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White House Leaps Onto NSA Surveillance Merry-Go-Round
February 26, 2014
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence reportedly have submitted four proposals to reform the National Security Agency's phone surveillance program. The recommendations come well before the March 28 deadline set by President Obama. Three deal with having the data stored by some other organization, and the fourth calls for scrapping the program.
Apple Gets Litigious in China
February 26, 2014
Apple is suing China's State Intellectual Property Office and domestic company Zhizhen Network Technology over patent issues related to Siri, Apple's voice recognition software. The State Intellectual Property Office is responsible for patents rights protection in China, while Zhizhen developed software similar to Siri. Zhizhen patented its own voice recognition software, "Xiao i Robot," in 2004.
FTC Explores Scope of Federal IoT Regulation
February 25, 2014
The explosion of the Internet of Things, or IoT, promises great opportunities for improving quality of life -- but also for creating both seen and unforeseen dangers. The IoT generally refers to a network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to sense, communicate and interact with their internal states or their external environment, according to Gartner.
Spanish Woman's Twitter Musings Lead to Terror-Related Conviction
February 24, 2014
Twenty-one-year-old Spaniard Alba González Camacho was convicted of inciting terrorism thanks to some ill-conceived tweets about a far-left terrorist organization. She became the first person in Spain to be convicted of such charges for Twitter posts. González Camacho implored the terror group "Grapo" to murder politicians. Grapo was responsible for 80-some killings, mostly in the 1970s and 80s.
French Teen in Hot Water Over Drone Footage
February 21, 2014
A French teen faces charges of "endangering the lives of others" over his use of a drone, which he sent skyward to capture impressive (and seemingly harmless) footage of the city Nancy. Eighteen-year-old Nans Thomas affixed an Internet-bought drone with a GoPro camera and then sent the contraption skyward. The ensuing video has been viewed more than 270,000 times already on YouTube.
WhatsApp Gives BlackBerry a Bounce
February 20, 2014
Facebook's $19 billion purchase of mobile-messaging service WhatsApp appears to have buoyed the value of BlackBerry Messenger -- and by extension, BlackBerry. BlackBerry shares went up nearly 10 percent in after-hours trading because, in the words of Reuters, Facebook's purchase "put a rough valuation metric around the smartphone maker's own BlackBerry Messaging service," also known as "BBM."
Comcast-TWC Customers: Be Afraid, Very Afraid
February 19, 2014
While federal regulators mull the possible antitrust ramifications of the proposed $45 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the companies' customers also are considering the fallout from this deal. Both companies have a reputation for poor customer service, and the fear is that a combination of the conglomerates may result in the achievement of a new low.
BlackBerry CEO Miffed With T-Mobile
February 19, 2014
John Chen, BlackBerry's new chief executive, lashed out at T-Mobile after it sent an email to BlackBerry users imploring them to ditch their current devices and switch to an iPhone. BlackBerry was not notified about T-Mobile's email blast beforehand, causing Chen to become "outraged" over what he dubbed a "clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion."
HP Struggles With Autonomy's Sticky Wicket
February 18, 2014
HP's problems following its 2011 purchase of Autonomy for $11.1 billion are getting worse. Various documents reportedly indicate HP knew about the existence of loss-making hardware sales Autonomy allegedly used to bolster its revenue figures well before May 2012, when HP claimed to learn about them from a whistleblower. Former Autonomy CEO Michael Lynch insists Autonomy did nothing wrong.
CDT's New Global Civil Liberty Aspirations
February 18, 2014
This is the best of times and the worst of times for privacy and civil liberties. Almost every day, new revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance activities make headlines. Meanwhile, some U.S. intelligence chiefs have called for the execution of whistleblower Edward Snowden and have painted journalists who run stories based on his material as his accomplices.
Google's Dirty Little Android Secrets Leaked
February 14, 2014
The Android operating system, which Google touts as open, isn't. Google imposes strict restrictions on smartphone manufacturers and app developers in its Android mobile application distribution agreement, according to excerpts of documents revealed by Ben Edelman, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School. The information was obtained from two MADAs admitted in open court.
High-Tech Suits a Suspect in Weak US Speedskating Performance
February 14, 2014
The U.S. speedskating team's high-tech suits -- which theoretically are supposed to help shave seconds and accrue medals -- have been identified as a suspect in the team's stunning faceplant at the Sochi Games. Before the Games, the suits, designed by U.S.-based sportswear giant Under Armour, were deemed to be on the cutting edge of racing technology.
Naysayers Wring Hands Over Comcast-TWC Merger
February 13, 2014
After months of being courted by both Comcast and Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable has agreed to be purchased by Comcast for $45.2 billion in stock. The deal, if approved by the United States Department of Justice and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, will create the biggest broadband provider in the country, with 33 million customers.
Microsoft Accidentally Applies Chinese Censoring Outside of China
February 13, 2014
Microsoft cited an "error in our system" for quirky results given to users making searches in Chinese on the company's Bing search engine. Chinese-language searches outside of mainland China were yielding results that mirrored those inside mainland China, where Bing filters in accordance with the whims of Beijing. This resulted in wildly different results for English vs. Chinese language searches.
US, France Team Up for Mars Mission
February 12, 2014
While the U.S. and France haven't exactly been chums when it comes to tech, the two countries are teaming up for a new mission to Mars. The plan is to send an unmanned lander to Mars to study the interior of the planet. The mission will launch in 2016, with the lander touching down six months later. At least that's the plan. France and the U.S. have had plenty of digital disagreements of late.
Feds Struggle to Make Electronic Discovery Pay Off
February 12, 2014
Federal agencies spend considerable portions of their budgets on their legal offices. For example, the DoJ awarded a $1.1 billion multiyear contract in 2013 for a wide range of information technologies and legal support services. Yet legal staffs across the federal government are struggling to productively use many of these IT tools, especially e-discovery and electronically stored information.
FBI 'Red Tape' Keeps Oscar Pistorius' Mobile Phone Locked
February 11, 2014
FBI "red tape" is preventing detectives from accessing the mobile phone formerly belonging to South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee known as "Blade Runner," who faces murder charges over the 2013 death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. South African investigators reportedly have been trying to persuade the FBI to back a request for Apple to unlock Pistorius' iPhone.
Will Data Localization Kill the Internet?
February 10, 2014
In the wake of revelations that the U.S. and UK governments regularly monitor private communications, a number of countries are considering a new type of law called "data localization." In the simplest of terms, data localization laws would require that businesses that operate on the Internet store that data within the country where the businesses are located.
California Kill Switch Bill Tackles Smartphone Theft
February 07, 2014
California Sen. Mark Leno on Friday introduced a bill in the legislature that would require all smartphones and devices sold in the state to have a kill switch starting Jan. 1, 2015. Senate Bill 962 comes against a backdrop of rising smartphone theft. It is now the leading property crime in the U.S., accounting for one third of all robberies nationwide.
Turning Up the Heat on Insider Trading
February 07, 2014
Criminal and civil allegations of insider trading recently were filed against Brian Jorgenson, a senior portfolio manager at Microsoft. This news amazed me, because over the last few years there has been an abundance of published information about the hazards of insider trading, especially the criminal consequences. Consider what happened to the hedge fund billionaire, Raj Rajaratnam.

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