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"Eyesore" 5G mobile pole plans in Bridgwater refused
United Kingdom Created: 20 Oct 2021
Three UK said there was an 'acute need' for the new facilities in the town.

Plans to build a new 5G mobile phone mast in Bridgwater have been quashed after residents described the proposed pole as an "eyesore".

Proposals were submitted to Sedgemoor District Council in August this year by mobile phone provider Three UK to build a 17-metre-high pole providing improved 5G coverage on Whitfield Road, Bridgwater.

The plan would also see three further equipment cabinets to serve the mast built in the surrounding area.

Three said in its application to Sedgemoor District Council that high-speed connectivity was "the lifeblood of a community" and that improved mobile coverage and 5G would bring benefits to everyone in the community, where it says there is an "acute need" for new equipment to improve coverage.

The planning statement said: "In these unprecedented times of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is recognised that high-speed mobile connectivity is the lifeblood of a community; facilitating educational benefits, providing access to vital services, improving communications with the associated commercial benefits for local businesses, enabling e-commerce and facilitating the increased need and demand for working from home, as well as enjoying access to social, media and gaming for leisure time activities.

"There is an acute need for a new base station to provide effective service coverage and in this case, the height of the proposed street pole is the minimum required to bring the benefits of 5G to this area.

"The very nature of installing new 5G mast infrastructure within such an urban setting requires a highly considered balance between the need to extend practical coverage reach with that of increasing risk of visual amenity intrusion."

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However, the council stated in its judgement that prior approval would be needed to construct the mast and that such approval would not be given.

The council's decision said that it would refuse approval for the construction of the pole, for the fact that it "would result in a detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the street scene and residential character of the area".

Residents of the surrounding area also objected vehemently to the proposal.

Michael Horsell described the proposed structure as an "eyesore" and stated that it would cause visibility problems for motorists coming through the area.

He wrote through the council's planning portal: "I object to the proposal of placing a new 5G mast on Whitfield Road, Bridgwater. Having seen the plans it will be a disgusting eyesore.

"There must be a better position for the mast - it will cause obstructions to motorists not being able to see people approaching the crossing."

Simon Tottle, also objecting, said that there was "no need" for the pole in the area since houses around the site used broadband or Wifi for their internet connection rather than mobile phone coverage.

He wrote: "I do not feel there is any need for a 5G mast to be erected in a residential area, due to the fact that the majority of houses use broadband/wifi for their main connection to internet."
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Source: Somerset Live, Jack Colwill, 18 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

NO suspects identified in any mindless attacks on phone masts in recent years
United Kingdom Created: 12 Oct 2021
NO suspects have been identified in any attacks in recent years on 5G and other phone masts in Bradford, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Over 50 per cent of attacks between the start of 2019 and the middle of this year in West Yorkshire happened in Bradford, including four in one month alone.

Major concerns have previously been raised about attacks on 5G masts in the city, with Three taking the step of writing to MPs and the Council last year over the issue.

Peter Gilson, Director of Radio Access Networks at Three, told the Telegraph & Argus: “Clearly from a financial aspect, it’s a problem.That’s secondary from my perspective. The most important part is the health and safety of the people of Bradford.

“When you burn down a mast, it’s not specific to 5G, it’s one of our masts, what happens is you’ve got a large piece of metal there.

“Firstly it’s up in flames, it’s been attacked and damaged, which creates the problem of, potentially, some parts of the metal being loose and falling either during the attack and hurting somebody who’s actually involved in the attack, or later on, a passer-by walking past can get smacked on the head.

“The risk of death is there.”

West Yorkshire Police insisted all attacks are taken “very seriously” and said work is ongoing around crime prevention solutions.

Data from the force shows that between January 2019 and July this year, there was a total of 29 attacks, be it arson or criminal damage, on telecommunication masts in the county.

Just one of those happened in 2019, with a surge to 19 in 2020 and the first attack of that year happening in March.

In the height of the coronavirus pandemic, UK mobile network providers warned against the spread of “baseless” conspiracy theories linking coronavirus to 5G.

Nine attacks were recorded in 2021 between February and the end of July.

And of the 29 crimes recorded by West Yorkshire Police in the period the data covers, 16 happened in Bradford.

Others were recorded in Halifax, Huddersfield, Pontefract, Featherstone, Dewsbury and Leeds.

In May 2020, a mast was attacked in the Wibsey area where a fire was lit at the bottom which then spread further up and caused “significant damage”.

There was then an incident in the BD8 area of the city in June last year, where a screw driver was used to damage the door of the mast. The data then shows a spate later in the year.

In September, there were four arson attacks on masts in Bradford alone, with three of those in the BD3 area of the city.

In one, the suspects are said to have attacked the rear box of a 5G tower, prised it open and place panels of wood inside before setting it on fire and making off from the scene.

Yobs then unleashed another arson attack the following month in the BD8 area.

There was then another in November in the BD5 area, plus two criminal damage incidents in the BD4 area.

December then saw another arson attack in Bradford, where a rag was torched and then thrown inside the bottom of a 5G mast, forcing witnesses to attempt to extinguish the flames by pouring water on the fire.

There was then a further four criminal damage incidents and two arson attacks in 2021 in the period the data covers.

Mindless vandals struck again last month, when a 5G mast on Trinity Road, Little Horton, was torched in a late-night attack.

Detective Chief Inspector Fiona Gaffney, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “The deliberate damage to these types of masts can be very dangerous – for nearby residents and those committing the serious offences.

“Attacks can also pose a significant risk to the road network and we treat these incidents very seriously.”

She added: “We ensure that every attack is promptly and thoroughly investigated and we are working with our key partners in industry to explore crime prevention solutions.

“Work also remains ongoing in the community to prevent attacks and ensure robust action is taken against those responsible when attacks do occur.

“I would appeal directly to anyone with information about any such attacks to contract police.”
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Source: Telegraph and Argus, Felicity Macnamara, 04 Oct 2021

Plans for tall 5G mobile phone mast "taller than trees" and near homes in Sheffield rejected
United Kingdom Created: 12 Oct 2021
A mobile network company is appealing after its plans to erect a 5G mast on a busy junction were refused.

Cornerstone, which provides coverage for Vodafone and Telefonica, wanted to erect a 17.5m high pole with six antennas and two equipment cabinets on a grass verge on Ecclesall Road South, near the junction with Brincliffe Edge Road.

But planning officers were unhappy as the site is within a busy built-up area and the mast would be towards the bottom of a rising hillside and next to a bus stop.

Officers refused the plans using delegated powers. They said: “The proposed mast is significantly taller than the limited surrounding street furniture, and around 5.5 metres taller than the surrounding street trees.

“It is located in a prominent position and would be viewed from some substantial distances.

“The monopole is inappropriate due to its height and siting. The importance attached by the Government to the provision of a high-quality telecommunications network is acknowledged, however in this instance it does not outweigh the negative implications.”

Cornerstone said the way people use phones and other technology has changed over the past 30 years and base stations must be located where the local demand exists.

It said: “5G uses higher frequency radio signals that have a shorter range and will require more base station sites than the existing networks.

“Wherever possible, existing installations will be used to accommodate the necessary infrastructure.

“In certain cases the upgrade of service will require a dual pole solution for sites which currently have a single pole design.

“Due to the technology required for 5G service, the antenna height in many cases must be greater than that for previous generation technology.

“It is very important to note that mobiles can only work with a network of base stations in place where people want to use their phones or other wireless devices. Without base stations, the technology we rely on simply won’t work.”

A planning inspector will now make the final decision.
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Source: The Star, Lucy Ashton, 05 Oct 2021

5G Mobile phone mast proposal thrown out after councillors heard (traffic) safety fears
United Kingdom Created: 12 Oct 2021
CK Hutchison Networks (UK) Ltd, made an application to erect a 15-metre high pole on the junction of Ashtree Lane and Hookergate Lane, in High Spen, but it was voted down by the committee on Wednesday evening.

A report to the committee stated that the scheme would provide 5G signal and coverage for the 3 mobile phone network.

However, the authority received five objections raising fears about traffic, the impact on the street scene, saying the technology would be an "eyesore" and "intrusive".

These were backed up by ward councillor Marilyn Charlton who attended the meeting to speak against the plans.

Coun Charlton raised fears for the safety of pedestrians, pointing out that it would be on the only footpath.

She said: "It is far too close to Ashfeild Court and High Spen Court, which is just 3.5m from where the mast is.

"It is just a small country lane and High Spen Court, which is not occupied yet, is opposite.

"Regarding the path; this is the only path on Ashtree Lane. Ashtree Lane is recently being used as a rat run because we have got a 20 mile per hour at Barlow and 20 miles per hour at Rowlands Gill and quite a bit of travel is going up and down Ashtree Lane which is very small.

"What you couldn't see from the designs that have been put up is this is a very dangerous junction.

"It's a four way junction. If you come out in your car you have to creep out there.

"The idea of people trying to avoid this mast and these cabinets and cars trying to creep out at the same time and people coming along on their route to and from school I don't think its a good idea."

Coun Charlton is not a member of the planning committee and has no voting rights.

Three expressions of support for the proposals were also sent to the authority, with backers saying that mobile signal is poor in the area and that the mast is needed to "modernise" it.

The planning committee unanimously voted against the application.
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Source: Chronicle Live, Herbert Soden, 08 Oct 2021

Due to possible interference with avionics, Canadians living near airports won’t get full 5G service
Canada Created: 12 Oct 2021
If you recently bought an expensive 5G-ready smartphone but live near an airport you might be out of luck.

Much to the surprise of the telecom industry, the federal government recently announced plans for new restrictions on 5G service near most major airports that could deprive thousands of a true 5G experience.

Canada’s telecoms spent $9 billion acquiring 5G spectrum licenses in July, and Telus Corp. says the restrictions, which were announced only two weeks after the auction wrapped up, could reduce the value of its $2-billion purchase by $100 million.

“Telus was very surprised when it learned, only one week after making a multibillion-dollar commitment, that the proposed technical changes would impair a significant amount of the spectrum it won at auction,” the company said in a Sept. 2 comment filed with the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED).

In a separate filing, Telus said it, “and the mobile industry as a whole,” was “taken aback” by the implications of the policy.

The government said it is introducing the restrictions because there are concerns about possible interference between those airwaves — which are known as spectrum and carry wireless communications signals — and certain aviation navigation tools.

ISED, which also conducted the spectrum auction, said on Aug. 6 that it would hold a brief consultation and then put new restrictions in place that will apply to airports where automated landing is permitted.

But Telus claims the restrictions are more drastic than precautions taken in other countries.

In the case of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, the restrictions will cover a broad area surrounding the runways themselves — where no 5G base stations will be permitted — plus two long stretches from Etobicoke to Brampton and another two from Downsview to Mississauga. In the longer stretches, there will be limits on power use, which can affect network performance.

ISED said the restrictions are needed because there is a possibility that radio signals from 5G equipment on the new spectrum frequency could interfere with the operation of altimeters, which are used in automatic flight guidance systems.

5G technology is expected to offer faster download speeds and carry more data as well as connect a wide range of devices from autonomous cars to smart-city sensors.

Telus said the restrictions will hurt cellphone users who live near airports and want to get 5G service and impede the development of new technologies at the warehouses, manufacturing plants and hotels that often surround airports.

“(The proposed restrictions) will hamper the ability of wireless carriers to deliver of the promise of 5G connectivity to these industries,” Telus said.

Canada’s Big Three wireless companies, Telus, BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc., started deploying early versions of 5G service in some cities last year.

But 5G technology will use a mix of different frequencies and the airwaves purchased in the recent auction — which are in the 3,500-megahertz frequency range — are seen as crucial to improving the service and extending coverage.

Many leading wireless companies around the world have used this type of spectrum for 5G service and equipment manufacturers make network gear designed for it.

Radio altimeters on aircraft operate in the nearby 4,200- to 4,400-MHz frequency band.

In an emailed statement, ISED spokesperson Sean Benmor told the Star that spectrum regulators around the world have been evaluating studies that show “possible interference from flexible use 5G operations in the 3,500-MHz band.”

“Some countries, such as France and Japan, have already implemented mitigation measures while others are studying the issue,” Benmor said. He added that ISED published a bulletin in March — several months before the spectrum auction — committing to study the issue and warning that rules for 5G operation in the new spectrum band may be developed.

Telus maintains it was not prepared for the limits the government has now proposed and said other countries have decided on smaller “guard zones” between the frequency where altimeters operate and the frequency where 5G services are allowed.

It said U.S. regulators determined that a guard band of 220 MHz “would be sufficient to protect the needs of the aviation industry” while Canada is proposing a buffer of between 550 MHz and 700 MHz.

Telus said the guard zones in Australia and Japan are 200 MHz and 100 MHz, respectively.

Telus did not comment beyond its formal comments on the consultation and Bell and Rogers declined to comment ahead of an Oct. 15 deadline to file additional submissions with ISED. The government initially requested comments by Aug. 23 but moved that date back after receiving several requests for more time.

“The measures may impact deployment plans for outdoor 5G operation in the 3500-MHz band around some airports, but locations outside airport zones should not be significantly affected,” ISED’s Benmor said. “Indoor deployments near those runways would also not be affected.”

He added that the government will continue to study the issue and could modify or relax the measures “well within the 20-year term of ISED’s 3,500-MHz licences.”

Use this interactive map to see if you live near one of the airports where 5G service will be restricted (select “Both Zones” from the drop down menu): https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf11726.html
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Source: The Star, Christine Dobby, 09 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:

Louis Slesin, PhD
Editor, Microwave News
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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.”
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Source: Entrepreneur Europe, 13 Sep 2021

How 5G rollout became such a long, hard slog
United Kingdom Created: 10 Sep 2021
Traverse the leafy neighborhoods of southwest London and the 5G connection flickers on and off like a faulty streetlight. Thankfully, for the zone's commuters and smartphone zombies, there is still no application that depends on 5G connectivity. And 4G is everywhere.

That technology spread rapidly across the UK after it was first switched on by EE in October 2012. When Ofcom, the UK regulator, got around to publishing its communications market update for June 2014, it celebrated the fact that more than 70% of homes were covered by a 4G network. There have been no such plaudits about 5G.

Launched in mid-2019, the latest generation of mobile technology gave Ofcom nothing to cheer in the latest May report. "We are still in the early stages of 5G rollout, so we will not be reporting on 5G coverage in this update," said Ofcom. "We continue to work with mobile operators to establish how best to evaluate and report on 5G coverage."

The few figures that have been squeezed out of service providers highlight the gap between 4G and 5G. In July, BT, EE's owner, revealed that it covers just 40% of the UK population with 5G more than two years after launch. Its 4G network, at the equivalent stage of rollout, was available to more than 80% of people. Nor can most consumers expect a 5G service to arrive soon. BT's target is to reach only half the population by 2023.

Rivals are even further behind. Vodafone is not disclosing the percentage but says it is "a bit less" than BT's. Three, the smallest of the UK operators, says it has made 5G available to 30% of the "outdoor" population. Virgin Media O2 is not for sharing details.

The stunted development of 5G is not just a UK phenomenon. By April this year, 5G services running over important "mid-band" spectrum were available to fewer than 10% of people living in European Union countries plus the UK, according to Ericsson, a vendor of 5G equipment. And in lower-band airwaves, 5G is no better than 4G.

Heavy lifting

The equipment looks partly to blame. The relatively lightweight network boxes that came with 4G were often easy to hoist into position. Streets did not have to be shut down, nor masts reinforced. EE, which re-farmed 1800MHz spectrum, was able to rely on the same antennas it had deployed for older services, according to an industry source close to the matter. "It was a doddle," he says.

By contrast, the radio units that Vodafone initially bought for its 5G rollout each weighed about 60 kilograms, says Ker Anderson, Vodafone UK's head of radio and performance. "Big, lumpy heavy objects require steel work and quite a lot of plant on site to install in a safe manner," he told reporters at a media roundtable last week. The physical process of upgrading has been "a lot more work than with 4G."

Fortunately, the 5G boxes are getting lighter. The units Vodafone now buys from Ericsson weigh less than 30 kilograms each, says Anderson, and can be installed more easily. Those could speed up the rollout of more advanced 5G networks for all operators. Until now, BT says it has had to fall back on less capable 5G units, incorporating fewer transmitters and receivers, to overcome the city planning obstacles it has occasionally faced with heavier gear.

Harder to fix is a shortage of mobile sites. The grid of European masts is adequate for services that operate in spectrum up to and including the 2.6GHz band, previously awarded for 2G, 3G and 4G technologies. But the distances between sites may be too great for the mid-band frequencies in and around 3.5GHz, licensed for use with 5G. Signals will not travel as far in higher ranges, fading at the cell edge like runners in need of refreshment.

This largely explains why mid-band 5G is far more pervasive in Asian markets that already had a very dense mobile network grid. The outstanding example is South Korea, where mid-band 5G services now cover more than 90% of the population, says Ericsson. For every 10,000 people, South Korea currently has more than 57 sites, while Germany and France have fewer than ten.

Building new sites today would be costly, and hardly any European operators have announced plans for such "densification." To overcome signal propagation challenges, they are relying on a technology called dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS), which splits lower-band spectrum between 4G and 5G. Even Germany's Deutsche Telekom, one of the few European operators constructing hundreds of new sites each year, looks heavily dependent on DSS. Only 2,400 of its 55,000 5G antennas currently use mid-band spectrum, it said last week.

DSS has come in for heavy criticism from Nick Read, Vodafone Group's CEO. "Some operators are taking DSS, which is effectively giving you a 5G symbol but 4G performance," he told analysts on a call in November. Yet Vodafone UK appears to have gone down the same path. Gabriel Brown, a London-based Heavy Reading analyst who has been monitoring 5G rollouts, tweeted in June that he rarely encounters a Vodafone service that operates in 3.5GHz spectrum.

"The DSS you are seeing is a precursor," said Anderson last week. "That is just about getting more footprint out there. That is not necessarily the end game for us." But it remains unclear whether operators can provide blanket mid-band coverage without adding sites. France's Orange believes it can avoid much 5G densification by using more efficient technology. Ericsson is unconvinced.

Demand gap

Service providers are in no apparent hurry while there is no compelling reason for consumers to upgrade. "I don't think 5G to consumers, in terms of the magnitude of the step from 3G to 4G that we had, is even close," said Anderson. "You can get 100 Mbit/s, whereas on 4G you got 30 Mbit/s, but – in reality – what does that mean for a consumer?"

He is not the only technology executive who questions 5G's immediate appeal. "3G and HSPA [a high-speed version of 3G] was a poor substitute for 4G and 5G," said Neil McRae, BT's chief network architect, in July. "Moving from 4G to 5G is not that kind of packet-based improvement and we've done that piece of it."

The metrics bear this out. Of Vodafone's roughly 17 million mobile customers, only about 3 million have a 5G SIM card and plan, and not all of those have a 5G-compatible device. BT has stopped providing details of total customer numbers but says only about 4 million are "5G-ready." At about the same stage of its 4G rollout, EE had nearly 8 million customers.

The 5G launch has not provided any revenue uplift, either. Vodafone UK's average revenue per user (ARPU) has fallen from £14.10 per month before the 5G launch to £13.70. For contract customers, BT's ARPU has dropped from £20.70 to £18 over a similar period. Competition has whittled down prices.

No doubt, the coronavirus pandemic and a UK government-mandated swap-out of Huawei kit have also had an impact. In Vodafone's case, the controversial Chinese vendor is making way for new suppliers of open RAN, an immature technology that appears to have slowed Vodafone down. One problem is a lack of open RAN support for 3G, a technology still in widespread use among Vodafone customers. A need to maintain 3G for several years is "holding us back from introducing open RAN," said Anderson last week.

With revenues under pressure, finance departments are reluctant to commit additional funds to 5G rollout. And there is no shortage of other projects consuming attention. Anderson reels off a list that includes mobile edge computing, investment in optical transport and the launch of standalone 5G, a new variant. BT is spending billions on the rollout of full-fiber networks to UK homes. Under pressure from rivals and regulators, it aims to cover 25 million homes by the mid-2020s.

A 5G problem in waiting?

It all explains why cutbacks and efficiency have become telco priorities. Besides selling assets, shutting down older platforms (such as 3G) and automating processes, operators are spinning off towers and sharing infrastructure. BT aims to reduce annual costs by £2 billion ($2.8 billion). Vodafone slashed operating expenses by 7.5% in its last fiscal year.

Few denizens of southwest London and other European cities will care about spotty 5G coverage. Most would not even notice the yoyoing between 4G and 5G that inevitably occurs. Not, that is, unless a mobile application arrives that is simply too advanced to run on any 4G network. If that day comes, the 5G gulf between South Korea and Europe will suddenly be a much bigger deal.

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Source: Light Reading, Iain Morris, 09 Sep 2021

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