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Manipulative User Research Earns Facebook a Shiner
June 30, 2014
Once again, Facebook is embroiled in a controversy over privacy. This time, hackles have been raised by publication of a study for which the company manipulated the News Feeds of nearly 700,000 subscribers. The study concluded that negative messages on social networks make people sad, and positive ones make them happy -- and those feelings can spread through a social network to third parties.
Facebook, NY DA Lock Horns Over User Data Warrants
June 27, 2014
Facebook, not known for respecting users' privacy, is battling a New York County district attorney's demand for all information pertaining to the accounts of several hundred of its subscribers. DA Cyrus Vance's office issued 381 secret warrants for the information in July of 2013 in a hunt for retired police officers and firefighters wrongfully claiming Social Security disability benefits.
Google Starts Purging Search Results in Europe
June 26, 2014
Google has started to remove search results in certain cases in Europe, in compliance with the EU's new "right to be forgotten" rules. The EU last month ruled that the company must allow individuals to request the removal of links to news articles, court judgments, and other documents that might turn up in results when searches are conducted on their names.
No Cellphone Search Without Warrant, Supreme Court Rules
June 26, 2014
Police need a warrant to search the cellphone contents of people they have arrested, the United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. Warrantless searches, in essence, would impact privacy to a far greater extent than is acceptable. The ruling also applies to individuals stopped for questioning by the authorities, said Jake LaPerruque of the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Will Nest Get Too Nosy?
June 26, 2014
Nest Labs may offer cool technology, but do we really want Google or anyone knowing everything that goes on in our homes? Home automation may indeed be a double-edged sword. Today, like children, we are excited and amazed at how tech can accomplish simple tasks. Will we still be happy down the road, when it crosses the line and invades our privacy?
To Pay or Not to Pay - That's the Ransomware Question
June 24, 2014
Ransomware is a growing problem for consumers and businesses alike. In Symantec's most recent quarterly security report, the company's researchers found all targeted attacks -- including ransomware -- grew 91 percent year-over-year. That's raising a big question for those targeted by cyberextortionists: Should the ransom be paid? Security experts generally say no, but some insert a caveat or two.
BlackBerry Unveils BBM Protected to, Ahem, Protect Market Share
June 18, 2014
BlackBerry, whose share of the mobile phone market has been on a downward spiral, this week launched BBM Protected, the first in its planned eBBM Suite of secure enterprise-class messaging products. BBM Protected targets regulated industries. It's claimed to be the only secure mobile instant messaging app that uses a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic library.
Facebook Plunges Into Online Ad Mainstream
June 12, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced it will soon move to interest-based advertising, almost three years after archrival Google, and well after other major players such as Yahoo and Amazon. It also will introduce "ad preferences," a tool accessible from every ad on Facebook that will explain why users were served an ad, and let them remove interests that form the basis on which that ad is served.
Microsoft Pushes Back Against US Data Warrant
June 12, 2014
The latest court ruling in an ongoing battle between Microsoft and demands from the United States government for data about one of the company's users, seems to have a lot of folks running for cover. In 2013, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis issued a search warrant requiring Microsoft to turn over all date pertaining to the subscriber, hosted on a server in Ireland, to the U.S. authorities.
Free Speech vs. Internet Privacy and the 'Right to Be Forgotten'
June 10, 2014
The conventional wisdom of the Internet is that everything posted, whether on social media, a website or anywhere else, will be on the Internet forever. That conventional wisdom was just challenged successfully in a recent ruling handed down by the EU's highest court. A new conventional wisdom may arise from that ruling -- that we have a "right to be forgotten."
Why Mobile Providers Will Have to Give a Little on Privacy
June 06, 2014
Apple has tossed out some hints that its App Store may soon accept apps that handle digital currencies such as bitcoin. Though there are many possible reasons for the move, one stands out: PornHub last month released an analysis of its 38 million daily visitors, which included the interesting observation that more than half were using mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
EU Smacks Google Upside the Head Over Right to Be Forgotten
June 05, 2014
I think the European Union often goes overboard, and I typically don't agree with its rulings. However, when the EU declared Google invaded privacy, it seemed to have struck a nerve. Countless users worldwide agreed. So, what impact will the EU have on Google with respect to a citizen's right to be forgotten? This struggle is all about protecting privacy online.
Getting Away With Privacy Murder
May 29, 2014
Snapchat in May agreed to implement a comprehensive privacy program and be audited for the next 20 years to settle U.S. Federal Trade Commission charges that it had, among other things, lied to users when it said messages sent through its service would be erased after a designated period of time. However, Snapchat's privacy violation is infinitesimally small compared to some others.
Facebook Gets Nosier Than Ever
May 20, 2014
Facebook recently made it easier to pry into your friends' private affairs on the social network. Specifically, the Ask button -- which already has been available to those seeking more information about many other aspects of a given user's life -- now is an option when it comes to a user's relationship status as well. If users choose to answer, the information then is added to their profile.
In the Eye of the Right-to-Be-Forgotten vs. Right-to-Know Storm
May 16, 2014
A disgraced politician, a pedophile, and a doctor who received negative ratings from patients reportedly are among the hordes of people asking Google to take down links to information published about them. The requests followed Tuesday's preliminary ruling by the European Court of Justice indicating Google may have to remove links to people's names on request, if appropriate.
Fallout Begins Following EU Google Decision
May 15, 2014
This week's European high court decision against Google was "astonishing," according to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who called it "one of the most wide-sweeping Internet censorship rulings I've ever seen." Wales, like anyone who read the ruling, noticed that the parameters for judging whether content be removed were exceptionally ambiguous. This puts Google in dilly of a pickle, Wales said.
Pulling Google Back to the Right Side of the Privacy Line
May 15, 2014
I don't usually agree with the European Union. However, it has demanded that Google help to protect the privacy of citizens rather than exposing everything, and I tend to agree. The latest EU ruling doesn't solve the whole problem, though. In fact, it raises more questions. Remember a few years ago, when we were having the raging debate about how Google was violating privacy?
No, Bot! UN Ponders Regulations for Killer Robots
May 14, 2014
In a move that could complicate the creation of any more Terminator movies, United Nations diplomats on Tuesday discussed international laws to govern, or simply ban, the use of killer robots. This was the first time that a UN meeting was devoted entirely to the topic, which makes sense given that the robots in question don't yet exist. That said, the UN wants to be proactive.
EU Court Hands Google a Missing Links Quandary
May 13, 2014
The European Court of Justice, which is the highest court for matters of European Law, has handed down a preliminary ruling that indicates Google may have to remove links to consumers' names on request -- if appropriate. The case was referred to the ECJ by Spain's Audiencia Nacional, or National High Court. The ECJ's ruling lays down the guidelines for the Audiencia Nacional in hearing the case.
Snapchat Makes FTC Privacy Charges Disappear
May 09, 2014
Snapchat has agreed to a settlement with the United States Federal Trade Commission to resolve privacy issues resulting from a hacker's publication in January of data associated with 4.6 million of its users. The company has not admitted any wrongdoing, but it has agreed to implement a comprehensive privacy program that will be audited by a third party for the next 20 years.

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