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Handhelds Communications Security Hardware

Face Recognition Comes to Cameraphones 235

Posted by timothy
from the webcams-will-be-mandatory dept.
An anonymous reader writes "If you have a camera phone, you may soon have to take a picture of yourself before making a call or accessing data stored on the device. A Japanese company has developed face recognition software for camera phones that it says can authenticate users within one second of clicking the shutter. Omron (Japanese) will demonstrate its Okao Vision Face Recognition Sensor at tomorrow's Security Show Japan in Tokyo."
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Face Recognition Comes to Cameraphones

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  • Secure? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:28PM (#11825523) Homepage Journal
    One Fine Day In Court, Next Year:
    "How did you do it, son? And by that I mean how did you break into Darl McBride's files?"
    "I took a picture of a magazine cover and I got access to everything, his phone directory, his notes, pictures, even his personal phone messages from Pariahs Anonymous."

    You'd think they'd avoid visible light and use IR or a combo to pull this off, though in IR we can also look different depending which end of the ski run we are on ...

    Bullwinkle: "Eeeny meenie, chili beanie, the iPod is about to squeak"
    Rocky: "Did it reveal anything Bullwinkle?"
    Bullwinkle: "
    Did it?!? It's my new Linux boxen!"

    • Re:Secure? (Score:2, Funny)

      by red_flea (589243)
      And if you wanted to secretly hack your buddy's account, you just use dump some booze packets in his mouth port and wait til his buffer overflows. Shortly afterward, his brain will be DOS'd and you can take images of his face at will...
    • by vortex2.71 (802986)
      I think IR light is too transient to use for recognition. Everytime you're face heats up you wouldn't get into the phone. UV might work better, but wouldn't work with sunglasses very well. I'm wondering why passwords have gone out of style? They only take about a second to enter in.
      • by Kosi (589267)
        I'm wondering why passwords have gone out of style?

        Noone of the marketing guys had a good idea how to sell this as something new yet. Just wait some more time.
    • Why not IR (Score:3, Informative)

      by elgatozorbas (783538)
      You'd think they'd avoid visible light and use IR or a combo to pull this off, though in IR we can also look different depending which end of the ski run we are on ...

      The reason why they use the face recognition is because nowadays most cell phones have a camera anyway. It may be somewhat sensitive to IR light (as CCDs are), but most likely the manufacturers are NOT going to add another one...

  • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:28PM (#11825528)
    I am wondering how particular the recognition software is. There could be some considerable day-to-day differences in a face if, say, one was ill, or had a bad fall, etc. Could I, for example, take a friends camera, take a pic of a good photo of my friend and then gain access to his phone/pda/device? The article didn't really address that though I don't think it was intended to be within it's scope. Still, it's something to think about.
    • What if I grow or shave off a beard? What if I'm mugged and the mugger takes my phone, then takes a picture of my face before running off? It would need both a work around for if it got confused, and it would need to be combined with a pin of some sort.
    • Much worse! (Score:5, Funny)

      by r00t (33219) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:57PM (#11825855) Journal
      Now they won't just steal you cell phone.
      They have to cut off your face too!
    • I think that the main reason this is not a good idea, to me, would be in the case of a car accident. Unless the system was able to accomodate for the facial differences by bruising, swelling and bleeding, I wouldn't touch one with a ten foot pole.

      Tho cell phones are far more common nowadays, a good deal of people I know still carry them primarily for the safety factor, knowing that they can call if stranded by flat tire, etc. (Or at least they're using that as an excuse.)

      That I wouldn't be able to use th
  • Emergency Calls? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fez (468752) * on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:28PM (#11825533)
    But what if you have to call an ambulance after getting into a car accident that damaged your face? :)
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:34PM (#11825610)
      Or what if you are tammy fey? do you have to put on the same face every day?
    • If your face is that messed up in a crash, trying to use a phone will probably be the least of your worries.
    • Presumably... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ieshan (409693)
      Presumably, you'd be able to designate certain numbers as "security cleared", just like you can do on phones with normal security in the US.

      Nokia phones for some time have allowed users to designated emergency numbers that are allowed to dial-out if their phone is locked. Most people set these to their home phone numbers (the only number that will dial out is the number of their home, so that if their phone is stolen, the first call made will be to their home) or 911, so that if they have their phone locke
      • by Lev13than (581686) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @02:00PM (#11825888) Homepage
        Personally I think the whole idea of password protecting my cell is ridiculous, but I suppose there are some people in sensitive places that need to have their phones protected against thefts and things. Like Paris Hilton.

        Of course, authenticating against a stock photo poses certain challenges for Paris. For example, every time she wants to make a call she'll have to whip off her top and make out with a brunette.
    • Funny thing about facial recognition is that it probably wouldn't matter, if it's good enough and uses the right algorithm. There are features about your face that don't change, even if you look outwardly different to everyone else after kissing your steering wheel at high speed.

      Some systems can do neat things like correctly identify people after having radical plastic surgery, which is pretty cool. Can I get a -1, Pedantic mod for taking the parent's Funny comment too seriously?
      • There are features about your face that don't change, even if you look outwardly different to everyone else after kissing your steering wheel at high speed.

        Right, that software will matched your smashed, broken face to the appropriate database record, no sweat. That's why you're not allowed to smile [com.com] when you get your picture taken for your Passport.

        • Things that you never even think about are used for facial recognition. Bone structure, the distance between your eyes, anything goes. Your problem is that you're approaching the problem like a human would, which is a fatal flaw. When you look at facial recognition like decronstructiing a face into component parts, or analyzing the variation between faces, you'll see why programs are getting fairly decent at it.

          Any algorithm that's fooled by something as silly as a person smiling is a POS, plain and si
    • "But what if you have to call an ambulance after getting into a car accident that damaged your face? :)"

      As if they wouldn't exempt 911 calls.
  • Hmmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:28PM (#11825534)
    What if you are having a 'bad face day'?
  • Tinfoil (Score:5, Funny)

    by Crash24 (808326) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:29PM (#11825543) Homepage Journal
    Maybe it won't recognize me when I'm wearing my tinfoil hat...
    • People who wear tin foil hats don't use cell phones, silly. The tin foil hat may help keep your brain invisible to the CIA, but to then go around broadcasting your location?

      I think you need to turn in your tin foil hat. We'll have someone sweep by in a few minutes to pick it up. Just leave your cell phone on.
    • Perhaps you should upgrade to a tinfoil ski mask, just to be safe.
  • by digitalvengeance (722523) * on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:29PM (#11825544)
    This is great - until you are in a car accident and are bleeding from the face.

    "I need to call [insert japanese equivelent of 911]."
    "Sorry sir, facial recognition failed."
    [Insert slow painful death]
    • I'm sure they've got that covered. On every phone I've ever owned, you can dial 911 and it will instantly unlock the keys and allow you to dial.

      I originally purchased my phone in the UK. It does the same for 999 until I switch to a US SIM card... 999 stops unlocking (it just complains about the keys being locked) and 911 performs an emergency unlock.

      Bunch of smarties behind GSM. I'm sure they won't leave a feature like that out of the new camera phones.
  • by geomon (78680) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:31PM (#11825566) Homepage Journal
    I equivocate over the added features for cell phones. This is one that I can't see having too much impact here in the US. Face recognition for your phone? What for? To use my phone?

    What if I lose or gain a few pounds? What if I grow or cut my beard? What if I get a new girlfriend and she changes my "look" with a new 'dew?

    It is hard enough to get customer service for my phone as it is. I don't need to be locked out of my phone because I changed my diet.

  • Skeptical (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ironsides (739422) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:31PM (#11825568) Homepage Journal
    Omron claims that the camera need not be held in the same position each time, and that the sensor will detect the owner regardless of the location of the user's face in the frame.

    Given the current state of computers, I wonder how they can do this. If I take a picture of my face from the front right as a reference, and the next time from the front left, how will it stil recognize me? Same goes for a number of different angles. I'd also think that haircuts, glasses and a few other things could mess this up.

    Be interesting to see how well it works in the field instead of in the lab. Anyone here have access to Akibahara for when this is released?
    • by lacheur (588045) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:45PM (#11825729)
      Well, they forgot to mention you have to tattoo a barcode on your forehead for this to work...
      • Revelations, 16-17: It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to be given a stamped image on their right hands or their foreheads, so that no one could buy or sell except one who had the stamped image of the beast's name or the number that stood for its name. 18
    • About 5 years ago at a company I worked at, we used a system similiar to this that actually took a picture of your eye, compared it to something on file, then let you inside of our building.

      The system worked surprisingly well. It worked if you were drunk, if you had eyeglasses or contacts on, any number of variations. We even tried fooling it with digital cameras, polaroids, pictures and they never worked.

      I was pretty impressed with it at the time - wish I could remember the name of the company that des
    • If I take a picture of my face from the front right as a reference, and the next time from the front left, how will it stil recognize me? Same goes for a number of different angles.

      And honestly, removing this "feature" might improve accuracy and security. Make the face recognition more fuzzy, and depend on muscle memory to make people hold the camera in a generally similar position every time they take the picture. That might be kindof hard to forge, and it might *help* the process.

      I think muscle memory
      • And honestly, removing this "feature" might improve accuracy and security. Make the face recognition more fuzzy, and depend on muscle memory to make people hold the camera in a generally similar position every time they take the picture. That might be kindof hard to forge, and it might *help* the process.

        I was thinking along these lines as well. Hold the camera in your left and at an upward angle vs some other and make sure that you only need to get approximately the same direction to make it work. Maki
  • 1 Megapixel (Score:4, Interesting)

    by steve6534 (809539) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:32PM (#11825580) Homepage
    Considering that most camera phones are 1 MP, How accurate could this possibly be ?
    • Do they really need to be? Unlike usage for criminal prosecution, this doesn't have to be near 100%. If you can make it good enough to reject 99% of the population as being you, then the odds of a mugger using your phone are about 1%. That would dramatically reduce theft of phones.
      • If facial recognition software worked 99%, it would still be useless. In real life, it's more like 80%. Under lab conditions.
        • Can you cite a source?
        • Nah, facial recongition is in the high 90's (97-99) percent accurate. The problem is that for things where it's actually needed (picking a face out of a crowd in realtime) the accuracy plummets. In the Massport expirement using software that was NOT designed to perform in the roll it was used in they achieved a 62% positive ID rate (not sure what the false positive rate was as it wasn't released AFAIK) under suboptimal conditions (one to many captures and differing angles and lighting). If you are only capt
    • Considering that most camera phones are 1 MP, How accurate could this possibly be ?

      Depends on how close the camera is to your face. Say in the photo your face takes up the entire image, and that we are dealing with a square photo (1000x1000 pixels) Your entire head is about 8 inches tall (quick estimation here) so that's over 100 DPI. That's pretty good, all things considered. It's not photo quality, but it will provide a pretty good photo. As most programs work off of the location of your cheeks, e
    • by biglig2 (89374) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @02:15PM (#11826029) Homepage Journal
      Perhaps they use that technology they have on CSI.

      You know the one, where they take a frame from a liquor store's video surveillance camera and blow up a reflection in the suspect's eye so much they can see a fingerprint on the hood of a car two blocks away.

      Man, I want some of that technology in my cellphone.
  • by andrewzx1 (832134) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:32PM (#11825582) Homepage Journal
    Face recognition has been tried in various places for law enforcement, Tampa Florida in particular. The cameras and recognition software failed to assist in a single crimimal being identified from 10'000's of images. This was a multi-year trial. This crap might work under ideal conditions but it fails utterly under any real world conditions.
    • Not So (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ironsides (739422)
      In the UK they have used this type of technology at sporting events to identify trouble shooters (guys that generally start riots at more than one game). They then re-verify those identified manually. Works pretty well whith people walking in a hallway into a stadium. And on tens of thousands of people as well.
      • "They then re-verify those identified manually."

        Because the software simply doesn't work very well.

        Are you suggesting your cell phone company should have and employee look at the photo you just snapped of yourself before letting you make the call?
    • As I mentioned in another thread, this is MUCH different than trying to uniquely identify a person based upon an image. All the phone needs to do is see if the image COULD be you with a moderately high degree of certainty. A heavy white man who mugs a small black woman would not pass this test. This is not intended to be an absolute guarantee it is you... simply remove a whole lot of people from being able to use your phone.

      Contrast this with criminal prosecution intent: I must prove this image is not of t
  • by stubear (130454) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:33PM (#11825597)
    ...and use someone elses cell phone. All you need to do is lob of their head and carry it around in a sack with you. When you need to make a call, pull out the head and snap a picture; free cell phone minutes.
    • I think you mean "lop", not "lob". You could also just take a picture of their face, and carry it around in a sack. It'd be much lighter.

      -Jesse
      • I think you missed th asarcasm here, let me explain. Everytime biometrics are discussed here in relation to fingerprints some jackass inevitably wanders in and says it's easy to hack my cutting someone's finger off and using that. Now, alog comes a story about face recognition biometrics technology. Do I really need to explain this nay further?
        • I also think you missed my sarcasm. Why would you carry around a photograph in a sack? I wouldn't have specifically mentioned the sack if I were being serious man, c'mon. It's teh funnay.

          -Jesse
    • I just have this picture in my mind of Jason with Medusa's head in a sack, I think from Clash of the Titans.

      And another one of someone nonchalantly carrying around this blood-dripping, stinking, rotting 20 lb (9 kg) sack of decaying flesh, and no one notices when he takes out the head to make a phone call.
    • ... free cell phone minutes.
      Unfortunately, people have a tendency to stop paying their cellphone bill after their head has been lopped off. On the bright side you get a free phone upgrade every month, complete with a shiny new head, and friendly new people calling and asking where sussie is!
  • I can't actually think of any reason why facial recognition in a phone handset would be useful to anyone, ever.

    I mean, as an authentication system for the phone lock, why would anyone want this over a keylock?

    To recognize people so you can phone them? The flaw in that plan seems slightly obvious.

    Any ideas? Anyone? I mean, the "recognize a street corner and text you a map" thing was pretty impractical, but this... I've got nothing.
    • "I can't actually think of any reason why facial recognition in a phone handset would be useful to anyone, ever"

      CALL TO 212-555-9876 BLOCKED
      IDENTITY: Ex-girlfriend
      REASON: Facial recognition indicates you are drunk
      STATUS: Call blocked to prevent possible embarrasing and/or regretable communications.
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:37PM (#11825650) Homepage Journal
    is Fist Recognition - to warn their owners of an incoming punch when they engage in obnoxious cellphone abuse in my presence.
  • by t_allardyce (48447) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:38PM (#11825661) Journal
    This is such a pathetic gimmick, in 6 months no one will care about about it or be using it - how many people here even use voice dial? It doesn't even have a use to it, there is simply no problem with entering a pin number and facial recognition is simply not that good, even in good fixed lighting conditions with a good camera and lots of computing power its bad enough to be annoying, for security i give this about 3/10 - its better than setting your pin number to all zeros, usefulness is around 4/10 - maybe you could find some kind of novelty application for it? why wait 1 second when your pin number is checked instantly? why bother taking a picture when you can often tap yor keypad without even looking, why waste R&D on this when people really just want flat-rate fast net-access on their phones, to be honest.
    • by QMO (836285) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @02:10PM (#11825974) Homepage Journal
      I think that you're not understanding the market.
      The cell phone market isn't driven by utility. It's driven by gimmicks. There is no other way to explain people buying $20 (or more) worth of ring tones.

      The majority pay more for the new gimmick on the phone than they do for more bandwidth. The gimmicks are cheaper to develop. They are cheaper to introduce. And they are easily replaceable by the next gimmick, since they have no actual usefulness that needs to be maintained.
      • Actually the phone is the bait to get people onto the network where they can be charged at profit margins that would make WalMart piss themselves. Think how much your phone bill for a year is and how much your phone is, now think how much the service you were given actually cost them to run for you and how much your phone actually cost to manufacture and ship. Telecomms = cashcow
    • I use voice dial all the time. It's much better if I can keep my eyes on the traffic ahead if I need to use my cellphone while driving (about twice a month). That and my phone has slow arse menus and I have a ton of numbers stored so for frequently dialed numbers it's faster to use voicedial then find someone in say the S's.
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KillerDeathRobot (818062) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:38PM (#11825664) Homepage
    Why do phones suddenly need biometric security devices?? As far as I'm aware, security isn't that big of a problem concerning cell phones. None or close to none of the current generation (or previous) of phones has much of any security like that, nor do many pda's I've seen.

    Most people don't keep a lot of really sensitive data on their phones, and phones aren't really remotely hackable like normal computers. Why all of a sudden do we need face recognition on them??
  • Barcode? (Score:5, Funny)

    by suwain_2 (260792) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:39PM (#11825675) Journal
    Do you need a barcode [slashdot.org] on your face for it to work?
  • How many people would use this in real life?

    There is the hassle of taking a picture of yourself, for one.

    Like another poster mentioned, the possibility of something happening to injure your face, and causing you not to be able to access your own phone.

    If this is your only phone, would you have to wash your hair in the morning and groom yourself before the phone would know who you are? Really... a good idea, just not a practical one

  • SO... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonym1ty (534715) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:47PM (#11825757) Homepage Journal
    How would this help? If I stole someone's wallet with their family picture in it, could I not then use the cellphone?
  • by Garion911 (10618) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:49PM (#11825779) Homepage
    I want the facial recon to filter out calls.. Kinda like the firefox cookie blocker:

    1. Ed calls John.
    2. John's phone asks Ed's phone for a picture
    3. Ed takes a picture of his face.
    4. Ed's phone sends it to John's phone.
    5. John's phone does facial recon to determine if his face is in the whitelist, if so, then it rings.
    6. Otherwise forward to voicemail automaticly

    You could have various settings, like "Theatre mode" where it only rings if that person is on the emergency list.. "Ex-Girl/Boyfiend" mode, where it just forwards to "this number has been disconnected"

    • Even better:

      1. Ed calls John.
      2. John's phone checks Ed's caller ID against a whitelist.
      3. John's phone rings.

      Sometimes people insist on using technology just for the sake of using it. How about some practicality?

      And as for the inevitable "what if Ed's caller ID is blocked?" arguements that are sure to arise, do you really think Ed will want to photograph himself every time he makes a call if he chose to have his caller ID blocked? I think not.
      • Sometimes people insist on using technology just for the sake of using it. How about some practicality?

        I had a great long response earlier before OmniWeb crashed... Anyhow, the gist of it was exactly what you just said.

        Just because your phone takes pictures, doesn't mean it needs to be a security device as well. Your phone has a Mic too, why don't they have voice authentication yet?

        Put a little sensor on the back of it for fingerprint authentication? maybe cover it with a little plastic slide to avoi
    • Why would all that be needed when the calling phone could just transmit its number instead of the receiving phone bothering with trying to guess a face? What if you know a set of twins for example, but you only want to let one of them call you?
  • AFAIK, no laws currently exist against loaning a friend your cellphone. I don't even think I've ever seen a TOS that prevents such a use.

    So why should I need to authenticate myself to my phone? If I lose it, I have it deactivated and get a replacement anyway, so even that rather rare possibility doesn't pose enough of a risk to bother.


    Or does this just go along with out steady descent into an Orwellian nightmare, where the government needs to know where (already have mandatory GPS in new phones) a gi
  • How hard to fool? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jtheletter (686279) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:51PM (#11825798)
    The article was extremely brief and didn't mention anything about how this software actually decides it's looking at the real user's face. what happens if I hold up a picture of the correct owner and snap a shot of that? I have a feeling the device will happily log me in unless it has some method of detecting 2D vs 3D.
  • by KingOfTheNerds (706852) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @01:53PM (#11825808) Homepage
    My friend here at PennState University is working on face recognition research. He and I were suprised that such a technology was announced without us hearing about it ahead of time. Normally face recognition would not be useful for this purpose (security clearance). It is either too sensitive (not shaving, wearing sunglasses, etc) screws it up, or it's not sensitive enough to make it secure. Research here at the university was trying to find ways to fix these downfalls, but research on the subject is not even close to complete yet. I can't see this in anyway being as useful or complete as promised.
    • This is only a cell phone. The goal is to reduce
      the occurance of muggings for cell phones.
      Desired security system properties:

      a. fast and easy to use
      b. resistant to rubber-hose attack ("give password!")
      c. less than 0.3% false negative
      d. less than 20% false positive

      That'll do it.
    • It will work in this situation because there are low numbers involved. If I am correct, the best iris scanners still have a false positive rate of 1 in 100k orso, impractical in large numbers. Face is harden than iris, so lets assume 1 in 1k. Thats still enough for the phone to stop working for anyone but her because she wont meet her look-alike that quickly. On a busy airport perhaps 300 look-alike's would pass in a single day though.
  • A neat use for face-recognition is Nikon's Face-Priority [dpreview.com] mode on some of its new cameras. It doesn't try to ID the face, but it tries to tell where the face is in the picture and makes sure it is in focus. This would be a godsend to my parents who can never focus a picture with two people in it -- the pictures are always focused on the background between the two people.
  • At least in the US, most cameraphones (including the smart variety) I've seen can't even show you the taken picture one second after snapping the shutter, much less analyze it and try to match it up to a (easily alterable) picture in a database somewhere.
  • by piltdownman84 (853358) <piltdownman84@m[ ]com ['ac.' in gap]> on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @02:12PM (#11826000)
    Forget using this for security. Can I use to this to get the phone to remember girls names for me?

    Just take a picture and up comes the girls name or it speaks it. Maybe even better if it reminds me where I know her from. Gone is the embarrassment of not remembering her name, leaving me only the embarrassment of trying to make conversation.

    • Forget using this for security. Can I use to this to get the phone to remember girls names for me?


      This implies you'd be talking to girls outside of a chat room. Considering the average /.'er, I call bullshit.

      [Badum-Ching]

      NB: Not responsible for the reactions of the humor impaired.
  • maybe (Score:2, Insightful)

    Maybe if they didn't load cell phones will all kinds of web-browsing, picture taking, mp3 playing, text messaging, tv playing extra features they'd be so cheap that nobody would care if they were stolen.
  • Let's pretend your a famous celebrity, and you don't want what happened to Paris Hilton

    (yeah - she's an incredibley rich idiot, but a pretty cute incredibley rich idiot, if you go for that sort of plasticky Los Angeles coke head look, and on a basic human level, hacking her phone was pretty lame...)

    to happen to you.

    So, you get one of these phones. Then, one day, some stalker asshat sees you and steals your phone. you figure: who cares? They need to have my face to get in!

    And GUESS WHAT? HE DOES!!!

  • by addie (470476) on Wednesday March 02, 2005 @02:38PM (#11826259)
    Does this remind anyone of the scene from the classic Steve Martin comedy "LA Story"? He is trying to call his mother on his voice activated phone, and has to continually say "Mom" louder and louder each time. The phone dials wrong numbers, dials no number, and generally doesn't work. The scene points out how ridiculous it is that we waste time on time-saving features; it would have taken seconds to dial the number.

    A time-saving appliance only makes sense if it:
    - Works reliably in real-life situations
    - Has no learning curve
    - Costs no more than the "time" you "get back" from it

    Face-recognition camera phones just don't fit these criteria.
  • Since cell phone cameras don't usually seem to well in low-light situations, this could really help prevent drunk dialing!
  • ...for my friggin' phone company (Cingular) to give me web browsing access from my phone without charging me one cent per kB. What is this, 1970? Who charges $10 per megabyte of data transfer???

    People should stop buying these crappy feature-loaded phones. Instead, start demanding that the few useful features be good. So your phone has facial recognition but can't make a 5 minute call without cutting you off?

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