The bins have ears

In another blow to privacy, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported that shopping centres and street side rubbish bins are tracking us.

Rubbish bins tracking pedestrians as they walk along the street sound like something out of a sci-fi movie. But a few weeks ago it emerged that recycling and rubbish bins installed along London’s Cheapside Street were monitoring pedestrians through millions of smartphones.

However, it’s not just the residents of London that need to be aware of this.

Australia’s Westfield already uses this technology to track smartphones at three shopping centres. ”Westfield is capable of using the MAC identifier system in its centres but cannot collect any data other than to know smartphones are moving within,” a company spokeswoman said.

Westfield offers free internet access in three centres across Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Visitors can opt in to the service but Westfield can also monitor the movements of smartphones without the owners logging in to its wi-fi network.

Its privacy policy states it collects information ”where devices are able to connect to, or are identifiable by, in-centre infrastructure” and that it uses ”this information so that we can tell … where shoppers spend most of their time”.

Read the whole article here.

Technology in kids’ bedrooms lead to poorer health, study suggests

A recent study conducted by the University of Alberta, Canada found that

Children who bask in the nighttime glow of a TV or computer don’t get enough rest and suffer from poor lifestyle habits.

A provincewide survey of Grade 5 students in Alberta showed that as little as one hour of additional sleep decreased the odds of being overweight or obese by 28 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively. Children with one or more electronic devices in the bedroom—TVs, computers, video games and cellphones—were also far more likely to be overweight or obese.

Read the rest of the brief report here.

Sexting – what every parent should know

New South Wales Department of Education and Communities has published a parents’ guide to sexting, including a podcast from a child psychologist:

Listen to child psychologist Kimberley O’Brien talking about the dangers of sexting.

Kimberly O’Brien on sexting

At a glance

  • Sexting involves the use of a mobile phone and the transmission of a sexual image or message between two people.
  • Educate your child about what it is and why it’s illegal.
  • Give your child suggestions of what to do if they receive a sexting message.
  • Discuss the consequences of sexting and the damage that can be done to reputations in the long term on the internet.

This is a great resource for parents. Access the whole guide here.

Make kids get phone licence says Michael Carr-Gregg

Recently well known child and young adult psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg attended a learning and teaching conference in Melbourne where he suggested that students earn a licence to use a mobile phone after learning safe and responsible use. The Age reports:

His intention is not to ban them, rather to facilitate greater use of technology by first teaching students what safe and responsible use is and then obtaining their agreement to abide by a set of rules and conditions.

Students would sit a licence test online with their parents needing to sign up to validate their digital rights, says Dr Carr-Gregg.

”There is absolutely no point in banning them because it is going to be the central part of their education. This would at least ensure they have the skills, the knowledge, strategies and basic competencies before they’ve brought the device to school,” Dr Carr-Gregg said.

Read the whole report here.

Privacy controls to be adopted by mobile phone operators

Recently the BBC reported that ‘ international mobile operators would be giving customers more control over how data about them is being used.’

The action will limit the kinds of data available to marketers and others if a subscriber adds restrictions.

“There’s a burning need for the industry to develop a way to communicate what the consumer has consented to,” said Andrew Bud, head of the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) which is co-ordinating the tools’ development.

Here’s hoping Australia is a part of this.

Lost and stolen phones

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) has published advice on what to do if your mobile is lost or stolen.

  1. Mobiles are valuable and need care and attention
  2. Use your mobile’s security features
  3. Back up your information and data
  4. Your phone has a unique IMEI serial number
  5. Notify your carrier if your phone is lost or stolen
  6. Take care if buying second hand mobiles
  7. Your carrier does not track lost or stolen mobiles
  8. IMEI blocking only applies in Australia. If you lose your phone overseas, it cannot be blocked.

Read the whole article here.