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India Rejects Apple's iPhone Retread Plan
May 4, 2016
India's telecommunications ministry has rejected Apple's proposal to sell refurbished iPhones in the country. Officials apparently based their rejection of the proposal on rules that prohibit importing used electronics. The country's environmental ministry nixed a similar request last year. With smartphone sales starting to stall, India could become an important market for Apple.
WhatsApp Goes Through Judicial Revolving Door in Brazil
May 3, 2016
A Brazilian court on Tuesday overturned a different court's Monday order that blocked WhatsApp, the messaging site owned by Facebook, amid a criminal investigation into drug trafficking in the state of Sergipe. The earlier judicial demand that WhatsApp provide data considered critical to the investigation came soon after a ramp-up in the level of encryption built into the app.
Law Affords More Protection to PINs Than Prints
May 3, 2016
A federal magistrate in Los Angeles ordered the girlfriend of an alleged gang member to open her phone using her fingerprint so prosecutors could look at the data on it for a case they were working on, according to a news report published last week. After Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan pleaded no contest to identity theft, a judge issued a warrant to force her to press her finger to her iPhone to open it.
Supreme Court Grants Federal Agents Broader Surveillance Authority
May 3, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court has approved a series of amendments to the federal rules of criminal procedure that would let judges issue search warrants for computers located outside their jurisdiction. Chief Justice John Roberts announced the changes in the Court's interpretation of the rules. They would allow a judge to issue warrants to search for electronic evidence at remote sites, for example.
Getty Images Takes Google Grievances to EU
April 29, 2016
Getty Images on Wednesday filed a competition law complaint against Google with the European Commission. The company last year filed an "interested third party" submission in support of the EC's investigation into Google's anticompetitive business practices. Getty's complaint, in essence, is that Google Images facilitates piracy of high-res copyrighted content.
FBI Says Its Hands Are Tied on Revealing iPhone Crack Details
April 28, 2016
The FBI on Wednesday confirmed its decision not to inform Apple of how it hacked into the encrypted iPhone used in last December's San Bernardino terrorist attack. The bureau was investigating the possibility that deceased shooters Syed Farook, who used the iPhone, and his wife may have had links to other terrorist plots. It also was searching for evidence tying the two to ISIS.
IT Execs Join Federal Cybersecurity Panel
April 28, 2016
Key components of the Obama administration's multipronged cybersecurity initiative keep falling into place. One of the most recent developments was the formation of a federal Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. Another was the formal introduction in Congress of the administration's information technology investment plan, which is heavily tilted toward cybersecurity protection.
Tech, Auto Honchos Join Forces to Push Self-Driving Cars
April 27, 2016
Some major players in both the new and old economies on Tuesday announced an alliance to pave the way for self-driving cars in America. Ford, Google, Lyft, Uber and Volvo raised the curtain on their Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, which will work with lawmakers, regulators and the public to raise awareness of the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles.
Regulators Impose Caveats on Charter TWC Merger Approval
April 27, 2016
Federal regulators on Monday approved Charter Communications' $78 billion merger with Time Warner Cable and its $10.4 billion acquisition of Bright House Networks, but with a number of tough conditions. The Justice Department filed a settlement agreement to block the new company from enforcing any deal that makes it harder for online video distributors to get video content from programmers.
Apple's Books, Movies Fall Victim to Chinese Crackdown
April 25, 2016
The Chinese government ordered Apple to shut down its iBooks and iTunes Movies services in the country, according to news reports published last week. China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television reportedly called for the closure. The government in February announced a policy banning all foreign media from publishing in China without direct approval.
Volkswagen Agrees to Fix or Buy Back Dirty Diesel Cars
April 22, 2016
Volkswagen has reached an agreement to repair or replace about 500,000 diesel cars in the U.S., according to court documents released Thursday. The cars were equipped with software designed to deceive emissions tests. Under the agreement, announced Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Volkswagen will pay back an undetermined amount of money to owners of the affected vehicles.
EFF Sues DoJ Over Secret Data Decryption Requests
April 22, 2016
The EFF has filed suit against the Justice Department seeking to learn whether the federal government secretly ordered technology companies to decrypt the private communications of their customers. Such orders could place millions of customers in harm's way, the complaint says. The suit seeks the release of records originally requested last fall under the Freedom of Information Act.
Insurance Industry Buzzes Over Data Breach Ruling
April 21, 2016
If the rash of data breaches in recent months has done anything for businesses, it's raised their awareness of cyber liability insurance. The market for cyber liability insurance is expected to increase dramatically as businesses become more aware that their current policies don't adequately cover cyber-risks, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Apple to Lawmakers: We'll Help but No Backdoors
April 21, 2016
Apple's top legal official on Tuesday appeared before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and reiterated the company's willingness to help law enforcement on active cases and cooperate on long-term solutions, despite its contentious legal battle with the FBI over the encrypted iPhone used in the San Bernardino terrorist attack. Apple works daily with law enforcement on a number of cases.
EU Levels Antitrust Charges Against Abusive Android
April 20, 2016
The European Commission has charged that Google breached EU antitrust rules by seeking to maintain and expand the dominance of its Android operating system. "A competitive mobile Internet sector is increasingly important for consumers and businesses in Europe," said the EC's antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager. "We believe that Google's behavior denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps."
Journalist Gets 2-Years in Prison for Aiding Anonymous Prank
April 19, 2016
A U.S. District Court judge last week sentenced Matthew Keys to two years in prison after he was found guilty of conspiring with the hacker group Anonymous to break into the Los Angeles Times' website and modify a news story. Keys had been site administrator for KTXL Fox 40, which was owned by Tribune, the same company that owned the Times.
SCOTUS Turns Its Back on Google Books Challenge
April 19, 2016
The Supreme Court has declined to hear a petition to review a lower court decision allowing Google to scan and publish excerpts of copyright-protected books without seeking permission from the authors or paying them. The petition, filed at the end of last year, was the latest move in the Guild's decade-long war with Google, which has said that its searchable digital books database is fair use.
Microsoft Sues DoJ Over Spying Gag Orders
April 15, 2016
Microsoft on Thursday filed suit against the U.S. Department of Justice challenging the gag orders that accompany requests to access customers' private emails and other data. The orders prevent the company from notifying affected customers about the government's demands. The case is the fourth public lawsuit it has filed against the Justice Department in three years.
E2E Encryption Could Make WhatsApp a Spam Magnet
April 15, 2016
Facebook's WhatsApp last week announced it would roll out end-to-end encryption for its users, but the move could make the service more attractive to spammers. While encryption can safeguard information from data thieves, it also can block data protectors. The policy "will not stop the growth of spam on the platform and could make the problem worse," AdaptiveMobile's Simeon Coney said.
FBI Paid Hackers to Defeat Security of Shooter's iPhone
April 14, 2016
The FBI paid hackers to break onto the iPhone of the San Bernardino, California, shooter, according to a news report published Tuesday. The bureau obtained the services of gray hats, insiders said, and apparently did not get help from Cellebrite, as earlier reports had suggested. Gray hats are hackers who sell flaws to governments or companies that make surveillance tools.
Male Snubbing Ride-Sharing Service Postpones Launch
April 13, 2016
Chariot for Women, a ride-sharing service that excludes males 13 and older, reportedly has postponed its launch to sometime this summer due to heavier-than-anticipated demand. The company originally had planned to debut the service in Boston next week. Chariot for Women is open to all women, including transgender women. Children, including boys under the age of 13, also may ride.
Officials Named in Panama Papers Cower Behind China's Great Firewall
April 13, 2016
Chinese authorities have issued censorship instructions to the media following the release of the Panama Papers, according to news reports published last week. The leaked documents reportedly listed several top Chinese officials who used Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to set up offshore companies. The names include President Xi Jinping's brother-in-law Deng Jiagui.
CFPB Asserts Jurisdiction Over E-Commerce Privacy Regulation
April 12, 2016
Another federal agency has entered the arena for regulating e-commerce companies regarding the protection of consumer data. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has closed its first and so far only privacy case with a consent agreement between itself and an online payments processor. The CFPB charged that Dwolla misled consumers that its information was encrypted and stored securely.
Publishers Put Brave Ad-Blocking Browser on Notice
April 11, 2016
A group of newspaper publishers last week sent what amounted to a cease-and-desist letter to Brave Software, which offers the HTTPS Brave browser with built-in ad blocking and tracking protection. Brave has offered to let publishers make money off blocked ads by partnering with them "for a lower fee than they pay their third-party data-tracking partners," CEO Brendan Eich said.
Illicit Weapons Traders Flock to Facebook
April 8, 2016
Facebook has served as an online marketplace for armed militias in Libya and other war-torn countries, according to a news report published Wednesday. An array of light weapons bought and sold after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi unleashed a torrent of unregulated commerce in Libya, which previously had controlled online communications strictly, according to a study by Armament Research Services.
White House Takes a Pass on Encryption Debate
April 7, 2016
It appears that the Obama administration will refrain from giving its outspoken support to any legislation that aims to compel high-tech companies to help law enforcement agencies crack mobile phone encryption. On the other hand, it won't level any outspoken opposition either. Introduction of such a bill -- sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr -- is expected soon.
FCC Labels Aim to Demystify Broadband Service Plans
April 5, 2016
The Federal Communications Commission on Monday announced a plan to create label disclosures that would give consumers a clear picture of the pricing, speed and bandwidth they are paying for under high-speed Internet contracts. The FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee proposed the nutrition-like labels amid concerns that providers were not transparent enough.
FBI May Help Local Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Encrypted iPhones
April 4, 2016
Weeks after backing down from its litigation demanding Apple's help to access encrypted data on the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone, the FBI appears to be taking full advantage of its newly discovered forensic prowess by offering assistance to law enforcement agencies across the country. The agency has sent out letters letting local officials know that it has gained access to the encrypted data.
FCC Extends Broadband Lifeline to Low-Income Subcribers
April 2, 2016
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted 3-2 to approve a $2.25 billion program to subsidize broadband Internet service and bundled voice and data packages for low-income consumers. The new subsidy is part of a major overhaul of the agency's Lifeline program, which has provided affordable phone access for decades. The vote was a long-awaited reform for many low-income communities.
ACLU Finds Widespread Use of All Writs Act to Compel Cooperation
April 1, 2016
The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday announced that it had identified dozens of criminal cases in which the government has made requests for cooperation in unlocking encrypted phones -- both of Apple and of Google. The government has used the All Writs Act to compel a phone manufacturer to hand over data to law enforcement in a total of 63 cases, the ACLU report shows.
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