Multiple sources (but mostly CNN Business) are reporting that Amazon will offer their Prime customers the option to select “Amazon Day” for their delivery option. An Amazon Day selection means customers may select a specific day of the week to receive all their packages from the company, instead of Amazon delivering packages to them through the week.

This is Amazon’s plan to “reduce its carbon footprint and give customers more control over when they receive their packages.” Seems like a legit idea to me. Especially for folks who order from Amazon multiple times per week. The only minor issue issue I see could be one of storage space. I know Amazon already has many warehouses where they store product but this seems to be slightly different. For example: Let’s say over the course of a week you order ten things from Amazon and want them all delivered the following Monday. And then millions of other folks do the exact same thing. Suddenly, that’s means Amazon has a large amount of things to store until Monday morning. Which, could be an issue. But, I guess the counter argument is that storage is probably only a minor logistical problem - for a company a large as Amazon. Fair enough.

Again, it should be noted that only Prime member will receive the Amazon Day option and you don’t need to select it. If you wish, you can continue to get your shipments daily. I’ve also read that by, “2030, Amazon wants half of its shipments to be carbon neutral.” To me that says that Amazon Day, for now, is optional. But it might suggest that it will become the norm at some time in the future.

I think the once per week delivery option is actually a great idea. Much better then Amazon’s previous “make the delivery process smoother” idea - the Amazon Key. If you are unfamiliar with the idea, Amazon’s Key is a security camera, door lock and Cloud storage for about $250. You instal Amazon’s Security System and Key and that will allow Amazon drivers to unlock your Amazon lock, and deliver your packages inside your home when you are away.

I mean, safe packages - that’s cool. But … allowing strangers into your home - not so much.  

And, after a quick Google search for “Amazon Key sales” it appears as if Amazon Key has been wildly unsuccessful and hugely unpopular. And I am not surprised.

Anyway.

Amazon Key. Nope.

Amazon Day. Sign me up!

Published in News & Information

The United States Supreme Court’s next decision will determine whether a warrant is needed for law enforcement to review your cellphone location data. It was announced Monday that Carpenter v. U.S. will be heard by the Supreme Court and determine whether your cellphone location data is your cellphone location data and not public information.

Timothy Carpenter is alleged to have committed multiple armed robberies in the Midwest from 2010 to 2011, but he was convicted of six robberies because a prosecutor sought and obtained cellphone location data spanning more than five months, placing Carpenter in the area of the crimes.

Currently, law enforcement needs no warrant to view cellphone location data because of the Stored Communications Act, which was supposed to bolster the weak Fourth Amendment when it comes to protecting your data stored online. Only a subpoena and prior notice are required of law enforcement to entice a service provider to disclose the contents of an email or files stored online.

Carpenter’s appeal to three judges of the Sixth Circuit was unsuccessful because Carpenter “had no reasonable expectation of privacy in cellphone location records held by his service provider.” Expect the conservative majority Supreme Court to uphold this decision because you are not required to use a cellphone. You choose to use a cellphone because of how much easier it makes your life. You are not required to store information online. You choose to store information online so you can easily access it from anywhere. Again, you are choosing serenity over security -- publicity over privacy. You are at the discretion of your cellphone carrier when you sign a contract or purchase minutes for your cellphone. It’s no different than signing a contract with an internet service provider who can monitor your online habits and sell that information to advertisers.

Storing data online is a form of publication. Regardless of how you encrypt it or password-protect it, people who want access will get it. There are things you can do to avoid ending up like Carpenter, though.

Turn Off Location Services

If you’re going to commit a crime, turn off your location services in the privacy settings of your cellphone. You can always turn location services back on when you’re looking for a place to eat near you or trying to catch a bus, but unless you want law enforcement and the government to know your exact whereabouts at any given time, turn off location services when you don’t require them.

Turning off location services does not keep law enforcement or the government from determining your approximate location. As long as you are connected to a cell tower, your carrier can determine your approximate location. The only way to avoid this is to turn off your cellphone altogether.

Deactivate Your Fingerprint Scanner

One of the easiest ways people can gain access to cellphone data is by obtaining a cellphone that unlocks via the fingerprint scanner. Of course, many of the known hacks still require the finger of the cellphone owner to create a mold, but imagine you’re suspected of a crime like Carpenter. All authorities would need to unlock the data on your cellphone is your finger, and courts have repeatedly ruled with law enforcement on this issue.

If you’re dead, whoever wants to access your phone doesn’t even need your permission. Say you recorded video or audio of a murder. The murderer would just need your dead hand to delete the evidence. Determining which of the 10,000 possible combinations your passcode could be would take a lot longer.

Buy a Blackphone

A recent review of four smartphones for privacy and security by Gadget Hacks resulted in the Blackphone 2 taking the title as most secure cellphone. Blackphone’s manufacturer Silent Circle offers a year’s worth of encrypted phone calls and messages for free, so not even your carrier can intercept your communications. The phone also warns you when it’s connected to a suspicious cell tower in an attempt to protect your calls and text messages from StingRay surveillance devices used by the government.

What might be the best feature of the Blackphone, though, is the speed in which bugs are fixed. Silent Circle offers up to $1,024 for any bugs found with the phone’s security, and security updates that fix known bugs are released within 72 hours of the bug being discovered. The other three phones reviewed have security patches ready in a month or so.

Setup Remote Wipe

One of the best ways to protect your mobile data is to delete it if your phone is lost or stolen. With Find My iPhone, you can log on to iCloud and delete your data from any other device. Here’s how you do it on Android devices.

Backup Your Cellphone Data on a Secure Drive

If you want to protect your cellphone data, backing it up to the cloud is pretty oxymoronic. Your backup data should be stored on a secure computer or hard drive that’s encrypted and password-protected. You should keep multiple, encrypted backups as well, in case your computer drive fails.

Use a VPN

I cannot stress enough the importance, convenience and sense of security that comes with using a virtual private network. For less than $4 per month, you can dictate the IP address location of all your devices so internet service providers and websites can’t monitor your online habits. This comes in handy when you use public wifi networks at the library, restaurants or even at the office. You’re more likely to come across spies on these networks, but with a VPN, the spies can’t see a thing. It really is worth the money. Plus, you can use a VPN to workaround blackout restrictions so you can watch your favorite baseball team’s games online.

Use Anti-Malware and Antivirus Software on your Cellphone

Unless you’re using an iPhone, you should have some sort of anti-malware and antivirus app on your cellphone. Apple’s iOS is more secure by design, but if you jailbreak your iPhone, you should be using an anti-malware and antivirus app. Over 95 percent of malware attacks were targeting Android devices, so if you use an Android device, it’s critical that you have a line of defense against these attacks. You can even install a firewall to protect your device.

Use a Wifi Calling and Messaging Service

The best thing you can do to limit the amount of data cellphone carriers have on you is to not pay a cellphone carrier for service. Talkatone is a free, wifi calling and messaging service that allows you to do everything a cellphone carrier provides as long as you’re connected to a wifi network. If you do most of your calling and messaging from a place with a wifi network, you seldom need to use a cellphone tower, so don’t.

The only downside to not having cellphone data is if you live in a rural area that lacks public wifi networks. It makes it hard to send and receive calls and messages if you’re rarely around a wifi. If you rely on your cellphone as a GPS while driving, you’ll sacrifice that convenience, but we’ve managed to find our way with maps and atlases for centuries.

So there’s seven ways to protect your cellphone data. Take advantage of all of them so you don’t end up like Timothy Carpenter, whether you’re guilty or not.

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If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: The Tech Night Owl, Free Talk Live, The Dr. Katherine Albrecht Show, Erskine Overnight, Home Talk, The Josh Tolley Show, The Tom Chenault Show

Published in News & Information