Research in Motion’s BlackBerry operating system has gone from being a leading smartphone platform to the struggling OS it is today. While adoption rates may be slowing with consumers and businesses, the same cannot be said for U.S. Government workers, a new report claims. The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that nearly half a million federal workers, including President Barack Obama, are still using BlackBerry phones. That number hasn’t dipped over the past few years despite RIM’s plummeting sales. “We appreciate RIM’s focus on security, which is paramount for government use,” said Casey Coleman, chief information officer at the General Services Administration. Some agencies are changing their policies and allowing workers to choose other smartphones, however, which may impact BlackBerry’s government market share moving forward. Coleman added that other platforms are proving equally secure, and that the GSA places “a priority on adoption where appropriate of innovative new technologies.” More →
It was only a matter of time. Apple, Inc. has been named as a defendant in a federal district court suit over the iPhone and iPad 3G location tracking scandal — at this point we think it’s safe to refer to it as such. The Cupertino company’s silence over the past week has only intensified rumors and speculation that Apple is, somehow, using this harvested data in a clandestine or nefarious manner. Bloomberg notes that the lawsuit was filed in Tampa, FL by two consumers and, at this point, it is unknown if the duo will seek class action status. Details on the case are scarce at the moment, but we’re sure this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing about this one. More →
A federal judge ruled on Monday that Apple, Inc. did not infringe upon the patents of company Mirror Worlds in the creation of its Cover Flow interface. Mirror Worlds filed its initial lawsuit in 2008, claiming that Apple copied technologies protected by its “document stream operating system” filing from 2004. Back in 2010, a U.S. District Court ruled in the plaintiffs favor and awarded Mirror Worlds $625.5 million in damages. Apple appealed, and the ruling was overturned by a federal judge citing a “lack of foundational support” for the charges. “In this case, Mirror Worlds may have painted an appealing picture for the jury, but it failed to lay a solid foundation sufficient to support important elements it was required to establish under the law,” reads the ruling. “Accordingly, the Court rejects Mirror Worlds’ case as to infringement and damages, while affirming it as to validity and inequitable conduct.” More →
A new report filed by The Wall Street Journal suggests that New Jersey federal prosecutors are beginning to take a long, hard look at mobile applications. The publication writes that a grand jury will investigate whether iOS and Android applications distributed by Apple and Google “illegally obtain or transmit information about their users without proper disclosures.” Several application makers, including Pandora Media, informed the Journal that were issued subpoenas by the court, but have been told that they are not the target of the impending litigation.
“In early 2011, we were served with a subpoena to produce documents in connection with a federal grand jury, which we believe was convened to investigate the information sharing processes of certain popular applications that run on the Apple and Android mobile platforms,” Pandora noted in a regulatory filing on Monday.
The investigation aims to determine whether mobile application developers have violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by transmitting anonymized (read: not so anonymized) data to app makers and/or third-parties. The report notes that prosecutors could charge individuals or companies with a “felony or misdemeanor” or could “pursue civil charges.” Neither Google nor Apple responded to the WSJ‘s request for comment. More →
Time Warner has been ordered by a U.S. District Court judge in Washington to identify hundreds of people accused of illegally downloading movies over its broadband network. The ISP had previously argued that identifying the accused parties would be “unfairly expensive and time-consuming,” and it asked that the judge reject the subpoenas for subscriber information. Of the three pending cases where subpoenas for subscriber data were issued, the judge agreed to quash one, as the plaintiff, Maverick Entertainment Group, failed to properly serve the subpoena in compliance with the law. The other two stand, however, and Time Warner will have to identify approximately 250 subscribers. Maverick, one of three movie companies currently seeking the identities of anonymous Internet users who are accused of illegally downloading their copyrighted materials, has 10 days to re-issue the subpoena or it may lose access to the identities of over 700 users. More →
The FCC today announced that it will hold an auction on July 19, 2011 for sixteen licenses in the 700MHz spectrum. The government agency has two licenses that operate in the 698-704MHz and 728-734MHz frequencies (Block A) along with fourteen licenses that operate in the 704-710MHz and 734-740MHz frequencies (Block B); all sixteen licenses have a 2 x 6MHz pairing and 12MHz of bandwidth. The 700MHz spectrum is currently what wireless providers AT&T and Verizon Wireless are using to build out their 4G, LTE networks in the United States. The proceeding has been designated with the name “Auction 92.”
Today, Research In Motion announced that the cryptographic kernel of its BlackBerry 6 mobile operating system has earned the FIPS 140-2 security certification. FIPS, or Federal Information Processing Standard, is a classification used by the U.S. — and others — to validate the security of a computer system’s cryptographic services. The certification officially green-lights the OS for use by government employees handing “sensitive but unclassified” information. Just another security feather for RIM’s proverbial cap.
Okay, this is just in… The AP is reporting that a new federal ruling from the Library of Congress has sided with consumers, and the before sort-of-grey-area is now pretty clear — legally, you can unlock (and in Apple’s case, jailbreak) your device. Here’s what the AP article says:
WASHINGTON – Owners of the iPhone will be able to break electronic locks on their devices in order to download applications that have not been approved by Apple. The government is making that legal under new rules announced Monday.
The decision to allow the practice commonly known as “jailbreaking” is one of a handful of new exemptions from a federal law that prohibits the circumvention of technical measures that control access to copyrighted works. Every three years, the Library of Congress authorizes such exemptions to ensure that existing law does not prevent non-infringing use of copyrighted material.
Another exemption will allow owners of used cell phones to break access controls on their phones in order to switch wireless carriers.
This is a pretty big thing in the tech world and has ramifications across many different platforms and devices, not just Apple’s iPhone. More as we get it! More →