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How to Guard Against iPhone Ransom

Do you ever think about the end of the world and what you can do about it?

Do you build a bomb shelter, like many countries since the nuclear scare of the 1950s? Do you store water and food, like the survivalists awaiting the killer comet or the religious sects waiting for the Second Coming?

Or, if you are like my teenage daughter, do you declare all is lost because the end of the world means losing contacts on her cell phone?

Well, if your cell phone is your life, then the end of the world is coming on April 7, 2017. Here's why and what you can do about it:

Lawyers, Double Check Your Cell Phone Security

Read this, even if you think your phone is secure.

This update is about the law as much as the technology. Recent court decisions should give you more reasons to double check your cell phone.

And if you haven't secured your phone in the first place, then start with some basics:

Do Robots Have Free Speech? Amazon Says: Yes

If Amazon has free speech rights, shouldn't Alexa, its voice-enabled robot?

It's looking like the answer may be "yes" in a motion to protect information stored by the digital assistant in a murder case. Amazon has filed a motion to quash a warrant that seeks the digital records, which may reveal communications between a defendant and his robot.

Lawsuit Claims Prison Recorded Attorney-Client Meetings and Phone Calls

At the same time a class-action alleges Kansas prison officials recorded attorney-client phone calls, a court-appointed special master is reporting the prison also videotaped at least 700 attorney-client meetings.

Special master David Cohen made the report after reviewing videotapes of 30 attorney visits at the federal prison in Leavenworth. Cohen, who was appointed in a criminal case to examine the prison's video set-up, concluded that more than 700 lawyer-client meetings had been videotaped during a 12-week period.

"It appears all of these attorney-inmate meetings were recorded," Cohen said.

Although the video-recordings did not include sound, Cohen also investigated attorney-client phone calls that were recorded.

Canadians Fear Privacy Violations at U.S. Border

While President Trump looks for another way to ban immigrants from Muslim countries and proceeds to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, a less visible border battle is playing out with Canada.

Border Patrol agents have been stopping Canadians, questioning them about their religion and national origin, and then demanding access to their phones. As part of the president's ban against immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations, agents have been screening Muslims at the borders between Canada and the United States.

Last weekend, a Muslim woman from Quebec reported that she was interrogated at the Vermont border and forced to hand over her phone and unlock it. Agents then refused to let her into the country. An Iranian-born journalist was detained last month at Chicago's O'Hare airport, where agents forced him to unlock his phone and then inspected his Twitter account.

FCC Puts the Brakes on 'Zero Rating'

In what may be the first casualty of net neutrality rules, the new Federal Communications Commission announced it will not investigate internet service providers who may offer "zero-rating" data plans to customers.

The FCC notified AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Comcast that the investigations the Obama administration started are over. The zero ratings investigations looked into whether the companies were violating net neutrality rules by not charging customers to use data with certain apps.

"These free-data plans have proven to be popular among consumers, particularly low-income Americans, and have enhanced competition in the wireless marketplace," FCC chairman Ajit Pai said.

Another nor'easter is bearing down on New York. It's a balmy 37 degrees in Chicago. Even Los Angeles was hit by cold and rain yesterday, their equivalent of a snowpocalypse. Winter is still here, and it's not going anywhere for a while.

If the bad weather, lack of sun, and bulky coats are getting you down, we understand. It's bleak out there. But you don't just have to suffer through the winter doldrums. Here are a few handy apps that can bring a bit of a spring feeling into your life.

China Sees Nat'l Security Risk in Pokemon Go

So Pokemon doesn't go after all.

At least not for now in China, which is considering whether to allow the popular game to play out on phones there. Government officials are concerned about reports that Pokemon Go players are wandering around looking for Pokemon characters and carelessly causing accidents. In nearby Japan, two people were killed in car accidents last year because gamers were distracted.

In China, the government is also concerned about security problems with the app's geolocation services. When using the Pokemon Go app to navigate through a virtual world, players broadcast their locations in the real world.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the government censor, said it bore "a high level of responsibility to national security and the safety of people's lives and property."

There are some tech devices that all attorneys need. Things like decent computers, quality printers, and effective software are essential for today's practice. Then there's tech that many lawyers should have, like a mostly paperless practice options and good practice management software. But more importantly, there's the tech that attorneys don't need, but want. Really want, because they're cool, helpful, novel, or just entertaining. That's what we're focusing on today.

Here are five nonessential but very worthwhile gadgets you might be interested in, taken from the FindLaw archives.

In what is likely the first murder case involving an Amazon Echo, police are looking to the smart device for clues surrounding the death of a man in Arkansas. But when asked "Alexa, who did it?" Amazon has remained silent.

Investigators in Bentonville, Arkansas, believe that the Echo might help explain why a man was found dead in the hot tub at a home owned by James Andrew Bates last year. Bates is currently facing first-degree murder charges. But, according to a report by the Information, Amazon has twice refused to give police audio data from the device.