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FAA's Next-Generation Air Transportation System Falters
May 11, 2015
The United States Federal Aviation Administration last week came under fire once again for problems with the implementation of its troubled Next Generation Air Transportation System. The NextGen program to overhaul the U.S. national air traffic control system, estimated to cost $29 billion between 2013 and 2030, long has been the target of congressional wrath.
Uber Wants to Get Off Google's Maps
May 8, 2015
Ride-sharing company Uber reportedly has submitted a bid of up to $3 billion to acquire Nokia's Here maps service. Several Here suitors have surfaced since April, when Nokia made known its intent to sell the service, including Facebook, Google, and a consortium of German automakers and Chinese search engine Baidu. The biggest threat to Uber's bid may be that consortium.
Wild Salesforce Speculation
May 8, 2015
The blogosphere lit up last week after rumors surfaced that Salesforce was working with unnamed bankers on a possible merger. It seemed Salesforce was in play, and my colleagues and I went into overdrive speculating about who the suitor might be, what the striking price would be, and whether it was a good idea to do the deal. Of course, as a public company, Salesforce in theory could be bought.
Users Choose to Wear Blinders, Facebook Suggests
May 8, 2015
Facebook, in collaboration with the University of Michigan, conducted a study on the diversity of news and opinions posted by members of the network, in an effort to determine whether its manipulation of News Feed algorithms could be responsible for creating an echo chamber of viewpoints. Users themselves are to blame if all they're exposed to is preaching to the choir, the study found.
The Last Apple Watch Review You'll Ever Need to Read
May 8, 2015
If you're thinking about getting an Apple Watch and have been on the fence, this review is for you. Why? The Apple Watch, it turns out, is less about being the perfect smartwatch than about being a watch. For the fence sitters out there, these two questions are really where you should start: First, do you want a watch? Second, do you want a digital wearable device that can transform your life?
Federal Appeals Court Rules NSA's Phone Data-Vacuuming Illegal
May 7, 2015
A U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled, in essence, that the NSA's collection of metadata concerning Americans' communications is illegal. The court vacated U.S. District Judge William Pauley's December 2013 ruling in ACLU v. Clapper, and remanded the case to the lower court. "The Second Circuit found the government incorrect in many of its arguments," said ACLU Staff Attorney Patrick Toomey.
Twitter's Timid Anti-Trolling Tweaks
May 7, 2015
Twitter recently amended its rules in yet another attempt to crack down on the abuses perpetuated by online trolls, but the changes may do little to protect victims. Its latest move was an extension of its ban on threats of violence against others or the promotion of violence against others. The company decided to let its support team lock down abusive accounts for specific periods of time.
Everybody Loves Salesforce
May 6, 2015
Rumors about Salesforce.com being courted by Microsoft and Oracle have been swirling about Wall Street and Silicon Valley. However, it's not clear how much substance there is to the speculation. The buzz began with a report last Wednesday, and analysts ran with it. Oracle stirred the pot Thursday when co-CEO Safra Catz said a Salesforce.com acquisition would disrupt the software market.
Supreme Court to Hear 'Non-Injury' Privacy Class Action
May 6, 2015
The U.S. Supreme Court last month granted a request from Spokeo, a data aggregator, to consider whether the legal basis litigants must meet to file a claim in federal court should be broadly or narrowly defined. In the case, Spokeo, Inc. v. Thomas Robins, Thomas Robins is a resident of Virginia acting individually and as representative of a class.
Facebook Responds to Critics by Unlocking Internet.org
May 4, 2015
Net neutrality and Facebook's Internet.org initiative can and must coexist, insists CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook on Monday announced that it will expand Internet.org to ensure that it doesn't conflict with the principles of a free and open Internet. CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to criticisms of Internet.org and outlined plans to make the free service even more open.
When Elon Met Larry
April 28, 2015
Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk reportedly almost sold his electric car company to Google. Tesla was on the verge of bankruptcy, and Musk had all but signed the documents that would have handed over the company, according to an excerpt from the upcoming Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for the Fantastic Future. The book will be available May 19.
Patent Holders: Google Wants Your IP!
April 28, 2015
Google on Monday announced it will open an experimental portal to purchase patents from their holders between May 8 and May 22. The move is widely seen as an attempt to shut off patent trolls. Patent holders have to set the price at which they're willing to sell their IP, and they will be told by June 26 whether Google wants to buy. Payments will be made through ACH by late August.
No More Smartphones, Nokia Vows
April 27, 2015
Nokia has kinda, sorta asserted that it's not returning to the smartphone business, in the wake of persistent reports that it's been eyeing a comeback. Nokia "currently has no plans to manufacture or sell consumer handsets," reads a company statement. "The reports are false, and include comments incorrectly attributed to a Nokia Networks executive."
Modders Steamed over Valve's Revenue-Sharing Plans
April 27, 2015
Valve last week announced that it was allowing players to sell video game mods on its digital distribution platform, Steam, starting with mods of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but its plans for policing the marketplace and sharing revenue with creators have become points of contention. Skyrim developer Bethesda Softworks is the only company participating in the initiative so far.
Comcast, Time Warner Cable Deal Undone
April 23, 2015
Comcast has decided to abandon its plan to merge with Time Warner Cable, according to multiple press reports. The company is expected to make a formal announcement on Friday. About a week after reports emerged indicating the DoJ was leaning against Comcast's $45.2 billion dollar bid to absorb TWC, reports surfaced that the FCC was leaning in the same direction.
The Growing Robocall Menace
April 23, 2015
Automated telephone calls, also known as "robocalls," used to drive me crazy. Then they stopped, and life was quiet, peaceful and beautiful once again, but just for a few short years. Those disturbing calls have started once again, and now they are worse than ever. Why? And how can we stop them? Robocalls typically are for telemarketing purposes. The calls are placed by automated systems.
Government Surveillance: What to Do, What to Do?
April 21, 2015
The CIA has been trying to hack into iOS for years. British and American agencies reportedly have collaborated to create a map of the Internet and Web users. The United States National Security Agency has, together with the UK's GCHQ, reportedly stolen SIM card encryption keys from Gemalto. The FBI is frothing at the mouth over Google's and Apple's encryption of their mobile OSes.
China's Great Cannon Could Point Anywhere When Next Fuse Is Lit
April 16, 2015
China, which censors the Internet with its Great Firewall aka the "Golden Shield," has a new censorship tool that is causing alarm. It's known as the "Great Cannon." The University of Toronto's Citizen Lab identified the tool in a report released last week. The Great Cannon was first used in March, to launch a large-scale DDoS attack on GitHub and GreatFire.org, Citizen Lab said.
EC Officially Tosses Google Into Hot Soup
April 15, 2015
The European Commission on Wednesday began official antitrust proceedings against Google, alleging abuses of its dominance in Internet search. The EC further opened a probe into Google's Android mobile operating system. In a Statement of Objections sent to Google, the EC notes that its preliminary investigation indicates the company has infringed European antitrust rules by stifling competition and harming consumers.
Industry Groups Lead Net Neutrality Lawsuit Parade
April 15, 2015
Several wireless and cable industry groups on Tuesday filed lawsuits challenging the FCC's new open Internet rules. The lawsuits seek to nullify the new rules on the grounds that the FCC exceeded its authority in making them -- most notably by redefining broadband service so it can be regulated like a utility. The trade groups oppose the way the FCC seeks to enforce Net neutrality.
Ransomware Perps Put the Squeeze on Police
April 14, 2015
Five police departments in Maine, whose networks are linked together so they can share files, recently deposited bitcoins worth 300 euros into a Swiss bank account as ransom for their records. The departments' management system was locked down by ransomware that scrambled their data and rendered it unusable. The police decided to pay up after their experts failed to crack the ransomware code.
EFF Lambasts ESA for Hindering Video Game Preservation Efforts
April 14, 2015
The EFF last week called out the ESA for opposing its video game preservation efforts. The EFF has petitioned the U.S. Copyright Office for an exemption to the DMCA's anticircumvention provisions. The point is to afford legal protection for game enthusiasts to be able to use the games they own, as well as for academics and museums to preserve them for educational or historic purposes.
DEA Sued for Unconstitutional Phone Surveillance
April 10, 2015
The Electronic Frontier Foundation this week filed a complaint against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for secretly collecting data on all telephone calls to as many as 116 countries, possibly going back to the 1990s. The suit was filed on behalf of Human Rights Watch. Many of the calls were made to countries known to be heavily involved in the drug trade.
YouTube Foists Deceptive Ads on Kids, Says Complaint
April 7, 2015
Child and consumer advocacy groups on Monday filed a complaint with the United States Federal Trade Commission asking it to investigate Google over unfair and deceptive advertising practices in connection with its YouTube Kids app. In essence, the app includes ads in a way that takes advantage of children's developmental vulnerabilities, the complaint alleges.

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