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FTC Blasts WSJ's 'Misleading Narrative' on Google
March 26, 2015
FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, along with Commissioners Julie Brill and Maureen Ohlausen, on Wednesday released a statement reaffirming the agency's decision not to prosecute Google over its search practices, and insisting it was in line with the recommendations of the FTC's staff. The statement refutes "recent press reports" suggesting Google got special treatment due to its political influence.
FAA's Sluggish Pace Frustrates Amazon's Drone Ambitions
March 25, 2015
For one brief shining moment, it appeared that Amazon and the FAA were in concert on outdoor drone testing in the U.S., but in testimony before a Senate subcommittee hearing held Tuesday, Amazon put paid to that notion. Although the FAA last week granted Amazon permission to conduct outdoor tests, the unmanned aircraft system covered by the authorization is no longer in use.
Obama Lauds STEM Progress at White House Science Fair
March 24, 2015
President Obama on Monday announced $240 million in new pledges from private businesses, schools and foundations across the country for STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math -- education. The president also announced that a national goal set four years ago to provide 98 percent of Americans with high-speed wireless Internet has been reached ahead of schedule.
The Big Implications of the Google, FTC Antitrust Scandal
March 23, 2015
A 160-page report that was far more complete than the FTC no doubt wanted last week was leaked to the media, clearly showcasing that the FTC staff recommended action against Google for anticompetitive practices. The FTC commissioners then decided to let Google off the hook, apparently because it made some minor changes. That move gave the impression that the FTC was effectively in Google's pocket.
Feds Put Big Money Into IT Innovations
March 18, 2015
The U.S. government spends tens of billions of dollars each year just to make sure that computer and data processing systems keep functioning on a day-to-day basis. With so much investment allocated for operations and maintenance of legacy systems, it makes sense that far fewer dollars are available for cutting-edge information technology investment -- also known as "DME" spending.
Survey: Surveillance Is Fine as Long as It's Not on Me
March 16, 2015
Growing concern over privacy in cyberspace has people changing their online behavior. Nearly 90 percent of 475 adults recently surveyed said they were aware of government surveillance programs targeting Internet users, the Pew Research Center found. Large numbers of adults supported monitoring programs aimed at others -- from terrorists to political leaders -- but opposed spying on U.S. citizens.
Banks' Arbitration Clauses May Hurt Consumers: Report
March 16, 2015
Tens of millions of American consumers use consumer financial products or services governed by predispute arbitration clauses that may put them at an unfair disadvantage, suggests a CFPB report released last week. In some cases, the arbitration clauses are mandatory. Larger banks often include arbitration clauses in their consumer checking account and credit card contracts.
FTC Goes to Bat for Duped DirecTV Customers
March 16, 2015
The Federal Trade Commission last week charged DirecTV with deceptive advertising practices in a complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division. DirecTV, which has been in discussions over a potential merger with AT&T, currently has more than 20 million subscribers across the United States.
Lawsuit Challenges NSA Internet Dragnets
March 13, 2015
The ACLU earlier this week filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the NSA from indiscriminately snooping on U.S. Internet traffic. Using a technique called "upstream" surveillance, the NSA does a spinal tap of the Internet's U.S. backbone, which carries the communications of millions of Americans, the ACLU explained in its complaint filed with a federal district court in Maryland.
FCC Drops Net Neutrality Rules on Dissection Table
March 12, 2015
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has released the final version of its controversial open Internet rules. In the introduction to the some 400 pages of new rules, which cover both wired and wireless broadband, the commission stated its "carefully tailored rules" would prevent specific practices that are harmful to Internet openness, such as blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.
The CIA Has Been Hacking iOS for Years: Report
March 12, 2015
The CIA for years has been working to break iOS security, according to a report published Tuesday. The allegations are based on documents provided by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Researchers working with the CIA have presented their tactics and achievements at Trusted Computing Base Jamborees, secret annual gatherings that have been going on for nearly a decade.
Security Experts Rap Clinton's Email Practices
March 11, 2015
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in hot water over her use of a private email server to handle emails for official business. The practice was very risky cybersecurity behavior for everyone involved, critics have alleged. In taking her mail outside the State Department's systems, Clinton appears to have turned up her nose at the agency's rules.
Proposed 2016 Federal Budget Plumps IT Spending by $2B
March 11, 2015
The U.S. government will increase IT spending for the third year in a row, if the Obama administration's proposed 2016 fiscal year budget passes. The 2016 budget request includes civilian agency IT spending at $49.1 billion and defense IT expenditures at $37.3 billion. The 2016 total of $86.4 billion is about $2 billion more than for 2015, and it is more than double the amount spent in 2001.
Schumer to FAA: Straighten Up Cybersecurity and Fly Right
March 10, 2015
The United States Federal Aviation Administration should implement cybersecurity upgrades recommended by the U.S. Government Accountability Office immediately, or risk hackers taking over its computer systems, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has warned. The GAO last week released a report that found significant security control weaknesses in the FAA's computer systems.
Private, Public Teamwork Needed to Fight ISIS on Twitter: Report
March 09, 2015
Social media firms should team up with the U.S. government to work out appropriate responses to extremism on their sites, recommends a Brookings Institution report. J.M. Berger and Jonathon Morgan last year launched a study to define and describe the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter. They found that ISIS ramped up efforts on Twitter following the suspension of many supporters' accounts.
Hillary Clinton's Possibly Fatal Email Mistake
March 09, 2015
Hillary Clinton's email scandal showcases that she shouldn't be president. This has nothing to do with her party or politics -- it has to do with how she seems to approach a decision -- through tunnel vision leadership. This method isn't biased on the left or right, but it is more hardwired into men than women. Unfortunately, Clinton seems to have this in spades.
We Done Good, Consumer Protection Chief Tells Lawmakers
March 05, 2015
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has made great strides in carrying out its mission, which is to ensure consumers are fairly treated in the financial marketplace, Director Richard Cordray said Tuesday at a House Financial Services hearing. The bureau's qualified mortgage rule put new measures in place to prevent the sloppy underwriting that led to the subprime mortgage problem.
China's Cybersecurity Plans Draw US Fire
March 05, 2015
China should change its tune on new rules for purchases from American high-tech companies if it wants to do business with the United States, President Obama recently warned. China reportedly is planning to ask U.S. high-tech firms to hand over their encryption keys and install security backdoors in their systems to allow surveillance as a counterterrorism measure.
Just Showing Up Won't Capture Federal Cloud Business
March 03, 2015
The observation that "80 percent of life is just showing up," generally attributed to comedian Woody Allen, has morphed into the admonition that "80 percent of success is just showing up." However, it appears that vendors who just show up with a generalized approach to marketing cloud technology to federal government agencies likely won't attract much business.
The Open Source Squad at the GSA
March 03, 2015
18F, a development unit within the General Services Administration, was established a year ago to tap into the success of the United Kingdom's Government Digital Services unit by pursuing a similar strategy. The unit is tasked with getting developers from Silicon Valley and the ranks of civic developers all over the country to change how federal technology gets done.
Monster Problem Threatens New US Cyberthreat Plan
March 03, 2015
President Barack Obama last week made good on his promise to establish a center for cybersecurity information gathered by agencies of the federal government. It's a laudable initiative -- if it works. The Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center will connect the dots regarding malicious foreign cyberthreats to the nation and cyberincidents affecting U.S. national interests.
FCC Comes Through on Net Neutrality
February 27, 2015
The FCC has adopted new open Internet rules by a 3-2 vote along party lines. The rules, which affect both wired and wireless access, prohibit broadband providers from unreasonably interfering with efforts of consumers and edge providers to reach each other. The Internet is "simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Government Spies Came Up Dry, Says Gemalto
February 26, 2015
SIM card maker Gemalto, whose networks reportedly were breached by hackers from the United States National Security Agency and the UK's GCHQ, on Wednesday said the spies got nothing. The hackers stole cryptokeys for millions of SIM cards, according to The Intercept, which cited documents released by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Gemalto denied any SIM cryptokeys had been stolen.
Net Neutrality: All Over but the Shouting?
February 25, 2015
After well over a year of bitter, often highly partisan debates, and despite dissension within its ranks and opposition from industry groups, the United States Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to vote in favor of rules enforcing Net neutrality. The commission wants to regulate ISPs like common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

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