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How AI Could Fix What Seems Unfixable
October 1, 2018
I watched last week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, and I was struck by the fact that they seemed to be more about the Democrats fighting with Republicans to see which party could corrupt the Supreme Court more effectively than they were about senators doing their jobs. What bothers me most about that is if you corrupt the highest court in the land you effectively destroy the country.
Poor Website Designs Could Trigger Legal Actions
September 21, 2018
Internet marketing has become so popular that e-commerce retail sales in the United States are on pace to double between 2009 and 2018. The transaction value of e-commerce service industry contracts reached $600 billion in 2016. Despite the rush to digital commerce, the rules for business transactions are still the same, whether they are concluded on paper or electronically.
In Technology We Trust... But Should We?
September 20, 2018
Since the industrial revolution, technology has changed society continually. Largely due to innovations in semiconductor electronics, software and computer technology, the pace of technological development has continued to accelerate over the past 50 years. Personal computers now fit into your pocket. You have access to people and information all over the world through the Internet.
Death Watch Begins for Google
September 17, 2018
The EU has been stretching its wings. In the shadow of Brexit, it apparently has decided it has the real enemy of the people in its sights: social media companies and Google. France is even more aggressive, suggesting that the EU's "right to be forgotten" law should apply worldwide. Given that it actually does fall within the legitimate purview of government, it is hard not to agree.
Facebook Goes Into High Gear to Fight Election Meddling, Fake News
September 14, 2018
Defending against foreign interference in American elections is one of the priorities Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he has been focusing on this year. The issue is highly sensitive, and it is one that has garnered a great deal of discussion in media reports and on the Web. Special counsel Robert Mueller warned in a court filing this spring that foreign interference efforts were still going on.
EU Copyright Directive Advances Despite Worry Over Breaking the Internet
September 13, 2018
The European Parliament on Wednesday approved a directive aimed at protecting the intellectual property of copyright holders on the Internet. It would require online platforms to scrutinize content their users post online and enter licensing agreements with rights holders. The Parliament approved the copyright directive with a vote of 438-226, with 39 abstentions.
Android Apps Riskier Than Ever: Report
September 12, 2018
Widespread use of unpatched open source code in the most popular Android apps distributed by Google Play has caused significant security vulnerabilities, suggests an American Consumer Institute report. Thirty-two percent -- or 105 apps out of 330 of the most popular apps in 16 categories sampled -- averaged 19 vulnerabilities per app, according to the report. Researchers found critical vulnerabilities in many common applications.
Sign of the Times
September 11, 2018
Well, here's one Dreamforce idea I never heard of. A group of groups opposed to the Trump administration's immigrant detention and separation policies has announced that it will picket Dreamforce. It already has called on speakers attending the event to pull out. A long time ago, a very underfunded Salesforce marketing team tried a similar stunt, disrupting Siebel user group meetings.
To Resist Manipulation, Ask One Question
September 10, 2018
The level of effort devoted to manipulating our opinions is unprecedented. Granted, a lot of this has to do with the fact that most of the "free" online services we use aren't free at all. They are trading our ability to make measured opinions for advertisers' money, and some of these "advertisers" are foreign governments. There is one question we should be asking of any inflammatory story: Why?
Senators Bash Google at Russian Election Meddling Hearing
September 6, 2018
An empty chair reserved for Google became the focal point for harsh criticism Wednesday at the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's hearing on Russian meddling in the 2016 elections. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified at the forum. Several senators lambasted the absent company for being unwilling to answer important questions.
'Five Eyes' Nations Push for Encryption Backdoors
September 5, 2018
Strong encryption can be a threat to law enforcement and national security, the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand said in a statement issued Sunday. "The increasing use and sophistication of certain encryption designs present challenges for nations in combating serious crimes and threats to national and global security," maintained the countries.
Of Course Google Is Biased
September 3, 2018
I once took a market research class that focused on the identification and elimination of bias. My final paper was on an intentionally biased piece of research. It was far easier to introduce bias and then talk about the bias than it would have been to attempt to do unbiased work and defend it as unbiased. For that reason alone, it's almost certainly true that Google's search engine is biased.
Human Rights Groups Amplify Call for 'Killer Robot' Ban
August 30, 2018
Leaders from Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic last week issued a dire warning that nations around the world haven't been doing enough to ban the development of autonomous weapons -- so-called "killer robots." The groups issued a joint report that calls for a complete ban on these systems before it becomes too late to act.
Software Providers Scramble to Satisfy World's Largest IT Customer
August 28, 2018
In the competitive IT world, vendors must be alert to major changes within the potential customer base. The U.S. government increasingly has been using its status as the world's single largest IT customer to acquire products and services at competitively favorable costs. U.S. government spending for a combination of legacy IT operations and new projects has reached some $90 billion annually.
Facebook Cracks Down on Iranian, Russian Influence Campaigns
August 23, 2018
Facebook has removed more than 650 Facebook and Instagram pages, groups and accounts originating in Iran and Russia for "coordinated inauthentic behavior." The goal is to improve the trustworthiness of Facebook connections. Although it has been making progress in its efforts, the people responsible for the inauthentic activity are determined and well funded, Facebook said.
Microsoft Foils Russian Attack on GOP Think Tanks
August 22, 2018
Microsoft has torpedoed websites designed to steal credentials from visitors to two Republican Party think tanks. The malicious websites were among six the company took down last week. A group of hackers affiliated with the Russian military created the sites, according to Microsoft. It apparently was the same group that stole a cache of email from the DNC during the 2016 presidential campaign.
JEDI Mind Games
August 15, 2018
During the same week it was sued by irate investors over progress moving its customer base to the cloud, Oracle protested a procurement process for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. The lawsuit will take a long time to resolve, and it's difficult to see how the plaintiffs can prove their case -- but in comparison, the Department of Defense's procurement will run at light speed.
Def Con Voting Machine Hacks Ruffle Feathers
August 14, 2018
Hackers cracked into a wide array of voting equipment Def Con's Voting Village, an event held Friday at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Last year, conference goers hacked five machines and an e-poll book of registered voters. This year, in addition to voting machines, tabulators and smart card readers were available for hacking. Websites weren't off limits, either.
What Can Chrome 68 Teach Us About Election Security?
August 13, 2018
If you're a technologist, you've probably noticed a few new things associated with Chrome 68's release last month. One of the more notable changes is that it now uses a "not secure" indicator for any site not using HTTPS. So instead of providing a notification when a site is HTTPS, it now provides the user with a warning when it isn't. One of those groups is users of government websites.
Homeland Security Unveils Center to Combat Cyberthreats
August 1, 2018
DHS has announced the National Risk Management Center, part of a new effort to combat cyberthreats to the U.S. The new agency's mission will be to defend the critical infrastructure through greater cooperation between the public and private sectors. The center will bring together government experts and industry partners to work out ways that the government can support the partners.
DoD Launches JEDI Program Amid Cloud Provider Criticism
August 1, 2018
The U.S. Department of Defense has decided to bet on the cloud for much of its future information technology operations -- presenting significant opportunities for cloud service providers and related IT suppliers. However, DoD's latest foray into cloud technology has stimulated significant criticism. DoD released its final RFP for the JEDI program last week.
Russian Hackers Have Invaded Hundreds of US Utilities: Report
July 25, 2018
Hundreds of U.S. utilities were penetrated by Russian hackers who could have disrupted the nation's power grid. The attacks were launched last year by threat actors sponsored by the Russian government, according to a report. The hackers used Black Hat tools such as phishing and waterhole traps to obtain credentials from legitimate users and leverage them to gain access to the utilities.
Feds Seem to Favor 'Light Touch' IoT Regulation
July 24, 2018
The Internet of Things may be in its infancy, but the U.S. government has been gearing up to determine what the proper federal role should be, both for encouraging and for regulating the use of IoT technology. Two recent developments have underscored the government's interest in IoT. On the regulatory front, the CPSC has launched an initiative to determine a framework for regulation.
Could a Tech Collaboration Tool Fix Dysfunctional Governments?
July 16, 2018
Microsoft Inspire is taking place this week, and a huge number of my personal friends and I were prebriefed on what the big announcements would be. Strangely, the embargo on the news lifted last week, so I'm not going to get in trouble for sharing some of the revelations. There are a number of interesting elements, including Microsoft's suddenly aggressive move to use Azure as an IoT host.
A Trade War in the Cloud?
July 14, 2018
So far, the looming trade war is limited to actions and reactions related to durable things that trade throughout the global economy. Will that remain the battleground? Or should we expect greater contentiousness around services -- specifically, SaaS, and CRM in particular? Retaliation for U.S. trade initiatives so far has been aimed at things produced by Trump-leaning industries and states.
Will MVNO Worries Complicate T-Mobile, Sprint Merger?
July 12, 2018
T-Mobile and Sprint have embarked on the road to a merger, creating some consternation among competitors. One concern that the combined company would have too much power as a mobile virtual network operator -- possibly controlling as much as 40 percent of the MVNO marketplace. The question is, should regulators require the new company to do something about this prior to approving the deal?
US Lawmakers Eye Apple, Alphabet Data Privacy Practices
July 11, 2018
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has written Alphabet CEO Larry Page and Apple CEO Tim Cook demanding information on their companies' practices with regard to third-party access, audio and location data collection. "This is a huge issue," said Consumer Watchdog's John Simpson. "People are becoming aware of how much data about them is being sucked up by their smartphones."
Polar Flow Fitness App Exposes Soldiers, Spies
July 10, 2018
A popular fitness app provided a convenient map for anyone interested in shadowing government personnel who exercised in secret locations, including intelligence agencies, military bases and airfields, nuclear weapons storage sites, and embassies around the world. The fitness app, Polar Flow, publicized more data about its users in a more accessible way than comparable apps, investigators found.
EU Watchdog Accuses Facebook, Google of Privacy Shenanigans
June 29, 2018
Facebook and Google have manipulated users into sharing data using so-called "dark patterns," according to a report from the Norwegian Consumer Council. The practices nudged users toward accepting privacy options that favored the tech companies rather than themselves, the NCC found. Facebook and Google have no intention of providing users with an actual choice, the NCC has claimed.
Trump Promotes Technology Business Management for Federal IT Acquisitions
June 28, 2018
Vendors seeking to crack the largest single global customer for information technology -- the U.S. government -- should keep a sharp eye on the ever-changing contract landscape. One of the recent changes initiated by the Trump administration for managing federal IT contracting focuses on the use of technology business management to improve the IT acquisition process.
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What best describes your attitude toward social networks and politics?
The value of engaging in serious political discourse outweighs the negatives.
Most of the political conversations seem overheated and ignorant.
Social networks provide a lot of very good political information from reliable sources.
Almost every political post I see is skewed or totally fake.
Political interactions on social networks simply mirror those in the real world.
Social networks remove inhibitions, bringing out the worst in people and politics.