Attention holiday shoppers: your cell phone may be tracked this year. Starting on Black Friday and running through New Year's Day, two U.S. malls — Promenade Temecula in southern California and Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, Va. — will track guests' movements by monitoring the signals from their cell phones. While the data that's collected is anonymous, it can follow shoppers' paths from store to store. The goal is for stores to answer questions like: How many Nordstrom shoppers also stop at Starbucks? How long do most customers linger in Victoria's Secret? Are there unpopular spots in the mall that aren't being visited? While U.S. malls have long tracked how crowds move throughout their stores, this is the first time they've used cell phones.
Tag Archives | Cell Phones
Jennifer Valentino-Devries reports in the Wall Street Journal:
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For more than a year, federal authorities pursued a man they called simply “the Hacker.” Only after using a little known cellphone-tracking device — a stingray — were they able to zero in on a California home and make the arrest.
Stingrays are designed to locate a mobile phone even when it’s not being used to make a call. The Federal Bureau of Investigation considers the devices to be so critical that it has a policy of deleting the data gathered in their use, mainly to keep suspects in the dark about their capabilities, an FBI official told the Wall Street Journal in response to inquiries.
A stingray’s role in nabbing the alleged “Hacker” — Daniel David Rigmaiden — is shaping up as a possible test of the legal standards for using these devices in investigations. The FBI says it obtains appropriate court approval to use the device.
No biggie, just let it go to voicemail. Via the BBC:
Nigeria’s authorities have been forced to reassure the public that a mobile phone number cannot kill, after rumors were spread…that several people had died when they answered calls with the ID 09141.
The regulatory body, the Nigerian Communications Commission, said this was “unimaginable” and “unscrupulous persons” were spreading fear.
A BBC reporter was unable to get through to the number.
Text messages gave conflicting accounts of the number of people killed when they answered the call – some put the death toll at seven while others put it at 10.
Is it mass hypochondria? More than ten million Americans believe they suffer from physical illness caused by cell phone and wireless internet networks. Some are upending their lives and retreating to remote Green Bank, West Virginia, a safe haven unpenetrated by Wi-Fi. Fast forward ten years, and you can bet they are going to be the last small band of humanity fighting the robot uprising. The BBC writes:
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Dozens of Americans who claim to have been made ill by wi-fi and mobile phones have flocked to the town of Green Bank, West Virginia.
Diane Schou is unable to hold back the tears as she describes how she once lived in a shielded cage to protect her from the electromagnetic radiation caused by waves from wireless communication. “It’s a horrible thing to have to be a prisoner,” she says. “You become a technological leper because you can’t be around people.
Ms Schou is one of an estimated 5% of Americans who believe they suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), which they say is caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields typically created by mobile phones, wi-fi and other electronic equipment.
Mobile technology may be a powerful tool for grassroots organizing, but the flip side of the coin is that authorities can block such technology when they wish to crack down on dissent — case in point, San Francisco’s public transit system. SF Weekly writes:
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This might just be a first in the annals of Bay Area transit agencies’ political suppression (such as those annals are). BART has fessed up to jamming cell-phone signals yesterday at downtown stations in San Francisco in order to disrupt protests over the death of Charles Hill, who was shot by BART police on July 3.
Here is what BART had to say in a statement on its tactics that was released today:
Organizers planning to disrupt BART service on August 11, 2011 stated they would use mobile devices to coordinate their disruptive activities and communicate about the location and number of BART Police. A civil disturbance during commute times at busy downtown San Francisco stations could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions for BART customers, employees and demonstrators.
Via Media Underground:
Saturday afternoon and I’d been sitting in my local pub for at least an hour drinking the remains of my second pint of beer. The local clientele were doing their usual: scrutinising their hand-held devices as though they were personal life-support machines requiring constant tweaking and attention.
Meanwhile, on the pub TV, the sordid details of News International’s phone hacking scandal were unfolding live before my very eyes.
“Jesus H. Christ!” I exclaimed out loud. “This isn’t just affecting a small cross-section of the population, this is a goddamned epidemic of massive proportions!”
The fat lawyer sitting in the corner briefly glanced up at me from his iPhone with an expression that suggested a mixture of contempt and confusion, before taking another quick swig of his drink and refocusing his attention on his brightly lit touch screen.
“Whatever happened to coming to the pub to engage in social interaction!?” I exclaimed.… Read the rest
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released a “Know Your Rights” guide regarding police search and seizure of digital devices. Remember, law enforcement isn’t allowed to search your phone or computer without a warrant, your permission, or solid reason to believe that they will find incriminating evidence. Most important, only a judge or a grand jury can pry your password from you, so set one and you’re golden. Read the guide for more information.
Via Inventor Spot:
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The Origami Handset is a sublime expression of lightness crafted by Chengyuan Wei (魏呈远) of Weii Design.
Currently living and working in the city of Hangzhou, Wei has been putting his education at Zhejiang University to good use, designing a number of esthetically pleasing items such as a self-balancing, Segway-style scooter for the INNO company and the eco-friendly, solar powered Light Gap clock.
It’s Wei’s minimalist telephone handset, however, that perhaps most succinctly expresses the artist’s rejection of “a unified system… created by big commercial corporations.” After disassembling a telephone handset one day, Wei discovered that “all the functional parts only took a small space inside the handset. So I thought maybe I can design a unique handset which has a light and material-efficient structure.”
Looking at the Origami Handset, you can see that these kinds of electronic devices really have very few parts and most of those are comprised of thin, flat circuit boards.