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Report: NSA Stalked Prominent Muslim Americans
July 10, 2014
It's been known for years that the U.S. National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have targeted Muslim Americans. What hasn't been widely known is that their targets included lawyers and some who have served the United States at the highest levels. Five highly prominent Muslim Americans were listed on an NSA spreadsheet called "FISA recap."
Tor Embroiled in $1M Revenge-Porn Lawsuit
July 09, 2014
Texas attorney Jason L. Van Dyke recently filed a lawsuit against nude-photo-sharing site Pink Meth and included the Tor Project among its defendants. Pink Meth is an "involuntary pornography" site, the suit charges, enabling users to post nude photos for the purposes of getting revenge on those pictured. It's accessible only to users who have downloaded Tor's anonymity-minded software.
Apple Fails to Get Little I Robot Off Siri's Back
July 09, 2014
The Beijing First Intermediate Court ruled against Apple in a case that pitted it against a Shanghai-based firm and the country's State Intellectual Property Office's Patent Review Committee. The court found that the intellectual property rights of Zhizhen Internet Technology, a company that holds a patent for a voice-controlled digital concierge called "Little I Robot," were valid.
Europeans Want Right to Be Forgotten - but Not for the Other Guy
July 08, 2014
Marie Antoinette may not have been too far off the mark when she intoned the immortal line, "Let them eat cake." When it comes to the right to be forgotten, it seems Europeans want both to have their cake and eat it. They are now up in arms over Google's having deleted links to various news stories from search results in Europe, calling the action part of a backroom campaign to change the law.
Shame on Facebook
July 03, 2014
Do you remember those snotty little kids who didn't seem to understand the difference between right and wrong? You know, the little brats who thought the rules didn't apply to them. The kids who thought they could get away with whatever they wanted -- rules were for somebody else. Well, that seems to be a fitting description of Facebook, as it repeatedly breaks customer trust.
T-Mobile's Legere Sputters Over FTC's Cramming Accusations
July 02, 2014
T-Mobile's efforts to market itself as the un-carrier that puts customers first may be impacted by the FTC's allegations that it has engaged in "cramming" -- charging consumers for services offered by third-party companies without their knowledge or consent. T-Mobile's fiery CEO, John Legere, dismissed the FTC complaint as "unfounded and without merit."
California Embraces Bitcoin
July 01, 2014
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed a measure that legalizes the use of bitcoins and other virtual currencies in the state. The law repealed previous legislation that specified only "lawful money of the United States" could be used in California. "Modern methods of payment have expanded beyond the typical cash or credit card transactions," the new law states.
Supreme Court Turns Deaf Ear to Google's Street View Appeal
June 30, 2014
The Supreme Court has declined Google's appeal of a lower-court ruling in a class-action lawsuit that alleges it violated federal wiretap laws with its Street View cars. The court left in place a decision the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down in September. The appeals court declined to dismiss the case, ruling that Google was not exempt from liability under the federal Wiretap Act.
In 'The Internet's Own Boy,' the Good Guy Doesn't Win
June 27, 2014
The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, a documentary directed and produced by Brian Knappenberger, is opening at theaters and online this weekend -- and re-opening wounds about the subject and his suicide. The film is a reminder that often the good guy doesn't win, said tech analyst Rob Enderle. "If you are going to fight this fight, be aware it will get really ugly."
Facebook, NY DA Lock Horns Over User Data Warrants
June 27, 2014
Facebook, not known for respecting users' privacy, is battling a New York County district attorney's demand for all information pertaining to the accounts of several hundred of its subscribers. DA Cyrus Vance's office issued 381 secret warrants for the information in July of 2013 in a hunt for retired police officers and firefighters wrongfully claiming Social Security disability benefits.
Verizon to Chromebook Pixel Owners: We're On It
June 27, 2014
After a hornet's nest was stirred up over the premature termination of some Chromebook Pixel users' free data plans, Verizon apparently has begun trying to make amends. "A very small number of Chromebook Pixel customers may have had a promo end prematurely," said Verizon spokesperson Debra Lewis. "We apologize for this and will work with these customers to address the situation shortly."
Google Starts Purging Search Results in Europe
June 26, 2014
Google has started to remove search results in certain cases in Europe, in compliance with the EU's new "right to be forgotten" rules. The EU last month ruled that the company must allow individuals to request the removal of links to news articles, court judgments, and other documents that might turn up in results when searches are conducted on their names.
No Cellphone Search Without Warrant, Supreme Court Rules
June 26, 2014
Police need a warrant to search the cellphone contents of people they have arrested, the United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. Warrantless searches, in essence, would impact privacy to a far greater extent than is acceptable. The ruling also applies to individuals stopped for questioning by the authorities, said Jake LaPerruque of the Center for Democracy and Technology.
German Publishing Group Levels Charges Against Amazon
June 25, 2014
The German Publishers and Booksellers Association has complained to German antitrust authorities that Amazon has been anticompetitive. Amazon delayed the shipment of books from publisher Bonnier following a disagreement over dividing the revenue from e-book sales, it said. Although Amazon was receiving a 30 percent commission on e-book sales, it allegedly wanted more like 40 or 50 percent.
Supreme Court Puts Kibosh on Aereo
June 25, 2014
Aereo may be dead in the water after the Supreme Court ruled it broke federal law by retransmitting programming without paying copyright fees. The company, which allows consumers to watch broadcast TV over the Internet, had been in long-running legal battles with broadcasters. "Today's decision clearly states that how the technology works does not matter," said Aereo founder and CEO Chet Kanojia.
No Unanimity in Reactions to SC's Unanimous Software Patent Decision
June 25, 2014
When the U.S. Supreme Court issues a unanimous decision, it's easy to conclude that it must be right on the facts, right on the law, and right in applying the law to the facts. So what's not to like about its recent 9-0 ruling in a software patent case? The decision was spot-on -- or at least nearly spot-on, according to Victoria Espinel, president and CEO of the Business Software Alliance.
Verizon Flips Off Chromebook Pixel Customers
June 24, 2014
Though early purchasers of the LTE model of Google's Chromebook Pixel were promised two years of limited data, it appears Verizon has reneged on those assurances. The WiFi-only Pixel cost $1,299 while the LTE model set back consumers an extra $150. Those who bought the system through the Google Play Store when it went on sale last April were offered 100 MB of free Verizon data every month.
Tide Turns in Favor of Crime-Fighting Smartphone Kill Switches
June 23, 2014
In the wake of overwhelming evidence that the kill switch Apple introduced in iOS 7 last year has reduced iPhone thefts, Google and Microsoft have agreed to follow suit. SF D.A. George Gascon and NY A.G. Eric Schneiderman, who have spearheaded the battle to implement smartphone kill switches, last week announced that the next versions of Android and Windows Phone will include a kill switch.
Dems Push Net Neutrality Against the Odds
June 19, 2014
Congressional Democrats are taking another go at Net neutrality. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Doris Matsui, a member of the House Energy Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, have introduced an act that would require the FCC to ban "paid prioritization" agreements between a broadband provider and a content provider.
How Will Regulators Chaperone the Big Merger Dance?
June 19, 2014
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son may have new hope for a Sprint, T-Mobile merger. After SoftBank merged with Sprint last summer, Son set his sights on T-Mobile. There was early resistance from regulators, but that may be softening, with Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV having joined the merger dance. Trying to understand and predict what regulators will do is always a challenge.
Apple Gains an Inch in E-Book Price-Fixing Scrap
June 18, 2014
Apple has reached a settlement with plaintiffs in 33 states regarding allegations that it colluded with five major U.S. book publishers to fix the price of e-books. The class action maintained that Apple overcharged plaintiffs $280 million. News of the settlement came on Tuesday via a filing with U.S. District Judge Denise Cote by Steve Berman, an attorney representing some of the plaintiffs.
Tesla's Patent Giveaway Fuels Electric Car Enthusiasm
June 17, 2014
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk threw the automotive industry into a tizzy last week, when he announced that he was throwing open the company's patents. Some hailed the move as yet more proof of the abysmal state of the United States patent system; others opined that it would give the electric car industry a boost; others just penned paeans of praise to Musk. But there were cynical reactions as well.
SC to Mull Free Speech vs. 'True Threats' on Social Media
June 16, 2014
Are threats to people made on social media websites protected under the First Amendment? The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider that issue in the case of Anthony D. Elonis v. United States. Elonis already has served jail time for threats he made on his Facebook page to his wife, an FBI agent and former coworkers. It's jail time his lawyers say their client shouldn't have served.
AT&T, DirecTV Merger Could Hamper Cord-Cutting
June 13, 2014
AT&T's planned merger with DirecTV is far from a done deal. Among the objections that have been raised is one stemming from a filing this week with the FCC. There is now concern that the merger would make it more difficult for consumers to cut their cable-TV cords. The companies told the FCC in a public interest statement that the merger is the only way they would be able to compete.

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