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Coinbase Bitcoin Exchange Off to a Rocky Start
January 26, 2015
Coinbase on Monday launched Coinbase Exchange, the first regulated bitcoin exchange in the U.S. It got the jump on the upcoming Gemini exchange currently being established by Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss. The firm debuted in 24 U.S. states, but the launch was bedeviled with problems. Some pages reportedly failed to load completely, and some users had problems with access.
Winkelvoss Twins Plan to Tame Bitcoins
January 26, 2015
Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss on Friday announced Gemini, a regulated bitcoin exchange to be based in the United States. The Winkelvoss twins, who shot to fame when they sued Facebook and won $65 million, have assembled a team of security experts, technologists and financial engineers to build a world-class exchange from the ground up, based on security.
White House Jump-Starts Cybersecurity Protection Programs
January 23, 2015
As members of the U.S. Congress started to prepare for the upcoming legislative session, President Obama lost little time in putting cybersecurity near the top of a to-do list for lawmakers. During a visit to the federal National Cybersecurity Communications Integration Center, Obama called for additional legislation to improve information technology protection.
Chen Calls on Congress to Mandate BlackBerry Apps
January 22, 2015
BlackBerry CEO John Chen set off a barrage of online chatter Wednesday when he proposed that any rules the U.S. adopts to preserve Net neutrality also should guarantee application neutrality. Chen made the proposal in a letter to two U.S. congressional panels and posted an adapted version on the company's blog. Both the FCC and Congress are considering Net neutrality proposals.
Hacking as a Service Hits the Mainstream
January 19, 2015
A fledgling website created last fall connects hackers with clients willing to pay for their services. Nearly 50 hackers have listed their services on Hacker's List so far, for tasks including data recovery, penetration testing and computer forensics. More than 500 hacking jobs reportedly had been out to bid as of last week, with prices ranging from $100 to $5,000.
SCOTUS Seeks DoJ Input on Google-Oracle Java Dispute
January 13, 2015
The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday invited the Obama administration to weigh in on whether it should hear arguments in the ongoing dispute between Google and Oracle over Java copyrights. U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. "is invited to file a brief in this case expressing the views of the United States," reads the SCOTUS memo.
Data Breach Law Tops Obama Privacy Initiatives
January 12, 2015
A proposed national data breach reporting law, aimed primarily at protecting consumer privacy, headlined several initiatives the Obama administration announced Monday. The Personal Data Notification & Protection Act clarifies the obligations of companies when there's been a data breach. It includes a requirement to notify customers within 30 days of the discovery of a breach.
Auto Insurance? Just Google It
January 12, 2015
Google reportedly is gearing up to launch a shopping and comparison site for auto insurance in the United States. The company has been operating such a site in the UK, dubbed "Google Compare," for the past two years. Although it apparently has been beset by delays, an entity called "Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc." now is licensed to do business in 26 states.
Google Joins Charlie Hebdo Solidarity Movement
January 9, 2015
Google has donated nearly $300,000 to help French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo make its largest print run ever, following Wednesday's massacre at the magazine's Paris office. Its normal production run numbers about 60,000 copies, but the surviving staff plan to print a million issues next week. A number of media outlets also have pledged to help keep the publication alive.
Net Neutrality Hostilities Resume
January 8, 2015
The battle over Net neutrality has been reignited, dashing the hopes of those who thought it might be settled in February, at least in part, when the United States Federal Communication Commission is expected to make its ruling on the issue. Democratic members of congress led by Sen. Patrick Leahy on Wednesday introduced the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2015.
Federal IT Reform: Just Getting Started
January 7, 2015
IT providers who market to the federal government got some holiday cheer as the U.S. Congress and the White House approved legislation to improve the way the government acquires IT equipment and services. The reforms are significant, and no doubt will facilitate the marketing of IT to federal agencies. President Obama signed the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act on Dec. 16.
Writers Worldwide Chilled by Government Surveillance
January 6, 2015
Concern over government surveillance has been so heightened by confidential information leaked by former intelligence hand Edward Snowden that writers in free countries are as worried as those in autocratic nations, according to a new report. Three-quarters of writers in countries classified as "free" told researchers they were "worried" or "somewhat worried" about surveillance.
Yikes! Ransomware Could Take Over Your Hard Drive
January 5, 2015
Malware is running rampant on the Internet, affecting smartphones, tablets and PCs. Relatively new malware allows bad guys to encrypt devices until a ransom is paid. Usually the ransom is required in bitcoin, rather than U.S. currency, as it cannot be traced. What are the legal and other risks associated with ransomware? Ransomware is largely directed at personal devices and small businesses.
Tech Sector Sees Federal IT Act as 1st Step to Significant Reform
December 26, 2014
The political spotlight in Washington was on congressional approval of the 2015 budget before legislators broke for the holidays, but a less volatile proposal also was passed in the closing days of the session -- one of considerable importance to the information technology sector. In addition to the budget, Congress approved the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA.
Google Calls In Legal Eagles in MPAA Piracy Skirmish
December 19, 2014
Google has filed a lawsuit against Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the latest salvo in its piracy battle with the Motion Picture Association of America. Hood targeted Google with an "unreasonable, retaliatory and burdensome" subpoena, the complaint says. The referenced subpoena likely is part of a coordinated campaign against Google known as "Project Goliath."
Feds Pounce on Sprint for Phone Bill Cramming
December 18, 2014
The United States government is delivering a one-two punch to Sprint over the practice of cramming -- allowing third parties to place unauthorized charges on customers' bills. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau on Thursday filed a civil suit against Sprint over the issue. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission reportedly is planning to hit Sprint with a $105 million fine.
Tech Industry Rallies Around Microsoft in Data Privacy Battle With US
December 18, 2014
A coalition of supporting organizations filed 10 amicus briefs with the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case challenging a U.S. government search warrant for Microsoft customer data stored on a server based in Ireland. The coalition includes 28 technology and media companies, 35 computer scientists, and 23 trade associations and advocacy organizations.
Disappointed iPod Plaintiffs: Jurors Didn't Weigh the Right Questions
December 17, 2014
After a 10-year knock-down drag-out battle, Apple on Tuesday prevailed in a class-action lawsuit over its use of digital rights management technology on iPods purchased between Sept. 1, 2006 and March 31, 2009. Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd -- one of the "most feared litigation firms" in the U.S. -- brought the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Sony Sends News Outlets a Stern but Toothless Warning
December 16, 2014
On behalf of Sony Pictures Entertainment, high-powered attorney David Boies has sent a letter to several news outlets demanding that they refrain from publishing stories based on material hackers recently stole from the company and that they destroy the pilfered data. The letter to the news organizations claims the stolen information is "protected under U.S. and foreign legal doctrines."
Good, Bad and Ugly 'Pirate Bays' Spring Up in Torrent World
December 15, 2014
The torrent world is in turmoil following last week's shutdown of The Pirate Bay in a police raid. Other torrent sites have seen traffic spikes, while Pirate Bay clones -- set up both by file-sharing activists and cyberscamsters -- are emerging. Meanwhile, authorities around the world appear to be playing a game of whack-a-mole. There have been indications The Pirate Bay may stage a comeback.
Sony May Have Succumbed to DDoS Temptation
December 15, 2014
Sony reportedly has used Amazon Web Services to launch distributed denial of service attacks on sites carrying files stolen from its network. Those attacks apparently involved "hundreds of computers" in Tokyo and Singapore. Amazon reportedly issued a statement denying the claim, but the language it used was vague: "The activity being reported is not currently happening on AWS."
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.

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