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Total surveillance society: mobile phones increasingly used


Total surveillance society: mobile phones increasingly used by local police for tracking

April 7, 2012 – HIGH TECH – With the phrase “Big Brother is watching,” George Orwell captured the central role constant surveillance plays in dystopian visions. It’s no surprise that Americans are made uneasy by ubiquitous video cameras tracking our movements in much the same way as 1984′s screens, or the prospect of countless, effectively invisible drones monitoring our streets from the sky. What bothers far fewer people is the practice of carrying, at all times in their pocket, a cell phone that permits their every move to be monitored. You’d think, given the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections, that law enforcement would need a warrant to access such information. But you’d be wrong. As the New York Times reports, “Law enforcement tracking of cell phones, once the province mainly of federal agents, has become a powerful and widely used surveillance tool for local police officials, with hundreds of departments, large and small, often using it aggressively with little or no court oversight.” Credit for the discovery goes to the ACLU, which used freedom of information laws to survey police departments nationwide about their behavior. Some jurisdictions require officers to obtain warrants before asking always compliant wireless carriers for data on their customers. But in many jurisdictions, there is no such deference to individual rights. Depending on your phone, officers can get GPS data that shows everywhere you’ve been, and they needn’t even tell you they’re doing so. It’s a practice that renders privacy rights almost meaningless. Perversely, cell phone carriers are even profiting from sharing information about their customers. Says the Times, “Cell carriers, staffed with special law enforcement liaison teams, charge police departments from a few hundred dollars for locating a phone to more than $2,200 for a full-scale wiretap of a suspect.” Adds the ACLU, “then there are police departments in places like Gilbert, Arizona, which have purchased their own cell tracking technology.” –The Atlantic

George Orwell's "1984" film trailer

Digital shadow: How companies track you online


Who's following your every move on the web, asks Alexis Madrigal, and what do they want from you?
THIS MORNING, IF you opened your browser and went to, an amazing thing happened in the milliseconds between your click and when the news about North Korea or James Murdoch appeared on your screen. Data from this single visit was sent to 10 different companies, including Microsoft and Google subsidiaries, a gaggle of traffic-logging sites, and other, smaller ad firms. Nearly instantaneously, these companies can log your visit, place ads tailored for your eyes specifically, and add to the ever-growing online file about you.

rest, big article:

By Doug Gross, CNN
April 17, 2012 -- Updated 1743 GMT (0143 HKT) | Filed under: Mobile

"Experts: Most people will make purchases via phones by 2020"

(CNN) -- Most Internet users and tech experts think cash and credit cards will become things of the past in the next decade as people turn to their mobile phones to make payments, results from a newly released survey suggest.

Nearly two out of three respondents to the survey (65%) told the Pew Internet & American Life Project that they think most people will have fully adopted the "mobile wallet" as their day-to-day means of paying by 2020.

Whether it's paying for coffee with a mobile app, using more versatile apps such as Google Wallet or doing business using tools such as Square that turn phones into mobile cash registers, the adoption of mobile payments is clearly under way.

In a December report from comScore, 38% of smartphone owners had used their phones to make a purchase of some kind.


Texting driver killed a 79-year-old man. Her sentence: 4 days in jail.

On Oct. 28, Joseph Tikalsky took a short break between routes in New Prague, Minn.

Though he was 79 years old and could have long since retired, he still drove a school bus because he enjoyed the youthful vigor of the children.

“He loved those kids,” Craig Most, the district’s director of operations told the Star Tribune. “He told me every year he enjoyed it, and he’d keep doing it as long as he enjoyed it.”

It had been his calling for 50 years, complete with his signature Friday announcement — “It’s Friday! Whoopee!”

That dark and rainy Wednesday morning was just another in a blur of shifts.

At around 7:35 a.m., he put coffee on. As its aroma filled the house with a promise of warmth in the midst of a Minnesota autumn, Tikalsky walked out to grab a copy of the morning’s newspaper.

He crossed the country road to his mailbox. Though it was dark, he had already donned his reflective vest, a highlighter-yellow jacket with reflective white stripes, according to the Star Tribune. Any drivers in the vicinity would easily notice its bright colors and be sure to avoid him.

Not Susan Russo.

The 48-year-old schoolteacher might have seen Tikalsky, if she had been paying attention.

Instead, she decided to answer a text message from her daughter while driving her van down County Road 29.

Russo struck Tikalsky in the road, his coffee still brewing inside. All she saw, according to the Le Center Leader, was a “yellow color blur.” She called 911, but it was too late.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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