Beginning in 2015, all new cars in the United States will likely need to be fitted with data-recording “black boxes” very similar to the devices currently used in aircraft. The U.S. Senate has already passed a bill that will make the devices a requirement, and the House is expected to approve the bill as well. Section 31406 of Senate Bill 1813 states that mandatory event data recorders must in installed in all cars starting in 2015, and it outlines civil penalties that will be levied against violators, Infowars.com reports. While the primary function of the black box devices would be to record and transmit data that could be used to assist a driver and passengers in the event of an accident, the bill has legislation built in that would give the government access to the data with a court order, and it also gives authorities the ability to access the data as part of an investigation. According to the report, these caveats could potentially lead to Big Brother-like scenarios where citizens are monitored or even actively tracked without their knowledge or consent. More →
If you are an everyday wireless consumer walking into a store to purchase a new smartphone, the terms HSPA+, WiMAX and LTE may mean very little to you. Yet, each of those networks is different and each is being advertised as “4G” in the United States, thanks to an International Telecommunications Union policy that allows carriers to market newer 3G technologies as “4G” networks. A new bill presented to the U.S. Senate this week hopes to force wireless carriers to clarify what exactly their “4G’ networks offer, including minimum and maximum data speeds. The bill was filed by Senator Amy Kobuchar and Al Franken from Minnesota as well as Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut. “Wireless providers need to make sure their customers can count on the speed, reliability, and the price they were promised when they signed up” Senator Franken explained. “And if they can’t fulfill their promise, they need to be held accountable.” The bill is in addition to The Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act, which was filed in June by Congresswoman Anna G. Eschoo, who applauded the new bill from Kobuchar, Franken and Blumenthal. Read on for the full press release from Eschoo’s office. More →
The city of San Francisco has approved an ordinance that will require cell phone retailers to warn customers about the dangers of cell phone radiation, the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday. The ordinance, which was passed in a 10-1 vote, asks that phone retailers “post general warnings” about risks. It’s unclear what exactly will be required of the retailers, and researchers have flip-flopped on whether or not there are any real risks associated with mobile wireless devices. On May 31st, the World Health Organization published a report that said cell phones are “possibly carcinogenic,” but The Economist fired back shortly after and said there’s no way the devices cause cancer. A second group wrote published a separate report in an issue of Environmental Health Perspectives and argued there is evidence “increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults.” A similar law was passed last year that required cell phone makers to publish specific absorption rate (SAR) figures on boxes of cell phones, but the CTIA sued before the law took effect. More →
On Monday, the United States Supreme Court rejected a law that would make it illegal for video game stores and publishers to sell or rent violent video games to minors. The law, which was adopted in 2005 and rejected in a 7-2 vote, was deemed unconstitutional and against freedom of speech rights. According to Reuters, a number of big players in the gaming industry opposed the law, including the Entertainment Software Association, whose ranks include Sony, Microsoft, EA, and Disney. “Our cases hold that minors are entitled to a significant degree of First Amendment protection,” Justice Antonin Scalia said. “Government has no free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which they may be exposed.” More →
Atlanta, Georgia based law firm Holzer Holzer & Fistel, LLC announced on Monday that it has launched an investigation into possible federal securities law violations made by cell phone maker Research In Motion. The firm claims that its investigation will focus on whether a series of statements made between December 2010 and April 2011 were intentionally false and misleading. The statements in question dealt with problems associated with RIM’s aging product line that were negatively impacting the company’s business, the firm said in a press release. In March of this year, Holzer Holzer & Fistel, LLC launched a similar investigation into Palm surrounding statements the company made before it was acquired by HP.
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted in favor of a new set of rules that will force larger cellular carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T to provide roaming access to their data networks at prices set by the FCC. The move will allow smaller regional carriers to take advantage of the large investments made by national carriers at a mere fraction of the cost of building out their own data networks. Immediately following the FCC’s vote, Verizon Wireless’ executive vice president of public affairs, policy and communications Tom Tauke issued a statement. “Today’s action represents a new level of unwarranted government intervention in the wireless marketplace,” Tauke said. “By forcing carriers that have invested in wireless infrastructure to make those networks available to competitors that avoid this investment, at a price ultimately determined by the FCC, today’s order discourages network investment in less profitable areas. That is directly contrary to the interests of rural America and the development of facilities-based competition and potential job creation. Therefore, it is a defeat for both consumers and the innovation fostered by true competition.” Hit the jump for Tauke’s full statement. More →
Today, Google and Verizon released a joint statement outlining the parallel feelings the two companies foster towards net-neutrality. The statement contains seven points that both feel are crucial to keeping the world wide web open and accessible while fostering innovation, growth, and leadership in the United States. Google and Verizon support FCC enforcement of net-neutrality principles and published the memo as, “a suggested legislative framework for consideration by lawmakers.” Hit the jump to read the statement in its entirety. More →
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 →
A California appeals court has ruled that Verizon Wireless is to pay some 175,000 customers current and former customers $21 million as a settlement in a class action lawsuit over early termination fees. The class action suit was filed in California on the behalf of customers who were upset that Verizon asked they pay a flat ETF of $175 regardless of how many months were left on their contract. Each customer is expected to receive $87.50 as a result of the ruling. Too bad history is bound to repeat itself now that Verizon’s ETF for “advanced devices” (i.e. smartphones) is set at $350. More →
Thanks to a new law that comes into effect today, every single citizen of Finland now has a legal right to a wired broadband connection with a minimum speed of 1Mbps. According to communication minister Suvi Linden, the reason for the law is due to the fact that “internet services are no longer just for entertainment” and that it is a necessary to have to live in their “information society.” In Finland, all but 4% of households currently have broadband connections. This, says the government, equates to about 4,000 households, all of which should be compliant with the new law in short order. And just in case you’re curious, no, the Finnish government isn’t going to go totally ape if people who benefit from this law get into piracy. According to Linden, the most the Finnish government will do if someone is illegally downloading copyrighted material is send them letters. More →
Last year, the Mexican government passed a law mandating all pre-paid, anonymous mobile phone users submit their personal information to their wireless provider(s) and have their cellular line linked with their name and personal information. The law is aimed at curbing what Mexican officials are calling “mobile extortion.” Ransom demands from organized crime and drug cartel kidnappings are often made via anonymous, pre-paid cellular phones, and it is the preferred method of communication for “common criminals” in Mexico. The majority of Mexico’s estimated 84 million mobile phones are pre-paid, and with the weekend deadline for compliance looming, over 30 million pre-paid users have failed to submit their information in accordance with the new law. Mexican telcom companies were denied a request to extend the deadline for compliance by the country’s senate. The anonymous lines that are not in compliance by this weekend are supposed to be shut off by the wireless service provider the line is associate with. Critics of the law say that criminals will simply register the phones with fake or other people’s credentials, and that denying the Mexican people access to cellular phones is a violation of people’s constitutional rights under Mexican law. Telcom company America Movîl is predicting losses of around $10 million a day if the 30 million unregistered lines are indeed shut down. What do you think? For the greater good, or a violation of the rights and privacy of the Mexican people? More →