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It's Crunch Time for California Consumer Privacy Act Compliance
January 15, 2020
The CCPA -- widely considered to be the toughest law in the U.S. regulating the collection, storage and use of personal information -- went into effect on Jan. 1. Rather than preparing for it, however, many businesses have taken a wait-and-see approach. This could be a serious mistake. The new law is similar in many respects to the EU's GDPR, which went into effect last spring.
'Black PR' Firms Line Their Pockets by Spreading Misinformation
January 9, 2020
PR companies long have been known for reshaping perceptions for their clients. Some now engage in "black PR" -- the calculated spread of misinformation online. Entrepreneur Peng Kuan Chin's company harvests online posts written in Chinese, reshapes them, and posts them on websites under its control. Thousands of fake social media accounts then spread this manipulated content across the Internet.
Is Privacy Possible in 2020?
December 27, 2019
The California Consumer Protection Act goes into effect in 2020, and other state and federal laws are on the horizon -- but is it possible that these state laws will really provide us privacy? How many readers take the time to read the privacy policy, or click agreement, when they download a new version of an app on their smartphone or tablet? Probably none. What are the consequences?
Tech Firms Join Forces to Create Smart Home Connectivity Standard
December 19, 2019
Amazon, Apple, Google and the Zigbee Alliance are teaming up on a new Internet Protocol-based standard for smart home device connectivity. Connected Home over IP will be an open source project. A working group will define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification. The goal is to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps and cloud services.
The Ever-Changing Face of E-Commerce: 1995-2020
December 12, 2019
E-commerce doesn't look the same today as it did in 1995. A company called "eBay" burst onto the scene that year, and Jeff Bezos shipped Amazon's first book order. That unleashed a flood of online shopping, and businesses and consumers never looked back. In the past two and a half decades, e-commerce revolutionized industries such as retail and supply chain.
Facebook Won't Let US, UK, Australia Get Toe in Backdoor
December 11, 2019
Facebook has rejected a request from the U.S., the UK and Australia for a "backdoor" in its encrypted messenger apps to help law enforcement agencies combat crime and terrorism. "Cybersecurity experts have repeatedly proven that when you weaken any part of an encrypted system, you weaken it for everyone, everywhere," wrote WhatsApp head Will Cathcart and Facebook Messenger head Stan Chudnovsky.
A Secret Strategy That Could Be Apple's Fatal Self-Inflicted Blow
December 9, 2019
Both Intel and a bunch of professors connected to Apple and the FTC came out in support of the Judge Koh verdict against Qualcomm, even though it had been shown that the foundational evidence was manufactured contrary to the wishes of the DoJ, DoD and other major government agencies. That was well after Qualcomm was identified as a critical part of the U.S. defense against Huawei's 5G dominance.
Twitter Sets Up Privacy Center but Moves to Skirt GDPR
December 4, 2019
Twitter's new Privacy Center will give users more clarity on what it does to protect the information people share. The center will host everything relevant to Twitter's privacy and data protection work, including initiatives, announcements, new privacy products and communication about security incidents, noted Twitter Data Protection Officer Damien Kieran and Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour.
EU Digital Czar to Probe Facebook's and Google's Data Wrangling
December 3, 2019
The European Union has launched a probe into how Google and Facebook gather, process, use and monetize data for advertising purposes. The European Commission has begun distributing questionnaires as part of a preliminary investigation into Google's and Facebook's data practices. Facebook and Google join Amazon as targets of the EU's "digital czar," Margrethe Vestager.
You Might Owe Cryptocurrency-Related Taxes
November 20, 2019
Got your attention? We thought so. In a recently published Notice, the IRS seems to be offering some cautionary advice about the legal risks associated with using cryptocurrencies to avoid capital gains taxes. Likely displeased by the use of cryptocurrencies to avoid reporting capital gains, the IRS may be signaling its intent to crack down on cryptocurrency trading activity.
4 Ways Legal and Sales Can Collaborate
November 16, 2019
Sales and legal need to maintain a united front. This means being on the same page when it comes to contracting, as a significant portion of their work together is creating, negotiating and sending contracts. However, whereas legal wants to double- and triple-check that the terms are suitable, sales wants to send a contract off as soon as possible and shorten the time to closed-won.
New YouTube Terms of Service Create Stir
November 12, 2019
Google has published changes to YouTube's Terms of Service Agreement that have stoked fears among some users. "YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account's access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable," the new ToSA states. Many creators are deeply concerned over the prospect of YouTube changing its practices.
Apple Card Algorithm May Tilt Favorably Toward Men
November 12, 2019
New York regulators have initiated an investigation into a tech entrepreneur's complaint that credit limits for the new Apple Card are based on gender-biased algorithms. The investigation, announced by DFS Superintendent Linda Lacewell, apparently stems from a series of tweets David Heinemeier Hansson posted, revealing that his Apple Card credit limit was 20 times higher than his wife's.
Calling All Retailers - Ready or Not, CCPA Is on Its Way
November 9, 2019
We're just a few short months away from the California Consumer Privacy Act going into effect. The regulation brings privacy rights to residents in California and gives them control of their personal information and how companies can use it. Any business that sells to a California resident needs to be CCPA-compliant. Nearly every brick-and-mortar store nowadays has an e-commerce site.
The Force May Be With Microsoft
November 2, 2019
The Pentagon has awarded its $10 billion contract for cloud computing to Microsoft. The program -- which goes by the acronym "JEDI" for "Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure" -- has been attracting vendors like a dog attracts fleas for several years. It has been marked by fierce litigation too, so the award may not be the end of it. Oracle sued over the process, claiming it was unfair.
Threat From Above: How to Stop Hostile Drones
October 24, 2019
Unmanned aerial vehicles -- or "drones" as these flying objects more commonly are known -- pose a growing danger, cybersecurity expert Kevin Townsend recently warned. The drone category is broad -- it includes toys for hobbyists, tools for commerce, and devices used for a variety of military purposes. They range in size from massive military drones to small hobbyist devices.
FTC Targets Fake Influencer Metrics, Fake Reviews
October 23, 2019
The FTC announced settlements of a series of fraudulent marketing charges against two high-profile firms. The actions taken make it clear that anyone who engages in similar illegal behavior will face enforcement action, the FTC said. In the first case, Devumi agreed to settle the FTC's first-ever complaint challenging the sale of fake indicators of social media influence.
Facebook's After-the-Fact Oversight
October 19, 2019
I wanted to like Kara Swisher's recent piece about Facebook's attempt to wrestle with its demons, but I can't. It feels too much like self-delusion. To cut to the chase, Facebook announced it was forming an oversight board that eventually will have about 40 members with responsibilities for policing its domain and reducing or even eliminating fake news and propaganda.
New Tech Vetting Law in SF Could Fuel Regulatory Trend
October 17, 2019
San Francisco officials want to get ahead of the emerging technology curve by prequalifying and regulating startup tech proposals before products become available to consumers. That approach is a developing trend in the U.S., according to Arle Lommel, senior analyst at CSA Research. If approved, the creation of a city-controlled regulatory office would invert the historical norm.
New Trade Deal Provisions Give US Tech Firms Legal Shields
October 9, 2019
The Trump administration has begun inserting legal protections into trade agreements to shield online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube from lawsuits. That move could help lock in America's tech-friendly regulations around the world even as they are being questioned at home. The legal protections are included in the administration's two biggest trade deals.
The CCPA May Affect You, So Get Ready
October 3, 2019
Although not every United States business will be affected, the new California Consumer Protection Act almost certainly will have implications for many businesses outside of California. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, qualifying businesses will be subject to data privacy and security standards currently required only by the 28 member states in the European Union.
Leaked Audio Reveals Zuckerberg Spinning Hard
October 2, 2019
An attendee at a two-hour question-and-answer session during a Facebook company meeting held in July leaked a recording of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's comments that reveal deep insights into his thinking. Zuckerberg apparently decided the Q&A format would be an effective way to rally Facebook employees against rising criticism from competitors and the U.S. government.
Google's 'Right to Be Forgotten' Approach Wins Nod From EU Court
September 25, 2019
Google need not comply with the right to be forgotten outside of the European Union, according to a European Court of Justice ruling. A global de-referencing would meet the EU's data protection objectives, the court said, but it found that numerous third states do not recognize the right to de-referencing or have a different approach to that right.
California Applies Brakes to Galloping Gig Economy
September 12, 2019
California Assembly Bill 5, which would require many businesses to hire workers as employees rather than independent contractors -- and reclassify their existing workforces accordingly -- has passed its second reading. The State Assembly will vote on amendments in a third reading and then send it to Governor Gavin Newsom, who has indicated he will sign it into law.
50 AGs Gun for Google in Antitrust Offensive
September 11, 2019
The attorneys general of 48 states, plus those from United States territory Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., have joined in an investigation into whether Google stifled online advertising and search competition. The only holdouts are the attorneys general of Alabama, where Google is building a $600 million data center, and California, where Google has its headquarters.
The High Stakes of Oracle's Appeal
August 31, 2019
Now Oracle is appealing the Pentagon's award to Amazon of its $10 billion JEDI contract to provide cloud computing solutions. "The Court of Federal Claims opinion in the JEDI bid protest describes the JEDI procurement as unlawful, notwithstanding dismissal of the protest solely on the legal technicality of Oracle's purported lack of standing," said Dorian Daley, general counsel for Oracle.
Cloud Users: Read the Click Agreement Terms
August 26, 2019
There is no data showing how many people actually read through click agreements, terms of service and privacy policies -- collectively "online terms" -- before clicking the alluring "accept" button. However, there's research that indicates fewer than 1 percent of people report taking the time to review online terms. Most folks consider online terms an annoying speed bump and frankly don't care.
Amazon's $10-a-Person Attempt to Wriggle Off Privacy Hook
August 1, 2019
Some very large companies now are under scrutiny by the U.S. government for their data collection and use. As the pressure increases, Amazon seems to have come up with a creative solution. It has been offering to pay users $10 for permission to track them. Interesting. While $10 is practically nothing, this move does suggest companies are beginning to realize they crossed the line.
GitHub Blocks Devs in US-Sanctioned Regions
July 30, 2019
GitHub is blocking users in Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria from accessing its services to comply with U.S. trade control laws. The Microsoft-owned company disclosed the action on a support page as a courtesy, noting that GitHub users ultimately are responsible for ensuring that their use of GitHub's products and services complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
Automation: Helping SMBs Cut the Gordian Knot of Transaction Tax
July 27, 2019
Finance and accounting technology became the No. 1 software budgeting priority for small and mid-sized businesses, according to a survey conducted last year. Almost 54 percent of respondents were budgeting to invest in accounting tools in the next 12 to 24 months, with those in the retail industry specifically forecasting to spend between $30,000 and $40,000.
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