Tag Archives: Phone

Baltimore Police used secret technology to track cellphones in thousands of case

Baltimore Police used secret technology to track cellphones in thousands of cases

Baltimore police often surveil cellphones amid US secrecy

The Baltimore Police Department has an agreement with the U.S. government to withhold certain information about secretive cellphone surveillance technology from the public and the courts.


The Baltimore Police Department has used an invasive and controversial cellphone tracking device thousands of times in recent years while following instructions from the FBI to withhold information about it from prosecutors and judges, a detective revealed in court testimony Wednesday.

The testimony shows for the first time how frequently city police are using a cell site simulator, more commonly known as a “stingray,” a technology that authorities have gone to great lengths to avoid disclosing.

The device mimics a cellphone tower to force phones within its range to connect. Police use it to track down stolen phones or find people.

Related:  See How This Spying Technoloyg, Stingray, works.

FBI Stingray device technology listening cell phones
FBI Stingray device

Until recently, the technology was largely unknown to the public. Privacy advocates nationwide have raised questions whether there has been proper oversight of its use.

Baltimore has emerged in recent months as a battleground for the debate. In one case last fall, a city detective said a nondisclosure agreement with federal authorities prevented him from answering questions about the device. The judge threatened to hold him in contempt if he didn’t provide information, and prosecutors withdrew the evidence.

The nondisclosure agreement, presented for the first time in court Wednesday, explicitly instructs prosecutors to drop cases if pressed on the technology, and tells them to contact the FBI if legislators or judges are asking questions.

Detective Emmanuel Cabreja, a member of the Police Department’s Advanced Technical Team, testified that police own a Hailstorm cell site simulator — the latest version of the stingray — and have used the technology 4,300 times since 2007.

Cabreja said he had used it 600 to 800 times in less than two years as a member of the unit.

Nate Wessler, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said 4,300 uses is “huge number.” He noted that most agencies have not released data.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says its officers have used the device about 1,800 times. Police in Tallahassee say they have used it more than 250 times; police in Tacoma, Wash., 170 times.

Former U.S. Judge Brian L. Owsley, a law professor at Indiana Tech, said he was “blown away” by the Baltimore figure and the terms of the nondisclosure agreement. “That’s a significant amount of control,” he said.

Agencies have invoked the nondisclosure agreement to keep information secret. At a hearing last year, a Maryland State Police commander told state lawmakers that “Homeland Security” prevented him from discussing the technology.

Wessler said the secrecy is upending the system of checks and balances built into the criminal justice system.

“In Baltimore, they’ve been using this since 2007, and it’s only been in the last several months that defense attorneys have learned enough to start asking questions,” he said. “Our entire judicial system and constitution is set up to avoid a ‘just trust us’ system where the use of invasive surveillance gear is secret.”

Cabreja testified Wednesday during a pretrial hearing in the case of Nicholas West, 21, and Myquan Anderson, 17. West and Anderson were charged in October 2013 with armed carjacking, armed robbery, theft and other violations stemming from an attack on a man in Federal Hill.

Cabreja took what he said was a copy of the nondisclosure agreement to court. It was dated July 2011 and bore the signatures of then-Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III and then-State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein.

Defense attorney Joshua Insley asked Cabreja about the agreement.

“Does this document instruct you to withhold evidence from the state’s attorney and Circuit Court, even upon court order to produce?” he asked.

“Yes,” Cabreja said.

Cabreja did not comply with a defense subpoena to produce the device in court. He said he was barred from doing so by the nondisclosure agreement.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment on the technology or the document.

The signatories to the document agree that disclosing the existence of the stingray would “reveal sensitive technological capabilities possessed by the law enforcement community and may allow individuals who are the subject of investigation … to avoid detection.”

They agree that “disclosure of this information could result in the FBI’s inability to protect the public from terrorism and other criminal activity” by rendering the technology useless for investigations.

The signatories agree that if they receive a public records request or an inquiry from judges or legislators, they will notify the FBI immediately to allow “sufficient time for the FBI to intervene.”

Cabreja testified Wednesday that his unit received information about a stolen cellphone. He said detectives obtained a court order to get the phone’s general location using cellphone towers from a cellphone company.

With that information, detectives ventured out to the Waverly neighborhood with the Hailstorm. The device is portable and can be used from a moving vehicle. Cabreja likened it to a metal detector for cellphone signals.

The device forces cellphones to connect to it. In this case, it was a Verizon phone, so identifying information from every Verizon customer in the area was swept up.

Cabreja said the data was collected but “not seen.” Detectives were interested only in the target phone.
Cabreja said the device allows police to make a stronger signal emanate from the phone to help them find it.

“It, on screen, shows me directional arrows and signal strength, showing me the phone’s direction,” he testified.

The detectives traced the phone to a group home and knocked on the door. They told the woman who answered that they were conducting a general criminal investigation and asked to come inside, Cabreja said, and the woman agreed.

Seven detectives entered the home, he said. They used the Hailstorm to make the phone ring before anyone knew why they were really there.

Amid growing questions about the stingray, details of the technology have been trickling out of some jurisdictions, and it is now relatively easy to find descriptions online of what it does.

Insley, the defense attorney, called it the “worst-kept secret,” and questioned why local police continue to be gagged.

Cabreja took notes with him to court that he said came from a discussion last week in which the FBI coached him on what to say in court.

The talking points included: “Data is not retained.”
Cabreja did not refuse to answer any of Insley’s questions, but he said his answers were constrained by the nondisclosure agreement.

Defense attorneys and privacy advocates express concern about the scope of the stingray’s powers, and whether the courts are equipped to provide proper oversight of the police who use it. They argue that the use of the device amounts to a search and requires a warrant.

Baltimore police obtain court orders under the state’s “pen register” statute. Insley says that law authorizes police to capture only the numbers that are called or received by a phone, not the more detailed metadata and location information the stingray collects.

He said those orders also require a lower standard of proof than a search warrant, and judges are not aware of what they are authorizing.

“They’re basically duping these judges into signing authorizations to use stingrays,” Insley said. “If they can increase the signal strength of your phone or make it ring, they can pretty much make it do anything.”

But prosecutors say the language in the orders authorizes real-time GPS location, and Cabreja testified that police only use the stingray to find “target” phones and not to spy on the innocent.

In Maryland U.S. District Court last fall, an argument about the stingray device was cut short when the suspects took plea deals. And on Wednesday, following Cabreja’s testimony, prosecutors and defense attorneys entered into plea negotiations instead of debating the merits of the stingray further.

In cases where the stingray becomes a sticking point, Wessler said, “defense attorneys are being able to get really good deals for their clients, because the FBI is so insistent on hiding all of these details.”

“There are likely going to be a lot of defense attorneys in Baltimore who may have an opportunity to raise these issues,” Wessler said. “They are on notice now that their clients may have some arguments to make in these cases.”

Court mulls revealing secret government plan to cut cell phone service

Court mulls revealing secret government plan to cut cell phone service

Feds: SOP 303 mobile-phone kill-switch policy would endanger public if disclosed.

A federal appeals court is asking the Obama administration to explain why the government should be allowed to keep secret its plan to shutter mobile phone service during “critical emergencies.”

The Department of Homeland Security came up with the plan—known as Standing Operating Procedure 303—after cellular phones were used to detonate explosives targeting a London public transportation system.

SOP 303 is a powerful tool in the digital age, and it spells out a “unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.”

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in February sided (PDF) with the government and ruled that the policy did not need to be disclosed under a Freedom of Information Act request from the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The court agreed with the government’s citation of a FOIA exemption that precludes disclosure if doing so “could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.”

EPIC asked the court to revisit its ruling, arguing that the decision, “if left in place, would create an untethered ‘national security’ exemption'” in FOIA law. On Friday, the court ordered (PDF) the government to respond—a move that suggests the appellate court might rehear the case.

EPIC originally asked for the document in 2011 in the wake of the shut down of mobile phone service in the San Francisco Bay Area subway system during a protest. The government withheld the information, EPIC sued and won, but the government then appealed and prevailed.

In its petition for rehearing, EPIC argued that the appellate court’s decision “created a catch-all provision that would allow federal agencies to routinely withhold records subject to disclosure where the agency merely asserts a speculative security risk.”

Under the direction of the so-called National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, SOP 303 allows for the shutting down of wireless networks “within a localized area, such as a tunnel or bridge, and within an entire metropolitan area.”

There have been no publicly disclosed instances when SOP 303 has been invoked, but the telecoms have agreed to shutter service when SOP 303 is invoked.

Local governments, however, have the power to shutter wireless service regardless of SOP 303.

The last known time mobile phone service was cut by a government agency was the San Francisco example from 2011. That’s when the Bay Area Rapid Transit System took heat for disabling service to quell a protest in four downtown San Francisco stations. The three-hour outage was done after BART cut service without the assistance of the telcos.

In the aftermath, BART produced a new policy that said service could only be cut off when “there is strong evidence of imminent unlawful activity that threatens the safety of district passengers, employees, and other members of the public.”

How to teach contact names and relationships to Siri and Google Now

How to teach contact names and relationships to Siri and Google Now

Ben Patterson

Siri iphone Google Android voice technology

Picking up your phone and saying “Call my dad” or “Call Ted” (meaning Ted your boss, not that random Ted fellow you met five years ago) should work like magic.

All too often, though, both Siri (on iOS) and Google Now (on Android phones) will do a double-take, asking “Who’s Dad?” or “Which Ted did you mean?”

Even worse, it might mistake “my dad” for another name in your contact book and start dialing—and at that point, you’ll probably be wondering why you didn’t skip the fancy voice commands and simply tap your way to your phone favorites.

With a little work on your part, you can teach Siri and Google Now the nicknames and relationships of the most important people in your life, from your loving spouse or parents to your closest (or most demanding) colleagues.

Once your iPhone or Android phone knows who your dad is—or that “Ted” means your boss, not Ted whatshisname—using voice commands for phone calls will feel a lot more magical.

For Android

Of the few different ways to add nicknames and relationships to contacts, the easiest is to simply tell Google Now via voice command.

  • Open Google Now (slowly swipe up from the bottom of the screen, or tap the home-screen Google search box), tap the microphone icon (or just say “OK Google” if you’ve enabled this setting, and say “[name of your spouse] is my [husband or wife],” or “[name} is my [boss].”
  • Assuming it heard you loud and clear, Google Now will go ahead and assign those labels to the person you named.

Want to add relationships with a bit more precision, or want to give one of your contacts a nickname? Try this:

  • Launch the People app on your Android device, open a contact card, tap the three-dot menu button in the top corner of the screen, then tap Edit.
  • Tap Add another field, tap Nickname, then fill in the blank, either with an actual nickname or the contact’s relationship to you, such as “boss” or “sister.” (Yes, both the People app and Gmail have an actual “Relationship” field, but filling it in won’t do any good as far as voice commands are concerned.)
  • Is Google Now—or are you, for that matter—having trouble with a tongue-twister of a name? Tap Add another field, then select “Phonetic name” to make life (and voice recognition) a little easier.

Adding nicknames and relationships from your PC or Mac is easy, too.

  • Fire up your favorite web browser, open the Gmail account associated with your Android device, then select “Contacts” from the pull-down menu in the top-left corner of the page.
  • Search for and then open the contact you want to edit, tap the Add button at the bottom of the contact card, select “Relationship, “Nickname,” or “Phonetic name,” and fill in the blanks.

For iOS

The easiest of several ways is this one:

  • Click and hold the Home button on your iPhone or iPad to launch Siri, then say “[name of contact] is my [husband, wife, boss].”
  • After thinking about it a moment, Siri will ask to confirm the relationship. Done and done.

Here’s how to do the same thing using the iOS keypad:

  • Open the Contacts app, tap your own contact card, then tap the Edit button.
  • Scroll down to the “Add related name” field, tap it, select a relationship (like “spouse” or “manager”), then type a name, or tap the little “i” to choose a contact from the iOS address book.
  • Does Siri need help recognizing the names of your friends, colleagues and loved ones? Find one of their contact cards in the Contacts app, scroll down to the “add field” button, then tap it to add a phonetic name or a nickname.

If you use iCloud to store your contacts, you can edit your relationships, nicknames and phonetic name from a web browser.

  • Log into iCloud.com, click the Contacts icon. Search for a contact card, then click the Edit button.
  • Click the Add Field button to add a phonetic first or last name, a nickname, or a “related” person.

Finally, Mac users can use the Mac’s Contact app to add nicknames and relationships in pretty much the same way—assuming you’re using iCloud to sync your contacts on your Mac, of course.

  • Launch the Contacts app on your Mac, open a contact and click the Edit button.
  • Click the little + button in the bottom corner of the contact card, select More Fields, then pick Phonetic First/Last Name, Related Name, or Nickname.

Samsung’s Galaxy A7 packs bigger screen, more processing power

Samsung’s Galaxy A7 packs bigger screen, more processing power

The A7 comes after Samsung released the smaller A5 and A3 models

Samsung is coming out with a new phablet that will incorporate a metal frame and comes at “competitive price point,” according to the Korean electronics maker.

The A7, unveiled on Monday, comes just a few months after Samsung announced its two smaller siblings, the A5 and the A3, in late October.

The A7 is not only bigger, with a 5.5-inch high-definition AMOLED display, but also packs more computing power as it combines two separate quad-core processors. It also has a larger battery at 2,600 mAh, but still maintains a thickness of only 6.3 mm, making it actually thinner than the A5 and A3.

The phone runs Android 4.4, has 4G LTE connectivity, and a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, along with a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Inside is 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and a microSD card slot to add more memory.

Samsung declined to comment on the phone’s price or availability.

The smaller Galaxy A5 and A3 models initially targeted the Chinese market, where the South Korean handset maker is facing intense competition from rival vendors such as Xiaomi and Lenovo.

In last year’s second quarter, Samsung lost its top position as the country’s largest smartphone vendor, amidst the entry of more lower-cost phonesentering the market.

Samsung lost market share globally in the third quarter of 2014 to about 24 percent from around 32 percent in the same quarter in the previous year, according to research firm Gartner. The company’s smartphone shipments dropped to 73 million in the quarter from 80 million in the third quarter of 2013.

The company has guided that its operating profit in the fourth quarter of 2014 is likely to have fallen by about 37 percent, largely on account of competition from Chinese players.

The Galaxy A series could help Samsung regain its position. In China, the A5 and A3 are priced at 2,599 yuan (US$424) and 1998 yuan, putting the phones in the mid-tier range.

Phones under the Galaxy A series use a metal frame design, a feature that some reviewers wanted to see in Samsung’s Galaxy S5 flagship device.

Samsung’s new A7 device could end up being offered as a cheaper alternative to its Galaxy Note 4, a high-end product that can start at 5399 yuan (US $870) in China.

Feds Creating Smartphone App to Make Sure Kids Don’t Skip Class

Feds Creating Smartphone App to Make Sure Kids Don’t Skip Class

Facial detection system costing $50,000


College students in a dorm / AP

The federal government is financing the development of a smartphone app that will use facial recognition technology to check attendance in college classrooms.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $50,000 to Missouri University on Jan. 2 for the project that will record videos to create “face tracklets” of students.

The project is necessary, the grant argues, because checking attendance the old fashioned way is too hard.

“Checking attendance in scenarios such as classrooms commonly needs an instructor to recognize each student one by one by reading the names on a roster or ask students to sign up the attendance sheet,” the grant explains. “However, this traditional method faces two problems: reading students’ names may occupy minutes of lecture time when the number of students is large and letting students to sign up an attendance sheet is prone to be cheated since they can sign their own names and their classmates’ names who are absent in the class.”

“It is not a desirable task for instructors to calculate the total attendance of every student in a semester by going through every attendance sheet manually,” the grant added.

The solution is training professors to use a mobile app that will keep track of attendance by storing photos of all of their students, according to the NSF grant.

“By taking videos of student faces in classrooms using Smartphone cameras, the team proposes a unified framework of visual face detection, tracking and recognition algorithms to recognize multi-faces in the video simultaneously,” the grant said.

The study, led by Zhaozheng Yin, an assistant professor in Missouri University’s computer sciences department, will involve professors taking a video of each student’s face during the first lecture.

“The application will automatically build a face dataset for the course and the instructor only needs to identify them for the first class; in the remaining classes, instructors take videos of each class and the application will do automated attendance check,” the grant said.

The app will store “face tracklets,” or multiple photos of a student in different poses.

Before he was awarded the grant, Yin published a study “Who Missed the Class?–Unifying Multi-Face Detection, Tracking, and Recognition in Videos,” which explains the methodology of the proposed project.

The preliminary study trained face recognizers using a series of images of students making different facial expressions, and concluded that videos could be an effective way to check attendance.

The NSF has invested in other projects using facial recognition technology, including a universal BMI detector that “can be used by everybody at anywhere and anytime,” costing taxpayers over $200,000.

Apple sued over iPhone, iPad storage

Apple sued over iPhone, iPad storage

Ever wonder why there never is enough space on your iPhone or iPad? A lawsuit filed this week against Apple Inc. alleges that upgrades to the iOS 8 operating system are to blame, and that the company has misled customers about it.

In the legal complaint filed in California, Miami residents Paul Orshan and Christopher Endara accuse Apple of “storage capacity misrepresentations and omissions” relating to Apple’s 8 GB and 16GB iPhones, iPads and iPods. Orshan has two iPhone 5 and two iPads while Endara had purchased an iPhone 6.

They contend the upgrades to the operating system end up taking up as much as 23 percent of the storage space on their devices. Included in the lawsuit was the graph below which details how different devices are allegedly impacted by iOS 8:


“In addition to making material misrepresentations and omissions to prospective purchasers of Devices with iOS 8 pre-installed, Apple also makes misrepresentations and omissions to owners of Devices with predecessor operating systems,” according to the complaint, which seeks class-action status for others who purchased 16GB devices.

“These misrepresentations and omissions cause these consumers to ‘upgrade’ their Devices from iOS 7 (or other operating systems) to iOS 8,” it said. “Apple fails to disclose that upgrading from iOS 7 to iOS 8 will cost a Device user between 600 MB and 1.3 GB of storage space – a result that no consumer could reasonably anticipate.”

Apple declined to comment on the allegations to CBS News.

The lawsuit also accused Apple of taking advantage of this shrinking storage by “aggressively” marketing its monthly-fee-based iCloud storage system.

“Using these sharp business tactics, Defendant gives less storage capacity than advertised, only to offer to sell that capacity in a desperate moment, e.g., when a consumer is trying to record or take photos at a child or grandchild’s recital, basketball game or wedding,” the lawsuit contends. “To put this in context, each gigabyte of storage Apple shortchanges its customers amounts to approximately 400-500 high resolution photographs.”

Storage space has been an issue for Apple in the past.

It won a legal fight over the amount of advertised storage in iPods in 2007, according to The Verge. The complaint was lodged over a 8GB iPod Nano only having 7.45GB of usable storage, which is just a 7.5 percent difference.

It also is coming off another legal challenge, where a jury in California last month found in favor of Apple in a billion-dollar class-action lawsuit over the price of its iPod music players.

Blackberry helping Boeing build a special Android-style smartphone

Blackberry helping Boeing build a special Android-style smartphone

The State Column, David Keup

Vertu Claret cell phone

The new self-destructing Boeing Black smartphone was designed to be used by spies and others that need to have high security and a modular device.

Boeing revealed on Dec. 19 that they have been working with Canadian smartphone manufacturer Blackberry to design a high-security smartphone called “Boeing Black”, according to a Gizmodo online news report.

The smartphone project has been hush-hush for over a year now with Boeing keeping everything under wraps. The smartphone is designed for spies and high-security individuals.

Gizmodo reported that in an earnings call on Dec. 19, BlackBerry John Chen stated that “Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform. That, by the way, is all they allow me to say.” Boeing now has some information about the specifics of the project on its website.

According to Boeing’s website, the Boeing Black smartphone was designed with security and modularity in mind to ensure that customers can use the same smartphone across a range of missions and configurations. Through embedded hardware security features, software policy configurability and physical modularity, Boeing Black says it is giving customers a trusted, more flexible and productive solution.

The BlackBerry Enterprise Service, or BES 12, will allow clients to manage and secure not just BlackBerry devices on internal networks, but those that run on rival operating systems such as Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.The Boeing phone uses dual SIM cards to enable it to access multiple cell networks and can be configured to connect with biometric sensors and satellites. Boeing has begun offering the phone to potential customers.

Reuters reported that BlackBerry, a struggling company over the past few years, had some luck with more clandestine clients. Last year, it announced its biggest single order ever when it sold one million units to an unnamed partner.There has been some interest in this type of smartphone by the U.S. military.

Apple CEO Makes It Clear He Will Use His Position of Power to Push for Gay Rights

Apple CEO Makes It Clear He Will Use His Position of Power to Push for Gay Rights

Tim CookIn one of the bigger news stories this week, the CEO of Apple – Tim Cook – announced he was gay in an op-ed piece published on Bloomberg Businessweek. Cook writes, in part:

Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy. I come from humble roots, and I don’t seek to draw attention to myself. Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world, and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them.

At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today.

For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.

While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.

After reading Cook’s public announcement that he prefers to have sex with men, one is forced to wonder: What does a person’s sexual orientation have to do with growing Apple’s profits, selling iPhones, or running a business in general?

What do you think about Cook going public about his homosexuality and his admission that Apple will “do its part” to advance gay rights? Leave a comment below.

Retailer’s answer to Apple Pay probably doomed

Retailer’s answer to Apple Pay probably doomed

Apple is forging ahead with its push to have shoppers pay for goods with iPhones, despite Big Retail’s pushback. Who will win the war? USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham reports.

Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — It’s as if the Three Stooges had been given the assignment of introducing a new and safer way for consumers to pay at some of the biggest retail stores.

CurrentC is the new smartphone payment system from a consortium of retailers, including Best Buy, WalMart, Target and Sears, all hurting from poor sales.

apple pay iphone retail payment credit card

The system is currently being test-marketed at some “confidential” locations. And this week, the company behind it had to admit some really damaging news: the system has already been hacked.

Before it’s even launched.

The odds that you’ll ever see CurrentC rolled out nationally are slim to none.

You can’t make this stuff up.

CurrentC, run by the Boston-based Merchant Customer Exchange (known as MCX), has the misfortune of following in the footsteps of Apple’s hugely successful mobile payment launch, which nabbed 1 million new customers in three days and has drawn rave reviews.

Apple Pay is the most consumer friendly mobile payment system we’ve seen yet. It solves the security hurdle (just who are you giving your credit card to?) and speed (fumbling for your wallet and credit card.) But it’s not perfect.

It’s great if you happen to have a new iPhone. It only works with the current iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models. So if you’re one of the 500 million folks with an older iPhone, you’re out of luck. If you happen to own an Android phone, you can’t use the Apple Pay system either.

And of course, if you like to shop at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, CVS, no Apple Pay there either. Yet.

Not exactly.

Let’s take a look.

• The new iPhones have built-in NFC (near field communication) chips that talk directly to pinpads near the cash register. Put your credit card information into the Passbook app on the iPhone for Apple Pay. Wave the phone at the pinpad, and secure the transaction with your fingerprint from Apple’s TouchID.

• CurrentC doesn’t work with credit cards. You heard me. This mobile payment system connects your checking account, and MCX says the advantage is it can add in coupons and loyalty information from the retailers.

But those free airline miles that millions of consumers have come to love from their credit cards, which encourage them to make big purchases? Nah, not at our store.

Instead of fingerprint technology, CurrentC uses the clunky QR code system, an idea whose time has yet to come. To register, you have to give MCX your social security number and banking information.

And, the system has already been hacked.

Would you trust these folks with your info?

Yes, Apple had security issues with nude celebrity photos and network attacks on its cloud, but we haven’t heard of any issues with iTunes and credit card accounts.

MCX was started because retailers are sick of paying the 2% to 3% processing fees to credit card companies. There’s nothing wrong with that sentiment.

Merchants upped the ante in this little mobile payment war when MCX members CVS and Rite-Aid disabled their NFC pinpads when they discovered that iPhone users were using it at the check-out.

The pinpads were installed to be used with Google Wallet, a system that debuted two years ago and never took off much beyond the installation of the NFC terminals.

The action from the drug store giants had the reverse effect: it mobilized the online world (nearly 5,000 scathing 1 star reviews of the CurrentC app on the Google Play and iTunes app stores) and shined a light on just how backwards and un-consumer friendly the merchant plan is.

Prediction: one by one, in weeks, if not days, many of these partners will backtrack, and end up signing with Apple, and/or revisiting Google Wallet.

You won’t see a national launch of CurrentC.

The retailers, who are fighting the tide of lower sales, have too much to lose to continue the association.