encryption used in 80% of the world's GSM phones. Nohl had previously cracked the encryption in the MIFARE smartcard system, demonstrating that the encryption on that device can be cracked in approximately no time whatsoever. These, of course, aren't the first gaping holes in cellphone security to come to light; indeed, lack of security seems to be part of the design spec. Perhaps all new cellphones should be just be distributed with a deck of cards.
"Using a cell phone while walking is so distracting that people are likely to miss a clown riding a unicycle."
With the integration of cameras, GPS receivers, and more into cellphones, many people take for granted the lightweight, energy efficient technology in their pockets. MIT ties all that tech together to a weather balloon in Project Icarus, where for $150 a prepaid cellphone becomes a high-altitude near-space camera.
So, cell phones emit radiation. But how much does yours emit? Compare over 1,000 different cell phones and smartphones.
Korean cell phone ads blur the line between music videos and ads. "Lollipop" from popular idol group Big Bang and newcomers 2NE1 was created to advertise LG cell phones and topped various Korean music charts in the process, even while government-owned broadcaster KBS refused to feature the song in its music countdown show because it was a jingle and not an actual single or album release. "Amoled", from Son Dambi and After School, was created to advertise Samsung's Amoled touchscreen phone. [more inside]
“We’ve spent billions on air bags, antilock brakes, better steering, safer cars and roads, but the number of fatalities has remained constant,” said David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah and a leading researcher in the field of distracted driving. “Our return on investment for those billions is zero,” he added. “And that’s because we’re using [cellphone and messaging] devices in our cars.” [more inside]
There's been quite a stir in Finland about the world's biggest cell phone maker, Nokia, after it was alleged yesterday that politicians had been pressured by the company in order for a law on electronic surveillance of its employees would to be passed. The company denies threats to leave the country if email monitoring laws are not introduced. Electric Frontier Finland is considering taking the case into the ECHR.
Ever spend a few moments during the day idly mucking about with your cellphone? You're part of a new trend known as micro-boredom - which now presents "a significant opportunity for a publisher to exploit readership and advertising consumption". Get away from the bombardment of advertising and find some sacred space, or just turn off the phone.
A modified cellphone will revolutionize medicine in the Third World, improve your health, and maybe even make your one-night stands much less nerve-wracking.