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FBI Director Comey Gives Apple and Google a Tongue-Lashing
September 26, 2014
FBI Director James Comey on Thursday strongly criticized Apple and Google for hardening information stored in smartphones by encrypting data, making it inaccessible to law enforcement even with a court order. The FBI has had conversations with both Apple and Google over the encryption features, Comey said, although he personally was not involved in those talks.
The Sky Is Droning
September 26, 2014
The FAA on Thursday gave the green light for six aerial photo and video production companies to begin using unmanned aircraft systems, also known as "drones." To incorporate the devices in film and TV production, the companies will be required to hold private pilot certificates, keep their drones within line of sight at all times, and restrict flights to a so-called sterile area.
Google Brings Hamster-Eating Into Sticks-and-Stones Brawl With News Corp.
September 19, 2014
News Corp. and Google have lashed out at each other as the EU reconsiders the terms of its proposed antitrust settlement with the latter. News Corp. essentially accused Google of nefarious behavior in a letter to the European Competition Commissioner over the EU's proposed antitrust settlement with Google. Perhaps the irony of the situation hit Google hard.
FTC Gives E-tailers Bad Shipping News
September 18, 2014
The Federal Trade Commission has updated a longstanding rule governing mail- and phone-based retailers to explicitly include e-commerce vendors as well, meaning that online retailers now must abide by a 30-day shipping requirement or refund customers' payments if they can't. Merchants in violation could be sued by the FTC for injunctive relief or monetary civil penalties.
FCC Chews on the Mobile Net Neutrality Question
September 17, 2014
The FCC on Tuesday hosted a roundtable discussion on the possibility of Net neutrality rules being applied to mobile networks. Participants in the talk included representatives from The Center for Media Justice, Consumers Union and CTIA. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler earlier this year suggested that the 2010 rules, which exempted mobile services from Net neutrality provisions, should be reconsidered.
Feds Wielded Baseball Bat to Win Yahoo's NSA Cooperation
September 12, 2014
The Obama administration threatened Yahoo with fines of $250,000 daily if it wouldn't comply with demands to hand over user information to the NSA, Yahoo has disclosed. Yahoo had filed suit against the demands in 2007, citing the Fourth Amendment. "They basically said you must do this thing that you don't want to do or we'll put you out of business," said ITIF's Daniel Castro.
If Google Were French
September 11, 2014
Europeans are relentlessly attacking Google: A German official called for its breakup, a French minister charged it was a threat to sovereignty, and a publisher compared it to a dragon, according to a report. Really? I would have thought the euro and the draconian austerity program needed to keep it functioning threatened sovereignty more than Google.
Pols Besieged by Fast, Furious Messages on Internet Slowdown Day
September 10, 2014
U.S. lawmakers were getting an estimated 1,000 calls a minute from constituents concerned about Net neutrality by noon Pacific Time on Internet Slowdown Day, an online demonstration held on Wed., Sept. 10. "We've set a new record for FCC comments and beat Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe malfunction,'" said David Moon of Demand Progress. Father of the Internet Tim Berners-Lee tweeted his support.
Americans Mad as Hell Over Proposed Net Neutrality Rules
September 04, 2014
More than 99 percent of the 800,000 or so comments on Net neutrality the FCC released last month were in favor of an open Internet, according to the Sunlight Foundation's analysis of the comments. At least 60 percent of the comments, or more than 484,000, were form letters written by organized campaigns, although that is a lower percentage than is common for high-volume regulatory issues.
California Lays Down the Kill-Switch Law
August 27, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a bill requiring that anti-theft measures be incorporated into all smartphones sold within California. It doesn't specify the particular technologies used to enable that capability, but it does require that the feature, also known as a "kill switch," give smartphone users the ability to remotely disable their devices in the event they're lost or stolen.
NSA Shares Its Data Wealth
August 26, 2014
The United States National Security Agency secretly shares the communications data it has amassed over the years with nearly 24 U.S. government agencies using a search engine resembling Google Search, according to documents released by Edward Snowden. That's more than 850 billion records of phone calls, emails, cellphone locations and Internet chats.
Google Autocomplete's Brushes With Libel
August 25, 2014
Can an automated Google feature that ostensibly helps users with a search be a basis for libel? Courts in Germany, Italy and Hong Kong have had to field that question. Google's position is that there is no human intervention, and that its algorithm is based merely on what others have searched for, or strings of words in indexed pages. Autocomplete predictions are just possible search terms.
Google May Start Grooming Little Googlers
August 19, 2014
Google may soon allow kids under 13 to have their own personal accounts on services such as YouTube and Gmail. Under the new system, parents would be able to set up accounts for their children, control their use of those accounts, and regulate the information collected about them. "You could say that Google is just recognizing reality," said the Local Search Association's Greg Sterling.
Freedom Act Leaves IT Sector at Risk for Spy Program Costs
August 14, 2014
A recent U.S. Senate proposal to curb the impact of electronic surveillance conducted by the NSA could enhance privacy for citizens and benefit businesses as well. However, major information technology companies that help the government collect telecom and Internet data still will be vulnerable to the substantial costs of working with the NSA, even if the proposed bill becomes law.
Smartphone Kill Switch Law Reaches California Governor's Desk
August 12, 2014
California is poised to enact a consumer-friendly law requiring smartphone manufacturers to install "kill switches" -- that is, antitheft technology that would be activated by the carrier when a consumer alerts it that a device has been stolen or lost. The technology not only wipes the device of personal data but also renders it inoperable. The state legislature passed the bill on Monday.
Feds Struggle to Corral Data
August 11, 2014
U.S. government agencies are struggling to manage the huge amount of data they generate or process, despite the goals of a program designed to operate thousands of data centers more efficiently. The idea behind the FDCCI was to save space, energy and IT costs by consolidating woefully underutilized electronic data storage centers into fewer sites and servers.
Wikimedia Blasts Europe's 'Right to Be Forgotten'
August 06, 2014
The Wikimedia Foundation has released its first-ever transparency report -- and along with it a protest against Europe's "right to be forgotten" law. Wikimedia is the nonprofit owner of Wikipedia and other sites. "Denying people access to relevant and neutral information runs counter to the ethos and values of the Wikimedia movement," wrote Wikimedia attorneys Geoff Brigham and Michelle Paulson.
DoT May Rule Out In-Flight Cellphone Talking
August 06, 2014
The U.S. Department of Transportation is drafting a notice of proposed rulemaking that could restrict consumers' ability to talk on their cellphones during airplane flights. The DoT earlier this year issued an invitation for comment as to whether it should adopt a rule to restrict voice communications on passengers' mobile wireless devices on scheduled flights within, to and from the U.S.
Cops Snag Child Pornography Suspect, Thanks to Gmail Scan
August 04, 2014
A routine scan of a Texas man's Gmail by Google has led to his arrest on child pornography possession and promotion charges. John Henry Skillern, 41, of Houston was arrested by police July 30 following a tip by Google to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He has been charged with one count each of child pornography possession and child pornography promotion.
Federal Judge Unswayed by Microsoft's Objections to Data Demands
August 04, 2014
Microsoft's objections to a court order requiring it to turn over a customer's emails held on a server in Ireland have been rejected. Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last week issued an oral ruling in the case, reportedly saying the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1996 authorizes such extraterritorial collections of data.
Facebook Staring at Fresh Privacy Class Action
August 01, 2014
Facebook is set for another legal battle over privacy, with a fresh class-action lawsuit fired up against the company. The legal action is the brainchild of Austrian law student Max Schrems, a noted campaigner against Facebook's treatment of user privacy. Schrems called on adult Facebook users around the world to join his suit after he filed a complaint in Vienna's commercial court.
Leahy Bill Aims to Rein In Government Snooping
July 30, 2014
Government snooping on Americans would be curtailed under a bill introduced Tuesday in the U.S. Senate. The measure, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., would ban bulk collection of domestic information, limit the scope of searches by government agencies, and add transparency and reporting requirements. Further, it would reform procedures of the FISA Court.
Symantec, CA Squirm Under DoJ's Unfair Pricing Allegations
July 30, 2014
The TV game show The Price is Right may be an entertaining diversion, but for federal information technology vendors, getting the price right in government contracts is serious business. Two major software providers, Symantec and CA Technologies, recently found out how serious it can be as a result of separate U.S. Department of Justice investigations.
China Trumps Up Anti-Monopoly Charges Against Microsoft
July 29, 2014
China's State Administration for Industry & Commerce on Tuesday announced it has launched an investigation into Microsoft under the country's antimonopoly laws, according to press reports. The announcement comes days after SAIC officials reportedly raided Microsoft offices in four cities, seizing documents, emails and other data from servers and computers, among other things.

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