Texas Lawmakers Push Warrants for Cell-Phone Location Data While Cops Push Back

Categories: Technology

Alice Linahan, via Flickr
State Representative Bryan Hughes is pushing a bill that would require cops to obtain a warrant to retrieve cell-phone location data.
Since Texas lawmakers considered, but failed to pass, a measure requiring warrants for obtaining cell-phone location data in 2013, has been a major shift has occurred in public discourse over electronic privacy, thanks to disclosures, by Edward Snowden and others, of widespread government surveillance.

The bill, by Representative Bryan Hughes, is back for the 2015 session, this time with even more overwhelming support. The bill has 97 co-sponsors, or just about two-thirds of the chamber's membership. One thing about the debate hasn't changed: Big-city cops are still fighting the bill.

Under Hughes' proposal, police would need to go to a judge and establish probable cause before getting location data from the cell phone of someone they believe is linked crime, just as they are required to do before searching someone's house, car or the other contents of their cell phone. Location data here includes both precise geolocation or GPS data generated by a phone and data showing the phone's relative position to cell phone towers and Wi-Fi networks.

More »

Mark Cuban Just Finished a Net Neutrality-Bashing, Ayn Rand-Featuring Twitter Rant

Yeah. Not really.
If we've learned anything this week, it's that net neutrality is the real enemy. Ted Cruz let us know that it's Obamacare for the Internet. Rick Perry sent out a press release saying "President Obama's call to saddle 21st century technology with outdated, unnecessary regulations from the era of the Great Depression is alarming and will stifle innovation and growth." Now, on Thursday, it's Mark Cuban's turn.

More »

Bitcoin ATM Startup Hoping to Plant Its Flag in Dallas

Categories: Technology

An example of a bitcoin banknote.

Spencer Noon thinks bitcoin is going to change the world.

The cryptocurrency -- currently worth about $575 per unit -- was created as an anonymous, digital means to provide verifiable online transactions outside the realms of governments and regulations. Despite high profile setbacks like the Mt. Gox disaster, in which $460 million worth of bitcoin simply disappeared from the world's largest bitcoin exchange, Noon and his startup, BTCity, think that there's enough demand for brick-and-mortar purchases that it's planning to install a series of ATMs to dispense bitcoins around the United States.

BTCity plans to put one of its first machines in Dallas, making the city the second in Texas, after Austin, to have one.

"We narrowed in on Dallas after surveying the biggest cities in the country and ultimately decided the area was a perfect fit in terms of demographics and sentiment towards virtual currencies," Noon says.

More »

How a Picture of a Kid Peeing Turned Into a Victory for Cell Phone-Privacy Rights in Texas

Categories: News, Technology

Anthony Granville didn't set out to strike a blow for privacy rights on the fateful day in November 2010 when he snapped a cell-phone photo in a boy's restroom at Huntsville High School. Quite the opposite, in fact. According to prosecutors, Granville's photo, taken without the subject's permission, showed another student urinating.

When he was told of the photo, Huntsville High school resource officer Everett Harrell recognized it as a potential case of improper photography, a state jail felony. He just needed the picture to prove it.

Harrell got his chance the next day when Granville was booked into the county lockup on an unrelated charge of causing a disturbance on a school bus. He drove to the jail, retrieved Granville's cell phone from the property room, and printed a copy of the picture.

More »

A Dallas Mom Is Trying to Take Down Chimpmania.com after Site Targets Quadruple-Amputee Daughter

Categories: News, Technology

A year ago, CBS 11 brought the world the tragic but ultimately hopeful story of Whitney Mitchell. The Dallas woman, 21 at the time, had been an aspiring dancer until sepsis took all four limbs when she was 18. She was learning to walk again with prosthetics and dreamed of becoming a fashion designer.

Not everyone found her story heartwarming, as Mitchell soon learned from the Internet.

"Every now and then she'll Google her name," Mitchell's mother, Patricia Kirven, explains. Not out of vanity but because paraphiliacs, aka "devotees," will "steal her pictures, and they'll put them on these kind of amputee-porn sites."

More »

Meet Graham Smith, the 16-Year-Old Dallas Boy Who Hacked Snapchat to Reveal Security Flaws

Categories: Technology

Graham Smith
Because you can never have too many reasons to feel inadequate about your teenage years, we'd like to introduce you to 16-year-old Graham Smith. By day, he's your typical Episcopal School of Dallas sophomore. By night, he's a white-hat hacker who's recently gained notoriety by exposing security flaws in Snapchat.

Calling Smith Snapchat's "nemesis," as The Daily Beast did on Wednesday, is probably something of an overstatement. That title should probably be reserved for whoever orchestrated the massive data breach of the picture-messaging app.

Smith's more like a lonely heckler, shouting unsolicited -- but useful -- advice from the sidelines.

More »

UTA Researchers Create Super Tiny Micro-Windmills

Categories: Technology

Think of it as the intersection between origami and semiconductor manufacturing. Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have invented a nickel-alloy windmill so tiny that 10 of them could be comfortably anchored to a grain of rice.

Smitha Rao and J.-C Chiao successfully tested the device, composed entirely of aerodynamic, two-dimensional materials, using strong artificial winds. An immediate application could be to charge the battery of a smartphone. Embed hundreds, if not thousands, of the tiny turbines on the sleeve of a phone, then "when the phone is out of battery power, all you need to do is to put on the sleeve, wave the phone in the air for a few minutes and you can use the phone again," Chiao says.

More »

Texas Supreme Court Will Decide If Defamatory Comments Can Be Forcibly Removed From the Internet

Categories: Courts, Technology

A book Texas Supreme Court justices might want to peruse between now and tomorrow morning.
On Thursday, the Texas Supreme Court will thrust itself into a debate as old as the Internet: Is the web a place where ideas and opinions, often vile, sometimes damaging, should be allowed to flow unencumbered? Or should there be some means of identifying defamatory speech and purging it from the Internet?

At first glance, the case they will hear is a rather parochial dispute between Robert Kinney, an Austin businessman, and Andrew Harrison Barnes, his former boss. Barnes, according to court documents, posted comments on a couple of websites he runs suggesting Kinney had been involved in a kickback and bribery scheme. Kinney got mad and sued Barnes, demanding that he be forced to remove the posts.

A court in Travis County dismissed the case. A state appeals court upheld the decision, ruling that "a permanent injunction requiring the removal of the alleged defamatory statement from Barnes' website would act as prior restraint on constitutionally protected speech."

More »

An Icepocalypse Dognapping Mystery Was Solved When a Redditor Confessed

It started as a Icemageddon mystery. Sometime between 6 and 9 p.m. on Friday night, a 10-month-old Greater Swiss Mountain Dog named Heidi went missing from her Fort Worth back yard. Her owners canvassed the neighborhood and put up fliers but to no avail. Finally, on day three, they turned to Reddit.

More »

Ex-Con Who Explained Texas Prison Life to Reddit Gets Life Sentence on Rape Conviction

Categories: Crime, Technology

Reddit prisoner.jpg
Last August, a couple of years removed from a two-year stint in the Texas prison system, John David Waguepack sat down for a thoroughly fascinating Reddit "Ask Me Anything," or AMA, in which he offered a highly detailed, unvarnished glimpse of life behind bars.

Among the subjects he touches on are sexual violence ("[It's] not like first-hand porn style. It happens fairly often, but is usually done in secluded areas and while the majority of people are elsewhere."); dessert ("White guys buy each other ice-cream at commissary. It's not a big deal and you don't have to do it, but it's an understood rule. When I was first approached about it, I thought the guy was trying to make me his bitch and went off on him."); and a typical 8 p.m. ("Poop in front of 50 guys. Take another shower. Jerk off in the shower. There is no curtain. All 50 guys can see you jerking off.").

Waguespack was equally forthcoming about how he wound up in prison.

More »

Now Trending