Mobile network generations, are they even that popular anymore? It used to be all the rage when 2G went to 3G, then 3G went to 4G LTE. Coming soon to the USA is the 5th generation of mobile networks, 5G, and the wireless industry is gearing up for deployment.
Numerous companies are working hard to develop and deploy, in full scale, 5G networks. Verizon, Samsung, Qualcomm, Intel, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint just to name some main ones are creating network infrastructure, chips, and modems in the name of 5G.
5G will be faster and more efficient than 4G, data speeds are expected to hit 20GB/s and 1 millisecond latency according to Mirror. Also according to that same Mirror article, Samsung unveiled their 5G technologies they have so far as well as their 5G plans for the future.
Per Reuters, Verizon is planning to release 5G to 11 US cities by mid 2017. According to that article, Verizon is dubbing this as "pre-commerical services" for consumers. The 11 cities are as followed, per TechRepublic:
No Pittsburgh on that list, but oh well. According to the Reuters article mentioned above, AT&T plans to roll out 5G testing in Austin, TX this year.
Here is a video from Bloomberg of Deutsche Telekom's (T-Mobile's owner) CEO explaining 5G and DT's plans:
Intel and Qualcomm are for sure in this mix. The chip makers have been researching and developing 5G hardware and are already unveiling 5G tech. Qualcomm came through first with the unveiling of the Snapdragon X20 modem back in October of 2016. Intel unveiled their own 5G modem at CES 2017 called the XMM 7560, all this according to Engadget.
Qualcomm has also created a chip for smartphone use called the Snapdragon X50 according to Cnet. It's no question 5G is getting close, but it likely won't be fully deployed until 2018/2019. According to PC World, T-Mobile USA's Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray stated that 5G is simply not ready yet. The senior director of technical marketing for Qualcomm, Rasmus Hellberg, stated consumers will get an "elevated broadband experience in 2019".
It's very clear, with the rise of the Internet of Things and its inevitable takeover of our daily lives, that we need a reliable and fast network to handle it all. Business Insider predicts that by 2020 there will be 34 billion devices connected to the Internet, and most will be wireless. That prediction right there shows why we need mobile networks like what 5G is set to be. We need fast, efficient, and reliable wireless networks to handle all the data transfers, calls, and traffic that 34 billion plus devices can create.
Everyone should be excited about this, soon we'll have wireless Internet that is just as fast as hardwired Internet, and we'll be able to have more smart devices enter our daily lives and make life just a bit easier and entertaining. Consumers, business, and investors can and should all benefit from 5G deployment. The FCC will be a big winner from spectrum auctions when 5G starts widespread full deployment. 5G needs spectrum to operate, and it'll need a lot of it by 2019 to reach its goal and the FCC is going to make some serious cash auctioning it off. 5G won't be here tomorrow, but it will be here sooner rather than later.
Yahoo! is back in the news again, this time for two different reasons, both not good for Yahoo!. Once again Yahoo! is revealing another breach, and Verizon has reshaped the deal between the two.
Yahoo! broke the news, that between 2015 and 2016, that "forged cookies" where used which let let hackers access user accounts without a password, all per CNBC. This breach stems from the investigation into the 1 billion Yahoo! accounts hacked in 2013 and 2014. Very easy to say Yahoo! hasn't been having the best of luck this decade.
Due to all these data breaches that Yahoo! has been dealing with, it has been highly speculated that Verizon was going to slash the deal of their merger with Yahoo! It appears they are doing just that, according to Forbes Verizon is cutting the deal by $300 million. After the news of the new breach, that was probably the icing on the cake for Verizon. Here is more on this matter per CNBC:
Verizon has three big reasons to slash the price of the deal, Yahoo! should honestly be ashamed of themselves for letting three big data breaches to occur. Whatever the case, Verizon will be inheriting a mess and maybe potential lawsuits because of these breaches. One should be confident in Verizon to turn Yahoo! around, or just make all the negative go away and have Yahoo! be a step stool for Verizon, which it probably will be. Yahoo! after the deal anyhow plans to rename the company to Altaba.
Yahoo! stakeholders should be disappointed and worried, because who knows what information was taken and how the hackers benefited from the hacks. If you had a Yahoo! account and used it frequently, there is a better chance than none that you were breached in some way, shape, or form.
Verizon did exactly what they needed to do, reprice the deal and it's almost certain Yahoo! is going to accept it, why wouldn't they? If Yahoo! would reject the new price and Verizon walked away from the deal, Yahoo! would either have to self destruct or be absorbed by Alibaba.
Although, it is surprising that Verizon is only cutting around $300 million off the deal; with all these breaches Verizon could probably shave $500-$750 million off the deal and still seal it. Who knows, maybe tomorrow, Verizon may do just that.
Yahoo!'s stock took a hit today as Verizon's stayed rather stagnant, but up a tad. You can check them out below, both per Google, and click for a larger image:
Do you own a smartphone, a newer computer, or interact with Internet connected technology? Which ever one, if not all, it's more than likely you interacted with some form of artificial intelligence (AI). AI is starting to become more prevalent in our daily lives and it's only imminent that it will consume our lives one day.
AI comes in different forms, mainly voice activated forms like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Search. AI is being used in machines and supercomputers, think of IBM's Watson, a revolutionary AI run supercomputer that can literally win a game of Jeopardy against the best. Speaking of Watson, according to TechRepublic, IBM announced Watson can be used in Cyber Security. IBM stated Watson could fill a variety of positions within the Cyber Security field. IBM also announced Watson-powered digital assistants.
That's a small taste of where we are now, let's get a bigger taste of where we are now. Google's AI has conquered a couple of complex games, one is China's game of Go, and the other was Texas Hold 'Em poker. Reported in Wired back in March of 2016, Google's AI successfully beat "genius" Lee Sedol at Go. The AI was called AlphaGo and it did a number on Lee Sedol in 5/5 games of Go, winning 4/5 games.
Google's AI then took on top-class players in no limit Texas Hold 'Em poker at The Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, PA. All this per Wired, Libratus was the name of this AI, which at one point held a cozy $701,242 lead over its competitors, one of them Korean player named Dong Kim. Kim specialized in this type of Poker and told Wired "I didn't realize how good it was until today. I felt like I was playing against someone who was cheating, like it could see my cards." Kim did say he wasn't implying Google was cheating, just that it was amazing how good Libratus is.
Staying on the Google route here, Google's DeepMind AI was tested to play a game, the game is called "Gathering". After the AI played the game, Google warned that AI can be "highly aggressive" when stressed, or simply put into a certain situation. This test was the AI played against itself pretty much, where they had to collect "apples", and as soon as the "apple" supply started to dwindle the AI's started to fight each other over the available "apples" by firing "lasers" at each other. This is no joke, Google released this today. This is all according to Science Alert, which also has a video of the gameplay.
With all that being said, one can only guess and imagine the possibilities of AI in the future. Are we going to have a world where we always have a digital assistant? It is very very possible that we'll be able to control almost anything we interact with on a daily basis with AI, and with smart homes becoming more popular, that idea is not far fetched at all,
Uber's CEO says his driverless Uber cars mixed with robots could be the pizza delivery if the future, according to CNBC. Travis Kalanick stated in that article, "Imagine now a car that is delivering food, but doesn't have a driver. How do you get the food? You would come down and get it, but if you have three kids, you want someone to bring it up. And at some point there is going to be a humanoid that crawls up your stairs, and hands you your pizza." Quick question out of that, how does the "humanoid" know how to get in your house?
AI has great potential and extreme opportunity for good, but also has the same for bad. AI could go the "Terminator" route; by being militarized, becoming self aware, and then declaring a full out extermination of the human race. AI may take the "War Games" route, where an AI named Joshua is in control of the US nuclear arsenal, and it places a game called "Thermo-nuclear War", (which US and USSR thought was real), and Joshua learned the only winning move was not to play. AI could back fire on smaller scales by shutting down a business or a bank, or it could carry out small, isolated attacks if it gets in a situation or glitches. AI could be hacked by the wrong people and used in everyone of those ways just mentioned, well maybe not extermination of the human race, but use for warfare or a terrorist attack.
Here are a couple videos talking about the potential dangers AI could pose in the future:
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5SMoG54k_w
A good video here from CNBC on not just risks, but potential.
Elon Musk, mentioned in the Fox Business video above, came out today and basically said that humans will have to merge with machines eventually. Musk who is no stranger to wild ideas claims we'll need to by cyborgs to stay relevant in the future, which sadly may have some truth to it. This is per CNBC along with this video on Musk's statements:
AI is our future, it's another part of the Internet of Things, which is our present and our future. AI can benefit human civilization in many ways, AI can increase productivity and efficiency of entire industries, and it can also help advance and strengthen the military substantially. Militarization and developing the AI to be to smart, could lead into big trouble. Us humans are going to have to tame AI and use self control to find the balance between benefit and defense.
You may have heard by now, Amazon is entering the brick and mortar business by opening up a supermarket. However, this is no ordinary supermarket, it's a Internet connected store called Amazon Go. This is a revolutionary model for retail and grocery stores, but will it stick, is this the future?
Amazon Go works very easy; you walk in, grab what you want, and simply go. Yes, it is that easy. No waiting in lines and no cashiers, walk right out the door with your product(s). Of course you're still going to pay, the store and the products in it are connected to your Amazon account via an app, and when you walk out of the store with your product(s), you're account gets charged.
Here's a video from Amazon about it:
It's a pretty neat idea, ain't it? Per The Wall Street Journal, Amazon plans to open about 2,000 of these bad boys. Amazon is gearing up to open their first "test" store in Seattle here soon. The New York Post reported that the store would only need three human workers to operate, and any other labor will be done by technology.
Now according to that same New York Post article, the humans would consist of a manager, shelf stocker, drive thru window person (hint at order online), and a robot assistant. There is a possibility of a greeter or front door person to help stop shop lifting.
Shop lifting that is something to worry about, but I'm sure Amazon would have the best of the best camera's and anti-shop lifting measures in place. A big thing to worry about though with a model like Amazon Go is job killing. Like stated above, Amazon Go barely needs humans to operate, and with the world moving into an IoT way of life, this model may become the standard in the future.
CNBC ran a segment on Amazon Go and the model potentially killing jobs, here it is:
To be honest, it's likely this model will become more and more prevalent in the future, but not anytime soon. Amazon Go will likely be a one of a kind thing for a couple years, and one or two companies will jump on the train and it may just go from there.
However, Jeff Bezos (Amazon's CEO), tweeted on Tuesday that the New York Post's sources aren't accurate, per WTAE. Who knows really, maybe the source leaked a little too much information that Bezos didn't want out there and is trying to cover thing back up. It's clear that Amazon is working on this, and it's clear they are using the IoT and possibly robots to operate the store.
At any rate, this business model is genius in terms of efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction. This model however does come with risks, hacking and stealing. Stealing can be prevented and/or tracked easily with camera's, a person, and other technology, but cyber attacks are much harder.
Amazon Go will have to be locked down, maybe in a walled-garden, in terms of cyber security. It's no question that hackers are going to try and target the store and the consumers within it. Hackers can go from holding a store ransom with ransomware, to intercepting consumer's payment information from their transactions. This model is genius, but is going to be operating in a scary playing field which is cyber space.
Amazon Go is going to be very interesting and should excite all stakeholders involved with Amazon, keep a close eye on how it's test store in Seattle does, and if it goes well, expect a widespread roll out of these stores. Amazon Go may be the shopping model for the future, and shows again how the IoT is the future.
If you haven't heard by now, tech companies are outraged by President Trump's immigration/refugee order, yes they have formally banned against the Trump Administration. It wasn't too long ago when Trump met with the leaders of some of these same companies in Trump Tower. Moral high ground or bottom-lines?
127 companies have filed a legal brief against President Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees from seven middle eastern countries. These companies include big names like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Tesla/SpaceX, Netflix, Uber, Intel, and many other companies, all according to CNN Tech.
The reasoning behind the brief is, according to the Los Angeles Times, "The order makes it more difficult and expensive for U.S companies to recruit, hire, and retain some of the world's best employees." and "It disrupts ongoing business operations, and it threatens companies' ability to attract talent, business, and investment in the United States." Some companies, like Google, also have employees in the restricted countries, and may have interests.
Reading the headline and reading that, you'd think that's morally justified and makes a statement towards the Trump Administration. If you think it about it, it almost seems like the companies are worried about hiring and making money. Check this video for a better idea from Fox Business's "Making Money with Charles Payne":
From watching that video, or really just thinking outside the status quo of a legal brief like this, it seems to be about H-1B visas and their net profits. The US has about 900,000 to 1 million people with H-1B visas and about 13% make up US tech jobs, all according to that video clip.
It makes sense, tech companies can hire foreign workers cheaper and get "more bang for their buck" basically, but what about US workers? It's hard to believe US schools, colleges, and universities aren't pumping out qualified US workers. Again, "more bang for their buck". Now there is nothing wrong with H-1B visas, but since President Trump is against the program these companies are scrambling for damage control.
H-1B visas are good for businesses and of course the foreign workers, but it does pose some questions when any industry uses the program extensively, and the tech industry does. According to Business Insider, in 2014 64.5% of 315,857 H-1B visas were for computer related occupations. That is a large chunk of that year's H-1B approvals, and Trump wants to bring that number down to fill it with American workers, it's hard to see why Trump is wrong.
US tech companies should be trying to hire Americans before H-1B immigrants, there are plenty of skilled and qualified candidates that are right here in the USA. The H-1B visa program shouldn't be treated as a garden of workers for any American industry. Hire who you need, where you need it, when you need it and if that requires using the H-1B program from time to time then so be it, but don't abuse it and shun the American worker.
President Trump has been stirring up all sorts of controversy, but all for the better interest of the United States. US tech companies have not been a fan of Trump since Trump started targeting the H-1B visa program during his campaign, they also came out because of his stance on immigration and refugees as a whole, some sort of moral high ground.
Moral high ground though, that's all this legal brief is disguised as, in reality the tech sector does not want "business as usual" going away, they want to continue on like Obama never left, not going to happen. The tech sector should not have anything to worry about, they'll continue to make great products and offer great services, and they'll still make hefty profit. H-1B visas are not going away, it's just going to be slimmed down and American workers will be promoted.
Some of the companies on the brief are on Trump's Tech Advisory Council, but a few like Uber, have since stepped away from the table. Trump has been facing plenty of scrutiny over his orders, but Trump's a winner and don't expect him to lose now. It's sad that business is being politicized, because that is not the role for business, but this is just another example of what makes America, America.
This week there has been some very interesting developments, apparently Facebook is going into TV. Yes, the social media giant is said to be entering the world of video and TV. This is according to a couple sources, Fox Business and Recode to be specific.
Facebook has been doing plenty in the past years, Facebook is no longer just a social network, but it's a household name, everyone knows what Facebook is. It was only a matter of time until Facebook indulged into something outside it's social media realm, and Facebook appears to be planning to enter Television.
Facebook has a interesting person on their board, according to Recode, it's Netflix's CEO Reed Hastings. You know Hastings and Zuckerberg have a decent relationship, and discussions have probably taken place between the two, and others, but mainly between them which led Facebook to this plan.
According to Fox Business, Facebook is planning on building an app for TV set-top boxes and aiming to be a "video first" company. Here is a video from Fox Business explaining further:
Facebook will no doubt be stepping into a world of competition, but it will depend on what route they'll be taking. Facebook seems to be going the YouTube route, per that same Fox Business article mentioned above, and even Business Insider confirmed it. Mark Zuckerberg plans to do short videos only, per Business Insider.
Facebook started running "Facebook Stories", so that could have been a hint. It seems that Facebook is being very original, an app for short-form videos, opens up may doors. Facebook could create their own, people can upload their own, and it can be accessed just like YouTube.
Can Facebook beat YouTube? It'll be a good fight no doubt, but ultimately Facebook is going to have to rely on their 1.74 billion monthly active users per Statista. YouTube gets 3.25 billion views per month, per FortuneLords, and that'll be a hard number to top for anybody stepping into that kind of market. Whatever happens it's going to be interesting.
Like YouTube, Facebook is going to go after the ad revenue with this, per Business Insider. With the world destined for a completely digital way of life, Facebook is just simply stepping on the stage, and advertisers are always thirsty for new ad space. It's no question that Facebook will be able to compete, attract plenty of advertisers, and make hefty pay days with their product.
Everyone who is a fan of Facebook and simply a fan of videos should be excited, the market should be very excited, because this could spark something. Netflix and YouTube should be nervous, more so for YouTube than Netflix, but Facebook could buy Netflix. Think about, Netflix's CEO is on their board, Facebook could acquire some essential resources from Netflix, and vise-versa. Not far fetched, check out the previous Business Insider article for more.
This is an exciting time for digital content all around, from suppliers to distributors. Facebook is simply joining the stage with those that have been there. Expect plenty more companies to follow in the future, because digital and the Internet of Things are the future.
Facebook stock per Google:
Twitter, founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey to be a simple social media platform that was no different than text messaging. In the past decade Twitter has evolved in two ways; one way, the platform took off and is much more complex with a few make overs here and there. The other way is, political correctness and censorship, which can be the same thing at times.
Twitter once had a bright prosperous future ahead of them, users growing and flurrying with innovation, and then in November 2013 Twitter went public. If you pay attention to the markets, and to Twitter's stock, you'd see it's been a big bust. Since 2013, the stock barely gained and commonly, more recently, loses. Why is that?
It appears Twitter peaked quicker than anyone would have thought, there was only so much that could be done with Twitter that too much was getting done to upgrade it, when there wasn't a demand for that. Twitter also jumped into the realm of political correctness and social justice, which hasn't been helping their brand at all, now it gets cheers from the left and real victims of cyber bullying, but that does not represent the platform of Twitter.
The censorship game all started when Twitter started suspending conservative accounts in July 2016, with the biggest one being @Nero owned by Milo Yiannopoulos for insulting SNL's Leslie Jones for her Ghostbusters role. Whatever happened to using Twitter's own blocking and muting functions? If someone is insulting you or bullying you via Twitter, block or mute them, they go away. It's clear Leslie's ego was bigger, which is way her and Jack Dorsey talked personally and had Milo banned from Twitter for life. Read the full story from Breitbart, click the red B.
More recently, the infamous "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli was suspended earlier this month for "harassment". Read more about that from CBS News . Again, why can't anyone use the block or mute functions, specifically designed to give the user power on who can talk to them. Twitter was created so everyone can come on and share what they are doing, thinking, whatever they want to post, but the recent political climate has changed all that big time.
Today, according to the Daily Caller, Twitter announced they are developing tools to prevent users from saying "hateful" things on Twitter. Is that ridiculous or what? Twitter is purely restricting speech, and spitting on the 1st Amendment, sadly Twitter doesn't have to follow the 1st Amendment because businesses can create their own policies. It's just very sad, Twitter is doing this, and one couldn't even guess how it'll benefit their bottom line and their stock value.
Rumors have been floating around that Twitter may be bought, and with they way the company is going that may be truth in the near future. According to Fortune companies like Google, Disney, and Salesforce could be the ones to purchase the platform. Just two weeks ago Twitter sold their developing platform Fabric to Google, per Business Insider. That transaction could be the signal to something, but with Google buying it, don't expect censorship and political correctness to go away.
It seems as if Jack Dorsey really doesn't care for his company, but for the cause he's fighting for using his social media platform as a tool. In 2016 a number of top executives fled the company and that signals a problem within a company. Per Recode, here is a list of those who left Twitter in 2016:
Notice the amount of Vice Presidents who left. That triggers the alarms for investors and even consumers, but more so investors because they have money invested within the company. Again, Jack Dorsey seems not to care about Twitter's shareholders or stakeholders for that matter, but only cares about his social justice cause. It's reflected from many conservative accounts being purged, political incorrect accounts being purged, and the company developing ways to censor tweets.
If you check Twitter's settings, go to "Privacy and content", you'll see "Show me sensitive media" which is a setting where you can either see or not see photos or video that may be sensitive according to Twitter. If you go to the "Notifications" settings, you'll find "Quality Filter" and "Muted words". The "Quality Filter" is supposed to improve the quality of Tweets you see. The "Muted words" setting is literally designed for a user to type in any word(s), and any tweet that contain that word, or words, will not appear on your timeline. Apparently Twitter isn't stopping there, as stated above from the Daily Caller article, Twitter is taking steps to prevent tweets from being posted all together. That is some serious 1984 Orwellian stuff right there. One a quick note, Facebook is working with China on censorship, and have been caught censoring conservative news on their platform.
It's just sad, a social media network that had such potential and looked very promising is now failing. They're failing due to internal incompetence and censorship, Jack Dorsey let political correctness sway the way Twitter does business. TWTR will lose more than it gains, and soon Twitter will be bought by a company, and only God knows where Twitter will go from there. If the buyers are smart, they'll bring Twitter back to its roots, and promote freedom of speech for all and forever.
Here is Milo Yiannopoulos giving Twitter a funeral (Start video at 30 minutes in):
Snapchat, the once small photo sharing app now one of the most used social media platforms on the planet. Released in 2011 it was a simple concept, a photo sharing app that deletes the pictures after a limited amount of time. Snapchat now is much more than that, and they're parent company Snap announced, per Business Insider, that they'll be going public. Snap will be listed on NYSE and may value at $25 billion.
Starting as a class project created by Evan Spiegel (Snap Inc. CEO), Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown they turned it into a now multi-billion dollar company. Snapchat started as a picture sharing app where the photos vanished after a certain time limit, it evolved into video and chat, accompanied by filters and geotags, and has now blossomed into a full out social network.
According to Statista, as of June 2016, Snapchat had 150 million active daily users around the globe. One can assume that number has only grown since June of 2016, lets just guess 200 million users as of January 2017. Snapchat's users grow as the company grows, and the company has plenty of growling left to do.
Last year, Snap released Spectacles, which are camera glasses for Snapchat. These glasses have two camera's and are connected to your Snapchat account, what you see is what you post. Spectacles give you a glimpse as to where Snap wants to go next, being a camera company. Where can you get Spectacles? Snap will likely sell them all across the country, but for now they can only be found in California, Oklahoma, and New York. Spectacles have to be bought from a vending machine called a "Bot", and run for about $130.
Here's a quick video from Mashable on Spectacles:
The rate at which Snap is expanding, both as a company and in users, going public is a no-brainer. It also should make investors licking at their chops, because like stated above, at the rate this company is expanding, Snap has yet to peak. The better days lie ahead for Snap, and one could make the case they'll survive post IPO easier than they could argue against it.
Snapchat added "Discover" to their Snap Story section the Snapchat, where companies and Snapchat could post their own "stories" so people could "discover" them. This was brilliant both on Snapchat and the participating companies parts, because this opened the door to Snapchat for more users, money from the companies, and eventually advertising. Yes advertising, which really is the main reason why companies have a "discover" story on Snapchat. Not too long ago, Snapchat started running ads on not just "Discover" stories, but in between the Snapchat stories of your contacts; yes the golden ticket to revenue in the digital world, advertising.
Snapchat users, keep snapping and enjoying what Snap puts out. Snapchat just recently had an update which changed the user interface up a bit, and gives it a somewhat different theme, but still with the same Snaphchat feel to it. Snap even added a search function to Snapchat now and not just for contact searches, the search bar is literally on your camera screen.
Investors should be very excited and optimistic for this IPO. Snapchat has evolved significantly over the past 5 years and it's showing no sign of slowing up. Snapchat will only grow larger and could evolve into a much more complex social media platform than it is now. Spectacles will only grow in supply, be made more available, advertised, and increase in demand by the public. Snap will evolve into something much bigger than it is today, and back in February of 2015, Steve Tobak of Fox Business called it. Read that article.
You probably already know by now, that the feds track us someway somehow, but there is one way that is just plain uncomfortable and scary. Stingrays are their name, according to a Motherboard article, and Stingrays are cell tower simulators. Yes, they are pretty much fake cell phone towers.
This technology is used by almost all sectors of law enforcement, from FBI to local police departments, per a USA Today article from 2013. What the Stingrays do is, force all cell phones in that are to connect to it before rerouting them to real cell towers. By doing that, the Stingrays pick up all cellular data (Ex. location calls, messages, and IP address), and with that data law enforcemnet can track and build a profile.
Invasive don't you think? Violation of the 4th Amendemnt, don't you think? The FBI went as far as trying to hide the existence of this technology from the public until they got called out in it. It didn't take long after that, and in February of 2015, the FBI publically admitted they and others use Stingrays.
Per that same Motherboard article, here's FBI Director James Comey admitting it:
Comey goes on to defend its use, and it does make sense, but that's if you believe he's honest. Comey explains how the tech is used to help catch criminals and track terrorists, but what about all the other data the Stingrays collect? What about all the people who aren't criminals or terrorists that are unknowingly, without their consent, having their data sucked up by law enforcement? Why is it legal for the government to have a device that forces cell phones to connect to the Stingrays before connecting them to real cell towers?
Intrusive? Definitely. Violation of the 4th Amendment? It sure seems that way. Per Cornell:
Reading this you'd say, Stingrays clearly violate that, but notice nothing in there states digital devices such as telephones. However! In the dictionary the third noun definition of "effect" is personal belongings, and a cell phone is a personal belonging.
A quick Google search, returned many results of court cases against Stingray use, and even FCC complaints against Baltimore Police using the technology. The Baltimore Sun reported on this back in August, and the complaint was basically telling the FCC to "remind" police to follow the rules and hope to put an end to this.
That's another thing, what about the FCC? They regulate the very medium Stingrays use. That same Baltimore Sun article cites a FCC spokesman Neil Grace, and Grace said "The commission expects state and local law enforcement to work through the appropriate and legal processes to use these devices." Meaning they can still use them, and the FCC probably already knew. That's said because these devices have to use spectrum to operate, unless they're opertaing on someone elses spectrum or government held spectrum.
What about interference with other telecommunications in the area? Couldn't Stingrays do that if enough are operating in the same area? What about users trying to make a call or send a message, and these Stingrays drop it and/or delay it? Isn't that wrong too? Very unethical, and as stated above pretty unlawful. The FCC, if they don't know anything about Stingrays, probably could do more research and answer questions like those. Also at the end of the day, besides Congress, they have the authority to strike Stingrays down. What about the possibility of Stingrays being stolen or misused for hacking and identity theft? This technology could be devestating to people if fallen into the wrong hands.
Congress though, it wasn't until yesterday when a US House Oversight Committee held a hearing on this, and found out some pretty eye opening information.
One thing was The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice own about 400 Stingrays. The second thing is DHS and DOJ have spent about $95 million on cell phone tracking technology, all per The Washington Times. Federal agencies have 400 devices, and who knows how many local agencies have them, unless they get them from the DOJ. Spooky and Orwellian stuff here.
The report in that same Washington Times article, concluded that Congress wants to work on limiting use and ensuring citizens rights aren't violated. This also seems like Congress is gearing up for some sort of debate, or legislation on this. Hopefully people like, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), can gain traction in their houses and get legislation that really limits use of Stingrays.
It has been ruled that warrants are needed for obtaining the information from these devices, but there needs to a law or regulation limting the use of Stingrays in the first place. There are no local, state, or federal law against these devices, and there is no FCC regulation against them. Now to their defense, the feds tried hiding this tech for years, but surely some in all branches of government and FCC knew about it.
With Republicans controlling the House, Senate, and White House, legislation against Stingrays shouldn't be hard to pass. Now, this technology does serve a critical purpose, but it violates peoples 4th Amendment rights. Remember, not every person is a suspect or a terrorist, but technology like this is necessary, just not by forcing every persons cell phone to unknowingly give all it's data to a fake cell tower.
There needs to be FCC regulations, and there needs to be legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. The law needs to look a little like "Only under suspicion of criminal or terroristic intent, can the use of cell tower simulators be warranted. All information can only be searched and devices can only be seized with a court issued warrant." That would put an end to every citizen, without their consent, having all their data sucked up by law enforcement.
The FCC regulation would have to focus on spectrum use and where and when cell tower simulators could be used. There are no regulations or rules for their use. Maybe wireless carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and even those like Google, Apple, and Qualcomm could create technology that would counter Stingrays. They probably won't though, because that would land them in federal courts being sued by law enforcement agencies. Samsung would be a good candidate because they're a South Korean company, but why would they? They'd still get sued as well, and it'd lead into a bigger mess, but it's for the people at the end of the day.
Liberty and privacy is what makes a open and free society great, but there are those who wish to do harm that make others, like law enforcement, violate our liberty and privacy. This technology could even fall into the wrong hands and harm people by hacking and theft. This technology needs to be regulated and legislation needs to be written to limit this and protect the American citizen. We should hope that it won't be long until action is taken, and a better way to track criminals and thwart attacks comes along.