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Lawsuit Challenges NSA Internet Dragnets
March 13, 2015
The ACLU earlier this week filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the NSA from indiscriminately snooping on U.S. Internet traffic. Using a technique called "upstream" surveillance, the NSA does a spinal tap of the Internet's U.S. backbone, which carries the communications of millions of Americans, the ACLU explained in its complaint filed with a federal district court in Maryland.
Astroturfing's Legality Is in the Weeds
March 13, 2015
We see it all the time: a glowing 5-star comment on Yelp about our favorite neighborhood restaurant. At first glance, it looks authentic. However, what if the review actually were purchased by the restaurant? Would that change your perspective on the review or the restaurant? Of course, paying for advertising is hardly new. Celebrities for years have endorsed products and restaurants.
FCC Drops Net Neutrality Rules on Dissection Table
March 12, 2015
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has released the final version of its controversial open Internet rules. In the introduction to the some 400 pages of new rules, which cover both wired and wireless broadband, the commission stated its "carefully tailored rules" would prevent specific practices that are harmful to Internet openness, such as blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.
Ellen Pao Airs Kleiner Perkins' Dirty Laundry
March 10, 2015
Ellen Pao on Monday testified in a San Franciso courtroom that she was passed up for promotions and sexually harassed by a partner during her employment at prestigious venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. Pao said that after she broke off a relationship with former Kleiner Perkins partner Ajit Nazre, he made it difficult for her to do her job.
How Deep Can Watson Drill?
March 10, 2015
IBM last week announced the acquisition of AlchemyAPI, which uses deep learning to perform natural language processing. NLP consists of semantic text analysis, including sentiment analysis. IBM "has some of these capabilities already, and we continue to explore ways to expand and amplify them through our growing developer community," said IBM Watson VP Steve Gold.
We Done Good, Consumer Protection Chief Tells Lawmakers
March 5, 2015
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has made great strides in carrying out its mission, which is to ensure consumers are fairly treated in the financial marketplace, Director Richard Cordray said Tuesday at a House Financial Services hearing. The bureau's qualified mortgage rule put new measures in place to prevent the sloppy underwriting that led to the subprime mortgage problem.
Nextdoor Snags $110M for Community-Building Efforts
March 5, 2015
Nextdoor on Wednesday announced it has received $110 million in venture capital to grow its neighborhood-based network of residents and vendors. Nextdoor plans to use the money to develop additional ways for members to benefit from the recommendations shared on the social network. "People don't know their neighbors -- but we are changing that," said spokesperson Jennifer Burke.
What Corning's Gorilla Glass 4 Says About Survival
March 5, 2015
Corning Gorilla Glass, which resists scratches and breakage, is the leader in providing the protective layer on smartphone screens. For a while, it appeared as though Sapphire might pose a threat, but no more. In the meantime, Corning has introduced Gorilla Glass 4, which is the best to date. Every Apple iPhone and every Samsung Galaxy phone uses Corning Gorilla Glass.
Google's MVNO Approach May Show Up Carriers
March 2, 2015
Google on Monday confirmed that it plans to launch a mobile virtual network operation, or MVNO, later this year. Google Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai, who heads up operations for Android and Chrome, commented on the undertaking in a Q&A following his keynote address at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Google in essence will provide the same service as a wireless carrier.
Ericsson Petitions ITC to Ban Infringing iPhones, iPads
March 2, 2015
Ericsson last week filed patent claims against Apple both with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and the U.S. International Trade Commission. "Our suits filed yesterday assert 41 different patents," said Ericsson spokesperson Kathy Egan Wummer. "Of those, 14 are at issue in the ITC and the district court; the other 27 are at issue only in the district court."
CPQ's Time to Shine
March 2, 2015
Last month, Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce's corporate investment group, swung into action. They led a Series B round of funding that garnered US$41 million for Apttus, a high-flying CPQ vendor. Salesforce Ventures also participated in SteelBrick raising a series B round of $18 million. That's two CPQ vendors that Salesforce has taken an interest in. The question is, why?
FCC Comes Through on Net Neutrality
February 27, 2015
The FCC has adopted new open Internet rules by a 3-2 vote along party lines. The rules, which affect both wired and wireless access, prohibit broadband providers from unreasonably interfering with efforts of consumers and edge providers to reach each other. The Internet is "simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Court Sticks It to Apple in $533M Patent Case
February 25, 2015
Apple must pay patent licensing firm Smartflash US$532.9 million for infringing three patents. U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who presided over the case in Tyler, Texas, ordered Apple to pay the penalty after a federal jury in Texas found that the company's iTunes software infringed on the patent holder. That jury took eight hours to decide Apple willfully used Smartflash's patents without consent.
Net Neutrality: All Over but the Shouting?
February 25, 2015
After well over a year of bitter, often highly partisan debates, and despite dissension within its ranks and opposition from industry groups, the United States Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to vote in favor of rules enforcing Net neutrality. The commission wants to regulate ISPs like common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.
Open Source vs. Proprietary Firms on the IoT Battleground
February 25, 2015
A battle is brewing over control of the Internet of Things marketplace. Consumers see only convenience and extensions to their always-on mobile devices. Product makers see a pathway to streaming data that can be monetized from buyers' connections. Will history repeat itself, as open source begins to take on the current, yet unsustainable, walled-garden core of the IoT?
FTC, Private Sector Lock Horns Over Consumer Data Protection
February 25, 2015
The major headline hacking event of 2014 involved data theft at a highly visible enterprise: Sony Pictures. Perhaps just as significant in e-commerce security was a 2014 federal court ruling which allows the FTC to continue penalizing commercial firms for failure to protect consumer data from hackers. That decision has been challenged, and in early March the FTC and its opponent will square off in court.
Google Pads Its Wallet
February 24, 2015
Google on Monday announced a two-pronged thrust to beef up its efforts in the mobile wallet arena. It has struck agreements with Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile to preinstall the Google Wallet app, including its tap-and-pay functionality, on Android phones the carriers will offer later this year in the United States. The devices must run KitKat or later.
Apple to Sink $1.9B in Green Data Centers in Europe
February 24, 2015
Apple on Monday announced a plan to build two new data centers in Europe -- one in Ireland and the other in Denmark. Apple plans to spend $1.9 billion on the project -- its largest European investment to date. The new facilities will power its online services including the iTunes Store, App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri. The project will create hundreds of new jobs.
Citizenfour's Oscar Highlights National Divide Over Snowden
February 24, 2015
Citizenfour, a film documenting interviews director Laura Poitras conducted with whistle-blower Edward Snowden, won the Oscar for best documentary Sunday. The talks took place as Snowden blew the lid off the United States National Security Agency's surveillance activities. The award highlights the divisions in the U.S. over Snowden's actions and the question of national security.
The Apple/Tesla Dream Team
February 23, 2015
We've seen a lot of speculation this week on the Apple car -- everything from Apple building its own car from scratch to its buying or merging with Tesla. Like many, I think the best path would be an Apple/Tesla combination, but since I doubt Tim would want to work for Musk or Musk for Tim, the only real option would be an office of the CEO for both firms.
AT&T Puts a Price on Privacy
February 23, 2015
Users who want to sign on to GigaPower by AT&T, the carrier's 1-gigabit-per-second Internet service that just become available in Kansas City, Missouri, have an interesting choice. They can pay $70 with the understanding that their online movements will be tracked for commercial purposes -- or they can pay an additional $29 a month to avoid the monitoring.
Google Rails Against Proposal to Give Feds Remote Hacking Authority
February 20, 2015
Google is fighting a proposed amendment to Rule 41 of the U.S. Criminal Code that might allow authorities to hack into computers abroad. The amendment seeks to empower a magistrate in a district where activities related to a crime may have occurred to issue a warrant for remote search of computers, as well as seizure or copying of their files, under certain circumstances.
A123 Lawsuit Asserts Apple in Cahoots With Its Ex-Engineer
February 20, 2015
Electric-car battery maker A123 Systems earlier this week filed a lawsuit against Apple in a Massachusetts Superior Court in Middlesex County. A123 also sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop its former employee, Mujeeb Ijaz, from violating his non-disclosure and non-compete agreement. Ijaz had moved to Apple to apply his skills as an auto-battery engineer.
LoopPay Deal Rolls Samsung Into Mobile Pay Arena
February 19, 2015
Samsung has purchased mobile payments firm LoopPay to create its own digital wallet. LoopPay's contactless magnetic secure transmission technology works with magnetic stripe readers. "The one major advantage LoopPay/Samsung has over NFC and Google/Apple Pay is that currently it does not require a separate terminal to accept payments," noted Copper Mobile's Andrew Stern.

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Is native advertising good for journalism?
Yes -- It's a reasonable source of additional revenue for media outlets to support their traditional editorial efforts.
Yes -- Paid-for articles can contain useful information, but readers might bypass them if they look too much like ads.
Maybe -- But only if it's clearly labeled as paid-for content.
No -- I don't trust any information from media outlets that cloak paid-for content as objective journalism.
No -- Native advertising is confusing and devious, and it threatens the fabric of traditional journalism.
I Don't Know -- I don't understand what native advertising is.