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Emotional Backlash Unlikely to Unsettle Facebook
July 02, 2014
It's unlikely that Facebook's psych experiment that turned some 700,000 of its users into involuntary lab rats will hurt its brand or advertising revenue. However, Facebook's research on the emotional impact of content in the News Feeds of its members has unleashed a torrent of criticism. Facebook has faced this kind of outrage before, though, and the results have almost always been the same.
Supreme Court Turns Deaf Ear to Google's Street View Appeal
June 30, 2014
The Supreme Court has declined Google's appeal of a lower-court ruling in a class-action lawsuit that alleges it violated federal wiretap laws with its Street View cars. The court left in place a decision the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down in September. The appeals court declined to dismiss the case, ruling that Google was not exempt from liability under the federal Wiretap Act.
Manipulative User Research Earns Facebook a Shiner
June 30, 2014
Once again, Facebook is embroiled in a controversy over privacy. This time, hackles have been raised by publication of a study for which the company manipulated the News Feeds of nearly 700,000 subscribers. The study concluded that negative messages on social networks make people sad, and positive ones make them happy -- and those feelings can spread through a social network to third parties.
Facebook, NY DA Lock Horns Over User Data Warrants
June 27, 2014
Facebook, not known for respecting users' privacy, is battling a New York County district attorney's demand for all information pertaining to the accounts of several hundred of its subscribers. DA Cyrus Vance's office issued 381 secret warrants for the information in July of 2013 in a hunt for retired police officers and firefighters wrongfully claiming Social Security disability benefits.
Google Worms Its Way Into Nest
June 26, 2014
Google-owned Nest Labs, maker of smart thermostats and smoke detectors, this week launched a developer program along with partnerships that already have products on offer. Partners include Jawbone; LIFX, which makes smart WiFi-enabled light bulbs; Logitech; and Mercedes-Benz, which will offer models that allow owners to remotely control the Nest device.
Google Starts Purging Search Results in Europe
June 26, 2014
Google has started to remove search results in certain cases in Europe, in compliance with the EU's new "right to be forgotten" rules. The EU last month ruled that the company must allow individuals to request the removal of links to news articles, court judgments, and other documents that might turn up in results when searches are conducted on their names.
No Cellphone Search Without Warrant, Supreme Court Rules
June 26, 2014
Police need a warrant to search the cellphone contents of people they have arrested, the United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. Warrantless searches, in essence, would impact privacy to a far greater extent than is acceptable. The ruling also applies to individuals stopped for questioning by the authorities, said Jake LaPerruque of the Center for Democracy and Technology.
To Pay or Not to Pay - That's the Ransomware Question
June 24, 2014
Ransomware is a growing problem for consumers and businesses alike. In Symantec's most recent quarterly security report, the company's researchers found all targeted attacks -- including ransomware -- grew 91 percent year-over-year. That's raising a big question for those targeted by cyberextortionists: Should the ransom be paid? Security experts generally say no, but some insert a caveat or two.
BlackBerry Unveils BBM Protected to, Ahem, Protect Market Share
June 18, 2014
BlackBerry, whose share of the mobile phone market has been on a downward spiral, this week launched BBM Protected, the first in its planned eBBM Suite of secure enterprise-class messaging products. BBM Protected targets regulated industries. It's claimed to be the only secure mobile instant messaging app that uses a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic library.
Microsoft Pushes Back Against US Data Warrant
June 12, 2014
The latest court ruling in an ongoing battle between Microsoft and demands from the United States government for data about one of the company's users, seems to have a lot of folks running for cover. In 2013, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis issued a search warrant requiring Microsoft to turn over all date pertaining to the subscriber, hosted on a server in Ireland, to the U.S. authorities.
Free Speech vs. Internet Privacy and the 'Right to Be Forgotten'
June 10, 2014
The conventional wisdom of the Internet is that everything posted, whether on social media, a website or anywhere else, will be on the Internet forever. That conventional wisdom was just challenged successfully in a recent ruling handed down by the EU's highest court. A new conventional wisdom may arise from that ruling -- that we have a "right to be forgotten."
Why Mobile Providers Will Have to Give a Little on Privacy
June 06, 2014
Apple has tossed out some hints that its App Store may soon accept apps that handle digital currencies such as bitcoin. Though there are many possible reasons for the move, one stands out: PornHub last month released an analysis of its 38 million daily visitors, which included the interesting observation that more than half were using mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
Google Releases Email Encryption Tool Alpha
June 06, 2014
Google this week released the alpha version of source code for End-to-End, a Chrome browser extension that encrypts email. End-to-End uses the OpenPGP standard to encrypt, decrypt, digitally sign and verify signed messages within the browser. "We're just sharing the code today so that the community can test and evaluate it, helping us make sure that it's as secure as it needs to be," Google said.
Getting Away With Privacy Murder
May 29, 2014
Snapchat in May agreed to implement a comprehensive privacy program and be audited for the next 20 years to settle U.S. Federal Trade Commission charges that it had, among other things, lied to users when it said messages sent through its service would be erased after a designated period of time. However, Snapchat's privacy violation is infinitesimally small compared to some others.
Chinese Media: Cisco Is Playing on US Cyberspy Team
May 28, 2014
Cisco has been accused of being in bed with U.S. cyberspying efforts, according to a Chinese state media outlet. Cisco "carries on intimately" with U.S. spying apparatuses, the outlet claims, and plays "a disgraceful role" in efforts to prop up U.S. power over the Web. Cisco denied the accusations. Beijing definitely seems to have taken umbrage with last week's U.S. indictments for cyberespionage.
Iranian Court Wants a Word With Zuckerberg
May 28, 2014
Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned by an Iranian court over privacy-violation concerns, according to news reports on Tuesday. The court in question, located in Iran's southern province of Fars, reportedly also opened a case against Facebook-owned social networking services WhatsApp and Instagram and ordered that they be blocked.
Sony, China Strike PlayStation Deal
May 27, 2014
Japanese electronics giant Sony has inked a deal in China to manufacture and sell PlayStation consoles in the Middle Kingdom. The partnership creates two joint ventures with Shanghai Oriental Pearl, which will enable Sony to operate out of Shanghai's free trade zone. China's early-2014 approval of videogame consoles from foreign companies reversed a years-long ban.
Google's EU Migraine Rears Up
May 21, 2014
Yeah, about that breakthrough between Google and European antitrust regulators... The European Union's antitrust chief might pursue a tougher stance on Google than the one outlined in a February agreement, which was believed to have end -- finally -- the legal circus between the two sides. Google had agreed to display rivals' links more prominently in its search results, a chief concern.
Facebook Gets Nosier Than Ever
May 20, 2014
Facebook recently made it easier to pry into your friends' private affairs on the social network. Specifically, the Ask button -- which already has been available to those seeking more information about many other aspects of a given user's life -- now is an option when it comes to a user's relationship status as well. If users choose to answer, the information then is added to their profile.
'I Am Google': Pride Comes Before a Fall
May 19, 2014
Last week, I observed repercussions from one of the most arrogant moves I've ever seen an executive make. A small uproar occurred when a Google product strategist learned there were fewer people than he'd expected at an event he'd volunteered to speak at. As he stormed out, he uttered the immortal words, "I Am Google," to the event organizer -- whom he apparently thought was a booth babe.

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