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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.
Did VMware Flout Open Source License Terms?
March 20, 2015
The Software Freedom Conservancy earlier this month announced that it was funding a lawsuit filed by Linux kernel developer Christoph Hellwig against VMware in the district court of Hamburg in Germany. The conservancy entered a grant agreement with Hellwig for the legal action. Its funding of the legal action is part of the program activity of its GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers.
Quosal Lets Salespeople Add Video Spiels to Quotes
March 20, 2015
Quosal has announced a new feature that lets salespeople record a personal explanatory video to go with their quotes and proposals. Videos can be posted directly to Quosal's proprietary Order Porter purchasing experience for clients. "If the video can take the load off of having to read all of a proposal -- or, more likely, explain some gray areas -- then great," said analyst Denis Pombriant.
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.
Astroturfing's Legality Is in the Weeds
March 13, 2015
We see it all the time: a glowing 5-star comment on Yelp about our favorite neighborhood restaurant. At first glance, it looks authentic. However, what if the review actually were purchased by the restaurant? Would that change your perspective on the review or the restaurant? Of course, paying for advertising is hardly new. Celebrities for years have endorsed products and restaurants.
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.
Ellen Pao Airs Kleiner Perkins' Dirty Laundry
March 10, 2015
Ellen Pao on Monday testified in a San Franciso courtroom that she was passed up for promotions and sexually harassed by a partner during her employment at prestigious venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. Pao said that after she broke off a relationship with former Kleiner Perkins partner Ajit Nazre, he made it difficult for her to do her job.
We Done Good, Consumer Protection Chief Tells Lawmakers
March 5, 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.
Ericsson Petitions ITC to Ban Infringing iPhones, iPads
March 2, 2015
Ericsson last week filed patent claims against Apple both with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and the U.S. International Trade Commission. "Our suits filed yesterday assert 41 different patents," said Ericsson spokesperson Kathy Egan Wummer. "Of those, 14 are at issue in the ITC and the district court; the other 27 are at issue only in the district court."
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.
Court Sticks It to Apple in $533M Patent Case
February 25, 2015
Apple must pay patent licensing firm Smartflash US$532.9 million for infringing three patents. U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who presided over the case in Tyler, Texas, ordered Apple to pay the penalty after a federal jury in Texas found that the company's iTunes software infringed on the patent holder. That jury took eight hours to decide Apple willfully used Smartflash's patents without consent.
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.
FTC, Private Sector Lock Horns Over Consumer Data Protection
February 25, 2015
The major headline hacking event of 2014 involved data theft at a highly visible enterprise: Sony Pictures. Perhaps just as significant in e-commerce security was a 2014 federal court ruling which allows the FTC to continue penalizing commercial firms for failure to protect consumer data from hackers. That decision has been challenged, and in early March the FTC and its opponent will square off in court.
Citizenfour's Oscar Highlights National Divide Over Snowden
February 24, 2015
Citizenfour, a film documenting interviews director Laura Poitras conducted with whistle-blower Edward Snowden, won the Oscar for best documentary Sunday. The talks took place as Snowden blew the lid off the United States National Security Agency's surveillance activities. The award highlights the divisions in the U.S. over Snowden's actions and the question of national security.
Google Rails Against Proposal to Give Feds Remote Hacking Authority
February 20, 2015
Google is fighting a proposed amendment to Rule 41 of the U.S. Criminal Code that might allow authorities to hack into computers abroad. The amendment seeks to empower a magistrate in a district where activities related to a crime may have occurred to issue a warrant for remote search of computers, as well as seizure or copying of their files, under certain circumstances.
A123 Lawsuit Asserts Apple in Cahoots With Its Ex-Engineer
February 20, 2015
Electric-car battery maker A123 Systems earlier this week filed a lawsuit against Apple in a Massachusetts Superior Court in Middlesex County. A123 also sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop its former employee, Mujeeb Ijaz, from violating his non-disclosure and non-compete agreement. Ijaz had moved to Apple to apply his skills as an auto-battery engineer.
Yandex Asks Russian Authorities to Drop the Hammer on Google
February 18, 2015
Yandex has asked Russia's antitrust authorities to look into whether Google is breaking the country's laws by not allowing preinstallation of third-party services on Android devices. Three smartphone vendors told Yandex last year that they couldn't install its search engine as the default, the company claimed. Yandex is seeking to have the Android OS unbundled from Google Search.
Apple Awarded Patent for Hybrid VR Headset
February 18, 2015
Apple has been awarded a patent for a virtual reality headset that can use an iPhone or iPod as a display. Patent number 8,957,835 was awarded by the USPTO to Apple for a "head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display." The abstract describes a device similar to the Gear VR, which weds a Samsung Note smartphone to a headpiece designed by Oculus.
It's Time to Investigate Cyber Insurance
February 17, 2015
Almost every day there are reports of cyberintrusions, attacks and related security breaches. If your company does not have the right insurance, it could be even more of a disaster. What company can afford not to have insurance for a potential cyberdisaster? Let's look at some protective measures that can be taken to safeguard your business.
FCC Chair Submits New Approach for Net Neutrality
February 6, 2015
Some proposed rules that the Federal Communication Commission maintains will prevent content discrimination on the Internet drew fire on Thursday from two policy interest groups. A four-page "fact sheet" on the rules was released Wednesday by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. In it, the chairman outlined what he's proposing to the full commission, which is expected to vote on the rules February 26.
FCC Issues Tough Warning Against WiFi Blocking
January 29, 2015
The FCC on Tuesday issued a warning that intentional blockage of personal WiFi hotspots was illegal and would be subject to enforcement. The FCC has noticed a "disturbing trend" among hotels and other commercial establishments of blocking consumers' personal WiFi hotspots on their premises, it said. The agency last year conducted an investigation of Marriott International for WiFi blocking.
Wikileaks Steamed Over Google's Lengthy Silence on FBI Snooping
January 27, 2015
Google may have contributed to violating the First Amendment rights of three journalists working for WikiLeaks two and a half years ago, when it turned over to the FBI all their email, subscriber information and metadata. Google informed the journalists about its actions last month, saying that it had been unable to do so earlier due to a gag order.

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