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Your Bitcoins Are Good at Microsoft
December 15, 2014
Microsoft last week began to accept bitcoins as payment for digital content purchases. Bitcoins can be credited to a Microsoft account by anyone in the United States at the currency's market value -- currently around US$352 per bitcoin -- and used to buy content at the Windows Store or stores that carry Xbox games, music and video.
Amazon Cries Foul Over FAA's Drone License Stalling
December 12, 2014
The FAA this week gave five licenses to four companies for UAS operations -- that is, flying drones. The drones will be used in aerial surveying, construction site monitoring, and inspecting oil rig flare stacks. The news led Amazon to launch a media blitz about its attempts to get a license and to renew threats to take more of its drone testing outside of the U.S.
No News Is Google Spain News
December 11, 2014
Google on Thursday said it will close Google News in Spain, as of Dec. 16. That's in reaction to a new law that will take effect in Spain in January. The law requires all Spanish publications to charge content aggregators for publishing any part of their content. Spain's new law is "a perverse policy," said Ronald Gruia, director of emerging telecoms at Frost & Sullivan.
Plundered Pirate Bay May Be Back in Business
December 11, 2014
The Pirate Bay, which was closed down following a raid by Swedish police on Tuesday, appears to have found safe haven on a Costa Rican domain. The site, which gained notoriety for hosting pirated movies and music files, has been raided repeatedly by the Swedish police. Its founders have been arrested and convicted of copyright infringement, and two are currently behind bars.
New York Cabbies May Try Operating Uber-Style
December 11, 2014
Uber and Lyft are two new, rapidly growing competitors in the taxi and limousine space. They are upending the traditional taxi and limo model in city after city. Now the taxicab industry in New York City is fighting back. NYC cabs could be getting their own app. This is something that should have happened years ago. However, it was happy to keep things just the way they were.
Samsung, Apple Kick Off Round Eleventy in Patent Fight
December 10, 2014
Apple and Samsung last week squared off again in court over their long-running patent dispute. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard Samsung's appeal of the $930 million in damages a district court awarded to Apple for patent infringement, following a trial in 2012 and a retrial in 2013. "Samsung never wanted this fight," said Fosspatents' Florian Mueller.
NSA's Auroragold Mining Operation
December 10, 2014
The United States National Security Agency, which is known for monitoring landline, Web and cellphone communications worldwide, reportedly also targets wireless carriers. Documents released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden show the NSA has monitored more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators worldwide since 2010.
No One Has Privacy Now, Thanks to Super Cookies
December 10, 2014
Does anyone really think that we have any privacy? Probably not. Between GPS tracking and our favorite app, most of us gave up on privacy long ago. Some privacy advocates claim that cell carriers have not been transparent about what personal data they have been gathering and using, although we now know that in order to use a cellular device, we must agree to give it away.
Hackers Derail Sony's PlayStation Network
December 09, 2014
Still reeling from a cyberintrusion that exposed massive amounts of personnel data from its entertainment division on the Internet, Sony was attacked again over the weekend. This time, hackers disrupted the company's PlayStation Network. However, unlike the foray against Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is still under investigation, the company quickly recovered.
Uber Lurches Down Rocky Road
December 08, 2014
An Uber driver in New Delhi has been arrested on charges of raping his passenger, prompting authorities there to ban the service from operating within city limits. Meanwhile, the Netherlands' Commercial Appeals Court has issued a preliminary judgment that Uber must stop working with drivers who lack a taxi license but charge passengers fares for rides.
Google Sets Its Sights on the Under-12 Set
December 08, 2014
Google soon will begin targeting kids 12 and under with tailored versions of its products, likely including its search functionality, along with offerings such as YouTube and Chrome. The company is pushing to change make its products fun and safe for children, Pavni Diwanji, Google vice president of engineering, said last week. The new initiative reportedly will begin next year.
Hawking Sounds Alarm Over AI's End Game
December 05, 2014
Artificial intelligence eventually could bring about mankind's demise, according to renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. "Once humans develop [full] artificial intelligence, it would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate," he said. "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."
Sony's Cyber-Whodunit Is a Page-Turner
December 05, 2014
Who breached Sony Pictures' network and why continues to be a puzzle a week after news of the hack first emerged. Some speculate it was an inside job. A few have pointed fingers at North Korea, which returned its own one-finger salute in response. Others discount that possibility. In the meantime, the FBI has issued a warning stating destructive malware is on the loose.
Apple Accused of Secretly Snuffing Non-iTunes Music Purchases
December 04, 2014
Apple for two years surreptitiously removed from iPods any music not purchased at its iTunes store, prosecutors charged Wednesday in federal court. The accusations surfaced during the trial of a 10-year-old class-action lawsuit claiming Apple violated federal and state laws when it issued iPod software updates that prevented the devices from playing songs not purchased on iTunes.
Twitter Gives Harassed Users a Little Ammo
December 04, 2014
Twitter has announced a revamp of its system for reporting abuse on its service. The new changes make it easier to report account impersonation, harassment of others on the service, and threats of harm to oneself or others, said Shreyas Doshi, Twitter's director of product management. The changes allow subscribers to report abuse of others, and simplify flagging tweets and accounts for review.
Apple Fights Yesteryear's iTunes DRM War
December 03, 2014
Apple this week clomped into court to continue fighting a nearly 10-year-old class-action suit stemming from its use of digital rights management technology in iPods. The suit originally was brought in 2005. Both sides' lawyers have filed dozens of trial documents in several hearings. The courts have dismissed some of the items in the original complaint, but have refused to dismiss the case.
High Court Hears Arguments in Facebook Threat Case
December 02, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments in "the Facebook threat case," which centers on a number of threats posted in the form of rap lyrics to a Facebook page created by Anthony Elonis. The targets of the threats were his estranged wife and an FBI agent. Elonis was convicted on four of five counts of making threatening statements in violation of federal law.
Journalist-Tracking Uber Exec Gets Vague Hand Slap
December 02, 2014
Uber has disciplined a company executive accused of using an internal tool to track a journalist's whereabouts, it said. The company offered no details about the nature of that reprimand, however, or about the possibility of taking similar action against another executive who publicly suggested the possibility of targeting journalists with a smear campaign.
The Madness of the ITC, Part 2: Is Its Reach Exceeding Its Grasp?
December 02, 2014
The U.S. Trade International Trade Commission has broad investigative powers on matters of trade, gathering and analyzing trade data, and providing it to the White House and Congress to help formulate U.S. international trade policies. Its statutory authority is based on legislation that is 20 or more years old, and consequently does not address issues in the digital age.
Is It Time to Give BSD a Try?
December 01, 2014
It's not easy to stand by and watch a relationship in trouble. First there's the constant bickering, the growing sense of distance, the discontented grumbling. Next, there are the wandering eyes and intentions, and the seeking out of greener pastures. For many longtime Linux users, the past few months have resembled the first phase of breakdown as the Systemd Inferno has blazed higher and higher.
The Madness of the ITC, Part 1: The Invisalign Case
December 01, 2014
The United States International Trade Commission in May issued its final ruling in what has come to be known colloquially as "the Invisalign case." It held that under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, the digital files could be considered an article. That sparked a discussion in the legal community, an appeal against the ruling, and amicus curiae filings in support of that appeal.
Black Friday May Be Losing Its Mojo
November 26, 2014
Some $13.1 billion in sales are anticipated this Thanksgiving weekend across all manner of channels, from mammoth shopping centers to online retailers to local shops and pop-up stores. Consumers are eager to score the best bargains, of course, while retailers want nothing more than to attract shoppers to their venues and keep them there for as long as possible this weekend.
'Elegant' Regin Malware Linked to Brits, NSA
November 25, 2014
A sophisticated malware program called "Regin" has been used in systematic spying campaigns against a range of international targets since at least 2008, Symantec reported. Regin is a backdoor-type Trojan with a structure that displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen in malware. "It's a beautiful piece of architecture," said Scott Borg, CEO of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit.
Musk Hints at Tesla, BMW Tie-Up
November 24, 2014
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk reportedly has engaged in talks with BMW to partner on the production of electric batteries, as well as other technologies for electric vehicles. Musk reportedly said that the companies might collaborate to develop advanced batteries and lightweight components including carbon fiber body parts in an interview published Sunday.

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