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February 11, 2016
U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, last week introduced legislation to prevent states from passing laws banning the sale of smartphones with encryption capabilities. The ENCRYPT Act of 2016 provides that a state may not mandate or request that a manufacturer, developer, seller or provider of covered products design or modify security functions to allow the surveillance of their users or allow their physical search "by any agency or instrumentality of a state, a political subdivision of a state or the United States." [More...]

February 10, 2016
twitter
Twitter on Tuesday announced the formation of a panel to advise it on speech, abuse and safety issues. The Trust & Safety Council, which has more than 40 members, will be part of a strategy to help people feel safe when they express themselves, said Twitter's Patricia Cartes. The council "will help us tap into the expertise and input of organizations at the intersection of these issues." [More...]

February 10, 2016
tapplock-smart-padlock
Tapplock is a padlock that unlocks when you press your finger against a sensor to let it read your print. There are other smart padlocks on the market you can unlock using your smartphone via Bluetooth, though there are a couple of points that help Tapplock stand out. First, the price for backers of the crowdfunding campaign is reasonable, at $29 for the basic version and $49 for the larger model. [More...]

February 10, 2016
CNIL, France's data protection authority, on Monday formally gave Facebook three months notice to comply with the French Data Protection Act. A working group of regulators from several countries recommended the action. On-site and online inspections, along with a documentary audit, disclosed that Facebook had failed to meet the requirements of the French Data Protection Act, CNIL said. [More...]

February 9, 2016
India's Telecom Regulatory Authority on Monday ruled in favor of Net neutrality, effectively banning Facebook's Free Basics Internet access app. "This is a very important decision for the future of the Internet in India," said Barbara van Schewick, director of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, whose paper the TRA cited in its ruling. [More...]

LINUX PICKS AND PANS
Rosa Is a Real Powerhouse
February 9, 2016
The Rosa Desktop Fresh R series optimizes desktop usage and targets advanced users and enthusiasts looking for rich functionality. Add to that mix the default KDE flavoring and you have a compelling Linux distro. The typical Rosa user already is familiar with basic Linux offerings and wants a product with customization and personalization possibilities. That is what Rosa Desktop delivers. [More...]

February 9, 2016
justice-dept-homeland-security-data-breach-hack
The U.S. departments of Justice and Homeland Security on Monday announced they were investigating reports that a hacker broke into government computer systems and stole sensitive information about employees at the agencies. The hacker posted stolen information for about 9,000 DHS employees online Sunday and made public data on 20,000 FBI employees Monday. [More...]

February 9, 2016
twitter-timeline-algorithm
Twitter plans to introduce an algorithmic timeline, possibly this week, according to a report last week. The algorithm would organize tweets based on relevancy. Twitter users criticized the idea using the hashtag #RIPTwitter, prompting CEO Jack Dorsey to respond: "Regarding #RIPTwitter: I want you all to know we're always listening. We never planned to reorder timelines next week." [More...]

February 9, 2016
Through an eleventh-hour maneuver, the United States and the European Union last week avoided action that could have choked the movement of data between the regions and caused financial harm to U.S. companies. It may be only a temporary respite, however. The problem stems from a European Court of Justice decision in October that blew up an agreement between the regions. [More...]

February 9, 2016
The Internet Archive on Friday cut the ribbon on its online Malware Museum, an online compendium of malware programs computer users in the 1980s and 1990s sometimes encountered. Everything old is new again, apparently. The museum presents examples of the viruses, complete with the messages or animations they would have shown when infecting a computer. [More...]

February 8, 2016
Keybase last week announced the alpha release of the Keybase app for the iPhone with a cryptographically secure file mount. Users can write data in an automatically created folder in this format: /keybase/public/username. Files written in the folder are signed automatically and appear as plain text files. The folder prevents server-side and man-in-the-middle attacks, Keybase said. [More...]

February 8, 2016
smart-email-digital-immortality
I attended IBM Connect last week, where I checked out one of the most interesting new products you've likely never heard of -- IBM Verse. While there was a lot of discussion about how it better integrated social networking, what really intrigued me was the idea of putting cognitive computing inside an email client. "Cognitive computing" is the new way of saying "artificial intelligence." [More...]

February 5, 2016
vaio-phone-biz-windows-10
Vaio on Wednesday announced Phone Biz, a Windows 10 mobile phone. The device doesn't have a SIM, leaving users free to select their own carriers. The Phone Biz lets users easily access corporate apps, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange, as well as the Azure cloud, according to Vaio. The OS is synced with the latest version of Windows 10. [More...]

February 4, 2016
google-self-driving-car-kirkland-washington
Google on Wednesday announced that it has chosen Kirkland, Washington, as the next location to test its self-driving cars. It picked Kirkland as the third test city to give the cars more experience driving in new environments, traffic patterns and road conditions. Google has conducted testing mainly at or near its campus in Mountain View, California. Last year it expanded to Austin, Texas. [More...]

February 4, 2016
Apple is planning an event to unveil a refresh of its iPhone 5s and its Apple Watch, as well as to introduce a new version of its iPad Air, according to a Tuesday report. However, the event date could change, or the company could opt for an online announcement. The 4-inch Phone 5se reportedly will look similar to the 5s and sell at the same price point: $450. [More...]

February 4, 2016
turing-phone
Turing Robotic Industries this week announced that it has uninstalled Google's Android mobile platform in favor of Jolla's Sailfish OS in its yet-to-appear secure smartphone. The Turing Phone, molded from a single unit of the Liquidmorphium liquid-metal alloy, is designed to be more durable to absorb shocks and prevent screen breakage. Preorder pricing starts at $610. [More...]

February 3, 2016
fitbit-alta
Fitbit has unveiled a new fitness tracker that highlights muted colors and fashion-forward design elements. The Alta, priced at $129, has a brushed, stainless steel body that supports interchangeable bands, so that it doesn't stand out for the wrong reasons. Consumers can select bands from the Classic line, available in plum, teal, black and blue for $30 each. [More...]

February 3, 2016
hyperloop-pod-competition
A team from MIT won the best overall design award in the first round of the Hyperloop pod design contest, held last weekend at Texas A&M University. About 120 teams participated in the event. The MIT entry focused on speed, braking, stability and levitation. Powerful magnets placed over a conducting plate -- the aluminum SpaceX track -- will accomplish levitation in an actual pod. [More...]

February 3, 2016
T-Mobile's 700-MHz rollout has given its mobile users some of the fastest data speeds in the U.S. market, according to a report OpenSignal released Tuesday. OpenSignal crowdsources data on carrier signal quality from users who have its consumer mobile application installed. T-Mobile has the fastest 4G LTE download speeds in the country, overtaking Verizon by a slight edge. [More...]

February 3, 2016
Europe and the United States on Tuesday announced a new Safe Harbor agreement that neutralizes the threat of enforcement actions against domestic companies handling overseas data. The EU-US Privacy Shield aims to protect the privacy of data belonging to European citizens when it's handled by U.S. companies. It "will protect the fundamental rights of Europeans," said EU Commissioner Vera Jourová. [More...]

February 2, 2016
government-cybersecurity-terrorists-encryption-harvard-berkman-center
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University on Monday released a report that questions the so-called "going dark" phenomenon. The U.S. government and surveillance and law enforcement agencies have been calling for an end to encryption because they say it lets terrorists communicate with impunity and is responsible for the inability of law enforcement to monitor communications. [More...]

February 2, 2016
dokiwatch-smartwatch-kids-children-kickstarter
If I were a parent, I assume I would have a strong opposition to giving a smartphone to an under-14 child of mine. Don't get me wrong. I would, I surmise, be all in favor of my offspring being able to tap into the Internet to explore, learn, and communicate. I'd also want my kid to be reachable at all times -- but, ideally, in a more-controlled way than by carrying a typical smartphone. [More...]

February 1, 2016
microsoft-project-natick-data-center-ocean
Microsoft on Monday unveiled Project Natick, a research initiative aimed at developing underwater data centers that could be built near coastal cities. The project is still in its infancy, but Microsoft built one test facility last year. It was deployed 30 feet underwater off the California coast in August and was tested through December, when it was returned to the Microsoft campus. [More...]

February 1, 2016
Zenwalk is a Linux distro that seems to be in a state of flux. I took a gamble with the Zenwalk 8.0 beta edition, released last month, after several colleagues raved about its improvements. Chalk that up to potentially bad advice. It's not that Zenwalk is a bad distro. It is an uncooperative and strange experience. A lot can be said about not having to struggle with a problematic OS version. [More...]

February 1, 2016
trump-clinton-presidential-campaigns-analytics
Given all the campaign drama, there was little else on my mind when I started to write my column at the end of last week. The also-rans really didn't understand how suicidal Trump's comments were about fans supporting him even if he shot someone in New York. Also, Clinton's use of a nonauthorized BlackBerry revealed what she really thought of the Obama administration. [More...]

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What is your reaction to the rumored
4-inch iPhone?
I'm in -- I'd love to have a smaller iPhone.
I prefer a larger iPhone, but it's good to have more options.
I expect innovation from Apple -- seems it's running out of ideas.
I'm not interested in an iPhone of any size.
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