US government-funded smartphones are shipping with pre-installed malware

Rsn10100

TS Rookie
No doubt that anything from the government is going to have it's fair share of loopholes and woe are those that don't take the time to read that painfully dry documentation that comes with the product (it's all in there, buried). There is a method to the madness, but if they bothered to explain the "why" the program would not do as well as it does. Basic lesson, ALWAYS reset the phone and then take the time to weed out all the "junk" that you don't need .... convenience is no guarantee for privacy.
Given that the malware is baked in resetting the phone to factory reinstalls the malware as well. The only solution is to root the phone but these phones are locked down so there is no way to root it. It's more than just the umx phones, it's the UL40 and UL50 and probably any other phone you can get from Assurance Wireless. The UL series phones are so much worse, though. The adware doesn't seem to be fully compatible with newer versions of Android so the UMX doesn't get the screen blocking ads. Regardless, the poor have no power to change it and those in charge have no reason to change it other than it makes them look weak and inept.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Charles Olson

Yynxs

TS Maniac
Yes, doing so helps to keep the facts straight by actually educating one's self before claiming something is true. For instance, quoted from that very site:

I get it. You are just keeping "The Facts" straight.
Yes please, let us educate ourselves from the same website you quoted:

Who pays for the phones?
There’s another running argument about if the phones are or are not paid for by taxpayers. Yes and no, it depends how you look at it.

The money actually comes from a small fee added to most people’s monthly phone bills, called the Universal Service Fund fee. For a complete discussion of this, please read, “Do Taxpayers Pay for Government Cell Phones for the Poor?”

And it’s important to note that it does not cost any more to provide cell phones to people than it does landline. The government subsidizes both equally. In fact, landlines are often more expensive because the Link-Up portion is not always required for cell phones, depending upon the state.


The statement "Yes and no, it depends how you look at it." is the same garbage the left wing hands out figuring no one understands TANSTAFFL. The fee, any fee, mandated by a Government through any agency and passed to the consumer is a tax. I hope you get that clear. Any fee. Anyone who has not shown up for work knows that lost time costs them money. Filling out your income tax, yes, your income tax is a tax on your time. Your time is valuable. Filling out the census is a tax on your time. Having to report to a central point to wait in line and pay a fee to get a license to travel the roads that are built with your tax money is a tax on your time and your cost of transportation. "Fees" added to other bills, cell phone access charges, phone use charges mandated by the government are a tax on your pocketbook.

I once proposed an app to developers that tracked all the taxes imbedded in anything a consumer paid for. For instance, a half gallon of milk. Working backward from the carton: Local taxes on the facility and the refrigerator and the electricity keeping it cold. Tax on the gas the trucker used to get it to the market and the higher commercial use tax the trucker pays to drive on the highway and the extra licensing charges to be a trucker. The higher taxes on the tires and the labor tax of weighing in if the product is carried long haul. The import taxes on the materials to build the truck and taxes on the cement, steel, and energy use in the facility where the truck was built. The tax on the farm where the milk was produced, even when there are subsidies, there are taxes. Inspect and maintain the health of the cows and vaccinate them. The medical taxes on the vaccination and the vet. The cement on the floor of the barn, unless the cows are hand milked, the taxes on the assembly, transportation, and maintenance and cleanliness and inspection of the machinery used to get milk out of the cows and and into a reasonably clean container to travel to a pasteruization point and the same repetitive list of taxes on that construction and maintenance, with added taxes on the power used to instant heat the milk for pasteruization before putting it in the (if paper is used) paper carton, property tax on the land to grow the trees to produce the paper: same construction, use, and local taxes on the facility to make the paper and transportation charges to get the paper to the facilty (yep fully taxed) that makes the cartons. Then the same list of construction, use, local, and transportation charges to make the carton and get it to the pasteurization point.

The developers asked me the obvious question: Where would you get the data to assemble into app display. Well the government actually tracks the compliance of milk production and the IRS tracks the 'costs' businesses assign to making products and used as deductions on their income tax (yeah that too). So the data is there and the government knows it. You don't see anyone for larger government volunteering to tell you how much taxes you actually pay.

That was just a carton of milk, not even specifying fat level where there is another set of taxes and time taxes inspecting and monitoring the fat content and advertising stating that content on the carton (oh and don't forget the advertising is taxed).

The point of that rant is milk is one item and you don't ever see the taxes imbedded. Yet the very website you quote blithely says "Yes and no, it depends how you look at it." with the knowledge of the left ignoring the inherent lie about taxes and ignoring the right griping about the cost being passed to them for free stuff for other people.

Now to add some emphasis to this. I grew up military poor and my mother worked two jobs while my father flight engineered on buffs doing the SAC dance around the USSR during the 50s and early 60s. When my father's brain went south and he left the five of us kids and my mother after retiring, we lived in a farmhouse (many separate stories of electricity and primitive) and not enough money for a phone. Our neighbors in California in those days let us use their phone if needed and in our house, it better be bleeding or broken before we bothered the neighbors. One day a school administrator found out we did not have a phone (the 60s) and let the Welfare Department know and they paid us a visit to talk to my mother and inform her her children could not be allowed to live in an environment where there was no phone. What if there was an emergency? After explaining our neighbor's house, abutted up against our fence and 15 feet away had a phone we used if necessary, she was told that was unacceptable and they Welfare Department was going to take action on her. Also, if she only signed the land (purchased with father's reenlistment bonus back when active and brain was attached) they would 'give' her a phone and welfare money to 'take care of us deprived children'. She said "Get off my land and don't come back". The fool wagged her finger at her and said my mother would be sorry. My mother said, "You see that dog? If I say go, they'll never find you." (there were 3 dogs there, one a 120 pound German Shepherd dropped off on our street to starve by the usual Eastern riff raff invading Calfornia in the 60s). The welfare department said they were going to get the sheriff and made it to the fence. Sheriff showed up the next day with the welfare department, took a look at the dogs and the fence and us and said, "The kids look ok to me. You should go and leave this woman alone." They did. My mother took on some typing work in addition to the two jobs she was working and about 4 months later we got a phone installed and nobody questioned us again.

All five kids went to college after high school working to pay for it. None of them are criminals and those that lived were and are solid taxpaying citizens. Can the same 100% tax paying citizens statement be made about those receiving free cell phone "Lifeline" service?

The point of that is the right wing earned attitude that what you get you should get because you paid your way with what you make, not what others earned. Life is tough and then you get to die.

I should get into the politics of this being a Clinton era FCC program but it started in 1985 Lifeline Program under Reagan (no doubt hearing about the plight of my family in the 60s koff koff) and neither Bush being bright enough or government knowledgeable enough or a political leader enough to order the FCC to shut it down, but the rant has gone on long enough. The reason it is called the Obama Phone was the Obama expansion of the program. Same Lifeline Program link.

Obama program-updates-2017_18.gif

So, please DO educate yourself. Education does not mean reading only left wing propaganda as you quoted here. The truth is between the left wing and the right wing propaganda. Read both and then decide clarity.

Interesting to me is why it fell off after 2012. I'll have to do some reading. It sure wasn't because the economy improved so much under Obama.
 

OortCloud

TS Maniac
Wow - the US Civil war is alive and well on Techspot today. Why does everybody spend so much energy defending politicians when none of them are worth wasting your energy on and none of them care about you at all? Just be respectful of each other and talk about tech - on tech spot, leave the ludicrous politicians to fight amongst themselves. Fortunately most of the country is run by the layer beneath the sociopaths, megalomaniacs and narcissists that crave power so probably best to treat the politicians with disdain and not give them the respect they certainly don't deserve.
 

joitz630

TS Rookie
A recent but earlier Assurance phone, the UL40, is exhibiting the same problems. The software seems to automatically install apps no one asked for, such as "Flashlight" and "Mons." Notices pop up continually: "Google Play Store has stopped working," "App network access has stopped," and more. Google Gboard, the onscreen keyboard allowing users to type in the search bar and send text messages, is completely disabled and unusable! I plan to call customer service about this problem, after tolerating it for nearly a year! This is more than a nuisance; it renders the phone almost useless. Android phones in general: Many of them from other companies besides Assurance probably have some kind of software issue that prevents users from enjoying a bug-free experience.
 

daisy belle

TS Rookie
You do know that the so called "Obama phone" was actually a program started by Reagan, from what I understand, for low income families to be able to have a contact phone in order to facilitate finding a job with their own contact number, and for emergencies-Obama just popularized the program already in place, but virtually unknown. the program itself only pays a certain amount for each account that a carrier provides service for participating in the program, no matter what they provide over the bare minimum requirements of the program itself-anything additional is merely the service providers attempt to compete for business (and sometimes the program is the only thing actually floating some of these companies!). so, therefor, it should be needless to say, that for 1: the government themselves are not actually the ones providing ANY of the phones, merely paying a flat rate per account to the service providers, who 2: are trying to make a profit, as any other business does, and therefore, will provide as little as possible in order to do so, but still must be competitive to maintain an existance on the market (which is why the phones available are so cheap, featureless, and outdated!) so, in conclusion, as another commenter mentioned: "you get what you paid for!"
 

joitz630

TS Rookie
You do know that the so called "Obama phone" was actually a program started by Reagan...for low income families to be able to have a contact phone...Obama just popularized the program already in place, but virtually unknown. the program itself only pays a certain amount for each account that a carrier provides service for participating in the program, no matter what they provide over the bare minimum requirements of the program itself...so, therefore...the government themselves are not actually the ones providing ANY of the phones...the service providers...will provide as little as possible...but still must be competitive to maintain an existence on the market (which is why the phones available are so cheap, featureless, and outdated!)...as another commenter mentioned: "you get what you paid for!"
In other countries, depending on where you live, government services are on the same par with or higher than private interests doing the same types of services. Take a few European countries that provide affordable housing for everyone: In quite a few multistory residences, tenants enjoy lush terraces with flowers and small trees. The grounds are kept in pristine condition and everything works, including the elevators. Residents do not live in slums, they are given regularly-scheduled maintenance and repairs. "You get what you pay for...": some of the residents pay nothing at all. Security is simple -- doors lock securely and tenants can sleep soundly knowing that they live in good quality and safety. Just because something is free or reduced should not equal subpar. Why did I mention housing? Because destitute, impoverished, struggling, and less-privileged people deserve secure shelter and good communications, just as everyone else demands and receives. Free government-supported communications should be free from malware and other bugs because it's both the correct and most-humane thing to do. Nobody asked for bloated software; neither should paying customers doing business with private companies! During the New Deal under Franklin Roosevelt, government programs and services were both revolutionary and high quality; that's why so many of these almost-century old projects are still standing and operating today. The view back then was: the people deserved to have government services that were second to none. Would you serve contaminated food to a poor person just because he / she is poor? Of course, not...that is, if you're not a heartless giver. That's the way I see the bloatware issue with the government phones: Just because it's free doesn't mean it should be crap.
 

Yynxs

TS Maniac
In other countries, depending on where you live, government services are on the same par with or higher than private interests doing the same types of services. Take a few European countries that provide affordable housing for everyone: In quite a few multistory residences, tenants enjoy lush terraces with flowers and small trees. The grounds are kept in pristine condition and everything works, including the elevators. Residents do not live in slums, they are given regularly-scheduled maintenance and repairs. "You get what you pay for...": some of the residents pay nothing at all. Security is simple -- doors lock securely and tenants can sleep soundly knowing that they live in good quality and safety. Just because something is free or reduced should not equal subpar. Why did I mention housing? Because destitute, impoverished, struggling, and less-privileged people deserve secure shelter and good communications, just as everyone else demands and receives. Free government-supported communications should be free from malware and other bugs because it's both the correct and most-humane thing to do. Nobody asked for bloated software; neither should paying customers doing business with private companies! During the New Deal under Franklin Roosevelt, government programs and services were both revolutionary and high quality; that's why so many of these almost-century old projects are still standing and operating today. The view back then was: the people deserved to have government services that were second to none. Would you serve contaminated food to a poor person just because he / she is poor? Of course, not...that is, if you're not a heartless giver. That's the way I see the bloatware issue with the government phones: Just because it's free doesn't mean it should be crap.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt: Architect of Monetary Madness and a U.S. Debt Default

This was 2015 before current Trump debt: President Franklin Roosevelt, who presided over most of World War II, left the country with more debt than every other president to date. Public debt as a share of GDP was at 95.7 percent in 1944, his last full calendar year in office.

The other side speaks from the FDR Library and his writings.
To balance our budget in 1933 or 1934 or 1935 would have been a crime against the American people. To do so we should either have had to make a capital levy that would have been confiscatory, or we should have had to set our face against human suffering with callous indifference. When Americans suffered, we refused to pass by on the other side. Humanity came first.

I agree about the bloatware, but it has nothing to do with "quality" free stuff from the government. Bloatware, spyware, et al. is based on the tech corpoate America knowledge that you are the commodity and no one who wants 'free stuff' will fight this, nor will their bribed representatives or judges. The essential irony is that the 'free phones' (and PC O/Ses) contain similar bloatware as the paid for devices and services. The only headline here is that the 'free phones' have bloatware the technorati consider malware because they can't remove it from their personal stuff.