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Feinstein Revives Terrorist Activity Reporting Bill
December 10, 2015
Sen. Dianne Feinstein has reintroduced a bill that would require technology companies to alert law enforcement of certain activities that might be related to terrorist threats. It would mandate that technology companies notify authorities of communications regarding attack planning, recruitment, or distribution of information relating to explosives if they should become aware of that activity.
Social Media Firms Face Quandary Over Terror Prevention
December 8, 2015
Following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., social media companies are coming under increased pressure, both internally and externally, to protect their networks from being used as platforms for operational planning and propaganda. "We should build tools to help de-escalate tensions on social media," wrote Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt in an op-ed.
Hello Barbie, Can We Talk About Your Security Issues?
December 8, 2015
New security issues that surfaced last week in connection with Mattel's Hello Barbie doll, which talks back to kids, have heightened fears that hackers could use the toy to steal information about its owners and their families. The Hello Barbie app, which is available for iOS and Android, uses an authentication credential that can be reused by hackers, Bluebox disclosed.
Samsung Grudgingly Agrees to Write Apple a $548M Check
December 7, 2015
Samsung and Apple last week filed a court document indicating the companies had come to an agreement under which Samsung will pay Apple $548 million toward partial resolution of an epic legal dispute. At the heart of the conflict were Apple's allegations that Samsung effectively had stolen the technology behind certain key iPhone features for its own competing devices.
Social Media's Troubling Terrorist Infestation
December 4, 2015
For individuals, social networking means sharing small moments and major events in life. For businesses, social media marketing can help build brands. For terrorist groups such as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, social networks increasingly are the tool of choice for delivering messages of hate and recruiting new members to their cause. ISIS has exploited Twitter to send out propaganda.
Yahoo May Be on Road to Oblivion
December 3, 2015
Up for discussion at Yahoo's next board of directors meeting is the sale of its Bing-powered search, longstanding mail service, aggregator-propped news platform, and the rest of the company's Internet business, according to reports. The possible spinoff of Yahoo's 15 percent stake in Alibaba also may be on the table. Yahoo has struggled mightily over the last decade.
EFF Sues Google for Snooping on Students
December 3, 2015
The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Tuesday filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that Google has used personal student data mined from its school Chromebook distribution, and requesting an investigation and an injunction against the practice. The EFF also launched a campaign to educate parents and school administrators about the risks of student data collection.
Zuckerberg and Chan Pledge Billions to Charity in Love Letter to Baby
December 2, 2015
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan posted an open letter to their baby daughter, Max, explaining why they plan to give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares -- worth about $45 billion currently -- to philanthropic causes. The couple intend to make the donations gradually over the course of their lives. Zuckerberg and Chan seek to advance human potential and promote equality.
Court Lifts NSL-Imposed Gag Order on Warrantless FBI Probing
December 1, 2015
Calyx founder Nicholas Merrill -- who made history in 2004 when he sued to lift a nondisclosure order imposed by an FBI National Security Letter -- has won his 11-year battle. The ruling, handed down this summer by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, was stayed for 90 days to give the government time to file an appeal. It became public when the stay expired on Monday.
Pirate Bay Scores Rare Legal Victory
December 1, 2015
A District Court in Stockholm, Sweden, last week ruled against an international group of content providers who sought to force a local Internet service provider to block The Pirate Bay, a file-sharing site, said lawyers for the plaintiffs. The content providers had filed a lawsuit suit to compel ISP Bredbandsbolaget to block The Pirate Bay from operating in Sweden.
Yahoo Tests the Determination of Ad Blockers
November 28, 2015
Yahoo earlier this week acknowledged that it has been experimenting with a neutralizing agent that can counteract ad-blocking software tools by closing off email access to browsers that use them. "At Yahoo, we are continually developing and testing new product experiences," the company said in a statement. "This is a test we're running for a small number of Yahoo Mail users in the U.S."
The Mystery of the Missing LinkedIn Post Views
November 25, 2015
There's a disconnect between the number of connections a LinkedIn user has and the number of post views attracted, LinkedIn influencer Itai Leshem noticed. Prepping his startup for the launchpad, Leshem dug into LinkedIn's post distribution data for about six hours one day and found a number of LinkedIn influencers with millions of followers who averaged only thousands of post views -- or less.
Telegram Shutters 78 ISIS Channels
November 20, 2015
The team behind the Telegram secure messaging app on Wednesday reported that it had shut down 78 channels, across 12 languages, used by ISIS and its supporters. However, the app's privately used channels weren't affected by the sweep. After the attacks on Paris last weekend, the Telegram team learned that the terrorist group had been communicating openly on its secure messaging platform.
ISIS Mocks Anonymous' War Declaration
November 18, 2015
ISIS has rebuffed the declaration of cyberwar Anonymous issued. "The #Anonymous hackers threatened in new video release that they will carry out a major hack operation on the Islamic state (idiots)," reads a message posted in a Telegram channel believed to be affiliated with ISIS hackers. "What they gonna hack," it continues. "All what they can do is hacking Alansar twitter accounts, emails etc."
Facebook to Broaden Use of Safety Check in Disasters
November 16, 2015
Facebook faced a social media firestorm this weekend for deploying its safety check tool during Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris. Large numbers of people used social media to let loved ones and officials know they were hiding, injured, or safe and out of harm's way. The decision provoked questions over why the technology was not deployed during similar incidents in other regions.
Apple Faces Twitter Storm Over Mac App Security Glitch
November 14, 2015
Apple faced the wrath of legions of Mac users after it reportedly allowed a security certificate to expire on Wednesday, leaving customers unable to use some apps. The expiration appeared to impact a number of apps, including Acorn, Byword, Daisy Disk, Tweetbot and 1Password. It's likely that the incident occurred due to problems with the security certificate management system.
Microsoft Hands Cloud Data Control to German Trustee
November 12, 2015
Microsoft announced it will offer its Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM cloud services to business clients using two Germany-based data centers hosted by a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. The arrangement will protect the integrity and privacy of customer data, the company said. The data centers will be under the control of T-Systems, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, which will act as data trustee.
NSA Keeps Some Security Bugs Under Its Hat
November 10, 2015
The U.S. National Security Agency is getting a collective side-eye after posting what it characterized as proactive information: the fact that it discloses 91 percent of security vulnerabilities that pass through its internal review process. While the agency appears pleased with its newfound transparency, it's being called out en masse for the things it's not reporting.
Toyota's $1B AI, Robotics Play Jolts Driverless World
November 6, 2015
Toyota Motor on Friday announced plans to launch a new company, Toyota Research Institute, as part of a five-year $1 billion investment in artificial intelligence and robotics technology for automobiles. The new company will begin operations in January 2016 under the leadership of Toyota's executive technical advisor Gill Pratt. Its headquarters will be in Silicon Valley near Stanford University.
Lawsuit Threatens Amazon's Prime Now Delivery Model
November 6, 2015
Four former delivery drivers for Amazon Prime Now, or APN, last week filed a lawsuit against Amazon, arguing they should have been classified as employees rather than independent contractors. The suit also names Scoobeez, the courier service through which they worked for Amazon; ABT Holdings, Scoobeez's parent company; and 10 John Does as co-defendants.
Film Industry Claims Victory in Shutdown of Major Piracy Sites
November 4, 2015
The Motion Picture Association of America ran a victory lap after announcing the shutdown of movie and television torrent sites Popcorn Time and YTS. The shutdowns resulted from major legal wins in Canada and New Zealand. The MPAA last month obtained injunctions against the sites in those countries, effectively blocking them from further operation.
New Parental Leave Policies, Bookstore Show Amazon's Softer Side
November 3, 2015
Amazon has informed employees of significant improvements to its parental leave policies. It also announced the opening of its first physical bookstore in a letter to customers. Both moves no doubt have been in the works for a while, but the timing of the announcements may not be coincidental. Amazon's image could use some buffing, having become tarnished by bad publicity.
Airbnb Holds its Breath as San Franciscans Vote on Prop F
November 3, 2015
San Franciscans will vote Tuesday on Proposition F, also known as the "Airbnb Initiative," which seeks to restrict short-term rentals. Polls will open at 7:00 a.m. At first glance, it appears that the fight is about short-term rental aggregators such as Airbnb. However, the battle lines are muddy. On one side, landlords support Prop F. However, many tenants also support it.
Google Fine-Tunes Self-Driving Cars' Kid Perception
November 2, 2015
Google last week announced that it has developed technology for its self-driving vehicles that would be able to detect people in costumes -- presumably children dressed for Halloween. The company is teaching its cars to drive more cautiously around children and thus be ready to adapt to sudden and even erratic movement, as children's behavior can be unpredictable.
The New York Times May Get Technical With Ad Blockers
November 2, 2015
The New York Times Company last week indicated would take steps to circumvent ad-blocking tools. "As you know, the Times' digital subscription revenue stream means that we are less exposed than most publishers to the impact of ad-blockers," said NYT Company CEO Mark Thompson during an earnings call. "Nonetheless, let me make it clear that we oppose ad blocking."
Using Tech to Fix the Horrid US Political Debates
November 2, 2015
I watched with interest last week's Republican debate and realized very quickly that whatever that was on my TV, it sure as hell wasn't an actual debate. The idea is for us to be able to compare the qualifications and positions of a variety of candidates and then make a more informed choice -- but if every candidate is asked a different question, then how do we compare the answers?
Chrome OS Is Dead, Long Live Chrome OS?
October 31, 2015
Google reportedly is two years into a plan to consolidate the Chrome operating system and Android and plans to roll out a combined OS in 2017. Chromebooks running the Chrome OS have gained adoption as entry-level computers for students and as a low-cost option for a growing number of corporate customers. "Chrome OS isn't being killed," said a source familiar with the company's strategy.
SXSW May Put Online Harassment in the Spotlight
October 28, 2015
SXSW Interactive reportedly might include a daylong event on combating online harassment. The news followed SXSW's cancellation of two planned panels that were expected to focus on opposite ends of the Gamergate debate. Threats of on-site violence spurred the decision to cancel both panels, according to SXSW officials. However, that decision immediately drew fire.
CISA Passes Senate Despite Privacy Advocates' Fear and Loathing
October 28, 2015
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday voted 74-21 to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, in the face of strong opposition from legal and cybersecurity experts, the high-tech industry, privacy and civil liberties organizations, and members of the public. The Act calls for several federal agencies to share cyberthreat indicators between the public and private sectors.
Russian Sub Activity Near Internet Cables Worries US
October 27, 2015
Russian spy ships and subs reportedly are hovering close to the routes of undersea communications cables. Military and intelligence officials apparently have observed increased Russian sub activity near cables located from the North Sea to Northeast Asia, as well as in waters close to American shores. The movements suggest Russia might decide to attack those cables in times of tension or conflict.
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