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Medical and tech experts warn against gifting smartphones and wi-fi enabled toys to children
USA Created: 24 Nov 2021
This holiday season, “Choose safe toys for your children, not wi-fi connected toys or smartphones,” is the message the Environmental Health Trust is sharing after recently winning a victory in the US. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit. The court ordered the Federal Communications Commission to explain why it ignored scientific evidence showing harm from wireless radiation. Included in the evidence that the FCC ignored, are studies on the impact of wireless exposure to children.

Because children’s skulls are thinner and their brains and bodies contain more fluid, they will absorb more cell phone microwave radiation. The American Academy of Pediatrics has made recommendations that parents should limit cell phone use by children, keep the phone away from the head and instead of streaming wirelessly, pre-download games and videos so children can use the technology more safely in airplane mode.

Studies at National Institutes of Health National Toxicology Program found cell phone radiation led to cancers in the hearts and brains of male rats. DNA damage was also found. In 2021, a study by the Environmental Working Group published in Environmental Health, analyzed the NIH NTP study and concluded that U.S. safety limits needed to be 200 to 400 times stronger to protect children. A Yale Medicine study found that mice prenatally exposed to cell phone radiation had increased hyperactivity and impaired memory.

“Cell phones were never pre-market tested for long-term safety,” said Devra Davis, Ph.D., president of the Environmental Health Trust, a scientific think tank that promotes healthier environment through research, education and policy. “Safety limits for radiation were set 25 years ago, based on 35-year-old science and using a model of a large, adult male. Over a dozen countries inform parents to limit their children’s exposure because they are more vulnerable and will have a lifetime of exposure,” Davis explained. “Parents assume they’re buying devices and toys that have been deemed safe but no U.S. health agency has ever completed a systematic evaluation of the health risks of wireless radiation.”

While all cell phones have fine print warnings about keeping a distance between the phone and the body, the instructions are easy to miss. For instance, the Apple iPhone 13 should not be closer than 5 mm. The Amazon Echo has a distance of 20 cm, or about 8 inches. Laptops and many wi-fi toys advise keeping an “8-inch distance” from the body. When cellphones and wi-fi devices are held close to the body, the wireless radiation absorption can exceed U.S. safety limits that were set for adults more than two decades ago.

Here are EHT’s recommendations for parents this holiday season to keep kids safe:

Gift toys, dolls and games without cellular and wireless connection.

Hold off on getting your child a smartphone.

Choose a regular watch— wi-fi free instead of a smartwatch.

Ensure cameras have a setting to turn the wi-fi antenna off.

Teach children to set devices onto airplane mode so wireless antenna are OFF.

Avoid drones as gifts.

Set up laptops, tablets and computers on a desk and do not let the child use them on his/her lap.

Connect devices with ethernet rather than wi-fi.

Because smartphones, smart toys and other smart home devices have become ubiquitous in our daily lives, we rarely think about how this technology works. But it’s not holiday magic—it’s wireless microwave radiation. All wireless devices from smartphones to wi-fi and connected dolls and stuffed animals, are two-way microwave radios that send and receive a type of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation called radio frequency or RF radiation or microwaves.

Many physicians are cautioning about how this daily exposure will affect children’s health in the long term. Before buying your child a wi-fi toy or a cell phone this holiday, be sure to learn the facts. EHT has resources for parents on how to reduce exposure at home.

Sources:

Environmental Health Trust

Founded in 2007, Environmental Health Trust, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is a think tank that promotes a healthier environment through research, education and policy. EHT conducts cutting edge research on environmental health hazards and works with communities, health, education professionals and policymakers to understand and mitigate these hazards. Currently, EHT works with scientists, policymakers, teachers, parents and students to promote awareness on how to practice safe technology. EHT was created to promote health and preventing disease one person, one community and one nation at a time. For more information on Environmental Health Trust, visit www.ehtrust.org.

Devra Lee Davis, Ph.D. MPH

Founder and President of Environmental Health Trust, also was the founding director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology of the U.S. National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences. Among the NAS reports she directed were those advising that tobacco smoke be removed from airplanes and the environments of young children.

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Source: The Island News, 17 Nov 2021

Satellite Internet-of-Things dreams are crashing into reality
USA Created: 23 Oct 2021
Several IoT startups that have built business plans around combined terrestrial and satellite networks have given up on the satellite portion of their dreams. Most recently, Hiber, a European satellite IoT provider, said this week that it will partner with Inmarsat’s new Elera network for the space-based portion of its network, using LoRaWAN for the rest.

Last month, Hiber filed with the FCC to drop plans to launch its own constellation. Meanwhile, Myriota, another startup, has partnered with a company called Spire rather than launch its own birds. We also saw Swarm agree to be acquired by SpaceX after proving out its business model and launching 120 small sats.

What on earth is going on with this space? I reached out to Tim Farrar, an analyst who covers the satellite industry, for his insights. Y’all may remember Farrar, who is the president of TMF Associates, from a bearish interview he gave on the podcast back in August 2019, when he warned that the economics of providing low-cost connectivity for IoT devices and the costs of operating a satellite network were out of whack.

Indeed, that’s what’s driving companies such as Myriota and Hiber to change their plans, and is what’s behind the acquisition of Swarm. Even with smaller satellites, building a profitable wireless network is hard. On one side, there’s a capital-intensive phase that requires establishing connectivity (in this case, by building and launching satellites) and on the other, these companies must establish a market for the connectivity.

But while the economics of building and launching satellites have changed dramatically, the demand for devices that rely on satellite networks hasn’t kept up. The biggest growth has come from people-tracking products, such as the Garmin inReach walkie-talkies, which people can wear into the wilderness and use to get help if needed. There are also rumors that Apple may include some form of satellite service in an upcoming iPhone.

While this is a real and growing market, however, it isn’t enough to justify the launch of constellations by almost a dozen companies whose goal is to be IoT connectivity providers. So former connectivity players eschew bandwidth and turn to full solutions in order to provide a service that isn’t a commodity and eke out more revenue per customer.

This is the goal Hiber is working toward by providing the sensors and software that can be used to monitor pressure, location, temperature, and even vibration. In that situation, connectivity is just infrastructure as opposed to a competitive advantage, which is why we see the company turning to Inmarsat for service. Farrar noted to me that several companies are making this pivot, and wondered how well they will do.

As he put it: “The issue is, again, if you started your company with satellite techs to make small sats and launch them, then pivoting to analytics and solutions is all very well, but are you going to win against someone who has expertise in that area?”

Another challenge for companies that are using small satellites is that they tend to degrade faster. That means a company that wants to build a viable business selling connectivity has only a year or two to get the satellites (and network) operational, with lots of coverage, and then find customers who will help fund the next capital injection required for the launch of new satellites. Whereas when the satellite companies built giant birds in the 90s, they were able to sit there for a few years (sometimes those companies filed for bankruptcy) before demand picked up to the point where there’d be enough revenue to sustain a continual refresh of the constellation.

According to Farrar, an unwillingness to fight through this cycle without a clear plan for a large customer base is what prompted Swarm to sell to SpaceX. Such an unwillingness is also what helps drive satellite startups such as Myriota and Hiber to look to larger, more well-funded players for the network.

Companies such as Spire, which is publicly traded; BlackSky, which went public last month via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC); and Planet Labs, which will raise more than $500 million via a SPAC; are the beneficiaries of this decision-making. As an aside, Spire is a good example of a company trying to offer analytics in addition to connectivity.

There’s clearly a lot of money and investor interest in funding satellite connectivity, especially for the IoT. While we’re only a few years into the wave of startups built on the premise of everything needing to be connected, some winners are emerging. And those companies are banking on more than simple connections. They need an analytics story and cash — a lot of cash.
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Source: Stacey on IoT, Stacey Higginbotham, 19 Oct 2021

THE MOST DANGEROUS TECHNOLOGY EVER INVENTED, part 1.
USA Created: 20 Oct 2021
In 1995, the telecommunications industry was preparing to introduce a dangerous new product to the United States: the digital cell phone. Existing cell phones were analog and expensive, owned mostly by the wealthy, used for only a few minutes at a time. Many were car phones whose antennas were outside the car, not held in one’s hand and not next to one’s brain. Cell phones worked only in or near large cities. The few cell towers that existed were mostly on hilltops, mountaintops, or skyscrapers, not close to where people lived.

The problem for the telecommunications industry in 1995 was liability. Microwave radiation was harmful. Cell phones were going to damage everyone’s brain, make people obese, and give millions of people cancer, heart disease and diabetes. And cell towers were going to damage forests, wipe out insects, and torture and kill birds and wildlife.

This was all known. Extensive research had already been done in the United States, Canada, the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere. Biologist Allan Frey, under contract with the U.S. Navy, was so alarmed by the results of his animal studies that he refused to experiment on humans. “I have seen too much,” he told colleagues at a symposium in 1969. “I very carefully avoid exposure myself, and I have for quite some time now. I do not feel that I can take people into these fields and expose them and in all honesty indicate to them that they are going into something safe.”

Frey discovered that microwave radiation damages the blood-brain barrier -- the protective barrier that keeps bacteria, viruses and toxic chemicals out of your brain and keeps the inside of your head at a constant pressure, preventing you from having a stroke. He discovered that both people and animals can hear microwaves. He discovered that he could stop a frog’s heart by timing microwave pulses at a precise point in the heart’s rhythm. The power level he used for that experiment was only 0.6 microwatts per square centimeter, thousands of times lower than the radiation from today’s cell phones.

Ophthalmologist Milton Zaret, who had contracts with the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as with the Central Intelligence Agency, discovered in the 1960s that low-level microwave radiation causes cataracts. In 1973, he testified before the Commerce Committee of the United States Senate. “There is a clear, present and ever-increasing danger,” he told the senators, “to the entire population of our country from exposure to the entire non-ionizing portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The dangers cannot be overstated…” Zaret told the committee about patients who not only had cataracts caused by exposure to microwaves, but also malignant tumors, cardiovascular disease, hormonal imbalance, arthritis and mental illness, as well as neurological problems in children born to them. These patients ranged from military personnel exposed to radar to housewives exposed to their microwave ovens.

“The microwave oven leakage standard set by the Bureau of Radiological Health,” he told the committee, “is approximately 1 billion times higher than the total entire microwave spectrum given off by the Sun. It is appalling for these ovens to be permitted to leak at all, let alone for the oven advertisements to encourage our children to have fun learning to cook with them!” The microwave oven leakage standard, today in 2021, is the same as it was in 1973: 5 milliwatts per square centimeter at a distance of 5 centimeters. And the microwave exposure levels to the brain from every cell phone in use today are higher than that.

The Navy, at that time, was exposing soldiers to low-level microwave radiation in research being conducted in Pensacola, Florida. Echoing Frey, Zaret said these experiments were unethical. “I don’t believe it is possible,” he told the Senate committee, “to get informed, untainted consent from any young adult who agrees to be exposed to irradiation where you are not sure of what the end result is going to be… Also, that any children that he has at some future time may suffer from this irradiation.” He reemphasized the ethical problems with this research: “I think if it was explained fully to them and they still volunteered, for this project, one would question their mental capacity right off the start.”

Scientists experimenting on birds were just as alarmed by their results, and issued warnings about the environmental effects of the radiation our society was unleashing on the world that were just as dire as the warnings delivered to Congress by Milton Zaret, and the warnings delivered to the Navy by Allan Frey.

In the late 1960s and continuing through the 1970s, John Tanner and his colleagues at Canada’s National Research Council exposed chickens, pigeons and seagulls to microwave radiation, and found frightening effects at every level of exposure. Chickens exposed to between 0.19 and 360 microwatts per square centimeter for nine months developed tumors of the central nervous system, and avian leukosis – also a type of tumor -- of ovaries, intestines and other organs which in some birds reached “massive proportions,” on “a scale never seen before by veterinarians experienced with avian diseases.” Mortality was high in the irradiated birds. All the exposed birds, at every power level, had deteriorated plumage, with feathers lost, broken or with twisted and brittle shafts.

In other experiments, in which these researchers irradiated birds at higher power, the birds collapsed in pain within seconds. This occurred not only when the whole bird was irradiated but also when only its tail feathers were irradiated and the rest of the bird was carefully shielded. In further experiments, they proved that bird feathers make fine receiving aerials for microwaves, and speculated that migratory birds may use their feathers to obtain directional information. These scientists warned that increasing levels of ambient microwaves would cause wild birds distress and might interfere with their navigation.

Maria Sadchikova, working in Moscow; Václav Bartoniček and Eliska Klimková-Deutshová, working in Czechoslovakia; and Valentina Nikitina, who examined officers of the Russian Navy, found, as early as 1960, that the majority of people exposed to microwave radiation on the job -- even people who had ceased such employment five to ten years previously -- had elevated blood sugar or had sugar in their urine.

Animal experiments showed that the radiation directly interferes with metabolism, and that it does so rapidly. In 1962, V.A. Syngayevskaya, in Leningrad, exposed rabbits to low level radio waves and found that the animals’ blood sugar rose by one-third in less than an hour. In 1982, Vasily Belokrinitskiy, in Kiev, reported that the amount of sugar in the urine was in direct proportion to the dose of radiation and the number of times the animal was exposed. Mikhail Navakitikian and Lyudmila Tomashevskaya reported in 1994 that insulin levels decreased by 15 percent in rats exposed for just half an hour, and by 50 percent in rats exposed for twelve hours, to pulsed radiation at a power level of 100 microwatts per square centimeter. This level is comparable to the radiation a person receives today sitting directly in front of a wireless computer, and considerably less than what a person’s brain receives from a cell phone.

These were just a few of the thousands of studies being performed all over the world at that time that found profound effects of microwave radiation on every human organ, and on the functioning and reproduction of every plant and animal. Lieutenant Zory Glaser, commissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1971 to catalogue the world’s literature on the health effects of microwave and radio-frequency radiation, collected 5,083 studies, textbooks and conference proceedings by 1981. He managed to find about half of the literature existing at that time. So about 10,000 studies had proven microwave and RF radiation to be dangerous to all life, already before 1981.

Cooking Your DNA and Roasting Your Nerves

In the early 1980s Mays Swicord, working at the National Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the Food and Drug Administration, decided to test his conjecture that DNA resonantly absorbs microwave radiation, and that even a very low level of radiation, although producing no measurable heat in the human body as a whole, may nevertheless heat your DNA. He exposed a solution containing a small amount of DNA to microwave radiation, and found that the DNA itself was absorbing 400 times as much radiation as the solution that it was in, and that different lengths of DNA strands resonantly absorb different frequencies of microwave radiation. So even though the overall temperature of your cells may not be raised to any detectable degree by the radiation, the DNA inside your cells may be heated tremendously. Swicord’s later research confirmed that this damages DNA, causing both single- and double-strand DNA breakage.

Professor Charles Polk of the University of Rhode Island reported essentially the same thing at the twenty-second annual meeting of the Bioelectromagnetics Society in June 2000 in Munich, Germany. Direct measurements had recently shown that DNA is much more electrically conductive than anyone had suspected: it has a conductivity of at least 105 siemens per meter, which is about 1/10 as conductive as mercury! A cell phone held to your head may irradiate your brain at a specific absorption rate (SAR) of about 1 watt per kilogram, which produces little overall heating. Polk calculated, however, that this level of radiation would raise the temperature in the interior of your DNA by 60 degrees Celsius per second! He said that the tissues cannot dissipate heat that rapidly, and that such heating would rupture the bonds between complementary strands of DNA, and would explain the DNA breakage reported in various studies.

And in 2006, Markus Antonietti, at Germany’s Max Planck Institute, wondered whether a similar type of resonant absorption occurs in the synapses of our nerves. Cell phones are designed so the radiation they emit will not heat your brain more than one degree Celsius. But what happens in the tiny environment of a synapse, where electrically charged ions are involved in transmitting nerve impulses from one neuron to another? Antonietti and his colleagues simulated the conditions in nerve synapses with tiny fat droplets in salt water and exposed the emulsions to microwave radiation at frequencies between 10 MHz and 4 GHz. The resonant absorption frequencies, as expected, depended on the size of the droplets and other properties of the solution. But it was the size of the absorption peaks that shocked Antonietti.

“And now comes the tragedy,” said Antonietti. “Exactly where we are closest to the conditions in the brain, we see the strongest heating. There is a hundred times as much energy absorbed as previously thought. This is a horror.”

Efforts by the EPA to Protect Americans

Faced with a barrage of alarming scientific results, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established its own microwave radiation research laboratory which operated from 1971 until 1985 with up to 30 full-time staff exposing dogs, monkeys, rats and other animals to microwaves. The EPA was so disturbed by the results of its experiments that it proposed, already in 1978, to develop guidelines for human exposure to microwave radiation for adoption and enforcement by other federal agencies whose activities were contributing to a rapidly thickening fog of electromagnetic pollution throughout our nation. But there was pushback by those agencies.

The Food and Drug Administration did not want the proposed exposure limits to apply to microwave ovens or computer screens. The Federal Aviation Administration did not want to have to protect the public from air traffic control and weather radars. The Department of Defense did not want the limits to apply to military radars. The CIA, NASA, Department of Energy, Coast Guard, and Voice of America did not want to have to limit public exposure to their own sources of radiation.

Finally, in June 1995, with the telecommunications industry planning to put microwave radiation devices into the hands and next to the brains of every man, woman and child, and to erect millions of cell towers and antennas in cities, towns, villages, forests, wildlife preserves and national parks throughout the country in order to make those devices work, the EPA announced that it was going to issue Phase I of its exposure guidelines in early 1996. The Federal Communications Commission would have been required to enforce those guidelines, cell phones and cell towers would have been illegal, and even if they were not illegal, telecommunications companies would have been exposed to unlimited liability for all the suffering, disease and mortality they were about to cause.

But it was not to be. The Electromagnetic Energy Association, an industry lobbying group, succeeded in preventing the EPA’s exposure guidelines from being published. On September 13, 1995, the Senate Committee on Appropriations stripped the $350,000 that had been budgeted for EPA’s work on its exposure guidelines and wrote in its report, “The Committee believes EPA should not engage in EMF activities.”

The Personal Communications Industry Association (CTIA), another industry group, also lobbied Congress, which was drafting a bill called the Telecommunications Act, and a provision was added to the Act prohibiting states and local governments from regulating “personal wireless service facilities” on the basis of their “environmental effects.” That provision shielded the telecommunications industry from any and all liability for injury from both cell towers and cell phones and permitted that industry to sell the most dangerous technology ever invented to the American public. People were no longer allowed to tell their elected officials about their injuries at public hearings. Scientists were no longer allowed to testify in court about the dangers of this technology. Every means for the public to find out that wireless technology was killing them was suddenly prohibited.

The telecommunications industry has done such a good job selling this technology that today the average American household contains 25 different devices that emit microwave radiation and the average American spends five hours per day on their cell phone, has it in their pocket next to their body the rest of the day, and sleeps with it all night in or next to their bed. Today almost every man, woman and child holds a microwave radiation device in their hand or against their brain or body all day every day, completely unaware of what they are doing to themselves, their family, their pets, their friends, their neighbors, the birds in their yard, their ecosystem, and their planet. Those who are even aware there is a problem at all view only the towers as a threat, but their phone as a friend.

(to be continued)

Arthur Firstenberg
Author, The Invisible Rainbow: A History of Electricity and Life
P.O. Box 6216
Santa Fe, NM 87502
USA
phone: +1 505-471-0129
arthur@cellphonetaskforce.org
October 20, 2021
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Source: Arthur Firstenberg, via newsletter, 20 Oct 2021

Woman requests her Amazon smart-gadget data, gets 1000s of audio recordings
USA Created: 20 Oct 2021
A woman was shocked to discover just how much data Amazon has collected about her.

She posted a viral TikTok video explaining how she requested to see the data but wasn’t expecting to receive so much.

TikToker my.data.not.yours explained: “I requested all the data Amazon has on me and here’s what I found.”

She revealed that she has three Amazon smart speakers.

Two are Amazon Dot speakers and one is an Echo device.

Her home also contains smart bulbs.

She said: “When I downloaded the ZIP file these are all the folders it came with.”

The TikToker then clicked on the audio file and revealed thousands of short voice clips that she claims Amazon has collected from her smart speakers.

She described them as “so scary” and played one of her talking about turning on a light.

There are said to be 3,534 short audio clips in that file alone.

She was also sent a “Contacts” file.

The TikToker stated: “It turns out they have a full list of my contacts from my phone and I never remember syncing that.”

“The very last thing that I didn’t know that they had, I could have assumed that they have but I don’t love that they have, is my location.”

She revealed another file that apparently showed the exact location of her Alexa smart speakers.

The social media star often makes videos about data privacy and tech.

She said: “I’m not totally comfortable with everything they have.”

The video has been viewed millions of times.

One shocked viewer wrote: “It’s scary that people with Echo Dots and Alexa’s etc don’t know that Amazon records you and keeps the recordings.”

While another joked: “Can someone explain to me why this is ‘scary’? I’m not interesting enough to care if they have my contacts or audio.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We give customers transparency and control over their Alexa experience.”

“Customers can easily review and delete their voice recordings, or choose not to have them saved at all, at any time.”

“Customers can import their mobile phone contacts to the Alexa app so they can use features like hands-free calling and messaging; this optional feature, which customers need to set up, can be disabled at any time.

“Finally, you can grant permissions for the Alexa app to use certain data, such as your mobile device’s geolocation, to provide relevant results (e.g., weather, traffic, restaurant recommendations), and you can manage these permissions in the app.“
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Source: New York Post, Charlotte Edwards, 19 Oct 2021

There’s a Multibillion-Dollar Market for Your Phone’s Location Data
USA Created: 3 Oct 2021
A huge but little-known industry has cropped up around monetizing people’s movements.

Companies that you likely have never heard of are hawking access to the location history on your mobile phone. An estimated $12 billion market, the location data industry has many players: collectors, aggregators, marketplaces, and location intelligence firms, all of which boast about the scale and precision of the data that they’ve amassed.

Location firm Near describes itself as “The World’s Largest Dataset of People’s Behavior in the Real-World,” with data representing “1.6B people across 44 countries.” Mobilewalla boasts “40+ Countries, 1.9B+ Devices, 50B Mobile Signals Daily, 5+ Years of Data.” X-Mode’s website claims its data covers “25%+ of the Adult U.S. population monthly.”

In an effort to shed light on this little-monitored industry, The Markup has identified 47 companies that harvest, sell, or trade in mobile phone location data. While hardly comprehensive, the list begins to paint a picture of the interconnected players that do everything from providing code to app developers to monetize user data to offering analytics from “1.9 billion devices” and access to datasets on hundreds of millions of people. Six companies claimed more than a billion devices in their data, and at least four claimed their data was the “most accurate” in the industry.

The Location Data Industry: Collectors, Buyers, Sellers, and Aggregators

The Markup identified 47 players in the location data industry

“There isn’t a lot of transparency and there is a really, really complex shadowy web of interactions between these companies that’s hard to untangle,” Justin Sherman, a cyber policy fellow at the Duke Tech Policy Lab, said. “They operate on the fact that the general public and people in Washington and other regulatory centers aren’t paying attention to what they’re doing.”

Occasionally, stories illuminate just how invasive this industry can be. In 2020, Motherboard reported that X-Mode, a company that collects location data through apps, was collecting data from Muslim prayer apps and selling it to military contractors. The Wall Street Journal also reported in 2020 that Venntel, a location data provider, was selling location data to federal agencies for immigration enforcement.

A Catholic news outlet also used location data from a data vendor to out a priest who had frequented gay bars, though it’s still unknown what company sold that information.

Many firms promise that privacy is at the center of their businesses and that they’re careful to never sell information that can be traced back to a person. But researchers studying anonymized location data have shown just how misleading that claim can be.

The truth is, it’s hard to know all the ways in which your movements are being tracked and traded. Companies often reveal little about what apps serve as the sources of data they collect, what exactly that data consists of, and how far it travels. To piece together a picture of the ecosystem, The Markup reviewed the websites and marketing language of each of the 47 companies we identified as operating in the location data industry, as well as any information they revealed about how the data got to them. (See our methodology here.)
How the Data Leaves Your Phone

Most times, the location data pipeline starts off in your hands, when an app sends a notification asking for permission to access your location data.

Apps have all kinds of reasons for using your location. Map apps need to know where you are in order to give you directions to where you’re going. A weather, waves, or wind app checks your location to give you relevant meteorological information. A video streaming app checks where you are to ensure you’re in a country where it’s licensed to stream certain shows.

But unbeknownst to most users, some of those apps sell or share location data about their users with companies that analyze the data and sell their insights, like Advan Research. Other companies, like Adsquare, buy or obtain location data from apps for the purpose of aggregating it with other data sources. Companies like real estate firms, hedge funds and retail businesses might then turn and use the data for their own advertising, analytics, investment strategy, or marketing purposes.

Serge Egelman, a researcher at UC Berkeley’s ​​International Computer Science Institute and CTO of AppCensus, who has researched sensitive data permissions on mobile apps, said it’s hard to tell which apps on your phone simply use the data for their own functional purposes and which ones release your data into the economic ether.

“When the app asks for location, in the moment, because maybe you click the button to find stuff near you and you get a permission dialog, you might reasonably infer that ‘Oh, that’s to service that request to provide that functionality,’ but there’s no guarantee of that,” Egelman said. “And there’s certainly usually never a disclosure that says that the data is going to be limited to that purpose.”

Companies that trade in this data are reluctant to share which apps they get data from.

The Markup asked spokespeople from all the companies on our list where they get the location data they obtain.

Companies like Adsquare and Cuebiq told The Markup that they don’t publicly disclose what apps they get location data from to keep a competitive advantage but maintained that their process of obtaining location data was transparent and with clear consent from app users.

“It is all extremely transparent,” said Bill Daddi, a spokesperson for Cuebiq.

He added that consumers must know what the apps are doing with their data because so few consent to share it. “The opt-in rates clearly confirm that the users are fully aware of what is happening because the opt-in rates can be as low as less than 20%, depending on the app,” Daddi said in an email.

Yiannis Tsiounis, the CEO of the location analytics firm Advan Research, said his company buys from location data aggregators, who collect the data from thousands of apps—but would not say which ones. Tsiounis said the apps he works with do explicitly say that they share location data with third parties somewhere in the privacy policies, though he acknowledged that most people don’t read privacy policies.

“There’s only so much you can squeeze into the notification message. You get one line, right? So you can’t say all of that in the notification message,” Tsiounis said. “You only get to explain to the user, ‘I need your location data for X, Y, and Z.’ What you have to do is, there has to be a link to the privacy policy.”

Only one company spokesperson, Foursquare’s Ashley Dawkins, actually named any specific apps—Foursquare’s own products, like Swarm, CityGuide, and Rewards—as sources for its location data trove.

But Foursquare also produces a free software development kit (SDK)—a set of prebuilt tools developers can use in their own apps—that can potentially track location through any app that uses it. Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK is used in apps like GasBuddy, a service that compares prices at nearby gas stations, Flipp, a shopping app for coupons, and Checkout 51, another location-based discount app.

GasBuddy, Flipp, and Checkout 51 didn’t respond to requests for comment.

A search on Mighty Signal, a site that analyzes and tracks SDKs in apps, found Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK in 26 Android apps.

While not every app with Foursquare’s SDK sends location data back to the company, the privacy policies for Flipp, Checkout 51, and GasBuddy all disclose that they share location data with the company.

Foursquare’s method of obtaining location data through an embedded SDK is a common practice. Of the 47 companies that The Markup identified, 12 of them advertised SDKs to app developers that could send them location data in exchange for money or services.

Placer.ai says in its marketing that it does foot traffic analysis and that its SDK is installed in more than 500 apps and has insights on more than 20 million devices.

“We partner with mobile apps providing location services and receive anonymized aggregated data. Very critically, all data is anonymized and stripped of personal identifiers before it reaches us,” Ethan Chernofsky, Placer.ai’s vice president of marketing, said in an email.
Into the Location Data Marketplace

Once a person’s location data has been collected from an app and it has entered the location data marketplace, it can be sold over and over again, from the data providers to an aggregator that resells data from multiple sources. It could end up in the hands of a “location intelligence” firm that uses the raw data to analyze foot traffic for retail shopping areas and the demographics associated with its visitors. Or with a hedge fund that wants insights on how many people are going to a certain store.

“There are the data aggregators that collect the data from multiple applications and sell in bulk. And then there are analytics companies which buy data either from aggregators or from applications and perform the analytics,” said Tsiounis of Advan Research. “And everybody sells to everybody else.”

Some data marketplaces are part of well-known companies, like Amazon’s AWS Data Exchange, or Oracle’s Data Marketplace, which sell all types of data, not just location data. Oracle boasts its listing as the “world’s largest third-party data marketplace” for targeted advertising, while Amazon claims to “make it easy to find, subscribe to, and use third-party data in the cloud.” Both marketplaces feature listings for several of the location data companies that we examined.

Amazon spokesperson Claude Shy said that data providers have to explain how they gain consent for data and how they monitor people using the data they purchase.

“Only qualified data providers will have access to the AWS Data Exchange. Potential data providers are put through a rigorous application process,” Shy said.

Oracle declined to comment.

Other companies, like Narrative, say they are simply connecting data buyers and sellers by providing a platform. Narrative’s website, for instance, lists location data providers like SafeGraph and Complementics among its 17 providers with more than two billion mobile advertising IDs to buy from.

But Narrative CEO Nick Jordan said the company doesn’t even look at the data itself.

“There’s a number of companies that are using our platform to acquire and/or monetize geolocation data, but we actually don’t have any rights to the data,” he said. “We’re not buying it, we’re not selling it.”

To give a sense of how massive the industry is, Amass Insights has 320 location data providers listed on its directory, Jordan Hauer, the company’s CEO, said. While the company doesn’t directly collect or sell any of the data, hedge funds will pay it to guide them through the myriad of location data companies, he said.

“The most inefficient part of the whole process is actually not delivering the data,” Hauer said. “It’s actually finding what you’re looking for and making sure that it’s compliant, making sure that it has value and that it is exactly what the provider says it is.”
Oh, the Places Your Data Will Go

There are a whole slew of potential buyers for location data: investors looking for intel on market trends or what their competitors are up to, political campaigns, stores keeping tabs on customers, and law enforcement agencies, among others.

Data from location intelligence firm Thasos Group has been used to measure the number of workers pulling extra shifts at Tesla plants. Political campaigns on both sides of the aisle have also used location data from people who were at rallies for targeted advertising.

Fast food restaurants and other businesses have been known to buy location data for advertising purposes down to a person’s steps. For example, in 2018, Burger King ran a promotion in which, if a customer’s phone was within 600 feet of a McDonalds, the Burger King app would let the user buy a Whopper for one cent.

The Wall Street Journal and Motherboard have also written extensively about how federal agencies including the Internal Revenue Service, Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. military bought location data from companies tracking phones.

Of the location data firms The Markup examined, the offerings are diverse.

Advan Research, for instance, uses historical location data to tell its customers, largely retail businesses or their private equity firm owners, where their visitors came from, and makes guesses about their income, race, and interests based on where they’ve been.

“For example, we know that the average income in this neighborhood by census data is $50,000. But then there are two devices—one went to Dollar General, McDonald’s, and Walmart, and the other went to a BMW dealer and Tiffany’s … so they probably make more money,” Advan Research’s Tsiounis said.

Others combine the location data they obtain with other pieces of data gathered from your online activities. Complementics, which boasts data on “more than a billion mobile device IDs,” offers location data in tandem with cross-device data for mobile ad targeting.

The prices can be steep.

Outlogic (formerly known as X-Mode) offers a license for a location dataset titled “Cyber Security Location data” on Datarade for $240,000 per year. The listing says “Outlogic’s accurate and granular location data is collected directly from a mobile device’s GPS.”

At the moment, there are few if any rules limiting who can buy your data.

Sherman, of the Duke Tech Policy Lab, published a report in August finding that data brokers were advertising location information on people based on their political beliefs, as well as data on U.S. government employees and military personnel.

“There is virtually nothing in U.S. law preventing an American company from selling data on two million service members, let’s say, to some Russian company that’s just a front for the Russian government,” Sherman said.

Existing privacy laws in the U.S., like California’s Consumer Privacy Act, do not limit who can purchase data, though California residents can request that their data not be “sold”—which can be a tricky definition. Instead, the law focuses on allowing people to opt out of sharing their location in the first place.

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation has stricter requirements for notifying users when their data is being processed or transferred.

But Ashkan Soltani, a privacy expert and former chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission, said it’s unrealistic to expect customers to hunt down companies and insist they delete their personal data.

“We know in practice that consumers don’t take action,” he said. “It’s incredibly taxing to opt out of hundreds of data brokers you’ve never even heard of.”

Companies like Apple and Google, who control access to the app stores, are in the best position to control the location data market, AppCensus’s Egelman said.

“The real danger is the app gets booted from the Google Play store or the iOS app store,” he said.” As a result, your company loses money.”

Google and Apple both recently banned app developers from using location reporting SDKs from several data companies.

Researchers found, however, that the companies’ SDKs were still making their way into Google’s app store.

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“The Google Play team is always working to strengthen privacy protections through both product and policy improvements. When we find apps or SDK providers that violate our policies, we take action,” Google spokesperson Scott Westover said in an email.

Digital privacy has been a key policy issue for U.S. senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, who told The Markup that the big app stores needed to do more.

“This is the right move by Google, but they and Apple need to do more than play whack-a-mole with apps that sell Americans’ location information. These companies need a real plan to protect users’ privacy and safety from these malicious apps,” Wyden said in an email.

Click here to view the source article.
Source: The Markup, Jon Keegan and Alfred Ng, 30 Sep 2021

Review of NIER Effects on Flora & Fauna
USA Created: 27 Sep 2021
Runs over 200 Pages and Includes More Than 1,000 References.

A detailed examination —likely the most exhaustive ever attempted— of the environmental effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation has been published in Reviews on Environmental Health.

The review, which is in three parts, is by Blake Levitt, Henry Lai and Albert Manville.

Details are in our latest short item, available here:
https://microwavenews.com/short-takes-archive/review-emf-and-rf-effects-flora-and-fauna

Louis Slesin, PhD
Editor, Microwave News
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Microwave News, Louis Slesin, 27 Sep 2021

Court Demands FCC Reconsider Its Wireless Safety Standards
USA Created: 15 Sep 2021
After dismissing evidence of potential harm during a public inquiry, FCC must now address the concerns.

Smartphones, and the wireless frequency that runs them, have revolutionized the way we live. But are they as safe as we are told? A federal court ruled that regulators must reconsider the nation’s wireless safety standard due to extensive evidence of harm.

Since 1996—back when cellphones were rare and brick-sized—the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) deemed that exposure to the non-ionizing radiation emitted from wireless devices caused no health issues.

Since then, our daily exposure to wireless radiation has increased considerably. And with 5G just around the corner, more of this invisible pulsed frequency is projected to saturate even more of our environment in the years to come.

Wireless devices generate the same radiation as a microwave oven. But both the wireless industry, and the agency that regulates them, say it’s the threshold of heat that makes microwave exposure dangerous. Since cellphones don’t emit radiation intense enough to cook you, they’re considered safe.

For years, regulators have held firm on this conclusion. In 2012, the Government Accountability Office urged the FCC to take another look. So, the agency opened a public inquiry for evidence of whether its wireless safety guidelines genuinely required an update. Over the course of six years, thousands of studies, personal stories of health problems related to wireless exposure, and comments from doctors, scientists, and medical organizations all sent the agency the same general message: sub-thermal microwave exposure can cause health problems.

At the end of 2019, the FCC wrote a report in response to the comments they received. Despite the evidence, the agency once again concluded that its previous standard was sufficient to ensure public safety, even with 5G.

“After reviewing the extensive record submitted in response to that inquiry, we find no appropriate basis for and thus decline to propose amendments to our existing limits at this time,” states the report. “We take our duty to protect the public from any potential harm due to RF exposure seriously.”

Soon after the report was published, a lawsuit was filed by the Environmental Health Trust (EHT) and Children’s Health Defense (CHD). The goal was to force the agency to take another look.

And it worked. On Aug. 13, the court ordered the FCC “provide a reasoned explanation for its determination that its guidelines adequately protect against harmful effects of exposure to radiofrequency radiation unrelated to cancer, in accordance with the opinion of the court filed herein this date.”

Getting the opportunity to sue a federal agency is rare, and the cases that make it usually don’t end with the changes that petitioners hope for. That’s why Scott McCollough, CHD’s lead attorney for the case against the FCC, called it “an historic win.”

“The FCC will have to re-open the proceeding and for the first time meaningfully and responsibly confront the vast amount of scientific and medical evidence showing that current guidelines do not adequately protect health and the environment,” McCullough said in a statement.

The evidence presented to the court consisted of 11,000 pages showing harm from 5G and other wireless equipment that most people carry with them, or are exposed to in their homes, schools, and workplaces every day.

Petitioners pointed to multiple studies and reports published after 1996 showing that wireless radiation at levels below the FCC’s current limits caused negative health effects, such as reproductive problems, and neurological problems that span from effects on memory to motor abilities. They also showed evidence of human sperm and DNA damage at low levels of RF radiation, and blood-brain barrier permeability with exposure.

Much of the evidence presented in court had previously been sent to the FCC in an attempt to convince the agency that there were flaws in its conclusions about microwave exposure and safety. Attorney Dafna Tachover, CHD’s director of 5G and Wireless Harms Project, says this judgment will force the FCC to recognize the immense suffering millions of people have already suffered due to outdated and unfounded safety standards.

“Finally, the truth is out. I am hopeful that following this decision, the FCC will do the right thing and halt any further deployment of 5G.”

Even with this win, wireless safety standards may still not change, but the FCC has to now explain why. The court concluded that regulators must address the evidence showing harm from sub-thermal microwave exposure.

“The FCC completely failed to acknowledge, let alone respond to, comments concerning the impact of RF radiation on the environment,” the judgment states. “The record contains substantive evidence of potential environmental harms.”
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Entrepreneur Europe, 13 Sep 2021

Court orders FCC to revisit its safety guidelines for RF radiation
USA Created: 19 Aug 2021
The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must reexamine its health and safety guidelines for 5G and other wireless based technologies.

The case was filed in early 2020 by the Environmental Health Trust. Another petitioner, the Children's Health Defense, which is chaired by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., filed its own lawsuit but decided to file joint briefs with Environmental Health Trust as recommended by the court.*

Last Friday, the court ruled that the FCC’s decision in 2019 that its 1996 radio frequency emission guidelines adequately protect the public was capricious, arbitrary and not evidence based, in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. The court also found that the analysis provided by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration, on which the FCC relied for its decision, was also not evidence based.

The court ordered the FCC to provide a reasoned explanation for its decision to retain its testing procedures for determining whether cell phones and other portable electronic devices comply with its guidelines; address the impacts of RF radiation on children; address the health implications of long-term exposure to RF radiation; and address the impacts of RF radiation on the environment.

“To be clear, we take no position in the scientific debate regarding the health and environmental effects of RF radiation — we merely conclude that the Commission’s cursory analysis of material record evidence was insufficient as a matter of law,” stated the order.

“The court’s decision exposes the FCC and FDA as captive agencies that have abandoned their duty to protect public health in favor of a single-minded crusade to increase telecom industry profits,'' said Kennedy, in a statement.

Kennedy has repeatedly claimed that the FCC is a "captive agency," led and controlled by telecom industry insiders who are not objective about the health effects of RF radiation.

Children’s Health Defense lead attorney Scott McCollough said, “This is an historic win. The FCC will have to re-open the proceeding and for the first time meaningfully and responsibly confront the vast amount of scientific and medical evidence showing that current guidelines do not adequately protect health and the environment.”

*The story was updated on 8/16/21 to specify that there are two separate lawsuits.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Fierce Wireless, Linda Hardesty, 16 Aug 2021

Court Victory! FCC ordered to explain why its ignored scientific evidence of wireless harms
USA Created: 15 Aug 2021
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit judges in favor of environmental health groups and petitioners; finds FCC violated the Administrative Procedure Act and failed to respond to comments on environmental harm.

Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in the historic case EHT et al. v. the FCC that the December 2019 decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to retain its 1996 safety limits for human exposure to wireless radiation was “arbitrary and capricious.”

The court held that the FCC failed to respond to “record evidence that exposure to RF radiation at levels below the Commission’s current limits may cause negative health effects unrelated to cancer.” Further, the agency demonstrated “a complete failure to respond to comments concerning environmental harm caused by RF radiation.”

About the Case

In EHT et al. v. the FCC, petitioners argued that the FCC ignored thousands of pages of research and expert testimony showing harmful effects from wireless radiofrequency radiation to humans, wildlife, and the environment when it decided that the 1996 wireless radiation limits did not need to be updated with a full health and safety review.

Environmental Health Trust filed its case in the Court of Appeals with Consumers for Safe Cell Phones, Elizabeth Barris, and Theodora Scarato, MSW. They were represented by attorney Edward B. Myers. EHT’s case was then consolidated with a separate case filed by Children’s Health Defense, Michelle Hertz, Petra Brokken, Dr. David O. Carpenter, Dr. Toril Jelter, Dr. Paul Dart, Dr. Ann Lee, Virginia Farver, Jennifer Baran, and Paul Stanley M.Ed. Children’s Health Defense was represented by attorney Scott McCollough and Robert Kennedy Jr. Evidentiary briefs were jointly filed. Scott McCullough represented Environmental Health Trust, Children’s Health Defense, and petitioners in the oral arguments.

Oral arguments were held January 25, 2021, before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit including Hons. Karen Henderson, Patricia Millett, and Robert Wilkins.

Environmental Health Trust attorney Edward B. Myers previously intervened in the successful case of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and several Native American tribes against the FCC. In this earlier case, the court upheld the relevance of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The NRDC filed an amicus brief in the EHT et al., v FCC case as well.

The FCC is represented in-house by William J. Scher, Ashley Stocks Boizelle, Jacob M. Lewis, and Richard Kiser Welch.

Go to the source link below to view the court documents.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: EHTrust, 13 Aug 2021

In Edmonds, ‘small cell’ deployment permit becomes a big deal
USA Created: 24 Jun 2021
EDMONDS — Under mounting pressure, the city of Edmonds has taken the first step in developing policy that would help protect the city’s interests as cellular service providers introduce more equipment into the city.

“Regarding this vote that we’re being asked to make tonight, I keep coming back to — and it’s been stated by others — we’re backed into a corner on this one,” Councilmember Laura Johnson said Tuesday night. “I can protest with a no vote or abstaining, but the city is at risk for a lawsuit, and we risk not having the financial protection. I can do the suggested yes vote but it still has the appearances of support.”

No local government has the authority to prohibit or “effectively prohibit” the provision of telecommunications services, according to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, but the master permit will allow the city to have some leverage in the placement and terms of “small cell” deployment in the city.

The Edmonds City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to pass an ordinance for Mayor Mike Nelson to execute a non-exclusive master permit with New Cingular Wireless — also known as AT&T — for the placement of small cell in the city’s right-of-way. Small cell typically includes an antenna and accessories that enhance cellular and data coverage in an area where service already exists.

“AT&T’s priority is to provide stable, consistent connections to our customers and we’re constantly assessing and upgrading our network to respond to the tremendous increase in demand for mobile data. Small wireless facilities are key to providing additional coverage and capacity to AT&T’s network in areas with high demand for wireless data,” Wireless Policy Group representative Gregg Bush said on behalf of AT&T during public comment.

A “no” vote would not have prevented small cell from coming to Edmonds.

The master permit for New Cingular Wireless sets terms that aim to protect the city’s interests for a five-year term. The permit states that AT&T assumes risk of damages, provides the city comprehensive indemnity and includes a commercial general liability insurance policy. The city attorney’s office has been working with city staff to negotiate the terms of the master permit for over a year.

City councilmembers Vivian Olson and Diane Buckshnis both said they are concerned with small cell’s potential impact on aesthetics, something that is not specifically outlined in the language of the master permit.

Chapter 20, section 50 of the Edmonds City Code — governing wireless communication facilities — includes protections for residential areas, aesthetics, environmentally sensitive areas, historically significant locations, flight corridors and the health and safety of people and property.

The city is required to treat all telecommunications providers neutrally, and this master permit would set precedent for all small future wireless providers seeking to provide or extend coverage in Edmonds.

The city, however, cannot regulate what types of wireless services enter the city.

Councilmember Buckshnis said she’s old enough to remember when cigarettes didn’t have U.S. Surgeon General warnings and she feels there is not yet enough information about the potentially negative health effects of newer generations of wireless.

The Federal Communications Commission issued an order in December 2019 that stated radio frequency exposure limits should remain unchanged. A scientific think tank Environmental Health Trust brought concerns about health implications of 5G before a federal court of appeals panel earlier this year.

“Something else that I found comfort in and that might be comforting for the public as well (is) Section 28 says the permittee agrees to comply with all present and future federal, state and local laws, ordinance rules and regulations,” Councilmember Olson said. “I feel like there’s some opportunity there … that laws can be put in place that would get it in the way of continued service that was harmful.”
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Herald Net, Isabella Breda, 16 Jun 2021

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