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New FAA Rules Clear Delivery Drones for Takeoff
December 30, 2020
Final rules governing unmanned aircraft, commonly known as drones, have been released by the Federal Aviation Administration. The move is expected to open the door for delivery of consumer packages by air. The rules establish minimum standards for safety so drones can fly over populated areas and at night under certain conditions.
FTC's Zoom Deal Signals Commitment to Security Enforcement
December 29, 2020
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is making good on a resolution to strengthen its enforcement of security deficiencies occurring in e-commerce transactions. The agency's recent action involving allegations of improper activities by teleconferencing provider Zoom Video Communications is a notable example.
FTC Demands Social Media Firms' User Data, Harvesting Tactics
December 16, 2020
The Federal Trade Commission seeks to obtain information on how many users certain social media companies have, how active the users are, what the companies know about them, how they got that information, and what steps the companies take to continue to engage users. The FTC also is gathering information on the companies' business models and how they target children and families.
Cyberthreat Hunter FireEye Hacked by Nation-State Attackers
December 9, 2020
Cybersecurity firm FireEye, which has been prominent in the fight against nation-state cyberthreats, has been itself attacked by "a highly sophisticated threat actor, one whose discipline, operational security, and techniques," company CEO Kevin Mandia announced Tuesday. This indicates the attack is likely state-sponsored, by a nation "with top-tier offensive capabilities."
Contact-Tracing Apps Flop in the US
December 8, 2020
Americans seem to have little interest in using contact-tracing applications used to identify people who have come into contact with a person infected with COVID-19. Adoption rates in areas using an app based on technology introduced by Google and Apple six months ago are higher, but even in the most successful of those states -- Connecticut -- only about 20 percent of residents have chosen to activate the software.
Facebook's Digital Currency Renamed Diem
December 2, 2020
Libra, the digital currency announced by Facebook last year, is getting a new name. Libra will now be Diem. The new name will reenforce the currency project's independence, according to a statement released by the Libra Association, which is also changing its name. From now on it will be the Diem Association.
Federal Spurt in Cloud Spending Will Extend Well Into the Future
November 23, 2020
The rapid expansion in the use of cloud technologies to support remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored that the U.S. government's increasingly high rate of cloud adoption will likely be sustained for the next several years. In fact, 2020 was a "historic year" for federal cloud migration, according to Alex Rossino, senior principal research analyst at Deltek.
Tech Firms Support Huawei Restriction, Balk at Cost
October 22, 2020
The U.S. government's policy to restrict federal agency exposure to products and services associated with Huawei Technologies and other China-based companies has gained the support of the U.S. information technology industry. However, a wide swath of U.S. companies, including those in the IT sector, registered significant concerns about federal regulations designed to control the employment of China-sourced products by federal agencies and government contractors.
DoJ to Google: Try This Antitrust Suit on for Size
October 21, 2020
Google found itself in the crosshairs of government regulators Tuesday as the U.S. Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against the tech giant for unlawfully maintaining a monopoly in online search services and in search advertising. "This is a monumental case for the Department of Justice and, more importantly, for the American consumer," U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement.
Aussies Mull State-Run Alternative to Facebook, Google
October 20, 2020
A warning by Facebook and Google that they may have to curb service to Australia if a controversial law takes effect this year has the Aussies reviewing their options, including setting up a publicly-funded social network. The idea was floated in a report titled "Tech-Xit: Can Australia survive without Google and Facebook?"
The Big Tech Regulation Rigamarole
October 15, 2020
The Big Tech companies have arguably done what they want over the years, arousing consumer anger and distrust, and numerous complaints by privacy and consumer rights groups. That includes cocking a snook at governments. While all of the Big Tech firms have been hit with multimillion-dollar fines at one time or another, many argue that's a drop in the bucket for companies that rake in billions of dollars annually.
Controversial Plan Urges DoD to Recruit Tech Pros to WFH
October 2, 2020
The United States Defense Innovation Board has recommended that the Pentagon hire civilians to work from home who can handle classified information as a way of attracting people with technology expertise. The individuals sought "will have technical degrees and/or highly specialized skills in digital technologies and innovation needed across the U.S. Department of Defense," which is undergoing digital transformation.
7 Steps to Restoring Trust in Business Telephone Calls
September 18, 2020
Robocalls, spam and call spoofing have all but destroyed Americans' trust in telephone calls -- to the point that many individuals have essentially stopped answering the phone. Here are seven steps that organizations can take to combat erroneous call blocking and increase answer rates. These measures will help businesses optimize contact operations, increase call performance, and protect and promote their brands by restoring trust in calls.
TikTok Enlists Oracle to Evade Trump's Executive Order
September 14, 2020
A proposal to avoid the banning of the popular social media app TikTok was submitted to the U.S. Treasury Department over the weekend. The plan submitted by ByteDance, which owns TikTok, calls for the company to enlist Oracle as a "trusted technology provider" in order to address national security concerns raised about the video-sharing software by the Trump administration.
US E-Commerce Companies in the Dark on European Privacy Rules
September 11, 2020
The U.S. Commerce Department is attempting to negotiate an agreement that would help thousands of U.S. companies comply with policies designed to protect the personal privacy of European citizens. Until the issues are resolved, U.S. companies will be operating in a twilight zone over how to ensure the privacy of personal data they collect and process electronically from European sources.
Cash Crunch Could Stymie Municipalities' Switch to EVs
August 28, 2020
Municipalities throughout the United States have been switching from diesel- and natural gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, to cut costs and reduce damage to the environment. However, funds are drying up as governments grapple with falling income due to lower taxes and business activity, along with increased costs to deal with the pandemic.
Anatomy of Failure: Why It's Problematic That Zuckerberg Is the Least Trusted Big Tech CEO
August 10, 2020
Last week we ran a survey asking people which of the CEOs that were questioned by Congress last month is the most trustworthy. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg took the dubious prize for last place. Tim Cook of Apple was voted the most trustworthy. There shouldn't be any competition; Facebook has the tools and information access to assure it is beloved. Yet Apple, which doesn't have anywhere near that level of reach nor engagement, has a far better image. Let's talk about ironic incompetence.
Amazon Clears FCC Hurdle to Satellite Network
August 6, 2020
Amazon has cleared a major regulatory hurdle in its quest to deliver Internet service to unserved and underserved areas of the earth. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has approved, with some conditions, Amazon's Kuiper Project, a US$10 billion low-orbit constellation made up of more than 3,000 satellites.
Congress vs. Big Tech: Breaking Up Is Hard (and Stupid) to Do
August 3, 2020
Like a lot of you, last week I watched the congressional testimony from the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google -- and there were a lot of apparent things that were problematic. One is that there are folks in Congress that likely shouldn't be in Congress, and another is that each company has some serious issues they haven't dealt with.
US Makes $57B Available to Small and Disadvantaged IT Providers
July 30, 2020
U.S. government agencies will remain active in the information technology market, despite the impact of COVID-19 on agency operations. In fact, there is evidence that the occurrence of the virus has spurred agencies to improve IT resources. For example, the General Services Administration in early July launched a new contracting vehicle offering a potential US$50 billion in federal acquisition of IT products and services.
New DoD Security Regulations Have Ramifications for IT Contractors
July 7, 2020
With billions of dollars of federal contracts at stake, information technology providers are being swept up in the tide of a new U.S. Department of Defense information security requirement that will become mandatory for IT providers and other companies doing business with DoD. While IT companies already incorporate data protection elements in the products and services they provide to DoD, the department is raising the bar on the way vendors should handle information security.
DHS Brings Web App to Coronavirus Fight
July 7, 2020
The Department of Homeland Security, through its Science & Technology Directorate, has released a web app to help predict the decay rate of coronavirus in the air. The tool, entitled "Estimated Airborne Decay of SARS-CoV-2," accounts for the ambient temperature, relative humidity, and UV index in an outdoor environment to determine how much exposure time is required to "inactivate" certain proportions of aerosolized coronavirus.
The Strange, Meandering Journey to Online Speech Regulation
June 12, 2020
There has been a lot of debate in the public sphere around the degree and kind of legal regulation a society should apply to online speech. While the dialogue has become more intense and urgent in the last few years, the effort to impose limits on Internet speech has been contentious from the start. At present, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is undergoing reconsideration.
Verint Automates Management of Return-to-Work Health Practices
June 10, 2020
Verint has announced new capabilities within its workforce management solution that automate compliance with CDC guidelines to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection as employees transition back to the workplace. New workflows automatically create a comprehensive schedule that is prescriptive, while including traditional workforce management criteria such as skill level, channels and peak hours.
'New Normal' Security Era Begins for US Agencies, Cloud Providers
June 4, 2020
U.S. government agencies and cloud technology providers are heading toward a reset in how they cooperate on cybersecurity challenges. The expected growth of cloud use will create a more complex federal security landscape, according to a report from Thales. Federal agencies actually have moved ahead of businesses in cloud adoption, with 54 percent of agency data already embedded in the cloud.
Jack Dorsey and the End of Twitter
June 1, 2020
I'm a member of what is likely a reasonably sizable informal group of people who trained to be a CEO but declined the job -- in my case, several times. So I don't envy the position that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is in as he tries to figure out a way to do the right thing concerning the spread of false information and defend his company against an attack by the designated leader of the free world.
Influx of E-Com Sales? Now's the Time for 2021 Tax Planning
May 29, 2020
Consumer spending has shifted even more heavily from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce during the coronavirus pandemic. Many retailers are pivoting to e-commerce shops for the first time, and established online retailers are experiencing sizable growth. Businesses that are seeing the highest uptick are those selling "essentials" -- including groceries, office supplies and more.
Apple-Google Contact Tracing App Gets First Trial in Switzerland
May 29, 2020
Switzerland has launched a pilot program for SwissCovid, a contact tracing app based on Apple and Google's jointly developed APIs. The APIs will work with iOS 13.5 and devices running Android 6.0 or higher. The pilot involves several thousand workers at Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, ETH Zurich, the Swiss Army, and staff at some hospitals and cantonal administrations.
Necessity May Give Us a Virtual Court System
May 25, 2020
One of the exciting things that came out of Microsoft Build was that the company has been working to create virtual court solutions. If done right, a virtual system could fix a lot of court-related problems. It would allow judges to work around their schedules better and give attorneys improved access to online resources. It also might provide a way for jurors to improve their understanding.
Apple Gingerly Sets More Stores to Reopen
May 19, 2020
Apple has reopened nearly 100 of its retail outlets around the world and plans to open another 25 in the U.S. and 12 in Canada. All of its retail stores previously were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Our commitment is to only move forward with a reopening once we're confident we can safely return to serving customers from our stores," noted Apple SVP of Retail Deirdre O'Brien.
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