T-Mobile agrees to pay $90 million to settle with FTC over unwanted charges

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 19, 2014

Following a complaint that the United States Federal Trade Commission filed over T-Mobile this summer over fraudulent services, the Deutsche Telekom-owned wireless carrier today announced it has agreed to pay $90 million to settle cramming accusation. Carrier cramming, a form of fraud popular among major US carriers, results in small charges being added to a bill by a third party without the subscriber’s consent or disclosure.

Such unlawful charges typically cover unwanted text message alerts and other services like unauthorized SMS subscriptions for horoscopes, sports scores, ring tones and similar services that cost ten bucks per month or more. Read More

 

Department of Justice compelling smartphone makers to bypass encryption

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 2, 2014

The United States Department of Justice is reportedly pursuing an unusual legal strategy to compel cellphone makers to assist investigations by removing device encryption on iPhones and other mobile devices, according to findings by technology website Ars Technica.

Tapping the All Writs Act, feds want Apple’s help to defeat encrypted phones, as revealed by newly discovered court documents from two federal criminal cases in New York and California. Read More

 

Alibaba CEO on why a deal with Apple would help Apple Pay take off in China

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 17, 2014

Following its report last week alleging that Apple and Alibaba are currently ironing out specifics of an upcoming Apple Pay partnership in China, The Wall Street Journal on Monday published an interview with Alibaba CEO Jack Ma who explained why such a deal would be hugely beneficial to the iPhone maker.

Long story short, the Apple-Alibaba deal would help avoid any regulatory scrutiny that Apple would be subjected to as a new financial player in China. Read More

 

DOJ reportedly using fake aircraft-mounted cell towers to spy on mobile phones

By Cody Lee on Nov 14, 2014

The US Department of Justice is installing equipment on airplanes that masquerades as a cell phone tower in order to gather mobile phone data, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The program’s goal is to identify criminals, but each plane is capable of collecting data from thousands of phones in a single flight.

The Journal says these spy devices are called “dirtboxes,” and have a surface area of two feet by two feet. They’re being installed on fixed-wing aircraft by the US Marshals Service’s Technical Operations group, and purport to be strong-signaled cell towers. This tricks cellphones into giving them their IMSI info, making them totally trackable. Read More

 

US government warns iOS users about new ‘Masque Attack’ threat

By Cody Lee on Nov 13, 2014

The United States government issued a warning for iPhone and iPad users today regarding the recently-discovered ‘Masque Attack’ vulnerability, reports Reuters. The security flaw, which began circulating the web earlier this week, allows malicious third-party apps to be installed to a device using enterprise provision profiles.

Today’s bulletin was issued by the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, and it warns users of how Masque Attack can spread and what it’s capable of doing. The malware installs itself through a phishing link disguised as a new app or game, and then it can masquerade as a well-known app like Gmail. Read More

 

The EFF files petition with Copyright Office to keep jailbreaking legal

By Cody Lee on Nov 8, 2014

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (or EFF) is once again fighting to keep the practice of jailbreaking legal. The non-profit digital rights group announced this week that it has filed a petition with the Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office to extend and expand the exemption that allows you to jailbreak your phone, without violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Because the software on mobile phones and tablets is copyrighted, the act of jailbreaking (and rooting on Android devices) is technically forbidden by the DMCA. But Congress created a procedure to allow for exemptions on activities where users make fair use of copyrighted works, reviewed every three years. The last exemption for jailbreaking was awarded in 2012, so it’s set to expire soon. Read More

 

Apple may bring iPhone to Iran, beginning talks with distributors

By Jake Smith on Oct 29, 2014

Apple is in preliminary talks to offer its iPhone in Iran, perhaps one day marking the company’s first entry in the country, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Cupertino-based company is said to be in contact with Iranian distributors in case “Western sanctions ease sufficiently” and it makes sense to enter the country for business.  Read More

 

Apple launches new site regarding its ConnectED education program efforts

By Cody Lee on Oct 27, 2014

Apple today added a new section to its website detailing its efforts regarding President Barack Obama’s ConnectED education program. As part of its participation in the program, the company will be providing hardware, services and infrastructure to 114 schools across the United States.

According to the site, Apple will give each student at the selected schools an iPad, and every teacher and administrator will receive both an iPad and Mac. They’ll also be providing an Apple TV for each classroom, which can be used for displaying lesson content on larger displays via AirPlay. Read More

 

AT&T forced to pay $105 million over bogus billing

By Cody Lee on Oct 8, 2014

The US government has just handed AT&T a significant fine for allowing third party companies to stealthily tack on their charges to customer phone bills for things like spam SMS text messages. The announcement was made on Wednesday in a joint press conference by the FCC and FTC, who say this is the largest “cramming” settlement in history.

In total, AT&T will pay out $105 million to settle the case—$80 million is earmarked for the FTC, which it will use to set up a reimbursement program, $5 million will go to the FCC, and $20 million will go to individual states. Additionally, the carrier has been ordered to begin proactively informing subscribers if extra fees are going on their accounts. Read More

 

Minneapolis school district deploys iPads for 40,000 students, as LA schools suspend rollout

By Jake Smith on Aug 26, 2014

The St. Paul School District in Minneapolis has announced plans to rollout iPads to 40,000 students in its district, all payed for by taxpayer dollars. The school district has chosen a suite of apps that will be used by students, teachers, and administrators for enhanced learning in the classroom, including an app called Nearpod that can project images and videos, and gather instant responses from students to enhance engagement.  Read More

 

California smartphone ‘kill switch’ bill passes state legislature

By Cody Lee on Aug 11, 2014

Earlier this year, California Senator Mark Leno introduced a new bill that would require cellphone makers to install ‘kill switches’ in all of their handsets, rendering them inoperable when stolen. The move comes as smartphone thefts continue to rise in major US cities.

Unsurprisingly, Leno’s bill won Senate approval by a vote of 27-8 today, meaning that it’s just one step away from becoming law in the state of California. All it needs now is Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, and device manufacturers will have essentially a year to comply… Read More

 

iPads and MacBooks can’t be bought with China’s public money over espionage concerns

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 6, 2014

First Russian, and now China. Just as news hit us a week ago that the Russian government is demanding access to the source code for Apple software to ensure it isn’t enabling U.S. intelligence agencies to spy on the 145 million country, Bloomberg Wednesday reported that the Chinese government has taken Apple’s iPad tablets and MacBook notebooks off the procurement list.

As a result, no government agency in China is allowed to buy Apple products with public money.

While government purchases are not a major sales driver for Apple, it’s worth remembering that China is home to 1.33 billion people and filing as Apple’s third-biggest market by revenue… Read More

 

Apple outlines diagnostic capabilities in response to iOS ‘backdoor’ concerns

By Cody Lee on Jul 23, 2014

Forensic expert, and former jailbreak hacker, Jonathan Zdziarski caused quite a stir earlier this week when he published a report accusing Apple of building backdoors into iOS that could be used for government surveillance.

Apple of course came out and denied the claim, saying that these so-called ‘backdoor services’ are actually used for troubleshooting. But this wasn’t a good enough explanation for a lot of users, so tonight it delved a little deeper… Read More

 

Former jailbreak hacker accuses Apple of building surveillance backdoors into iOS

By Cody Lee on Jul 21, 2014

Former iPhone jailbreak hacker Jonathan Zdziarski recently gave a presentation at the HOPE/X conference regarding iOS device security. He said that the platform is reasonably secure from attacks by malicious hackers, but noted there are several backdoors built-in for surveillance.

In the presentation, called ‘Identifying Backdoors, Attack Points, and Surveillance Mechanisms in iOS Devices,’ Zdziarski detailed a number of undocumented high-value forensic services running on iOS devices, and suspicious design omissions in the OS, that appear to be for snooping…  Read More

 

Senate passes cellphone unlocking bill

By Cody Lee on Jul 16, 2014

The Senate has passed a bill legalizing cellphone unlocking this week. The unanimous decision to pass the legislation, which was penned by Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, came last night, and it will now move to the House and onto President Obama.

The bill reinstates a 2010 ruling by the Librarian of Congress so that consumers can ‘unlock’ their cell phones without worrying about copyright laws. It also directs Congress to consider whether other wireless devices, such as tablets, should be eligible for unlocking… Read More

 

Italian regulators investigating Apple over ‘freemium’ app pricing model

By Cody Lee on May 18, 2014

Apple is one of a handful of tech companies being investigated by Italian regulators over the popular ‘freemium’ app pricing model. On Friday, Italy’s Antitrust and Competition Authority said it’s investigating Apple, Google, Amazon and Gameloft over apps that offer in-app purchases.

The agency wants to determine whether or not the companies offer sufficient information in their respective apps and app stores regarding pay-for in-app content. It feels consumers may be confused by the idea of downloading a game for free, and then receiving charges after the fact… Read More

 

US House passes bill that makes unlocking your phone legal

By Cody Lee on Feb 26, 2014

Reuters is reporting that the US House has passed a bill that would allow mobile phone users to unlock their devices and use them on competitors’ wireless networks without repercussions, making the once ‘gray-area’ practice completely legal.

Before you get too excited, however, there are a few big asterisks. First, for the bill to be written into law it must also be approved by the Senate, which could take years or never happen. And two, the bill contains an exclusion for ‘bulk unlocking.’ Read More

 

US Air Force replaces 5,000 BlackBerrys with iOS devices

By Cody Lee on Feb 22, 2014

The Air Force Times is reporting this week that the US military branch is replacing 5,000 of its BlackBerry devices with smartphones from Apple. The move is part of a broader strategy to exchange the legacy devices for modern handsets.

Eventually, the outlet says that all Air Force mobile users will be required to trade in their old BlackBerrys for Apple’s iPhone, or other approved devices. This will be in addition to the 18,000 iPads the branch purchased in early 2013… Read More

 

Proposed CA bill would require antitheft tech in smartphones

By Cody Lee on Feb 8, 2014

The New York Times is reporting that California State Senator Mark Leno plans to introduce a bill that would require all cell phones sold in the state to include antitheft technology. He hopes to curb smartphone thefts—a major problem in larger cities.

The bill is being co-sponsored by San Francisco DA George Gascón, which isn’t surprising considering he’s long been pushing for Apple and other manufacturers to build ‘kill switches’ in their devices. And if it passes, it could go into effect as early as next year… Read More

 

Senate asks Apple and other tech companies for distracted driving solutions

By Cody Lee on Feb 7, 2014

The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation host a daylong summit yesterday to discuss the growing problem of distracted driving. Drivers texting and doing other phone-related activities are now causing more than 1 million accidents per year.

A number of representatives from major tech companies attended the summit, including executives from Google, Samsung, AT&T, Sprint and Apple. The Senate is asking that they all work together to come up with more robust technical solutions to distracted driving… Read More

 
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