Privacy in the Wireless Age, Part 1 of 3: Increase in Wireless Communications

Part 1: Increase in Wireless Communications

According to Gartner Inc., an information technology research and advisory company, “[w]orldwide mobile phone sales to end users totalled 1.211 billion units in 2009, a 0.9 per cent decline from 2008. In the fourth quarter of 2009, the market registered a single-digit growth as mobile phone sales to end users surpassed 340 million units, an 8.3 per cent increase from the fourth quarter of 2008.” As demand for handheld wireless communications increases, so does competition in the mobile market. As devices become more affordable to consumers, data usage grows lock step – exponentially.

BlackBerry’s Research In Motion Inc. (RIM) reported this year that more than 250,000 organizations worldwide use Blackberry Enterprise Server and in fiscal 2010 RIM sold 36,707,000 mobile devices in the fiscal year ending February 2010, which is a 41.1 percent from 26,009,000 in fiscal year 2009. iPhone’s Apple Inc. reported opening 273 stores as of Sept. 26, 2009 and that “[n]et sales of iPhone and related products and services were $6.7 billion for 2008, with iPhone handset unit sales totaling 11.6 million. This compared to the $630 million in net sales of iPhone and related products and services in 2007 captures the tremendous growth.”

Privacy of communications are typically protected pursuant to statute (e.g., Wire Tap Statute ); or pursuant to common law (e.g., attorney-client privilege, patient-physician privilege, etc.). Therefore, the user of SMS messaging and mobile e-mail is what places the privacy of one’s communications at risk – not some esoteric aspect of mobile technology. Unwary mobile communications users are more vulnerable to undermining their own privacy.

** This is the first part in a three-part series which comprise an abridged version of the article “Increase of Wireless Communication Creates New Privacy Issues,” written by Daniel Garrie and published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal. To request a PDF of the complete article, please contact Law & Forensics.