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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.
Microsoft Pushes Back Against US Data Warrant
June 12, 2014
The latest court ruling in an ongoing battle between Microsoft and demands from the United States government for data about one of the company's users, seems to have a lot of folks running for cover. In 2013, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis issued a search warrant requiring Microsoft to turn over all date pertaining to the subscriber, hosted on a server in Ireland, to the U.S. authorities.
Europe's Cab Drivers Rally Against Uber
June 11, 2014
Cab drivers throughout Europe clogged city streets as they protested the rise of Uber in their locales. Thousands of drivers blocked roads and participated in rallies to decry the service, which links users to drivers through a smartphone application. Residents in London, Paris, Berlin, Lisbon, Milan and Madrid all faced a day when regular cabs were not making pickups due to the drivers' strike.
Honeywell's Lyric May Disturb Google's Nest
June 10, 2014
Honeywell has launched its Lyric smart thermostat, a device widely seen as a challenge to Google's Nest product. Like Nest, the Lyric can be controlled by a smartphone app; however, it uses geolocation to turn home heating and cooling systems on or off when the consumer's smartphone is within a specified distance. Apart from that, the two devices generally appear to have fairly similar features.
Free Speech vs. Internet Privacy and the 'Right to Be Forgotten'
June 10, 2014
The conventional wisdom of the Internet is that everything posted, whether on social media, a website or anywhere else, will be on the Internet forever. That conventional wisdom was just challenged successfully in a recent ruling handed down by the EU's highest court. A new conventional wisdom may arise from that ruling -- that we have a "right to be forgotten."
DoJ to Brush Cobwebs Off Music Licensing Agreements
June 06, 2014
The U.S. Department of Justice this week said it would review long-held agreements with two major performing-rights organizations with an eye to updating them to reflect the climate of the music industry more accurately. The DoJ's agreements with ASCAP and BMI have been in place for more than 70 years. The consent decrees were last updated in 2001 and 1994 respectively.
EU Smacks Google Upside the Head Over Right to Be Forgotten
June 05, 2014
I think the European Union often goes overboard, and I typically don't agree with its rulings. However, when the EU declared Google invaded privacy, it seemed to have struck a nerve. Countless users worldwide agreed. So, what impact will the EU have on Google with respect to a citizen's right to be forgotten? This struggle is all about protecting privacy online.
Tech Has Big Role to Play in Climate Change Battle
June 05, 2014
The Obama administration once again has trained its spotlight on climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency this week announced a plan to cut carbon pollution, a leading cause of climate change, by an average of 30 percent nationwide by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Power plants account for 40 percent of carbon pollution, the biggest driver of climate change.
DoD's Electronic Parts Counterfeit Rules Draw Mixed Reviews
June 04, 2014
DoD has adopted a set of final rules covering the detection and avoidance of counterfeit electronic parts in the federal supply chain. The rules affect a wide swath of IT firms that supply electronic components to the department, including software in some cases. In general, the final rules require that covered federal contractors maintain acceptable counterfeit detection and avoidance systems.
John Oliver Explains 'Net Neutrality' With a Few Choice Words
June 03, 2014
Sectors of society ranging from public interest groups to Google and Facebook oppose the FCC's mid-May passage of new Net neutrality rules. However, they're going about the issue all wrong, comedian John Oliver said in a rant on Net neutrality. "The cable companies have figured out the great truth of America: If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring."
Hachette Banished to Amazon's Woodshed
June 02, 2014
Hachette -- whose best-selling authors include J.K. Rowling and James Patterson -- remains at loggerheads with Amazon over renewal of a book distribution deal between the two. The stalemate has slowed the flow of books from the publisher to the online retailer to a crawl. Negotiations have been going on for more than a month, but the snag between the companies has just recently come to light.
Patent Troll Reforms Crash and Burn
May 30, 2014
Information technology groups and a wide range of other businesses are so divided on proposed changes to U.S. patent law that a key U.S. lawmaker abruptly terminated work on patent reform legislation last week. The legislation addresses intellectual property protection practices, informally known as "patent trolling," that overwhelmingly affect computer software and IT components.
Getting Away With Privacy Murder
May 29, 2014
Snapchat in May agreed to implement a comprehensive privacy program and be audited for the next 20 years to settle U.S. Federal Trade Commission charges that it had, among other things, lied to users when it said messages sent through its service would be erased after a designated period of time. However, Snapchat's privacy violation is infinitesimally small compared to some others.
Next on the Open Source Horizon: 3D Printing
May 28, 2014
3D printing is not yet a mainstream business activity, but the technology has progressed to the point where users can print three-dimensional objects and manufacture their own prototypes and replacement parts with relative ease. Three-dimensional printing is much more than a hobby industry today. Home users can download design files from websites and print a variety of products for their own use.
Chinese Media: Cisco Is Playing on US Cyberspy Team
May 28, 2014
Cisco has been accused of being in bed with U.S. cyberspying efforts, according to a Chinese state media outlet. Cisco "carries on intimately" with U.S. spying apparatuses, the outlet claims, and plays "a disgraceful role" in efforts to prop up U.S. power over the Web. Cisco denied the accusations. Beijing definitely seems to have taken umbrage with last week's U.S. indictments for cyberespionage.
Iranian Court Wants a Word With Zuckerberg
May 28, 2014
Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned by an Iranian court over privacy-violation concerns, according to news reports on Tuesday. The court in question, located in Iran's southern province of Fars, reportedly also opened a case against Facebook-owned social networking services WhatsApp and Instagram and ordered that they be blocked.
Sony, China Strike PlayStation Deal
May 27, 2014
Japanese electronics giant Sony has inked a deal in China to manufacture and sell PlayStation consoles in the Middle Kingdom. The partnership creates two joint ventures with Shanghai Oriental Pearl, which will enable Sony to operate out of Shanghai's free trade zone. China's early-2014 approval of videogame consoles from foreign companies reversed a years-long ban.
China's Payback for US Hacker Indictments Begins
May 27, 2014
The Department of Justice last week unsealed indictments against five members of the Chinese military who were accused of hacking into the computer systems of U.S. companies to steal everything from trade secrets to confidential corporate correspondence. China's initial response was to deny any wrongdoing and charge that the U.S. had hacked into the systems of Chinese companies.

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