Cell Phone Safety – How to Be a Responsible Driver

Introduction

Studies have shown that using a cell phone while driving does increase the risk of a crash, but the amount of increased risk is still difficult to be known. It is agreed, however, that talking on a cell phone while operating a vehicle is a distraction that may impair driving ability, especially teenagers who are sometime easily occupied by other things. The aim of this paper is to present available data concerning the impact that cell phone use has on driving ability and increasing crash risk. In November 1, 2001, the State of New York enacted a law banning all drivers regardless of age from talking on a handheld cell phone while driving the vehicles. The move was later followed by the state of North Carolina, who on December 1, 2006, although the programs were not relatively same in term of who they were trying to reach, began prohibiting use of any cell phone communication device by drivers younger than 18 years old.

These studies were done to reduce risks to teenagers drivers and people of all ages by reducing highway deaths and injuries, reducing higher crash risk for teenagers due to their greater difficulty handling distractions and their high use rates of cell phone and other communication devices and to add restriction on graduated driver’s license along with the expectation that it would be viewed, accepted and enforced in the same way as is the case for the other protective elements of the graduated licensing system. In the North Carolina’s teenager drivers’ cell phone restriction, there were two or more exceptions for teenagers drivers to use cell phones while on public roads. These exceptions include talking to a teenager’s parent or legal guardian or talking to emergency response operator, hospital, physician’s office or health clinic, a private or privately owned ambulance company or service, fire department or law enforcement agency regarding an emergency situation. In New York, the exceptions were limited only to placing an emergency phone call to 911, calling or using a hands-free device, manual dialing or using a handheld phone when the vehicle is stopped.

Goals of the studies

The goal of the studies is to see whether the ban on cell phones use in two states, New York and North Carolina has led to reduction in car related deaths and injuries on public roads.

Aim and Objectives

The aim of these studies is to undertake an evaluation of the longer term effects of New York State’s law on drivers’ handheld cell phone use and the short term effects of a teenage drivers cell phone restriction in the state of North Carolina to determine the impact on all stakeholders and assess the effects on any issues relating to the quality and effectiveness of the cell phones use. The objectives of these studies are to:
• Determine whether cell phone users see the ways in which the states operate as useful, appropriate and effective way to reduce highway related deaths and injuries.
• Determine whether substantial short term declines in drivers’ use of cell phones and other communication devices after a ban, were sustained one or more years later
• Assess the implementation of the program and the extent to which they meet their goals
• Assess the impact of the cell phones use on the cell phone users/ other key stakeholders
• Assess planning and monitoring mechanisms used by each state at its local level

Methodology/Design

To ensure a comprehensive evaluation design, the qualitative arm of the studies included focus groups, observation surveys to measure the extent to which the new restriction affected teenagers’ cell phone use while driving, telephone interviews by professional telephone interview organizations with the focus to sampled randomly households using a list of households in North Carolina believed to have one or more teenagers ages 16 or 17. Pilot testing with the focus on observing drivers in the morning and pre-law observation which was conducted five months after the law went into effect were also used. In North Carolina observers attempted to gather information on how a cell phone was used, for example, held to ear, visual evidence of dialing, text messaging or game playing or evidence of hands free use. Information on type of phone use was not recorded in New York State. In New York, daytime observations of drivers were conducted at controlled intersections on geographically dispersed, heavily traveled roads in four small to medium sized upstate communities such as Albany, Binghamton, Kingston and the village of Spring Valley. Observations were conducted on Thursday and Friday in seven observation period throughout the day. Approaching vehicles in the closest two lanes were observed by a person positioned at the roadside at or near the intersection. Excluded in the observations process in the New York State were emergency vehicles, tractor-trailer trucks and buses. In state of North Carolina, no particular groups were excluded in the observations process.

The pre-law interviews were conducted on November 2006 in North Carolina with 400 groups of parents and teenagers and post-law interviews on April 2007 with relatively same groups of parents (401). Interview completion rates, those who complete interview with both parents and teenager from the same household, were 72% and 67% in the pre-law and post-law surveys while in New York State (based on December 2001 pre-law and march 2002 post-law surveys combined) use rates by driver characteristics were calculated and differences were judged only if the 95% confidence intervals of the estimated use rates did no overlap. In North Carolina cell phone use rates were similar for males and females while cell phone use rates were higher for drivers younger than 25 than for drivers ages 26-60 in New York. However, the differences were not significant. Five counties were identified in North Carolina for study (Buncombe, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Orange, and Wake County). The counties selected represented the most populous areas in the state and ranged in population from 120,000 to 825,000 each according to U.S. Census Department’s 2007 North Carolina statistics. Within each county, schools were selected for observation based on the sufficiently large number of teenager drivers (approximately 100 or more and the approach roadways and parking configurations at schools that allowed for observation of most teenage drivers when departing. Separate focus groups in both states involving parents, school staff and external stakeholders were held in each state. A total of 27 focus groups were conducted across the North Carolina. All regional line managers of Telephone Interview, a professional organization contracted by state’s mobile phone health program were also involved in individual interviews.

Studies examining the effects of age on crash rates among drivers with limited experience also were not considered. Although these studies have found clear age effects, they failed to address the effects of experience. Similarly excluded were studies examining the effects of experience on crash among drivers of a limited age ranges. These studies demonstrated that 16 and 17 years old beginners had high crash risk because of driving inexperience but did not address the effects of age. Finally, the review excluded three studies of the effects of age and experience on motorcycle crashes because it was not clear the findings could be generalized to other crash types. Motorcycle travel is inherently more hazardous than travel by other types of vehicles, and crash-involved motorcyclists differ from other crash-involved drivers in important respects.

Measurement issues

In terms of variables, the studies were using pre-law observations, drivers’ handheld cell use rate, drivers characteristics, phone us/ nonuse, driver gender, belt use, number and gender of passenger such as all male, all female or mixed and vehicle type, for example, car, SUV, pickup truck or ban. In the state of New York, the measurement was on cell phone use rates by driver gender, age and which type of vehicle. Use rates by driver characteristics were calculated for the pre-law survey (December 2001, March 2002 and March 2003 surveys combined). Differences were judged significant if 95% interval of the estimated use rates did not change. For all survey in New York and North Carolina, cell phone rates were similar for males and females regardless of age. Use rate were higher for drivers younger than 25 than for drivers ages 25 to 59 in New York, but the differences were not significant. Use among drivers ages 60 and older was negligible across all surveys in New York. With regard to which vehicle type, drivers of cars had the lowest use rate, but only the difference between drivers of cars and drivers of SUV was significant in all New York surveys, but remain unknown in the North Carolina surveys.

Data to develop different measures, for example, crash and exposure measures sometimes were collected at different times and or pertained to different time periods. Injury crash rates for drivers licensed 12 months versus 1+ years computed by age and gender. Multiple regression models were also developed. Some relative risks calculations provided for experience effects among younger drivers. Overall positive age effects for males were similar but weaker effect for females. Among novice males, crash rates similar for ages 16 and 17, and 18 but much lower at age 17; among novice females, rates higher at 16 than 17 to 19. Crash risk lower among male or female novice versus experienced drivers for ages 16 to 25. No marked experience effects among older females or males. Since none of these studies has talk about it, in the future we might need to look into the annual miles driven, miles driven during previous year, and miles driven during previous week by drivers regardless of ages to come up with outcomes.

Outcomes

• More drivers, both teenagers in North Carolina and all drivers in New York, stops driving while talking on handheld cell phones due to threat of ticket.
• More cell phone use while driving has resulted in citations being issued to increase public perception that state government is serious about the cell phones use while driving on public roads.
• Increases in hand-free device technologies due to pressure from the state government
• Reduction in number of deaths and injuries sustained by drivers driving while on handheld cell phone in New York and North Carolina
To achieve these outcomes the followings have to happens based on the studies’ conclusions
• Threat of imprisonment- which the two states have not yet adopted
• Parental involvement- which north Carolina state has already adopted
• Parental supervision- none of the states is in position to adopt the strategy
• Law enforcement agencies taking tough stands against those who disobey the laws

Statistical Analysis

Estimates were derived of the proportion of drivers in qualifying vehicles who were using handheld cell phones in New York and of teenagers’ drivers who were talking on handheld cell phones while driving in North Carolina. Ironically, changes in phone use rates between the post-law and pre-law surveys in each state were examined, with 95% confidence interval for relative rates obtained in North Carolina. In New York, rates were compared between the pre-law and post-law and short term post-law surveys with associated 95% confidence intervals. Assuming that patterns cell phone use among teenagers’ drivers in North Carolina would have followed situations observed among drivers in New York, absent North Carolina’s restriction on teenagers’ drivers cell phones use, logic regression analysis made a direct statistical comparison between the changes observed in cell phone use rates in New York relative to the observed change in a teenagers’ drivers cell phones use in North Carolina. The estimated percentage change in use rates in New York relative to those percentage changes in North Carolina based on the ratio of “after” and “before” odds ratios, car type, driver gender and passenger presence were a functions of the model coefficient for the interaction variable. Differences in survey responses between teenagers and their parents were tested for statistical significance using chi-square tests of independence while cell phones use were observed using drivers characteristics observed during the 10 minute observations of passing traffic and applied to the total vehicles counted during the 35 minute cell phone observation periods.

The methods and findings of the two studies are summarized in and grouped according to whether driving exposure was considered in addition to age and years of driving experience. Data were obtained from self-reported driver surveys or from government records such as driver’s license records, police crash reports, or insurance claims files. The lower age limit ranged from 16 to 18, and the upper age limit ranged from 25 to 70 and older. The lower bound for years of driving experience generally was 1 year or less, and the upper bound ranged from 2 years to 38 years or more. The primary measures of exposure were cell phone citations issued during the first 15 months, gender drivers’ ages and the vehicle type (Car, SUVs or van). During the 2006, actually two to eight weeks before the implementation of the cell phones ban, phone use was observed for 6,164 teenage drivers in North Carolina and 1,257 in New York for all drivers. In the beginning of the following year, approximately 5 months after the ban implementation, phone use was observed for 6,401 teenage drivers in North Carolina and 25,694 in New York. Characteristics of the samples observed were similar in both New York and North Carolina. In the pre-law survey approximately half of observed teenage drivers were male in North Carolina (47%) while both male and female were observed in New York (2.3% to 1.1% immediately after the law took effect). There was not significant change in observations during the post-law in both states. About half of teenage drivers were observed driving alone (without passengers) in North Carolina (52%) and none was reported for the New York.

Some Things You May Not Know About Used and Refurbished Cell Phones

When I mention to one of my family members or friends that I would only buy a refurbished or slightly used cell phone they look at me like I may be crazy. I just do not understand why, since people buy pre-owned, refurbished and other already used large ticket items such as cars, laptops and other electronics all the time. What is the big deal about buying a previously used phone that looks like new, costs a lot less money, and works the same as the new phone you just paid 3 times the money for? I could have purchased 3 different refurbished phones for the price of what a new cell phone costs.

In this article, I have put together some reasons why I would personally buy a pre-owned, refurbished, or slightly used cell phone.

Reason #1 – Insurance replacement cell phones are in almost all cases refurbished cell phones. People who replace their broken cell phone under their cell phone companies insurance plan almost always receive a previously used, refurbished cell phone. So if you have previously replaced your phone under a cell phones insurance plan, chances are you have already used a refurbished cell phone.

Reason #2 – Save a ton of cash! Well obviously the cost of a pre-owned anything is generally going to cost less, but people do not realize the large amount you can save by buying used or refurbished. Generally the price of buying a refurbished cell phone over a brand new one from your cell phone store will save you 33% or more! That same phone in slightly used (preloved) condition will on average save you 50% or more over its brand new counterpart. These are some tough times… I would rather keep my hard earned cash in my pocket for travel or for doing something else fun. Sure you can save a lot at the end of your 2 year contract when you are eligible for an upgrade, but the average person replaces their phone every 18 months. Kind of ironic o the cell phone companies to make your contract every 24 months, don’t you think?

Reason #3 – A lot of sellers online sell refurbished cell phones as “new”. Most people can not tell the difference between a refurbished cell phone and a new one. This goes back to reason #1 with the insurance companies. You probably had a refurbished cell phone in the past and did not even know about it. The honest people who actually advertise their phones as refurbished generally sell the phones for less money. The ones advertised as new are in fact refurbished and the seller banks on the customer not knowing the difference.

Reason #4 – The impacts on the environment are devastating. As with any electronic device out there, technology improves and at some point you end up throwing away your device and replace it with a brand new one. With just cell phones alone, upwards of 100,000,000 (one hundred million) cell phones end up in landfills each and every year. Just think about all the 3rd world countries who are growing and are just beginning to use cel phone Could you imagine if more and more people purchased a slightly used or refurbished cell phone? Most people do not know how to fix phones so they just toss it away not realizing that most of the issues with phones can easily be fixed and there are literally millions of people out there that purchase used and refurbished phones every year. The number of people purchasing refurbished cell phones is growing drastically with companies like AT&T selling their refurbished cell phones on their website.

Reason #5 – Technology has not really changed that much with cell phones in the past 5 years. Well maybe it has with the launch of the iPhone and Blackberry cell phones and what not but even then you can get a used or refurbished version for way less money! I personally do not know what I would do without my Blackberry cell phone. I used it to email, txt friends and family, watch you tube videos, surf the net, check sports scores, listen to music (check out “slacker radio” – its amazing!), use it as my alarm clock, plan meetings, etc, etc, etc. I can go on for a long time, but you get the point. Any of the features I just mentioned you can find a refurbished or previously owned version. Once again, saving you a ton of your hard earned cash.

I could list many other reasons as to why buying a used or refurbished cell phones just makes sense, but I think these 5 reasons should get my point across. When buying your next cell phone, would you now consider buying a used or refurbished phone?

Your Cell Phone as a Beacon

Last night was a pretty typical weeknight at my home, I drove home from work
and filled up with gas before I got home, I left my house again at around 5:30
to take my son to his Karate lesson. While I was out I stopped by the local
library to return some books and then swung over to the dry cleaners to pick up
my shirts and slacks and some stuff for my wife. I picked up my son from his
lesson and we stopped off at the grocery store to pick up some bread and milk on
our way back to the house.

Now, you aren’t the first people to know my whereabouts that night. Because I
had my cellular phone with me, the cell phone company that provides my cellular
services knew where I was at the entire time. They tracked me with my cellular
telephone.

How is this possible?

It is possible because people who use their cell phone need to be able to make a
call whenever and wherever they may be located at the time they dial the number
on their phone. Therefore, the cellular companies must be able to route the call
to the nearest cellular tower, which in turn sends your call to the satellite in
space, which sends your signal to the person you are calling. The tower that
handled the call is typically logged (and stored indefinitely) on the wireless
provider’s computers, though it’s not noted on the customer’s monthly bill. In
order for the cell phone company to know what tower you are at, they must be
able to track the signal from your cell phone when it is on.

In the expanded age of advanced communication and the literally thousands of
issues of privacy that it has since spawned, many people would be horrified to
learn that they can be tracked by the phone company via their mobile phone. The
phone companies claim this is a integral part of the service they provide,
privacy advocates say that this is just another way large corporations have
invaded our lives.

Wading into the fray over this controversy concerning your cell phone is another
larger and important player: law enforcement. Law enforcement agencies are now
utilizing the technology of tracking cellular signals to catch criminals and
terrorists. A few cases of dangerous criminals being tracked and caught while on
their telephones have been documented and law enforcement is now fighting with
the cellular companies to ensure its continued use.

Have we lost our privacy by cell phone tracking or have we just gained a
valuable tool for law enforcement to use in keeping us safe? Do the cell phone
companies need to know where you are in order to provide their service, or have
they found, as some privacy advocates claim, a backdoor into your life, your
locations, your shopping habits?

Part One: Mobile 911.

According to the TechTV Show “Talkback”, Cell phones show where you are, and
that is simply part of their design. Without the ability to pinpoint where the
signal from your phone is coming from, calls could never be connected. Because
cell phones decry the use of wires, and the users making the calls are often on
the move, the call and the receiving signal are not at a fixed location.
Therefore, the signal from the cell phone must be tracked.

Cell phone service areas are divided into “cells,” each of which is serviced by
a base station. When you make a call, your cell phone selects the strongest base
station it can find, which is usually the closest station to you.

If you move out of the coverage of one base station, your phone switches to the
next strongest available base station (which usually means you move into a new
cell). The system always knows your location relative to the nearest cell.

This occurs even when your phone is on but not being used. For efficiency’s
sake, an idle cell phone sends out a message on the access channel so that the
system will know where to direct the page if you get an incoming call. The
system knows where you are. In an urban area, each tower covers an area of
approximately 1 to 2 square miles, so a caller’s general location is fairly easy
to pinpoint.

The proliferation of cellular phones and their usage gave birth to a very unique
problem: How would emergency operators track callers who called 911 on their
mobile phone? Dialing 911 from a traditional, wire-based telephone, allowed the
operator to track where the call was being placed, so that an emergency response
could be sent. On mobile phones, the people calling in the emergency had no idea
where they were, and the 911 operators had no way of exactly pin pointing where
the calls where originating.

Enter e911. According to the web site “Webopedia” , E911 is “short for Enhanced
911, a location technology advanced by the FCC that enables cellular phones to
process 911 emergency calls and enable emergency services to locate the
geographic position of the caller. When a person makes a 911 call using a
traditional phone with ground wires, the call is routed to the nearest public
safety answering point (PSAP) that then distributes the emergency call to the
proper services. The PSAP receives the caller’s phone number and the exact
location of the phone from which the call was made. Prior to 1996, 911 callers
using a mobile phone would have to access their service providers in order to
get verification of subscription service before the call was routed to a PSAP.
In 1996 the FCC ruled that a 911 call must go directly to the PSAP without
receiving verification of service from a specific cellular service provider. The
call must be handled by any available service carrier even if it is not the
cellular phone customer’s specific carrier. Under the FCC’s rules, all mobile
phones manufactured for sale in the United States after February 13, 2000, that
are capable of operating in an analog mode must include this special method for
processing 911 calls. “

In an article entitled “How cell phones reveal your location” published on the
Slate (http://www.slate.com) web site, with e911, emergency operators were able
to track calls from wireless phones in less to one or one half of a mile from
where the call originated. The technology was so successfully that the
government made it a law that all cellular phones carry the technology that
enables calls to be tracked. This law is called the Wireless Communications and
Public Safety Act of 1999 (911 Act) and signed into law by President Clinton on
October 26, 1999. According to the law, 95 percent of all cell phones must be
E911 compliant by the end of 2005.

In compliance with the new law, and to better improve the service with its
customers, many cell phone handsets are now equipped with Global Positioning
System chips, which determine a caller’s coordinates by receiving signals beamed
down from a satellite array. The chip factors together the signals’ different
arrival times to calculate the phone’s coordinates, using a mathematical process
known as trilateration. At present, however, GPS data is typically not recorded
for non-emergency purposes, unless the user has explicitly signed up for a
location-based service.

Part Two: The Hacker and the Terrorist

Kevin Mitnick was a hacker. That is to say, he was king of all the hackers.
Mitnick, “America’s Most Wanted Computer Outlaw,” eluded the police, US
Marshalls, and FBI for over two years after vanishing while on probation for his
1989 conviction for computer and access device fraud. His downfall was his
Christmas 1994 break-in to Tsutomu Shimomura’s computers in San Diego,
California. Shimomura just happened to be the head of computing technology at
the San Diego Super Computer Center. Less than two months after having his
computers hacked, Shimomura had tracked Mitnick down after a cross-country
electronic pursuit. Mitnick was arrested by the FBI in Raleigh, North Carolina,
on February 15th, 1995.

Mitnick was charged in North Carolina with 23 counts of access device fraud for
his activities shortly before his arrest. In California, he was charged with an
additional 25 counts of access device, wire, and computer fraud. On March 16,
1999, Mitnick plead guilty to five of these counts and two additional counts
from the Northern District of California. He was sentenced to 46 months and
three years probation. He was released from prison on January 21, 2000, being
eligible for early release after serving almost 60 months of his 68 month
sentence.

How was the FBI able to capture “America’s Most Wanted Computer Outlaw”? By
tracking down a signal from his cell phone.

Luke Helder was going to set off some bombs. Specifically, he was going to set
off bombs in mailboxes across the United States until the locations of his bombs
made a “smiley face” pattern across the map of the U.S. He probably would have
accomplished his morbid feat had he not made one crucial mistake; he turned on
his cell phone.

According to USA Today, as soon as he activated it, FBI agents quickly
triangulated his position between two rural towns and had him in handcuffs
within an hour, according to Nevada authorities. The fact that another motorist
spotted Helder in passing helped authorities, but the cell phone signal was a
dead giveaway

“We got a call from the FBI at approximately 3:20 p.m. that the cell phone that
(Helder) had been known to have had been activated somewhere between Battle
Mountain and Golconda,” said Maj. Rick Bradley of the Nevada Highway Patrol. “We
started hitting Interstate 80.”

Bradley said tracking down Helder without the pinpoint location provided by the
FBI would have been tougher, given the sprawling region.

“It’s really a rural area. There’s not that much police presence,” Bradley said.

Cell phone triangulation is a well-known tracking method within the wireless
industry, said Michael Barker, an equipment sales manager for Cell-Loc, based in
Calgary, Alberta. His company provides tracking services to help people who are
incapacitated and unable to dial for help.

and out of cell tower range.

According to Slate, Location data extrapolated from tower records is frequently
used in criminal cases. It was vital, for example, to the prosecution of David
Westerfield, who was convicted of murdering 7-year-old Danielle van Dam in San
Diego. The killer’s cell-phone usage revealed a bizarre travel pattern in the
two days following the girl’s disappearance, including a suspicious trip to the
desert. In cases like this, wireless providers will not release a user’s records
without a court order, save for rare instances in which a kidnapping has taken
place and time is of the essence.

Domestic crime is not the only arena of law enforcement that is utilizing the
tracking of mobile phone signals, the FBI and CIA have been using this technique
in an effort to capture public enemy number one: Osama Bin Laden.

Author Dan Campbell, writing in the October 2001 issue of Telepolis Magazine,
describes how the world’s most wanted man, coordinated his attacks via his
mobile phone.

“Between 1996 and 1998, when the America’s embassy in Kenya was bombed, the FBI
found that Osama bin Laden and his staff had spent nearly 40 hours making
satellite phone calls from the mountains of Afghanistan. The calls, which can be
sent and received from a special phone the size of a laptop computer, were
relayed via a commercial satellite to sympathizers in the west.

The satellite phone appears to have been a huge convenience for the world’s most
wanted terrorist. He was billed for thousands of minutes of use over two years,
those records indicate, and used it to issue a fatwa in February 1998 that
called on Muslims to kill Americans, including civilians, anywhere in the world.

Even now, as US forces move in for the kill, bin Laden’s satellite phone has not
been cut off. But calls to the terrorist leader are going unanswered. His
international phone number – 00873 682505331 – was disclosed during a trial,
held in New York earlier this year. Calls to his once-active satellite link now
hear only a recorded messages saying he is “not logged on”. “

Indeed, when bin Laden associates went to trial in April on charges of bombing
U.S. embassies in Africa, the prosecution used billing records for calls from
that phone to connect them to bin Laden–but not intercepts of conversations.

Apparently, the FBI are not the only individuals aware of the fact that the
tracing of mobile phone signals can be used to track down an individual’s
location. With American forces closing in on him during the battle of Tora Bora
in late 2001, Osama bin Laden employed a simple trick against sophisticated
United State spy technology to vanish into the mountains that led to Pakistan
and sanctuary.

According to CBS News, A Moroccan who was one of bin Laden’s long-time
bodyguards took possession of the al-Qaeda leader’s satellite phone on the
assumption that US intelligence agencies were monitoring it to get a fix on
their position, said senior Moroccan officials, who have interviewed the
bodyguard, Abdallah Tabarak.

Tabarak moved away from bin Laden and his entourage as they fled, using the
phone to divert the Americans and allow bin Laden to escape. Tabarak was later
captured at Tora Bora in possession of the phone.

The use of Cell phone triangulation and the tracking of other mobile signals
appear to be an effective weapon for law enforcement, one that many agencies are
going to be reluctant to give up. But does the use of technology come at a
price: the sacrifice of privacy and civil rights of the people using mobile
technology.

Part Three: Cell Phone Commercials

The ability to track a person using their cell phone has not been lost on
marketing professionals looking to find a new avenue into consumer buying habits
and preferences. The ability to track individuals’ movements through their
mobile signal has very appealing commercial potentials. For example:

∑ Your phone will be able to tell you where the nearest hospital, shopping mall,
or McDonald’s is located

∑ Merchants could automatically send you location-based advertising and special
offers when their technology senses you’re near their stores

∑ If you’ve pre-loaded their phone numbers and personal information, your phone
could alert you when a friend or family member is in the area

“Advertisers are eager to use location services to alert you when you pass near
a store that might be of interest. Such services are likely in some form, but
carriers are proceeding cautiously. They’re aware you may not want to see ads
for McDonalds every time you pass by the golden arches. Carriers don’t want to
annoy users because it’s so easy to switch providers”, says Allen Nogee, a
senior analyst at Cahners In-Stat Group said on the CNN web site.

The idea of advertisers and law enforcement knowing where you are at any given
moment and where you have been has naturally rubbed privacy-advocate groups the
wrong way. While there is some upsides for the use of this technology, privacy
groups say the potential for abuse of this technology is very high and very real
and they would like to see some provisions built into cell-phone tracking laws
that allow for the privacy of the consumer not to be compromised.

“There certainly need to be better emergency procedures [for cell-phone calls],”
says David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center
in Washington, D.C during an interview with ABC news. “But once the technology
exists, there has to be some way for users to control how the info can be used.”

Sobel says while the FCC mandated the E911 program, federal legislators haven’t
put into place how that information may be used or who would have access to it.

“The Justice Department and FBI do routinely get information from cell-phone
service providers,” says Sobel. But, “There are lingering question on what the
legal standard is to be used to get location information from cell-phone
providers. There is nothing in federal law that addresses that issue.”

According to Sobel, another large privacy issue that might be at stake is not
only the information that is being delivered by using this technology, but the
technology itself might be violating the privacy of mobile communications just
by the way the technology works.

“The e911 rules enacted by the Federal Communications Commission govern the
emerging form of telecommunications known as “packet mode” communication. Law
enforcement agencies already have the authority to demand information that
identifies a phone call as long as it is separate from the call’s contents.
However, with packet-mode communication technology, data containing the numbers
cannot be separated from data containing phone conversations. Thus when police
agencies demand phone number data, phone service providers will have to give
them data containing conversations as well,” said Sobel.

Sobel and lawyers from two other organizations are asking the U.S. Court of
Appeals in Washington, D.C., to block the FCC rules. “The FBI is seeking
surveillance capabilities that far exceed the powers law enforcement has had in
the past and is entitled to under the law,” Sobel said.

Similar legislation for the ability to track movements using mobile technology
has met with stiff resistance in other countries. According to ZDNET UK
(http://www.zdnet.com) in the United Kingdom, civil liberties advocates are
outraged at the implications of the newly passed Regulation of Investigatory
Powers Act, which could allow British law enforcement agencies to trace the
movements of mobile phone users with a minimum of accountability. Privacy
advocates have vowed to have this law over-turned in this country, but in the
meantime, the British government plans to fully extend and incorporate this law
into British law enforcement, no matter what privacy groups say.

“The whole point of RIP (the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) is to
update surveillance,” a spokeswoman from the British Home Office said. “If you
haven’t broken the law then you’ve nothing to fear.”

Conclusion: Cell Phone Spam?

Law enforcement agencies, already beleaguered by an out of control handgun
problem and a across the board rise in crime in the United States, coupled with
the fact that they must now deal with the horrifying specter of terrorism in
their cities, will not be too quick to give up a powerful new weapon in catching
criminals, especially not one that will essentially tell them where they are
exactly. Any fight that privacy groups may put up will ultimately prove to be
futile to lawmakers in Congress, who want to be seen as giving law enforcement
every chance they can to be effective.

However, privacy groups have a legitimate point in their fears that a technology
of this sort is ripe to be exploited unless the lawmakers take action to limit
the very personal data offered by this tracking technology. Email is a perfect
example of a technology that, in its infant stages, was seen as revolutionary
new form of communication. Now, email systems are so overloaded with spam coming
in from not only the United States but also from Russia and Nigeria, that
congress has acted to implement new laws to stem the tide.

Cell phones now have the ability to send and receive photographs, how much
longer will it be before advertising, in full color begins to find its way to
your telephone? The outrage of having “cell-phone spam” may be so great that he
consumer uproar will cause any type of mobile technology to be severely limited
by law, perhaps even stripping out some of the positive aspects such as those
used by law enforcement.