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Major Tech Firms Pressure FCC to Stay the Net Neutrality Course
July 18, 2017
The Internet Association, which represents 40 leading technology companies -- including Facebook, Google, Amazon and others -- on Monday filed comments with the FCC, urging it to maintain Net neutrality regulations enacted during the Obama administration. The rules have created a level playing field that has helped fuel innovation in the broadband Internet space, according to IA.
Free AI Chatbot Goes to Bat for Beleaguered Consumers
July 17, 2017
DoNotPay, an AI-based chatbot app created to help fight parking tickets in the UK, now addresses roughly 1,000 consumer concerns and is available throughout the U.S. as well as across the pond. The app's creator, Stanford student Joshua Browder, announced the expansion last week. Powered by IBM Watson, DoNotPay has about 1,000 bots capable of tackling a variety of legal and service issues.
Google Gives Up Scanning Personal Gmail
June 30, 2017
Google recently announced the end of its policy of scanning user emails for targeted advertising purposes -- a controversial practice that riled privacy advocates and spurred legal challenges. Gmail is the world's most widely used email provider, with more than 1.2 billion users. Google attributed its decision to gains it has made in the enterprise.
Will Record Fine Cramp Google's Style in Europe?
June 29, 2017
The European Commission has walloped Google unit with a record $2.7 billion for giving its own shopping comparison site preference above smaller competitors, and thus abusing its dominant position as a search engine. Google must end the conduct within 90 days or face penalties of 5 percent of its average daily global revenue, the EC said. Google expressed disagreement with the EC's findings.
Chastened Uber CEO Takes Leave of Absence to Work on Self-Improvement
June 14, 2017
Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick said he will take a leave of absence, as a company review led by Eric Holder was made public. The review sketches out a plan to make radical changes to diversify Uber in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination. Kalanick accepted responsibility for widespread company problems that led to the investigation.
New Stem Cell Treatment Offers Dramatic Burn-Healing Potential
June 13, 2017
A med-tech startup has developed a novel way to treat burn wounds. RenovaCare harvests a variety of cells, including stem cells, from a healthy area of skin on a patient. Those cells are then suspended in a water-based solution and sprayed onto the wound using the company's SkinGun. "The sprayer allows us to have a generous distribution of cells," explained RenovaCare's Roger Esteban-Vives.
SC Ruling Signals New Era for Software Patent Enforcement
May 30, 2017
The U.S. Supreme Court once again has changed the landscape for software infringement litigation. In a decision released last week, the court severely undercut the ability of plaintiffs to seek out courts that have a track record of being "friendly" to the plaintiff's position -- a practice called "forum shopping." Legal analysts disagree on the impact of the decision, however.
Data Watchdog Cautions Google and UK Health Partner
May 19, 2017
A British data watchdog has raised questions about whether it was appropriate for a healthcare trust to share data on 1.6 million patients with DeepMind Health, an AI company owned by Google. The trust shared the data in connection with the test phase of Streams, an app designed to diagnose acute kidney injuries. However, the sharing reportedly was performed without an appropriate legal basis.
Intertwining Artificial Intelligence With Blockchain
May 18, 2017
Except for those folks living under rocks, everyone knows about or at least has heard of bitcoin. However, not everyone understands the technology of bitcoin, which extends well beyond Internet-based currency. For the rock people, bitcoin is an Internet-based currency that allows for transparency with respect to each transfer of the currency through the use of a distributed database.
Google's New Mobile OS Will Have a Distinctly Non-Linux Hue
May 16, 2017
Google has been developing a new open source OS called "Fuchsia" for smartphones, tablets and other devices, which could be unveiled as early as this summer. Little has been revealed about the new OS since it first came to light last year. However, new details that surfaced last week have been making the rounds. Fuchsia apparently will move Google away from its long association with Linux.
John Oliver's Viewers Flood FCC Site With Net Neutrality Concerns
May 9, 2017
Comedian John Oliver, incensed over proposed changes to unravel Net neutrality protections for consumers, unleashed a torrent of criticism against the FCC and urged viewers to register their protest online. The response led to a digital meltdown on the agency's site Sunday night. Oliver targeted a proposal that would loosen Net neutrality regulations.
Congress Probes United Airlines' Customer Mishandling
May 3, 2017
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz on Tuesday apologized to the United States Congress for his company causing a passenger to be dragged off a UA flight last month. United failed its customers and failed as a company in that incident, and this has to be a turning point for the airline, Munoz told the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Committee at a hearing into airline industry practices.
Executive Order Triggers H-1B Jitters in Silicon Valley
April 19, 2017
President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a long-anticipated executive order that addresses a campaign promise to begin shifting the country toward the "Buy American, Hire American" strategy that appealed to much of the industrial working class population in the Rust Belt states. The order calls on the U.S. government to shift purchasing toward domestically produced goods.
Cleveland Murder Intensifies Scrutiny of Facebook Live
April 18, 2017
Video footage of a senseless murder in Cleveland, posted after the fact on Facebook Live, has attracted national attention to the role of the platform in criminals' minds. Authorities Tuesday morning announced that Steve Stephens -- the 37-year-old suspect wanted for the cold-blooded shooting of Robert Godwin Sr. -- shot himself to death after a short pursuit by Pennsylvania State Police.
Why Is It OK to Abuse Customers?
April 17, 2017
I don't know about you but I can't seem to get out of my head the image of that poor Asian doctor who, seemingly unconscious, was dragged off that United flight. The fact that the airline did that to a 69-year-old doctor just so it could save money moving employees around is nearly as unbelievable as the initial tone-deaf response from United's CEO, who blamed the passenger.
Qualcomm Answers Apple's $1B Lawsuit, Files Counterclaims
April 12, 2017
Qualcomm on Monday fired back with a response and counterclaim to Apple's $1 billion federal patent suit filed earlier this year. Apple breached agreements and encouraged regulatory attacks in a scheme to coerce unfair licensing terms, Qualcomm claimed. Apple's suit argues that Qualcomm used its dominant position in semiconductors to force it to pay billions in unfair additional royalty payments.
Spam Czar Nabbed in Spain May Have Link to Election Tampering
April 12, 2017
An alleged spam kingpin with possible ties to election meddling in the U.S. was arrested in Spain last week under a U.S. international warrant. Pyotr Levashov had been vacationing in Barcelona with his family. Levashov was arrested for interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, the Russian news outlet RT reported, but the DoJ said the arrest was not connected to national security.
Labor Official Skewers Google Over Gender Pay Discrimination
April 11, 2017
The Department of Labor has found "systemic compensation disparities" between Google's female employees and their male counterparts, regional director Janette Wipper said at a hearing in San Francisco. The hearing was in connection with the department's lawsuit over Google's failure to hand over detailed compensation data about employees at its Mountain View, California, headquarters.
Imagination's Picture Bleak After Apple Cuts It Loose
April 4, 2017
Imagination on Monday announced that Apple would no longer use its intellectual property, and the company's stock sank faster than a bottomless boat on the news. Apple planned to discontinue its use of the company's IP in new products in 15 months to two years, ending the companies' license and royalty agreement, Imagination said. Those royalties account for about half the company's revenue.
Reversing Net Neutrality
April 3, 2017
When one side or the other in a political debate refused to accept a decision, it used to be simply annoying, but lately it has become dangerous to business and to the economy. The current administration's wants "to jettison the Obama administration's net neutrality rules, which were intended to safeguard free expression online," Steve Lohrmarch wrote last week.
Online Freedom of Speech May Be in Peril: Pew
March 30, 2017
Trolling, cyberbullying, harassment and just plain nastiness have become commonplace online, and this situation is likely to remain unchanged or worsen over the next decade, suggests a Pew Research report released Wednesday. Researchers polled more than 1,500 technology experts, academics, and business and government leaders on the future of free speech online.
House Votes to Kill Privacy Rules Binding ISPs
March 30, 2017
The House of Representatives has approved the Congressional Review Act, undoing privacy restrictions imposed on ISPs during the Obama administration. The Senate passed the CRA last week in a 50-48 vote along party lines. The White House has expressed support for the CRA. "This is one time I believe the White House," remarked John Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer Watchdog.
Why Are Health Records So Valuable to Cybercriminals?
March 29, 2017
Protecting the data in electronic health records did not start with the advent of HIPAA, as many people think. Protecting health records has been a critical requirement in the healthcare space since the computers became a fixture in hospitals. However, HIPAA added public reports of fines issued for covered entities' failure to properly protect data contained within EHRs.
Consumer Advocates Bemoan Senate Vote to Lift ISP Privacy Restrictions
March 25, 2017
Privacy advocates and consumer groups are fighting back against the U.S. Senate's Thursday vote to undo privacy restrictions on Internet service providers. In a 50-48 party line vote, the Senate approved the Congressional Review Act, S.J. Res. 34. If the House of Representatives gives it the green light, it then will go to the president to be signed into law.
Trust: Why Financial Services Should Embrace DoL's Fiduciary Rule
March 24, 2017
When the Department of Labor issued its fiduciary rule last year, it set financial advisers, insurers and agents into a mad scramble to meet an implementation deadline. The rule elevates all financial professionals who work with retirement plans or provide retirement planning advice to the level of a fiduciary, or someone bound legally and ethically to meet the standards of that status.
US Charges 2 Russian Intel Agents, 2 Hackers in Yahoo Case
March 16, 2017
The Justice Department has announced charges against four individuals, including two officers of Russia's FSB, for carrying out a massive cyberbreach that affected about 500 million Yahoo account holders. A federal grand jury in Northern California charged the defendants -- the FSB officials and two Russian cybercriminals -- with using stolen data to gain illegal access to numerous accounts.
Tech Companies Weigh Responses to WikiLeaks Exposure
March 11, 2017
Following WikiLeaks' publication earlier this week of classified documents stolen from the CIA, major technology companies, including Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Cisco, have been scrambling to assess the risks posed to their customers by the revelations. The so-called "Vault 7" leak includes information about methods and tools the CIA crafted to hack into products produced by those companies.
Despite Intense Scrutiny, Uber Lays Another Egg
March 10, 2017
Already under the microscope for claims of sexual harassment and questionable labor practices, Uber this week said it would ban the use of a controversial technology to block regulatory authorities from monitoring its operations. The company's "greyballing" technology is designed to hide the standard city app view in specific cases -- for example, from former riders blocked for being abusive.
Autonomous Delivery Robots to Hit Virginia's Streets
March 10, 2017
Autonomous delivery robots will be able to travel on sidewalks, crosswalks and shared-use paths throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia this summer. Gov. Terry McAullife recently signed a law permitting the use of Starship Technologies' Personal Delivery Devices. The six-wheeled robots, which resemble coolers, are designed to deliver parcels, groceries and food within a two-mile radius.
WikiLeaks Dumps CIA Hacking Docs Online
March 8, 2017
WikiLeaks on Tuesday dumped thousands of classified documents onto the Internet, exposing hacking programs used by the CIA. The torrent of data is just the first in a series of dumps WikLeaks is calling "Vault 7." This first installment includes 8,761 documents and files stolen from an isolated high-security network within the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.
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How urgent is the need to provide broadband services for rural U.S. communities?
It's critical to the entire economy, and everyone should share the cost.
If rural residents really want high-speed Internet, they should foot the bill.
Internet providers will benefit -- they should build out their own networks.
The government should ensure that everyone is connected, but broadband isn't necessary.
People who choose to live off the grid do so for a reason -- leave them alone.
Providers should improve broadband services in heavily populated areas first.