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Coalition Wants FCC to Look Into Data Cap Exemptions
May 27, 2016
A coalition of technology companies and advocacy groups earlier this week wrote to the Federal Communications Commission, urging it to open a public investigation into zero-rating practices, in which mobile providers allow some video or music providers to be excluded from data caps. The group called on the FCC to examine the zero-rating practices to determine whether they harm competition.
Facebook Tweaks Trending Topics Out of Abundance of Caution
May 26, 2016
Facebook this week said it would make several procedural changes to its Trending Topics feature to quell concerns that the results could be steered in a particular political direction, even though it has found no evidence of bias. The company will retrain workers in the Trending Topics department and institute additional oversight and control to make sure trending stories are selected fairly.
Vendors Gain Congressional Support on IT Pricing
May 23, 2016
Selling information technology to the U.S. government is never easy, and it's even harder when a vendor cannot highlight the qualitative differences it believes separates its competencies from other providers competing for the same work. Yet a major contracting tool federal agencies use in seeking IT products and services tends to smother those differences in skills and competencies.
Google Patents Tech to Limit Injuries in Vehicle-Pedestrian Accidents
May 20, 2016
The United States Patent and Trademark Office earlier this week granted Google a patent for "Adhesive Vehicle Front End For Mitigation of Secondary Pedestrian Impact." The patent application, filed a year and a half ago, credits Google employees Alex Khaykin and Daniel Lynn Larner as the inventors of the new technology. This latest patent grant is for "a system for protecting a colliding object from a secondary impact."
Google Challenges Right to Be Forgotten in French High Court
May 20, 2016
Google on Thursday filed an appeal with France's supreme administrative court over an order from a privacy regulator requiring it to scrub certain search results around the world under a law called "the right to be forgotten." The March order from the CNIL requires Google and other search engines to delist the information of Europeans that shows up in searches for their name.
Google Boots Ads for Predatory Payday Lenders
May 12, 2016
Google on Wednesday announced that it would ban advertising for payday loans in its ad systems. Starting July 13, the company will prohibit ads for payday loans and related products where funds are due within 60 days of the date of issue, as well as ads for loans with an APR of 36 percent, said David Graff, Google's director of global product policy.
Defense IT Contract Rekindles Pricing Complaints
May 12, 2016
What's not to like about the U.S. government offering IT vendors $17.5 billion for products and services? The opportunity is attractive, and many vendors have expressed interest in a Department of Defense contract that covers the acquisition of a broad range of IT capabilities. A request for proposals for the Encore III contract was issued in March. Bids were accepted through late April.
Tweet Tracker Spurns US Intelligence Agencies
May 10, 2016
Twitter reportedly has blocked U.S. intelligence agencies from accessing information from Dataminr, a firm that tracks tweets in real time to provide actionable information for financial, media, security and other types of institutional clients. The block suggests Twitter is unwilling to cooperate with government agencies on intelligence gathering. Twitter owns a 5 percent stake in Dataminr.
India Rejects Apple's iPhone Retread Plan
May 4, 2016
India's telecommunications ministry has rejected Apple's proposal to sell refurbished iPhones in the country. Officials apparently based their rejection of the proposal on rules that prohibit importing used electronics. The country's environmental ministry nixed a similar request last year. With smartphone sales starting to stall, India could become an important market for Apple.
WhatsApp Goes Through Judicial Revolving Door in Brazil
May 3, 2016
A Brazilian court on Tuesday overturned a different court's Monday order that blocked WhatsApp, the messaging site owned by Facebook, amid a criminal investigation into drug trafficking in the state of Sergipe. The earlier judicial demand that WhatsApp provide data considered critical to the investigation came soon after a ramp-up in the level of encryption built into the app.
Law Affords More Protection to PINs Than Prints
May 3, 2016
A federal magistrate in Los Angeles ordered the girlfriend of an alleged gang member to open her phone using her fingerprint so prosecutors could look at the data on it for a case they were working on, according to a news report published last week. After Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan pleaded no contest to identity theft, a judge issued a warrant to force her to press her finger to her iPhone to open it.
Supreme Court Grants Federal Agents Broader Surveillance Authority
May 3, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court has approved a series of amendments to the federal rules of criminal procedure that would let judges issue search warrants for computers located outside their jurisdiction. Chief Justice John Roberts announced the changes in the Court's interpretation of the rules. They would allow a judge to issue warrants to search for electronic evidence at remote sites, for example.
Getty Images Takes Google Grievances to EU
April 29, 2016
Getty Images on Wednesday filed a competition law complaint against Google with the European Commission. The company last year filed an "interested third party" submission in support of the EC's investigation into Google's anticompetitive business practices. Getty's complaint, in essence, is that Google Images facilitates piracy of high-res copyrighted content.
FBI Says Its Hands Are Tied on Revealing iPhone Crack Details
April 28, 2016
The FBI on Wednesday confirmed its decision not to inform Apple of how it hacked into the encrypted iPhone used in last December's San Bernardino terrorist attack. The bureau was investigating the possibility that deceased shooters Syed Farook, who used the iPhone, and his wife may have had links to other terrorist plots. It also was searching for evidence tying the two to ISIS.
IT Execs Join Federal Cybersecurity Panel
April 28, 2016
Key components of the Obama administration's multipronged cybersecurity initiative keep falling into place. One of the most recent developments was the formation of a federal Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. Another was the formal introduction in Congress of the administration's information technology investment plan, which is heavily tilted toward cybersecurity protection.
Tech, Auto Honchos Join Forces to Push Self-Driving Cars
April 27, 2016
Some major players in both the new and old economies on Tuesday announced an alliance to pave the way for self-driving cars in America. Ford, Google, Lyft, Uber and Volvo raised the curtain on their Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, which will work with lawmakers, regulators and the public to raise awareness of the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles.
Regulators Impose Caveats on Charter TWC Merger Approval
April 27, 2016
Federal regulators on Monday approved Charter Communications' $78 billion merger with Time Warner Cable and its $10.4 billion acquisition of Bright House Networks, but with a number of tough conditions. The Justice Department filed a settlement agreement to block the new company from enforcing any deal that makes it harder for online video distributors to get video content from programmers.
Apple's Books, Movies Fall Victim to Chinese Crackdown
April 25, 2016
The Chinese government ordered Apple to shut down its iBooks and iTunes Movies services in the country, according to news reports published last week. China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television reportedly called for the closure. The government in February announced a policy banning all foreign media from publishing in China without direct approval.
Volkswagen Agrees to Fix or Buy Back Dirty Diesel Cars
April 22, 2016
Volkswagen has reached an agreement to repair or replace about 500,000 diesel cars in the U.S., according to court documents released Thursday. The cars were equipped with software designed to deceive emissions tests. Under the agreement, announced Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Volkswagen will pay back an undetermined amount of money to owners of the affected vehicles.
EFF Sues DoJ Over Secret Data Decryption Requests
April 22, 2016
The EFF has filed suit against the Justice Department seeking to learn whether the federal government secretly ordered technology companies to decrypt the private communications of their customers. Such orders could place millions of customers in harm's way, the complaint says. The suit seeks the release of records originally requested last fall under the Freedom of Information Act.
Insurance Industry Buzzes Over Data Breach Ruling
April 21, 2016
If the rash of data breaches in recent months has done anything for businesses, it's raised their awareness of cyber liability insurance. The market for cyber liability insurance is expected to increase dramatically as businesses become more aware that their current policies don't adequately cover cyber-risks, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Apple to Lawmakers: We'll Help but No Backdoors
April 21, 2016
Apple's top legal official on Tuesday appeared before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and reiterated the company's willingness to help law enforcement on active cases and cooperate on long-term solutions, despite its contentious legal battle with the FBI over the encrypted iPhone used in the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Apple works daily with law enforcement on a number of cases.
EU Levels Antitrust Charges Against Abusive Android
April 20, 2016
The European Commission has charged that Google breached EU antitrust rules by seeking to maintain and expand the dominance of its Android operating system. "A competitive mobile Internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe," said the EC's antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager. "We believe that Google's behavior denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps."
Journalist Gets 2-Years in Prison for Aiding Anonymous Prank
April 19, 2016
A U.S. District Court judge last week sentenced Matthew Keys to two years in prison after he was found guilty of conspiring with the hacker group Anonymous to break into the Los Angeles Times' website and modify a news story. Keys had been site administrator for KTXL Fox 40, which was owned by Tribune, the same company that owned the Times.
SCOTUS Turns Its Back on Google Books Challenge
April 19, 2016
The Supreme Court has declined to hear a petition to review a lower court decision allowing Google to scan and publish excerpts of copyright-protected books without seeking permission from the authors or paying them. The petition, filed at the end of last year, was the latest move in the Guild's decade-long war with Google, which has said that its searchable digital books database is fair use.
Microsoft Sues DoJ Over Spying Gag Orders
April 15, 2016
Microsoft on Thursday filed suit against the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the gag orders that accompany requests to access customers' private emails and other data. The orders prevent the company from notifying affected customers about the government's demands. The case is the fourth public lawsuit it has filed against the Justice Department in three years.
E2E Encryption Could Make WhatsApp a Spam Magnet
April 15, 2016
Facebook's WhatsApp last week announced it would roll out end-to-end encryption for its users, but the move could make the service more attractive to spammers. While encryption can safeguard information from data thieves, it also can block data protectors. The policy "will not stop the growth of spam on the platform and could make the problem worse," AdaptiveMobile's Simeon Coney said.
FBI Paid Hackers to Defeat Security of Shooter's iPhone
April 14, 2016
The FBI paid hackers to break onto the iPhone of the San Bernardino, California, shooter, according to a news report published Tuesday. The bureau obtained the services of gray hats, insiders said, and apparently did not get help from Cellebrite, as earlier reports had suggested. Gray hats are hackers who sell flaws to governments or companies that make surveillance tools.
Male Snubbing Ride-Sharing Service Postpones Launch
April 13, 2016
Chariot for Women, a ride-sharing service that excludes males 13 and older, reportedly has postponed its launch to sometime this summer due to heavier-than-anticipated demand. The company originally had planned to debut the service in Boston next week. Chariot for Women is open to all women, including transgender women. Children, including boys under the age of 13, also may ride.
Officials Named in Panama Papers Cower Behind China's Great Firewall
April 13, 2016
Chinese authorities have issued censorship instructions to the media following the release of the Panama Papers, according to news reports published last week. The leaked documents reportedly listed several top Chinese officials who used Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to set up offshore companies. The names include President Xi Jinping's brother-in-law Deng Jiagui.
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How do you feel about technology and security?
Very insecure -- I would gladly pay extra for better security.
Very insecure -- I'm using technology less as a result.
Very insecure -- but I'm willing to make the trade-off.
Secure enough -- I take reasonable precautions.
Secure enough -- I'm not a likely target.
Very secure -- I trust tech companies to protect me.