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Links 1 through 10 of 209 by David Mery tagged mobile

Is there a better way of showing a text message in a film? How about the internet? Even though we’re well into the digital age, film is still ineffective at depicting the world we live in. Maybe the solution lies not in content, but in form. For educational purposes only. You can follow me at

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Recycling bins in the City of London are monitoring the phones of passers-by, so advertisers can target messages at people whom the bins recognize. + Renew, the startup behind the scheme, installed 100 recycling bins with digital screens around London before the 2012 Olympics. Advertisers can buy space on the internet-connected bins, and the city gets 5% of the airtime to display public information. More recently, though, Renew outfitted a dozen of the bins with gadgets that track smartphones. 1 The idea is to bring internet tracking cookies to the real world. The bins record a unique identification number, known as a MAC address, for any nearby phones and other devices that have Wi-Fi turned on. That allows Renew to identify if the person walking by is the same one from yesterday, even her specific route down the street and how fast she is walking.

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We study fifteen months of human mobility data for one and a half million individuals and find that human mobility traces are highly unique. In fact, in a dataset where the location of an individual is specified hourly, and with a spatial resolution equal to that given by the carrier’s antennas, four spatio-temporal points are enough to uniquely identify 95% of the individuals. We coarsen the data spatially and temporally to find a formula for the uniqueness of human mobility traces given their resolution and the available outside information. This formula shows that the uniqueness of mobility traces decays approximately as the 1/10 power of their resolution. Hence, even coarse datasets provide little anonymity. These findings represent fundamental constraints to an individual’s privacy and have important implications for the design of frameworks and institutions dedicated to protect the privacy of individuals.

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ARTICLE 29 Data Protection Working Party
881/11/EN WP 185

The objective of this opinion is to clarify the legal framework applicable to geolocation services that are available on and/or generated by smart mobile devices that can connect with the Internet and are equipped with location sensitive sensors such as GPS. Examples of such services are: maps and navigation, geo-personalised services (including nearby points of interests), augmented reality, geotagging of content on the Internet, tracking the whereabouts of friends, child control and location based advertising.

This opinion also deals with the main three types of infrastructure used to provide geolocation services, namely GPS, GSM base stations and WiFi. Special attention is paid to the new infrastructure based on the location of WiFi access points.

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Many foreign police and intelligence services use clandestine “Silent” SMS to locate suspects or missing persons. This method involves sending an SMS text message to the mobile phone of a suspect, an SMS that goes unnoticed and sends back a signal to the sender of the message. Colette Giudicelli would like to know whether this procedure has been used in France.

Seven months later, and there has still been no response from the French government. The subject might well have faded from memory, had it not been for the 28th Chaos Communication Congress, held in Berlin at the end of December. At the international hackers conference, the researcher and mobile security expert Karsten Nohl announced: “In Germany in 2010, police sent thousands of Silent SMS in order to locate suspects.”

Also known as Flash-SMS, the Silent SMS uses an invisible return signal, or “ping”. Developers from the Silent Services company, who created some of the first software for sending this type of SMS, explain:

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While there’s little current data about the number of people injured while texting, more than 1,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms in 2008 after they were injured while using a cellphone to talk or text. That had doubled each year since 2006, according to a study conducted by Ohio State University.

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One difference between computer and smartphone forensics is that it is impossible to copy data from smartphones that are turned off, whereas disc drives just sit there. Examiners therefore isolate the phones in a Faraday Box (a.k.a. Faraday cage or shield), which blocks network access and inhibits signals.

But the biggest challenge is time, Reiber says. "You have to have lots of patience with a mobile device," he says. "Examiners can just extract phonebook contacts, calendars, text messages, multi-media mobile messages, and pictures. But if they choose to dig in, they can find far more information, like geo tags, passwords, where the owner surfed, Google searches, and what type of information they were looking for...But law enforcement is typically only getting the low-hanging fruit, asking 'What can I get right now based upon the time I'm given to do it?' [That's] push-button forensics."

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Using the latest commercial software, Nasrallah’s spy-hunters unit began methodically searching for traitors in Hezbollah’s midst. To find them, U.S. officials said, Hezbollah examined cellphone data looking for anomalies. The analysis identified cellphones that, for instance, were used rarely or always from specific locations and only for a short period of time. Then it came down to old-fashioned, shoe-leather detective work: Who in that area had information that might be worth selling to the enemy?

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“I don’t think there there is anything on this list the government would concede requires a warrant,” said Kevin Bankston, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “This brings cellular retention practices out of the shadows, so we can have a rational discussion about how the law needs to be changed when it comes to the privacy of our records.”

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