The world's most popular smartphones are underpowered, unusable hot messes

The "next billion" are the holy grail of tech and mobile companies -- the next billion users to come online, from the poor world, whose preferences and norms regarding technology have yet to be formed. Read the rest

Supreme Court: no government location tracking without a warrant

The Supreme Court has ruled in the closely watched Carpenter v. United States case, which questioned the constitutionality of warrantless location surveillance, a widespread practice among US law enforcement and surveillance agencies. Read the rest

Here are 15 privacy settings you should change from defaults, from Linkedin to cellphones to smart TVs

The Washington Post rounds up 15 privacy defaults that no one in their right mind would want to leave as-is, and provides direct links to change 'em (hilariously and predictably, Verizon/Oath/Yahoo's privacy settings dashboard times out when you try to load it) -- once you're done with that, go back and follow his links to unfuck the privacy defaults for Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and #DeleteFacebook. (via Reddit) Read the rest

Chinese city has a "zombie walkway" for slow-walking smartphone users

The city of Xi'an in Shaanxi province has designated one of the sidewalks on Yanta Road for "phubbers" -- slow-walking smartphone users who shuffle while they read and text. Read the rest

Redditor claims Chinese border guards installed malware on his phone

BigTyPB: "I saw the installation process, an icon appear on the home screen, the police ran the application and then the icon hid itself. Not sure if it rooted my phone or what. I know something was running on my phone because they used a handheld device to confirm our phones were communicating with their system before letting us go." Read the rest

Uganda's unenforceable social media tax is augmented by a biometric requirement for SIM card purchases

Uganda's social media tax may be an unenforceable mess, but that doesn't make it harmless (it opens the door to selective enforcement and invites programs of censorship and mass surveillance in the name of fighting "tax evasion") but that's only half of dictator Yoweri Museveni's plan to control the internet. Read the rest

Governments all over the world buy spy products that let them track and eavesdrop on global cellphones, especially US phones

Senator Ron Wyden [D-OR] has sent a letter to the DHS with his view that "nefarious actors may have exploited" the cellular phone system "to target the communications of American citizens." Read the rest

Telegram: ever since Russia's blocking demand, Apple has prevented us from updating our app

Last April, the Kremlin ordered a ban on the private messaging app Telegram, blocking millions of IP addresses that formed Amazon and Google's clouds in order to prevent users from accessing the service; not only was it an ominous moment in the evolution of the internet as a system for oppressive control, it was also an object lesson in how internet concentration has made the internet more susceptible to censorship and control. Read the rest

The military sysadmins in charge of Trump's cellphones can't get him to give up wildly insecure practices

The White House Communications Agency, staffed with military information security experts, is in charge of making sure that the President's cellular phone isn't getting hacked by adversaries who might otherwise be able to listen in on his calls, capture his messages, intercept his search history, and remotely operate his camera and microphone. Donald Trump routinely ignores their advice. Read the rest

App that let parents spy on teens stored thousands of kids' Apple ID passwords and usernames on an unsecured server

If you're the kind of parent who wants to spy on everything your kids do, you can force them to install an app like Teensafe, which only works if your kid doesn't use two-factor authentication; you have to give it your kid's device ID and password, so if that data leaks, it would allow anyone to break into your kid's cloud and plunder all their private data. Read the rest

Fortnite is coming to Android to kill your productivity

It's still a few months down the road but, if you're an Android user, like I am more and more, these days, there's reason for celebration: Fortnite is finally coming to the platform.

Fortnight has been at the top of the hot game dog pile in the iOS App Store for some time now. And no wonder: it's accessible, fun, looks great and, at least on more recent iPhone handsets, plays like a dream. According to TechCrunch, prior to bringing the game to iOS, Epic Games was making $126 million in revenue off the title. With this being the case, it makes sense that they'd throw all of the resources possible to make Fortnight playable on every single platform on the planet. That Android users would soon be able to crush any hope they have of being productive throughout their day wasn't the only thing that Epic had to say about the game, either.

From TechCrunch:

That news comes amid a flurry of other Fornite related announcements this week. Earlier this morning, Epic unveiled a Battle Royale competition with a large in-game cash prize. This morning, the company also laid out plans to bring voice chat and improved gameplay and controls to the mobile side of things. Stats are coming to mobile, as well, along with a reduced install size.

While I prefer playing shooters, survival games and other twitchy fare that requires a fine touch with a keyboard, mouse or gamepad (I know you can can use all of that with Android, but it feels gross to haul those around with a smartphone,) Having the option to play a huge title like this on the go, no matter whether I'm rocking an iPhone or my OnePlus handset at the time, is pretty great.

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Cops have a secret, unaccountable system for tracking you by your cellphone, and they abuse it like crazy

Securus Technologies markets a product to law enforcement that taps into realtime cell-tower data from mobile carriers to produce fine-grained location tracking of anyone carrying a phone; it is nominally marketed to find parolees and wandering Alzheimer's patients, but because it has no checks or balances, cops can query it willy-nilly to find anyone's location. Read the rest

"I Agree": Visualizing terms of service with long scrolls of colored paper

"I Agree" is a Dima Yarovinsky's art installation for Visualizing Knowledge 2018, with printouts of the terms of service for common apps on scrolls of colored paper, creating a bar chart of the fine print that neither you, nor anyone else in the history of the world, has ever read. Read the rest

It's 2018, and Google just proposed an instant messaging tool with no encryption

It's 2018, five years after Edward Snowden's documents revealed the scope of US and allied mass surveillance; after a string of revelations about creepy private-sector cyber-arms-dealers who sell spying tools to stalkers, criminals, and autocratic governments, Google has proposed "Chat," a new Android standard for instant messaging with no encryption and hence zero protection against snooping. Read the rest

Raleigh cops are investigating crime by getting Google to reveal the identity of every mobile user within acres of the scene

Public records requests have revealed that on at least four occasions, the Raleigh-Durham police obtained warrants forcing Google to reveal the identities of every mobile user within acres of a crime scene, sweeping up the personal information of thousands of people in a quest to locate a single perp. Read the rest

In 2009 a NJ judge banned hooking up voting machines to the internet, but that's exactly how ES&S's "airgapped" machines work

Connecting voting machines to the internet is a terrible idea: the machines are already notoriously insecure, and once they're online, anyone, anywhere in the world becomes a potential attacker. Read the rest

Once again, a stalkerware company's had its servers pwned and wiped by a hacker who thinks they're selling an immoral product

It's been less than a year since a public-spirited hacker broke into the servers of Florida stalkerware vendor Retina-X, wiping out all the photos and data the company's customers had stolen from other peoples' phones (including their kids' phones) by installing the spying apps Phonesheriff on them. Read the rest

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