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Legislation

Europe Outlaws Roaming Charges, Introduces Net Neutrality Laws

Big changes are coming to European wireless carriers. The first is a law from the European Parliament that will remove all roaming charges by December 15 of next year. Neelie Kroes, EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda said, “consumers are fed up with being ripped off.”

The law comes after last year’s data cap of 45 centers for MB, down from 2012′s 70 euro cents. These reforms come in a long line of net reforms, which sets out to defend net neutrality across the continent. From here, the laws will be sent to the May Parliament session for final approval. Read more

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California Appeals Court: Drivers Can Look at Their Phone’s Maps

citymapsThe 5th District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of a driver who was ticketed in January of 2012 for using his maps application while driving. The driver, Steven Spriggs, was stuck in construction traffic when a police officer on a motorbike ticketed him for referencing his map for an alternate route. Frustrated, Spriggs brought the case unsuccessfully to traffic court and an appellate court before acquiring legal help to fight the ticket.

The ticket would only cost Spriggs $165, but he was determined to revise the ambiguous law. In a statement to the Associated Press, he said, “We’re distracted all the time. If our distractions cause us to drive erratically, we should be arrested for driving erratically.” Read more

Report: NSA Collected Nearly 200M Texts a Day

textdrive304The National Security Agency (NSA) vacuumed up nearly 200 million text messages around the world, according to a new report in the Guardian. The program, Dishfire, used the text messages to dig further into personal details, such as travel plans, location, credit card information and the individual’s contact list.

The most damning bits of the report, though, say the government collected “pretty much everything it can,” including phone metadata from the “untargeted and unwarranted.” In other words, from an average person who isn’t suspected of doing anything wrong. Read more

Apple Agrees to Refund $32.5 Million in to Parents Whose Children Made Unauthorized Purchases

ftcApple has come to an agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to  hand over at least $32.5 million in refunds to parents, whose children made app purchases without their consent.

In a press release detailing the announcement, the FTC’s Chairwoman, Edith Ramirez said, “This settlement is a victory for consumers harmed by Apple’s unfair billing, and a signal to the business community: whether you’re doing business in the mobile arena or the mall down the street, fundamental consumer protections apply. You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorize.” Read more

Sexting Teenager Charged for Distributing Child Pornography in Canada

558px-Pic-sextingA Canadian teenager has been convicted of child pornography after sharing and distributing nude photos with malicious intent.

The teenager was 16 at the time when she shared nude photos of another girl, which she obtained through her boyfriend, the victim’s ex-boyfriend. In addition to sharing explicit photos, the girl was also charged with “uttering threats” – she threatened to kill the victim if she came to her town and also threatened to murder her unborn child.

The teen’s defense attorney states that they will appeal the conviction, based on the fact that adults can send explicit photos of one another without legal consequences, Further, he claims that child pornography laws were made to protect children not punish them. In this case, the law is doing both. 

Report: Japan’s SoftBank in Talks to Acquire T-Mobile

PrintJapan’s SoftBank Corp, owner of Sprint, is in talks to acquire U.S.-based wireless carrier T-Mobile, according to media reports. The deal is designed to have Sprint take the majority stake in T-Mobile, a Reuters’ source said.

T-Mobile is the No. 4 wireless carrier in the country, but the deal would let SoftBank “leapfrog” Verizon and AT&T into the No. 2 slot. The Reuters report cites unnamed sources — a common practice in merger and acquisition news. Read more

UK’s Cellular Carriers Agree to Cap Lost and Stolen Phones’ Bill

lost phoneThe worst thing that can happen to you after you’ve lost your precious smartphone is to have the thieves rack up your data plan. If you are lucky, you will be able to recover it. If not, you’re hoping the device is on its way overseas – far from where it can get access to your mobile connectivity.

One peculiar thing about UK contracts is the ability of carriers to change monthly rates in mid-contract. Luckily, this agreement between the UK’s government and cellular carriers prevents that from happening.  Read more

International Multi-Carrier Stolen Phone Database is Finally Complete

Cellular carriers have finally complete the unified database that prevents stolen phones from being used on 3G and 4G networks if their owners report them as stolen. However, it’s not the most foolproof method. Regions like Russia and China are not participating, despite being a major destination for stolen phones.
Read more

New York Troopers Find New Way to Halt Texters

DrivingTexting while driving in New York? Watch out. New York’s state troopers just got handed 32 “tall, unmarked SUVs” to help them look into vehicles zooming along the state’s highways for illegal texters, according to the AP.

Use of any hand-held mobile phone or device, including texting, gaming and browsing while driving is illegal in New York, where violators risk a $50 to $150 fine, plus points docked from their driving record. This goes for bus and taxi drivers, too. Read more

FCC Acting Chief Thinks Inflight Phone Calls Are a Bad Idea

US-FCC-Seal.svgSince the FCC announced it would consider lifting a ban on in-flight phone calls, the Acting Chief has been less than optimistic about the concept of mobile wireless services on flights. In an announcement about the measure, the FCC’s Acting Chief, Roger Sherman, said, “Many are concerned that consideration of this proposal will lead to unbearable situations for airline passengers stuck next to loud, one-sided phone conversations. I empathize with that sentiment completely.” Which, is essentially saying it’s a terrible idea.

Sherman also went on to say that the FCC would allow individual airlines to make up their own rules, which makes one wonder if there will be no-phone sections on planes, much like no smoking sections in restaurants in the old days. Read more

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