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Researchers to Put Facebook's Role in Elections Under Magnifying Glass
April 10, 2018
A group of nonprofits have agreed to fund an initiative to study Facebook's role in elections and democracy. The organizations will pay the expenses of researchers, and Facebook will give the scholars access to proprietary data that has met the company's new standards for heightened user privacy protection. "This is a critical first step," said Larry Kramer, president of the Hewlett Foundation.
Mysterious Disappearance of Zuck Posts Rings Another Facebook Alarm Bell
April 9, 2018
Facebook reportedly allowed CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other senior executives to delete messages from recipients' inboxes and chat threads, but it did not disclose the practice or offer the same capabilities to users. Facebook began using the tool after the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures to protect executive communications. Facebook later said it would make the feature available to all users.
Facebook Comes Up With a New Data Access Plan
April 6, 2018
Facebook has announced an update to its policies for restricting data access on its platform. CEO Mark Zuckerberg also discussed some of Facebook's new efforts to shore up user privacy protections in a 45-minute long Q&A with members of the media on Wednesday. Facebook will implement nine changes, which will allow users to set privacy levels and limit automatic data sharing.
Facebook Declares Open Season on Russian Trolls
April 5, 2018
Facebook has taken down more than 270 pages and accounts operated by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday. IRA trolls and ads were involved in Russia's attempts to interfere with the 2016 United States presidential elections, and the trolls have published hate speech and incitements to violence on their Facebook pages.
The Power of Social Media and the Coming Repeal of the 2nd Amendment
April 2, 2018
One of the most powerful political organizations in the U.S. is the National Rifle Association. The president of the United States recently claimed he wasn't afraid of the NRA, only to have an NRA spokesperson -- not the president himself -- later announce that the president had changed his mind. It was painful to watch the most powerful man in the free world be treated like a small child.
Trump Rails at Amazon Over Taxes, USPS, Local Retail
March 30, 2018
President Trump fired off a tweet critical of Amazon, implying that the administration may be mulling some type of regulatory action. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is also the owner of The Washington Post, one of the top newspapers in the U.S. and a major thorn in the president's side. Trump recently has been "obsessing" over the company and exploring different regulatory possibilities, according to reports.
Atlanta Works to Break Ransomware Hold
March 30, 2018
Nearly a week after it became the target of one of the largest ransomware attacks to date, the City of Atlanta has made progress toward recovery, but it is still far from business as usual. Hackers encrypted many of the city government's vital data and computer systems. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms characterized the ransomware attack as "a hostage situation."
Facebook Takes Baby Steps Toward Rebuilding Trust
March 29, 2018
Facebook has introduced a set of changes designed to empower members to protect their account information. The company has been at the center of an unrelenting firestorm following revelations that it allowed Cambridge Analytica to mine private data belonging to 50 million of its users without permission, which Cambridge Analytica then leveraged for political purposes.
FTC Signals Tougher Stance on Mobile Privacy Protection
March 29, 2018
Mobile device makers and telecom service providers need to make significant privacy protection improvements for their customers, says the FTC. Its recent report could become the basis for agency enforcement actions -- not only for smartphones, but also for other mobile devices. "The report is a clear signal to the industry to focus on this issue," said Gerard Stegmaier, a partner at Reed Smith.
US Charges 9 Iranians in Massive Academic Research Theft
March 27, 2018
The DoJ has charged nine Iranian nationals for engaging in a massive phishing campaign on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The allegations include the theft of $3.4 billion in research and intellectual property from 320 colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad, as well as from 47 foreign and domestic companies, plus several federal agencies, state governments, and the UN.
Facebook Phone-Scraping Takes Users by Surprise
March 27, 2018
Facebook on Sunday confirmed that its Messenger and Lite apps for Android smartphones routinely collect call and text histories. The call and text history logging are opt-in features for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android devices, the company said in a post. The feature is designed to help users stay connected, and it improves the Facebook experience, according to the company.
Chaos Threatens Tech Takeover
March 26, 2018
The tech world experienced more insanity last week. We finally got confirmation from AMD that the CTS Labs security report was a tempest in a teapot, but the big question remained unanswered. A self-driving Uber vehicle killed a pedestrian, but we didn't ask the right questions. Facebook admitted that it gave our information to a bad actor, and we forgot what really would wake up Zuckerberg.
The Social Utility
March 24, 2018
If you study economic cycles, you can watch the evolution of a disruptive technology throughout its lifecycle, from a specific product to a competitive industry. The last phase in the evolutionary chain is the formation of a utility. For example, over a couple of centuries we've seen the evolution of electricity from a curiosity, to a business, to a group of public companies.
Brit Lawmakers Want Cambridge Analytica's Nix to Explain a Few Things
March 23, 2018
British lawmakers want Alexander Nix, the suspended chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, to return to Parliament for additional questioning in its fake news inquiry. The Parliament's probe led to disclosures that Facebook had allowed Cambridge Analytica unauthorized access to up to 50 million user records, igniting a firestorm over user data privacy and possible U.S. voter manipulation.
Facebook Swelters in Cambridge Analytica Heat
March 22, 2018
CEO Mark Zuckerberg broke Facebook's mysterious silence following news of investigations into Cambridge Analytica's access to personal data belonging to 50 million Facebook users. Facing the wrath of everyone from U.S. and European regulators to shareholders, customers and employees, Zuckerberg conceded that Facebook must make several changes if it expects to be taken seriously in the future.
Facebook Faces Multiple Government Probes in Massive Data Scandal
March 20, 2018
EU, UK and U.S. officials have ratcheted up the pressure on Facebook over a user data scandal that threatens to engulf the company. The president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, summed up the stakes in a tweet on Tuesday: "Facebook needs to clarify before the representatives of 500 million Europeans that personal data is not being used to manipulate democracy."
California Weighs Tough Net Neutrality State Law
March 19, 2018
A California legislator has fleshed out the details in legislation that would provide comprehensive Net neutrality protection. Sen. Scott Wiener last week offered an amended version of a bill he introduced earlier this year, which essentially prohibits ISPs from engaging in any practice that would manipulate or hinder consumer access to certain content, devices or services.
Fake News Has Become an Existential Threat
March 19, 2018
The scene in A Few Good Men with Jack Nicholson going off on handling the truth has been coming to mind way too often of late. Sadly, this is the world we are living in right now, and social media is at the heart of it. I recently noticed a headline that implied a lot of people had taken exception to something Gal Gadot tweeted about Stephen Hawking.
Data Storage, Privacy and Metaphysics: SC Weighs Arguments in MS Case
March 13, 2018
How far does the long arm of U.S. law enforcement extend when government agencies seek electronically processed information? The U.S. Supreme Court recently addressed that issue in an intriguing session covering global electronic connectivity, the law, and the significance of national borders. The discussion came during last month's oral arguments in U.S. v. Microsoft.
White House Video Game Violence Discussion Fails to Move the Needle
March 9, 2018
President Donald Trump on Thursday met behind closed doors with several top video game industry executives, association representatives, politicians and others to discuss video game violence in the aftermath of the fatal shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month. Among the scheduled attendees were Strauss Zelnick, CEO of TakeTwo Interactive Software.
Amazon Courts Medicaid Recipients With Deep Prime Discount
March 8, 2018
Amazon this week expanded its discounted Prime membership program, already available to EBT card holders, to include Medicaid recipients. Eligible customers can become Prime members for $5.99 a month, less than half the regular $12.99 monthly fee. The move -- another step in Amazon's efforts to reach underserved economic communities -- ratchets up its competition with Walmart.
Russians Pose as Americans to Steal Data on Social Media
March 8, 2018
Americans have been targeted on social media by Russian agents on a mission to harvest personal information. The agents pretended to work for organizations promoting African-American businesses as a ruse to obtain personal information from black business owners during the 2016 presidential election campaign. Using names like "BlackMattersUS," the agents set up hundreds of social media accounts.
SC Justices to Hear Arguments in Microsoft, DoJ Data Privacy Face-Off
February 27, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear oral arguments in a landmark case over whether federal law enforcement can force Microsoft to hand over email stored in an overseas data center as evidence in a drug-trafficking case. The case, United States of America v. Microsoft Corporation, which dates back to 2013, is viewed as a potentially groundbreaking showdown over data privacy.
FCC's Final Rule on Net Neutrality Sparks Legal Challenges
February 23, 2018
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday officially published its Net neutrality rollback order in the Federal Register, triggering a flurry of legal actions and Capitol Hill scrambling to stop it before it takes hold. The order, which goes into effect on April 23, reverses an Obama era rule requiring that broadband access be regarded as a utility.
Vendors Await $50B 'Tsunami' of US Telecom Contracts
February 20, 2018
The U.S. government has modernized telecom and supporting IT twice within the last 20 years -- but not without controversy, delays and costly project management. A third modernization currently is under way, under the direction of the federal GSA. The potential value of contracts issued to vendors under the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions program is $50 billion over 15 years.
Cleveland-Chicago Hyperloop Line Gets Feasibility Study
February 16, 2018
HTT has announced an agreement with an Ohio agency to launch a study on creating its first interstate hyperloop project in the U.S., connecting Chicago and Cleveland. The agreement with the Northern Ohio Area Coordinating Committee puts in motion a regional feasibility study, to be carried out in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Microsoft to Use Blockchain to Create Decentralized ID System
February 14, 2018
Microsoft has announced a plan to use blockchain technology to develop decentralized identities, or DIDs. Microsoft formally joined the ID2020 Alliance last month as a founding member. The Alliance aims to develop a blockchain-based identity system for vulnerable populations -- one that can operate across various blockchains, cloud providers, government agencies and other organizations.
SEC, Senators Lean Toward Tighter Cryptocurrency Regulation
February 7, 2018
Federal securities regulators and Senate Banking Committee members on Tuesday signaled that additional regulation may be necessary in the rapidly growing area of virtual currency. "The cryptocurrency and ICO markets, while new, have grown rapidly, gained greater prominence in the public conscience and attracted significant capital from retail investors," said SEC Chairman Jay Clayton.
Amazon's Soaring Healthcare Ambition: The Promise and the Problem
February 5, 2018
Healthcare is a mess in the United States. Consumers pay more and get less than in most other developed countries. Strong comprehensive healthcare is unaffordable for most without substantial help, which is why putting the burden on the government really does not work. If people cannot afford something, individually aggregating it under what amounts to a tax is not really any better.
Feds to Probe Apple's iPhone Performance Disclosures
February 1, 2018
Both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have launched investigations into Apple. The company has said that it will respond to the federal inquiries. Apple faces allegations that it may have misled investors when it decided to throttle performance on older iPhone models while introducing two pricey new ones, including the thousand-dollar iPhone X.
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Does it matter to you if products you purchase are manufactured in another country?
Yes, and I will pay more for a domestically produced product.
Yes, but my shopping decisions won't change anything, so I do what's best for me.
I care, but it's impossible to keep track of where everything is made.
I want the best quality and price, regardless of country of origin.
It depends on the country. Some are OK, some aren't.
It depends on the company. I'll buy from a reputable non-domestic brand.
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