Archive for the ‘Cell Phones’ category

President Obama’s Strange Position

March 15, 2016

Over the weekend, President Obama spoke several times about the current stand-off between the Justice Department and Apple over help in “breaking in” to a locked iPhone. The President came down, surprisingly, on the side of the FBI and urged Apple to reconsider its position.

President Obama likened the help the FBI is seeking as no different than when the police get a search warrant and enter someone’s home. Once inside the home, the police can open, read, and confiscate anything. The President stressed the search was a Court authorized event (therefore not unreasonable search and seizure).

The “surprising” part of President Obama’s position is that usually the President is suspicious of his cabinet bureaucracies.  In this case, however, the President sees strengthening the FBI (and by extension all other police departments) as a necessary step.

Apple maintains that security is important to all its customers and were Apple to help create a “backdoor”, then all its customers would be at risk from entry by criminals and hackers. While this may be true, Apple is clearly concerned about its iPhone security reputation is other countries. Foreign customer might be thinking, is the American Government listening?

I think the President has gotten this one wrong… or is practicing deception. Most computer experts believe that the NSA could open the phone in a heart beat since it staffs as many or more hackers and geeks as does Apple. According to Washington gossip, the NSA has told the FBI no thanks when asked for help. As President, NSA’s demur could vanish in an instant.  On this basis, one could reasonably conclude that the President is trying to deceive other governments over the possibility that the NSA already knows how to enter a locked iPhone.

Privacy rights were written into the Constitution for a reason. Governments, law enforcement, and other investigatory agencies do not always follow due process, nor do they always have a just reason in attempting to gain entry. The 4th Amendment was adopted specifically to moderate an over zealous search.

The best face I can put on the President’s position is that the President is trying to convince the world that iPhones are secure and that no one (read the NSA) can get through the phone’s encryption. The President may think that Apple will prevail and the President can tell the FBI, well I tried.

For a President who has seen the limits of his own government’s agencies, I can not bring myself to think he really believes his argument as applied to the San Bernardino terrorist.

Excuse Me, I Need To Check My Phone

January 13, 2015

The question of the day might be, which word seems the most out of place in the following sentence, “Excuse me, I need to check my phone”? Want to guess? One clue, it is not “I need to check my phone”. Hmmm.

Texting, email, and a full range social media stand just beyond the smart phone WiFi connection. Communication with the world or just down the street, or in some case, just across the table are instantly available. The future is with us now.

There are perils, however, when good judgement is not exercised. Texting and driving is dangerous and a “no-no” in most States. “Sexting”, while adventuresome, too often leads to social or civil penalties for the sex-ter. Auto accidents and people walking into walls are also well known for the person who has become immersed in cell phone use while also trying to live their normal lives.

It is now very common to see a young couple dining at a fancy restaurant and both being deeply immersed in their cell phone world. So much for ambiance.

Have you noticed the person who picks up their phone, reads something, and then furiously thumbs back a reply? What could be so urgent that an instant reply is needed? And, has anyone thought about the consequences of replies without consideration?

Of course there is discourse where immediate access and response is valuable. Think about an accident, or notification that school has let out early, or the need to update the grocery list while one is in the store are obvious examples. But, how many times a day is that necessary?

Recently there have been a number of media reports about Americans being hooked on their smart phone. They have cited examples of people checking their cell phone over 100 times a day. Hmmm.

These reports also claim there is an app which catalogues a user’s daily phone access.  Experts suggest this is a way to control overuse. Hmmm.

I would suggest something even simpler. Before one slides the magic bar and checks for new emails or texts, one looks around and says to whomever is present, “Excuse me, I need to check my phone”. Psychologists tell us that by calling attention to our obsessions, we can help manage their control of our well being. Hmmm.