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Talking Barbie Says Hello, Parents Say Goodbye
March 18, 2015
It's not so much Hello Barbie's talking -- it's her listening that has parents up in arms. Here's how Hello Barbie works: A kid presses on the doll's belt buckle and speaks into a microphone in the doll's necklace. An AI system processes and analyzes that speech in the cloud. Responses are then streamed back to the doll, who replies to the kid -- all over a secure WiFi connection to the Internet.
Facebook Talks Tough About Online Harassment
March 17, 2015
Facebook on Monday issued a new set of community standards, including provisions designed to clamp down on revenge porn, bullying, threats and other forms of online harassment. Facebook will remove content that appears to purposefully target private individuals with the intent of degrading or shaming them, or that threatens or promotes sexual violence or exploitation.
Survey: Surveillance Is Fine as Long as It's Not on Me
March 16, 2015
Growing concern over privacy in cyberspace has people changing their online behavior. Nearly 90 percent of 475 adults recently surveyed said they were aware of government surveillance programs targeting Internet users, the Pew Research Center found. Large numbers of adults supported monitoring programs aimed at others -- from terrorists to political leaders -- but opposed spying on U.S. citizens.
Apple Drifts Away From Jobs
March 16, 2015
Steve Jobs' Apple displayed a rather fascinating balance between design and utility. Granted, it often shifted more toward the design side, which resulted in problems like Antennagate, but that tended to happen when Jobs wasn't around. He made sure the products worked well and looked good -- he understood the need to do both. By any financial measure, Tim Cook has been doing a great job.
Twitter Tries, Tries Again to Reduce Abuse
March 13, 2015
Twitter this week updated its rules to combat online abuse and revenge porn, in the wake of continuing outrage among netizens. The most significant change is a new statement that users may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject's consent. Sounds good, but like last month's update, it's more bark than bite.
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.
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.
The Linux Kernel's New 'Play Nice' Patch
March 12, 2015
Some 60 Linux kernel developers last week adopted a small "patch," called the "Code of Conflict," that attempts to set guidelines for discourse in the kernel community and outlines a path for mediation if someone feels abused or threatened. Linux creator Linus Torvalds' call for improved internal developer relations could be little more than wishful thinking, though.
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.
Get Ready for Self-Driving Autos to Wreak Disruption
March 09, 2015
Autonomous vehicles are on a roll, suggests a new report from McKinsey & Co. Acceptance will increase substantially by 2050, accounting for as much of 20 percent of new car sales. The shift to self-driving technologies could reduce auto accidents by as much as 90 percent, the report suggests. In addition, self-driving vehicles could free up commuters' time in the car.
Private, Public Teamwork Needed to Fight ISIS on Twitter: Report
March 09, 2015
Social media firms should team up with the U.S. government to work out appropriate responses to extremism on their sites, recommends a Brookings Institution report. J.M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan last year launched a study to define and describe the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter. They found that ISIS ramped up efforts on Twitter following the suspension of many supporters' accounts.
Hillary Clinton's Possibly Fatal Email Mistake
March 09, 2015
Hillary Clinton's email scandal showcases that she shouldn't be president. This has nothing to do with her party or politics -- it has to do with how she seems to approach a decision -- through tunnel vision leadership. This method isn't biased on the left or right, but it is more hardwired into men than women. Unfortunately, Clinton seems to have this in spades.
We Done Good, Consumer Protection Chief Tells Lawmakers
March 05, 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.
China's Cybersecurity Plans Draw US Fire
March 05, 2015
China should change its tune on new rules for purchases from American high-tech companies if it wants to do business with the United States, President Obama recently warned. China reportedly is planning to ask U.S. high-tech firms to hand over their encryption keys and install security backdoors in their systems to allow surveillance as a counterterrorism measure.
Twitter's New Safety Rules: Hot Diggity or Hot Air?
March 03, 2015
Twitter has announced actions to further protect users of its network -- but it left them vague. The company is rolling out unspecified improvements to its reporting process for content issues including impersonation, self-harm, and the sharing of private and confidential information, aka "doxing." It's also beginning to add new enforcement actions for use against accounts that violate its rules.
Ericsson Petitions ITC to Ban Infringing iPhones, iPads
March 02, 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."
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.
Government Spies Came Up Dry, Says Gemalto
February 26, 2015
SIM card maker Gemalto, whose networks reportedly were breached by hackers from the United States National Security Agency and the UK's GCHQ, on Wednesday said the spies got nothing. The hackers stole cryptokeys for millions of SIM cards, according to The Intercept, which cited documents released by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Gemalto denied any SIM cryptokeys had been stolen.
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.
Yahoo CISO, NSA Chief Slug It Out Over Security Backdoors
February 25, 2015
Yahoo CISO Alex Stamos on Monday confronted NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers over the United States government's plan to require built-in backdoors in hardware and software made by American companies. The exchange took place at the New America Foundation's cybersecurity conference. Building backdoors into cryptography is "like drilling a hole in the windshield," Stamos said.
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.

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Are you looking forward to self-driving cars?
You bet -- I'd love to have a built-in chauffeur.
Yes -- self-driving cars will save lives.
Kind of -- I'd like some self-driving features, like parking.
No -- self-driving cars are too dangerous.
No -- I don't want to give up another freedom.
Absolutely not -- I saw Terminator and I'm not letting some robot take me for a ride!
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