Monthly Archives July 2014

Moto X Unlocks with Stick-On Tattoo

phonetattoosSome people cannot remember passwords. What if those people could get a removable stick-on tattoo that would unlock their phone for them? Motorola Moto X and Google Advanced Technology and Projects has made that possible with the help of a company called VivaLNK.

Using Near Field Communication technology, these removable tattoos – which are said to last about five days with showers and exercise – send a message to the smartphone authenticating the wearer.

Although the idea might sound bizarre to some, these tattoos mark a new age in digital security. Imagine if you were the only one who could access your phone because of a little mark on your wrist? The possibilities are wide and continue to be explored.

This newest innovation in wearable tech will be sold for $9.99 USD, in packages of 10. Essentially, 50 days of no passwords for $10. You decide whether or not it’s worth it.


FTC Launches Cramming Lawsuit Against T-Mobile

FTC cramming lawsuit

Federal Trade Commission Image

T-Mobile has had a few great months, experiencing substantial subscriber growth and favorable financial results. But the honeymoon appears to be over after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a hefty lawsuit accusing the company of ignoring customers’ complaints about bogus charges on their bills.

According to the FTC, T-Mobile ignored cramming – where scammers fraudulently place unauthorized charges on a user’s monthly phone bill via their service provider – and subsequently gave the cold shoulder those who complained, waiving only a portion of the fee for some and continuing to bill others. Those charges were for “premium” SMS subscriptions to services offering horoscope information, celebrity gossip or flirting tips.

The suit alleges T-Mobile pocketed 35 to 40 percent of revenues from those charges amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. Its billing practices made it difficult for customers to identify the bogus charges, which were listed in abbreviated form such as 8888906150BrnStorm23918. Prepaid customers do not receive bills and had the charges automatically withdrawn from their accounts without even realizing it.

“It’s wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, in a statement. “The FTC’s goal is to ensure that T-Mobile repays all its customers for these crammed charges.”

However, T-Mobile – whose controversial CEO John Legere is quick to attack other carriers for screwing over customers – has vociferously denied the claims, which it said were “unfounded and without merit.” It says it ceased billing customers for such services last year, and introduced a program that provides a full refund to any users who is charged for services to which they did not subscribe.

“This is about doing what is right for consumers and we put in place procedures to protect our customers from unauthorized charges,” said Legere, in a statement on the T-Mobile website. “Unfortunately, not all of these third party providers acted responsibly—an issue the entire industry faced. We believe those providers should be held accountable, and the FTC’s lawsuit seeking to hold T-Mobile responsible for their acts is not only factually and legally unfounded, but also misdirected.”

The Federal Communications Commission has also launched its own investigation.

*Source: Federal Trade Commission

Governments Losing Out on Telephone Tax Revenue

Telephone taxThe growing number of people using data-based connections to communicate is doing serious damage to the bottom line of many state and municipal governments, costing them millions in telephone tax revenue.

While voice calls placed on landlines or mobile networks can be taxed, those placed via the Internet cannot. The same goes for text messaging But with more and more people relying on data-based messaging services, the use of text messaging is on the decline, as are traditional telephone calls.

How does it add up? One report says the City of Phoenix is facing a $1.3 million shortfall, which could potentially train and equip 10 police officers. A library in Illinois is cutting back its operating hours after a $200,000 dip in telephone tax revenues.

“It is a concern for states and localities because this has been one of the most-reliable revenue streams they have,” Max Behlke, the manager of state-federal relations for the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, was quoted as saying.

From 2008 to 2012, the number of phone lines in the United States decreased to 140.9 million from 161.8 million. The downward trend is expected to continue.

*Source: The Columbus Dispatch