Why Do You Have Two Telephone Numbers? Use an Amazon Echo Instead.

According to a recently published U.S. Health Department report at http://bit.ly/2icwvuw, 50.8 percent of American homes don’t have a landline telephone. Instead, the residents use a cellphone as their only phone or use a computerized VoIP phone or other, alternative telephone device. The number of landlines in homes has declined in recent years and apparently will continue to fall. There’s simply no need to have both an old-fashioned wired home phone and a cellphone. Having duplicate phones is unnecessary and expensive.

Perhaps even worse is the difficulty of anyone trying to call you when you have two or more telephone numbers. If they know you well, perhaps they know to call one number during certain hours of the day and a different number at other times. If they don’t reach you on the first number (and they should be able to do so), the caller then has to know to call a second number.

I have been using a cell phone as my only telephone number for several years. However, I recently slid backwards: I added a second “phone” in my home. Admittedly, it is not a normal telephone. I use it mostly for outgoing calls, so my callers never need to be concerned with which number is needed to call me. The new “phone” provides high-quality audio, a built-in speakerphone, and, if appropriate hardware is used on both ends of the conversation, video calling. The new device also performs many other functions besides making telephone calls. Best of all, there is no need for telephone wires connected to the house nor for a monthly bill from the local telephone company. In fact, my new device provides free calls after the hardware has been purchased.

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Volunteers Around the World Build Surveillance-Free Cellular Network Called ‘Sopranica’

Most people in the United States—and increasingly, around the world—carry the most sophisticated surveillance devices ever created in their pockets day in and day out. Although smartphones have enabled governments and corporations to track our movements and monitor our conversations with unprecedented ease, these devices are also an incredibly useful personal tool and have become an indispensable part of modern life.

Sopranica is a do-it-yourself grass roots project to create a competitive community-oriented cell phone network. “Sopranica is a project intended to replace all aspects of the existing cell phone network with their freedom-respecting equivalents,” says Denver Gingerich, the programmer behind Sopranica. “Taking out all the basement firmware on the cellphone, the towers that track your location, the payment methods that track who you are and who owns the number, and replacing it so we can have the same functionality without having to give up all the privacy that we have to give up right now. At a high level, it’s about running community networks instead of having companies control the cell towers that we connect to.”

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Microsoft Is Using Cortana To Read Your Private Skype Conversations

Are you using Skype? If so, perhaps you should switch to something that is more secure.

Brian Fagioli shares a report from BetaNews:

“So, here’s the deal, folks. In order for this magical “in-context” technology to work, Cortana is constantly reading your private conversations. If you use Skype on mobile to discuss private matters with your friends or family, Cortana is constantly analyzing what you type. Talking about secret business plans with a colleague? Yup, Microsoft’s assistant is reading those too. Don’t misunderstand — I am not saying Microsoft has malicious intent by adding Cortana to Skype; the company could have good intentions. With that said, there is the potential for abuse. Microsoft could use Cortana’s analysis to spy on you for things like advertising or worse, and that stinks. Is it really worth the risk to have smart replies and suggested calendar entries? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not have my Skype conversations read by Microsoft.”

Brian Fagioli’s complete report may be found at: https://slashdot.org/~BrianFagioli.

Court rules Stingray use Without a Warrant Violates Fourth Amendment

The Washington DC Court of Appeals overturned a Superior Court conviction of a man who was located by police using a cell-site simulator, or Stingray. The court ruled that the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when law enforcement tracked down the suspect using his own cell phone without a warrant.

Stingrays work by pretending to be a cell tower and once they’re brought close enough to a particular phone, that phone pings a signal off of them. The Stingray then grabs onto that signal and allows whoever’s using it to locate the phone in question. These sorts of devices are used by a number of different agencies including the FBI, ICE, the IRS as well as police officers. However, those agencies will no longer be able to (legally) use the devices.

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Things You Don’t See Anymore

An article in the BBC News web site points out one major change in lifestyles in the past decade: the number of U.S. homes that have an old-fashioned, wired telephone obtained from the local telephone company has now dropped to less than 50%. That is a number that few people would have dreamed of ten years ago.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveyed thousands of Americans and found most American homes contain at least one cell phone; but, for the first time ever, fewer than half the homes have a wired phone obtained from the telephone company.

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We Have Lots of Encrypted Chat Capabilities, Why Not Add Encrypted Calls?

If encryption works for text-based chat, voice seems like a natural extension. If only it were that easy.

Encrypted voice calls can circumvent government wiretaps, or criminal snooping. But a host of technical challenges with facilitating the calls themselves has slowed the spread of voice over internet protocol overall.

You can read the details in an article by Lily Hay Newman in Wired at http://bit.ly/2p566TT.

However, encrypted voice applications do exist. See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aprivacyblog.com+voice+encryption&t=ha&ia=web for some past articles about voice encryption, mostly about applications that are available today.

Who Did You Say Is Listening to My Cell Phone Calls?

The Ooma Blog has a short article that explains how anyone who knows your cell phone number has the ability to hear your calls, read your texts, and track your location (even if GPS is turned off). I suggest this article be required reading for anyone who is concerned about privacy and does not want anyone listening in.

The article is obviously designed to promote Ooma’s VoIP telephone service, which is encrypted. However, I have used Ooma for several years and love the service so I don’t mind the advertising.

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