Smart Chimps with T-Mobile USA adds bogus charges to bills, Silent Circle says we are naive

Smart Chimps with T-Mobile USA adds bogus charges to bills, Silent Circle says we are naive to believe comms are private, Entrust reckons devices are secure, EU slashes roaming costs, Acision and fuseMe, plus more

Trust is probably the most important aspect of any relationship, whether we are talking personal or business. Because of the value of trust, it is one of the key attributes a brand tries to associate itself with. For big brands that have our trust, finding out that it has been abused often means the end of the relationship.
Take T-Mobile USA, which as a massive brand now finds itself accused of adding charges to mobile phone bills for premium SMS subscriptions and making millions of dollars in the process. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says there were plenty of clues to show that the charges had been added by third party companies without customer consent, and that T-Mobile USA should have done something about it.
However, the operator would have been the recipient of a big chunk of cash for each charge added to a customer’s bill on behalf of a third party provider. Obviously what amounts to hefty backhanders was enough to make T-Mobile USA ignore the warning signs that included huge numbers of people spotting fraud and demanding their money back. Trust broken!
Another issue of trust that has hit the headlines recently comes from Vodafone’s recent Law Enforcement Disclosure Report, which blew the lid off our perceptions of privacy when it comes to mobile communications. Smart Chimps spoke to Vic Hyder from encrypted communications firm, Silent Circle, on the Vodafone report and the implications for us as mobile phone users. We asked Vic “Are we naive to perhaps have thought our phone conversations were always private?” Vic answered: “Yes…it shouldn’t surprise anyone that privacy is now harder to find.”
He goes on to say that it isn’t just the bad guys that will have had their mobile communications tapped, recorded, and analysed; in the UK, Europe and the US, we can expect that, “The likelihood that your conversations or at least the metadata from those conversations will be retained is high. The chance they will be listened to is much lower due to the volume of data that is stored.” Smart Chimps thinks it’s time to get some serious Bond-style tech and drop our comms below the radar. That’ll confuse them.
On the security side again, as it is our theme this month, Mark Reeves from identity-based security solutions  firm, Entrust, says despite these issuesmobile devices are far more secure than we give them credit for. He says whether used for secure physical and logical access, authenticators for digital identities, platforms for soft tokens, or even as tools to verify desktop-based transactions to defeat malware, mobile devices by default simply have a better security posture than today’s standard PC. Innocent until proven guilty?
Also in a more positive light, some authorities work for the good of the people, even when the good of the people might be bad for business. On 1 July the European Union cut price caps for data downloads across Europe by more than half, taking prices down from Euro 0.45 per megabyte to Euro 0.20 per megabyte. Also, mobile providers in Europe can now offer users a specific roaming deal before people travel and, where available, allow users to choose a local mobile provider for data services so they can compare prices and get the best deal. Finally, the EU intends to cut roaming charges in the EU altogether by the end of 2014.

This is an incredibly strong move by the EU on behalf of consumers travelling around Europe, and one that Smart Chimps never thought we would see. On the down side, tough times are ahead for the mobile operators of Europe, especially if roaming charges are eliminated completely. Time to rethink the business plan, chaps…






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