The 5th District Court of Appeal sided with a Fresno man who received a $165 ticket when he consulted a map application on his phone, looking for an alternate route around a traffic jam. Steven Spriggs had unsuccessfully fought the ticket in traffic court and later in Superior Court, arguing that the law only prohibited talking on the phone, not looking at a map.
Judges on the appellate court reversed the lower court, writing that the law was not intended to impose a blanket ban on any use of a cellphone. They noted that when the law was enacted in 2006, no one used their phones for much other than conversation. (The first iPhone debuted in 2007.)
Sheehy resigned after questions were raised about the cellphone calls with four women, none of whom were his wife, who filed for divorce last year. The calls, made over the last four years, were first reported by the Omaha World-Herald, which had made a public records request for Sheehy’s phone records.
Records released Saturday by the governor’s office show Sheehy made thousands of late-night phone calls to the women. He spoke with some of the women numerous times a day in conversations that lasted anywhere from a few minutes to more than an hour, according to the records.
One woman he frequently called, Dr. Theresa Hatcher of Bellevue, told The Associated Press that she and Sheehy had maintained a long-term relationship after they met at a convention of emergency responders in Texas in 2008. As lieutenant governor, Sheehy leads the state’s emergency management efforts, and Hatcher is an emergency room doctor.
“I thought I was the only one,” she said. “Apparently, I was grossly mistaken.”
Hatcher said she last talked to Sheehy about two weeks ago. She added: “Politicians can lie. Doctors don’t lie.”
It sounds absurd, but a daily annoyance to millions of Russians did save lives.
A man whose plot to cause carnage on Moscow’s iconic Red Square was thwarted by a spam phone message that prematurely detonated a bomb was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in jail.
Ilyas Saidov, a member of an underground Islamist group, brought explosives-laden belts disguised as heaters for two female suicide bombers on a bus from his native Dagestan, a southern province in the Caucasus region plagued by almost daily clashes between Islamists and federal forces.
But just hours before they were to detonate the bombs on New Year’s Eve, 2010, a belt attached to a cellphone exploded after the detonator was activated by a spam message, killing one of the women and prompting the arrest of the other. She was sentenced to 10 years in jail in May.
California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have required the state’s authorities to get a probable-cause warrant signed by a judge to obtain location information from electronic devices such as tablets, mobile phones and laptops.
The measure passed the state Senate in May and the Assembly approved the plan in August.
California lawmakers have approved legislation that would require the state’s authorities to get a probable-cause warrant signed by a judge to obtain location information from electronic devices such as tablets, mobile phones to laptops.
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), passed the Senate in May and the Assembly approved the plan late Wednesday.
The Assembly added in language that, if there is insufficient time to obtain a warrant due to a threat of serious danger or bodily harm — for example in the case of a missing child — no warrant is required.
Procedurally, the bill must again be approved by the Senate to work out those wording changes, which is expected to happen as early as this week or next.
Still, the bill, SB 1434, faces an uncertain future.
Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, vetoed last year a measure requiring police officers to obtain a warrant before searching someone’s cellphone after being arrested. Brown’s office hasn’t made any official announcement about where he stands on the bill.
An interstate drug trafficker hauling a motorhome filled with marijuana isn’t the most sympathetic defendant. But a federal court’s declaration that Melvin Skinner pretty much should’ve known his pre-paid cellphone could be tracked via GPS — and therefore cops didn’t require a warrant to track him — has repercussions that privacy advocates say deserve your attention.
Even if you don’t drive around in recreational vehicles loaded down more than a thousand pounds of pot.
On Tuesday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that law enforcement officials don’t need a warrant to track suspects via cellphones. Attorneys argued to overturn Skinner’s many convictions, citing that the GPS location information that led to the defendant’s arrest was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures. This didn’t wash with the majority of judges over the case, who voted in a 2-1 ruling.
“When criminals use modern technological devices to carry out criminal acts and to reduce the possibility of detection, they can hardly complain when the police take advantage of the inherent characteristics of those very devices to catch them,” wrote Judge John Rogers in the majority opinion that will affect future cases in a huge chunk of the country.
Skinner was arrested in 2006, with 1,100 pounds of marijuana in the motorhome he was driving, after law enforcement officials tracked him via one of the pre-paid phones the drug ring purchased using false identities. Such “burner” phones are regularly discarded by criminals to avoid tracking. In this case however, officials obtained Skinner’s number from another member of the ring, and then a court order that required the cellphone company to disclose “cell site information, GPS real-time location, and ‘ping’ data” for Skinner’s phone.
Many teens send and receive sexually explicit photos on their cellphones and have little to no awareness of the possible mental health, social or legal consequences of doing so, a new study warns.
Researchers asked 606 students, some as young as 14, at a private high school in the southwestern United States about their experiences with “sexting” and the potential risks associated with being caught sexting.
Nearly 20 percent of the students said they had sent a sexually explicit image of themselves via cellphone, and nearly twice as many said they had received a sexually explicit picture. More than 25 percent of those who received a sexually explicit picture forwarded it to others.
“Do you need up to $1,300 today?” I was recently asked. Except for perhaps Mark Zuckerberg, who doesn’t?
Unfortunately this question wasn’t asked by a friend; rather, it came to me in a spam text on my cellphone.
The offer was for a “payday loan,” a type of high-interest cash advance that many states have banned. And that wasn’t the only thing about the message that was questionable from a legal perspective.
Spam text messages, like spam emails, are illegal to send to consumers who haven’t actually asked for them. Under the federal Can-Spam Act, companies must follow certain guidelines when sending bulk commercial electronic messages, whether they’re emails or texts.
In January, CTIA, the wireless industry’s trade association, wrote to the Federal Communications Commission complaining about a recent onslaught of political spam texts, from both major parties. And following the links in some spam texts can ensnare you in scam subscriptions that show up on your phone bill, or even infect your phone with malicious software.
Spam text messages are easy for businesses and charlatans to generate. They’re not tapped out by individuals using mobile phones, but often come from computers, using programs that send out texts to every conceivable telephone number, automatically.
Easy instructions for the major carriers at the link.
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) voted unanimously today to recommend states completely ban the use of cellphones and other portable electronic devices in vehicles, reports the Associated Press. The recommendation suggests going far beyond the current restrictions on texting and talking on the phone while driving to include outlawing the use of hands-free devices.
The five-member board of the NTSB made their decision after a 19-year-old driving his pickup truck near Gray Summit, MO, crashed into a school bus, which in turn ran over a smaller vehicle and crashed into another bus. The pickup driver and a 15-year-old aboard one of the buses were killed in the accident. Records show that the pickup driver had sent or received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the crash.
‘Driving was not his only priority,’ said NTSB chairman Deborah Hershman. ‘No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.’
Despite bans on texting, studies show that the dangerous practice is only getting worse. According to a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, two of every 10 drivers, and half of drivers ages 21 to 24, admit to texting while behind the wheel. And one in every 100 American drivers are either texting, emailing, browsing the Web or using their handheld devices for some other activity, at any given time. Even more troubling: The people only think these activities are dangerous when they see someone else doing it.
Following the announcement of its recommendation, the NTSB has taken to Twitter to emphasize their safety warnings, publishing a flurry of updates: ‘Turn the portable electronic devices off before turning the car on,’ reads one. ‘Life is far more precious than a phone call or a playlist.’ And, ‘Distraction kills. More than a minivan load of people. Every day.’
What do you think of the NTSB’s decision? Do you think a ban on using all electronic devices in the car is a good idea? Could such a law be enforced? Would anybody follow such a law? Would you?
Do they realize how many jobs (like, for example, MINE) would be lost by this?
Obama Deficit-Reduction Plan Would Allow Federal Debt Collectors To Contact People On Their Cellphones
WASHINGTON — President Obama isn’t leaving a single couch cushion unturned in his effort to lower the deficit. A new proposal by the White House would allow collectors pursuing a government-backed debt — which includes most mortgages, unpaid taxes and federal loans — to contact people via their cellphones, in an effort to secure every last nickel and dime from taxpayers.
On page 28 of the president’s deficit-reduction plan released Monday, federal agencies would be allowed to call people’s cellphones to collect debts — an attempt to reach the increasing number of Americans who are ditching landlines for mobile phones:
Kenneth Baer, spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said there would be no intrusion into people’s cellphones.
“This proposal merely reflects the fact that more and more people rely solely on a mobile phone for their voice communications, and allows debt collectors to call them on these numbers,” he said.
Debt collection, however, is a touchy subject, and one that typically leads to a high number of complaints on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.
Tena Friery is research director at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the privacy of American consumers. She said that if the new regulations are not written correctly, there could be the “potential for a lot of abuse,” such as calls accidentally going to people’s employers or relatives.
“One of the common problems we hear regarding debt collectors is that the debt collector is calling the wrong number,” she said. “Cellphone numbers tend to change more than landline numbers, as people move from place to place or plan to plan. This can be quite annoying for people to receive repeated calls from a debt collector about a debt that’s not even theirs, about someone they don’t even know.”