Rumor: Department of Justice combining fixed-engine planes, fake cell towers to spy on cell phone users

Posted by:
Date: Friday, November 14th, 2014, 11:22
Category: iPhone, Legal, Rumor, Uncategorized

dirtbox

Well, you’re going to have to snoop on cell phones SOMEHOW, and the Department of Justice thinks a small, fixed-wing Cessna is the way to do it.

Per AppleInsider and the Wall Street Journal, a supposed secret spy program equips small aircraft with a device dubbed a “dirtbox,” which pulls data from mobile phones by masquerading as a cell tower. The project aims to identify criminals through their devices, but the wide net also snares cellphones used by the general public.

Purportedly operated by the U.S. Marshals Service’s Technical Operations Group, the dirtboxes are manufactured by Digital Receiver Technology, a subsidiary of Boeing, and installed on fixed-wing craft like those built by Cessna. The two-foot-square devices identify themselves as legitimate cell towers with the strong signals, tricking mobile phones into reporting IMSI information.

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Apple Pay now accounts for almost 1% of Whole Foods transactions

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Date: Friday, November 14th, 2014, 10:28
Category: iPhone, News, retail

wholefoods

The good news is that Apple Pay is starting to get some traction.

The bad news is that your organic produce still costs more than the human mind can actually perceive.

Per the cool cats at The Unofficial Apple Weblog, since going live in late October, Whole Foods has already processed over 150,000 Apple Pay transactions, this according to CIO Jason Buechel.

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Rumor: Apple beginning to court enterprise markets via dedicated sales team

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Date: Thursday, November 13th, 2014, 10:12
Category: Finance, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

applelogo1

Remember how Apple seemed like a second class citizen in the business and enterprise world?

That might be about to change.

According to Reuters, Apple is embarking on its most aggressive expansion yet onto corporate turf, hiring a dedicated sales force to talk with potential clients like Citigroup and working in concert with a dozen or so developers, two sources familiar with its plans say.

Experts say the company hopes to offset a gradual deceleration in growth – highlighted by iPad sales that have declined three straight quarters – by expanding its footprint in the workplace.

Three months after unveiling a partnership with IBM to develop apps for corporate clients and sell them on devices, the iPhone maker’s plans to challenge sector leaders Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Oracle and SAP are starting to take shape.

Details remain scant, but some industry experts say that the tie-up with Big Blue gives Apple an opportunity to begin to challenge Hewlett Packard’s and Dell’s dominance of office IT, and Oracle and SAP’s command of work applications. Depending on its progress, it may hamper Microsoft, Samsung’s or Google’s own efforts in the nascent market for mobile work applications.

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Wal-Mart posts Black Friday deals, offers gift cards ahead of shopping holiday

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Date: Wednesday, November 12th, 2014, 10:04
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, retail

walmarticon

You may not love their corporate policies, wages or the fact that you can’t use Apple Pay at their stores yet, but they’ve begun offering some decent deals.

Per MacRumors, retailer Wal-Mart today posted its Black Friday ad, revealing a number of deals on various Apple and Beats products for the upcoming holiday shopping season. The announcement follows the reveal of Black Friday ads from Best Buy and Target, which contained a number of deals on iPads, iPhones, and more.

Starting at 6 PM on November 27, Wal-Mart is offering the original 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad mini for US$199 which also comes with a US$30 gift card. Starting at 8 PM on November 27, the retailer will offer the 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad Air for US$397 which also comes with a US$100 gift card. Customers can also purchase the 16GB iPhone 6 at US$179 and receive a US$75 gift card, while the 16GB iPod touch is being offered for US$195 with a US$30 gift card. Additionally, a three-pack of iTunes gift cards will be on sale for US$25, US$5 off from the normal US$30 price.

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CurrentC exclusivity contract at MCX merchants to expire in matter of months

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Date: Wednesday, November 5th, 2014, 11:34
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, retail

currentc

The conflict between MCX’s CurrentC and Apple Pay may be short lived, as an exclusivity agreement that has caused some merchants involved in the MCX consortium — notably drug store chain CVS — to abruptly pull support for NFC-based payment systems, including Apple Pay and Google Wallet, is set to expire in “months,” according to a new report.

Per Re/code, the consortium, which is made up of a number of major retailers including CVS, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart, instituted the exclusivity contract to provide “breathing room” for the development of the CurrentC ecosystem, said MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson. That contract is set to expire in “months, not years,” Dekkers added.

Confirmation of the exclusivity agreement comes one week after the arrangement was first uncovered, following reports that CVS had disabled NFC terminals in its stores to prevent customers’ use of Apple Pay.
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Starwood Hotels launches SPG Keyless entry system for iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014, 10:58
Category: iPhone, News, Software

As of now, you can officially open your hotel room in a Starwood Hotel with your iPhone.

And, come the spring, you’ll be able to do it with your Apple Watch.

Per 9to5Mac, Starwood Hotels has officially launched its SPG Keyless service, allowing guests to use their iOS device to open their doors. The boutique hotel group first announced the project back in January.

The process goes as follows:
1. After booking a reservation at a keyless hotel, SPG members are invited to opt-in to SPG Keyless and register their phone through the SPG App.

2. Approximately 24 hours before arrival, the guest receives his/her room number and Bluetooth key via the app.

3. Upon arrival at the hotel, the guest can completely bypass the front desk (where available) and go directly to his/her room.

4. Then, after ensuring his/her Bluetooth is enabled, the guest simply opens the SPG App, taps the smartphone on the door lock, waits for the green light and enters the room.

The service went live on Tuesday at three Starwood brands: Aloft, Element and The W.

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Circuit court ruling states that police can require fingerprint, not pass code, for cell phone entry

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Date: Friday, October 31st, 2014, 13:24
Category: iPhone, Legal, News

This could open up a whole new can of worms.

According to HamptonRoads.com, a Virginia Beach, Virginia, Circuit Court judge has ruled that a criminal defendant can be compelled to give up his fingerprint, but not his pass code, to allow police to open and search his cell phone.

The question of whether a phone’s pass code is constitutionally protected surfaced in the case of David Baust, an Emergency Medical Services captain charged in February with trying to strangle his girlfriend.

Prosecutors had said video equipment in Baust’s bedroom may have recorded the couple’s fight and, if so, the video could be on his cell phone. They wanted a judge to force Baust to unlock his phone, but Baust’s attorney, James Broccoletti, argued pass codes are protected by the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits forced self-incrimination.

Judge Steven C. Frucci ruled this week that giving police a fingerprint is akin to providing a DNA or handwriting sample or an actual key, which the law permits. A pass code, though, requires the defendant to divulge knowledge, which the law protects against, according to Frucci’s written opinion.

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AT&T admits to testing “unique tracker” on smartphones, offers opt-out option

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Date: Thursday, October 30th, 2014, 11:55
Category: iPhone, News, security, wireless

attlogosmall

This isn’t the best news.

According to Forbes, wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T have ceded that they’re tagging their customers with unique codes that are visible to third parties, making smartphone users far easier to track on the Web than they’ve ever been before, targeted advertising being that much easier to create as a result of this. After the findings by researchers, AT&T admitted it’s “testing” a new way of tracking its customers for ad display purposes.

“There’s nothing ready to announce,” said AT&T spokesperson Mark Siegel. “We’re still testing.”

But that means, yes, AT&T customers are being tagged by AT&T in a way that’s visible to the websites they visit, but AT&T says it’s building in what it considers to be a privacy-protective measure: the unique code for each user will change every 24 hours. Siegel says this is happening now, but Kenneth White, one of the researchers who discovered the tracking, says that is “categorically untrue,” saying he found three identifying codes being sent by AT&T that were persistent.

“AT&T does not currently have a mobile Relevant Advertising program. We are considering such a program, and any program we would offer would maintain our fundamental commitment to customer privacy,” read a statement from AT&T. “For instance, we are testing a numeric code that changes every 24 hours on mobile devices to use in programs where we serve ads to the mobile device. This daily rotation on the numeric code would help protect the privacy of our customers. Customers also could opt out of any future AT&T program that might use this numeric code.”

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MCX responds to Apple Pay blocking controversy with questionable responses to issues at hand

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Date: Wednesday, October 29th, 2014, 11:46
Category: Finance, iOS, iPhone, News, security, Software

applepayicon

The most recent shot in the NFC payment wars has been fired.

And it kind of made MCX look like a bunch of jerks.

Per 9to5Mac, MCX, the retailer consortium behind the CurrentC mobile payment system, has responded to the controversy over its members being required to block Apple Pay or face fines with some unconvincing ‘assurances.’

The first sign of trouble between MCX and Apple Pay was when CVS disabled NFC functionality from its payment terminals. When Rite Aid joined in, consumers responded by threatening to boycott MCX members.

In a blog post which MCX says is designed to “set the record straight,” as it were, MCX responded to some of the recent concerns levied against it.

Responding to the fines issue, the company offered the following comment:

Importantly, if a merchant decides to stop working with MCX, there are no fines.

Nobody has suggested there are. What has been suggested–and which MCX has not denied–is that members are fined if they accept other forms of mobile payment, like Apple Pay, alongside CurrentC.

The consortium gets off to a marginally better start on privacy, with a statement that consumers “can choose to limit the information they share through our privacy dashboard, which means they will have the ability turn off location based services and opt out of marketing communications in our app.” However, that does nothing to limit the storage of other sensitive information, nor to address claims that merchants will share purchasing data amongst themselves.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook cites over one million Apple Pay subscriptions in first 72 hours

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Date: Tuesday, October 28th, 2014, 15:48
Category: Finance, iOS, iPhone, News

applepayicon

Apple may have gotten a pretty quick leg up in the NFC market.

Per AppleInsider and the Wall Street Journal, Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a recent interview today, stated that Apple Pay received more than one million registrations within the first 72 hours.

“The early ramp [of Apple Pay] looks fantastic,” Cook said in an interview with WSJ managing editor Gerry Baker.

Cook referred to recent revelations that Merchant Consumer Exchange retailers like Rite Aid and CVS are now blocking Apple Pay, characterizing the situation as a “skirmish” that will ultimately be decided by consumers “over the long arc of time.”

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