Jul 21, 2009 | 11
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) put politics above public safety in 2003 when it suppressed research estimating that cell phone use—both phone calls and text messaging—while driving had caused hundreds of thousands of car accidents and hundreds of crash-related deaths the previous year, the New York Times reports. This information came to light today when two Washington, D.C., consumer advocacy groups—Public Safety and the Ralph Nader-founded Center for Auto Safety—won their Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to make public the some 250 pages of research compiled in 2003.
Based on their research, a team of NHTSA workers estimated that cell phone use by drivers caused 955 fatalities and about 240,000 accidents in 2002. [The documents can be found on the Times Web site.] Other research reinforces the NHTSA's findings: motorists talking on a phone are four times as likely to crash as other drivers, and they are as likely to cause an accident as someone with a .08 blood alcohol content.
Apr 17, 2009 | 1
NEW YORK — The African continent may not be the first place people think of when technology is involved, but many of the countries there have come to depend on mobile phones as their primary means of communication (even more so than landline telephones or computers), and this dependence will only grow in the near future. This reliance on handheld gadgets may come at a cost though, given that they generally have poor cyber security in place, says Seymour Goodman, a Georgia Institute of Technology international affairs and computing professor and co-director of the school's Information Security Center.
Cell phones have flourished in Africa because many of the countries there have few landlines, and computers are still expensive, Goodman said at a Marconi Society symposium here yesterday. He noted that about 300 million of the world's nearly 3.5 billion cell phones are in Africa (which has a population of roughly one billion). "The people of Africa will appreciate that a $300 iPhone will do a lot more for their family than a $100 laptop," he added.
Mar 11, 2009 | 1
We've heard a lot about the potentially negative health effects of cell phones — that using them may or may not raise the risk of brain tumors, cause head pain and increase our chances of getting run over — and now it turns out that their ubiquity is causing problems for government scientists whose mission is to track the nation's wellbeing.
You'd never guess, but the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the statistical clearinghouse for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the most widely cited source of wireless usage in the U.S. Why? CDC traditionally conducts its national health surveys by randomly dialing landline telephone numbers. But six years ago it realized that was becoming a problem, because people were dropping their landline service in droves. How big a problem? In an effort to find out, the agency began measuring how many U.S. homes use only cell phones.
Jan 19, 2009 | 3
Chomping at the bit to Twitter, text and make cell phone calls from tomorrow's inauguration? You might want to limit your expectations: telecom providers say they're expecting record wireless and Internet traffic in the nation's capital, and are asking mobile users to wait until after the big event to start tweeting and calling, lest their messages get delayed and their calls met by busy signals.
The Wireless Association, an industry trade group based in Washington, D.C., is asking people to text instead of call, because it uses less bandwidth. For the same reason, it's also recommending that folks send mobile photos and video after Barack Obama is sworn in as president.
Dec 2, 2008 | 16
Free, broadband Internet service could become available across the country if the government okays a proposal to open up unused public airwaves to bidders.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to vote Dec. 18 on whether to auction off the so-called AWS-3 spectrum, an unused chunk of airwaves. The winner would have to agree to use at least 25 percent of the spectrum to build a free, national broadband network (one free of porn, too, for anyone except for "adults" who click online agreements claiming to be 18 or older), but could charge a fee for faster service on the remainder. The network would reach 95 percent of the U.S. population, especially those in rural areas where broadband is less accessible, according to FCC spokesperson Rob Kenny.
Nov 24, 2008 | 7
Verizon Wireless has fired employees who peeked at President-elect Barack Obama’s cell phone records, according to published reports.
The staffers were sacked on Friday, an unidentified source told CNN, adding, "we now consider this matter closed.”
It’s unknown how many employees were axed, or exactly what information they accessed, but the source says there's no way they listened to voice mails or read any text messages that Obama sent or received. But the staffers would have been able to see that voicemails were left in his account.
Nov 21, 2008 | 7
Verizon Wireless today apologized to President-elect Barack Obama after discovering that employees had snooped into his cell phone records in the latest example of a VIP’s private information being accessed by nosy staffers.
An Obama aide said that employees didn't listen to voicemails or read emails, but it's unclear exactly what records were accessed and when – or how many employees were involved. Verizon didn't return phone and email requests for comment but said in a statement that the snoops would be disciplined.
Oct 30, 2008
Remember when there were no cell phones? Hint: It was 25 years ago this month that the first commercial mobile call was made from the U.S., ushering in the era of constant communication.
Fittingly enough, Bob Barnett, then-president of Ameritech Mobile Communications, rang up the great-grandson of telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell in Germany. Barnett placed the call on a so-called brick phone (a Motorola DynaTAC 8000X that weighed a hefty two pounds, was 13 inches long, and could only be used for 30 minutes of conversation) from a Chrysler convertible in the parking lot of Chicago's Soldier Field, according to the Wireless Association, the industry's Washington, D.C.-based trade group. It cost nearly $4,000, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
Sep 25, 2008 | 1
Hey drivers, here's a thought: How about keeping your eyes (and ears) on the road instead of on your cell phone? Just have to chat or text message while driving? Then steer clear of California. It's already illegal to make calls on hand-held mobiles there, and now Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill into law that prohibits people from reading, writing or sending messages over wireless electronic devices while operating motor vehicles. The measure, state Senate Bill 28, takes effect Jan. 1.
First-time offenders will face a $20 fine; subsequent violations are $50 a pop.
The new law comes on the heels of the ban on using hand-held cell phones while driving, which took effect July 1. Both measures were sponsored by Democratic State Sen. Joe Simitian of Palo Alto.
Sep 17, 2008 | 2
First he told us he was the driving force behind Wi-Fi and cell phones. Now John McCain — who in July was still "learning how to get online" — has another tech feather in his cap: the BlackBerry.
The CrackBerry is "the miracle that John McCain helped create," an advisor to the GOP presidential nominee told reporters yesterday, adding to the snickering around McCain's statement earlier this week that "under my guiding hand, Congress developed a wireless spectrum policy that spurred the rapid rise of mobile phones and Wi-Fi technology."
With advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin's words echoing through cyberspace, the Al Gore comparisons are coming fast and furiously now — though we'd like to pat ourselves on the back for noting the similarity on Monday to the former VP's infamous declaration: "I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
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