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Facebook Plunges Into Online Ad Mainstream
June 12, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced it will soon move to interest-based advertising, almost three years after archrival Google, and well after other major players such as Yahoo and Amazon. It also will introduce "ad preferences," a tool accessible from every ad on Facebook that will explain why users were served an ad, and let them remove interests that form the basis on which that ad is served.
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.
EU Smacks Google Upside the Head Over Right to Be Forgotten
June 05, 2014
I think the European Union often goes overboard, and I typically don't agree with its rulings. However, when the EU declared Google invaded privacy, it seemed to have struck a nerve. Countless users worldwide agreed. So, what impact will the EU have on Google with respect to a citizen's right to be forgotten? This struggle is all about protecting privacy online.
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.
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.
In the Eye of the Right-to-Be-Forgotten vs. Right-to-Know Storm
May 16, 2014
A disgraced politician, a pedophile, and a doctor who received negative ratings from patients reportedly are among the hordes of people asking Google to take down links to information published about them. The requests followed Tuesday's preliminary ruling by the European Court of Justice indicating Google may have to remove links to people's names on request, if appropriate.
Fallout Begins Following EU Google Decision
May 15, 2014
This week's European high court decision against Google was "astonishing," according to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who called it "one of the most wide-sweeping Internet censorship rulings I've ever seen." Wales, like anyone who read the ruling, noticed that the parameters for judging whether content be removed were exceptionally ambiguous. This puts Google in dilly of a pickle, Wales said.
Pulling Google Back to the Right Side of the Privacy Line
May 15, 2014
I don't usually agree with the European Union. However, it has demanded that Google help to protect the privacy of citizens rather than exposing everything, and I tend to agree. The latest EU ruling doesn't solve the whole problem, though. In fact, it raises more questions. Remember a few years ago, when we were having the raging debate about how Google was violating privacy?
No, Bot! UN Ponders Regulations for Killer Robots
May 14, 2014
In a move that could complicate the creation of any more Terminator movies, United Nations diplomats on Tuesday discussed international laws to govern, or simply ban, the use of killer robots. This was the first time that a UN meeting was devoted entirely to the topic, which makes sense given that the robots in question don't yet exist. That said, the UN wants to be proactive.
EU Court Hands Google a Missing Links Quandary
May 13, 2014
The European Court of Justice, which is the highest court for matters of European Law, has handed down a preliminary ruling that indicates Google may have to remove links to consumers' names on request -- if appropriate. The case was referred to the ECJ by Spain's Audiencia Nacional, or National High Court. The ECJ's ruling lays down the guidelines for the Audiencia Nacional in hearing the case.
Snapchat Makes FTC Privacy Charges Disappear
May 09, 2014
Snapchat has agreed to a settlement with the United States Federal Trade Commission to resolve privacy issues resulting from a hacker's publication in January of data associated with 4.6 million of its users. The company has not admitted any wrongdoing, but it has agreed to implement a comprehensive privacy program that will be audited by a third party for the next 20 years.
New Car Tech: Smartphones In, Privacy Out
May 08, 2014
While the new 2014 Toyota cars have a lot to love with their advanced technology and navigation, there is also, very surprisingly, something to hate. This tech comes at a high price: loss of privacy. Toyota knows exactly where you are at every moment of every day -- period. Is that what we want? Don't get me wrong -- I have been a big fan of Toyota for many years. It has always been rock solid.
John McAfee Makes Dubious Tech Comeback With Chadder Privacy App
May 07, 2014
Future Tense Central and Etransfr have debuted Chadder, an app that sends private encrypted messages. The app is one of a growing number of security products built around encryption technology and touted as secure that hit the market following Edward Snowden's massive data dump revealing the extent of the U.S. government's reach into consumers' digital lives.
Mobile Apps, Beacons and the Coming Retail Revival
May 07, 2014
Internet companies are showing no signs of slowing down when it comes to innovation, specifically in the area of physical retail. Smartphones and tablets are the new darlings of e-commerce companies, and they now are being used to provide immersive and entertaining shopping experiences. Many of the characteristics of online retail shopping are being replicated in the physical shopping aisle.
Mobile CRM May Widen the Big Data/Privacy Divide
May 06, 2014
The White House last week added to the ongoing national discussion about online privacy and tracking with the release of a review counselor John Podesta conducted on Big Data and privacy issues. Among other things, privacy advocates hope the findings will spotlight the role of mobile in the gathering of consumer data by companies. Mobile technologies have a particularly voracious appetite.
The Tangled Web of IoT Security
May 06, 2014
The Internet of Things, or IoT, consists of "uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure," according to Wikipedia. The IoT is "the network of physical objects accessed through the Internet," according to Cisco Systems. In addition to there being no clear definition of the IoT, estimates vary widely about the number of unique devices it includes.
White House Urges Big Data Privacy Legislation
May 05, 2014
The White House last week released a review of Big Data and privacy written by counselor John Podesta. The report stems from President Obama's January request to define what is new about the technologies in this space, how Big Data affects public policy, and how consumer privacy is affected by corporate use of Big Data. The issue has been center stage since the Snowden revelations.
IT Providers Stew Over Big Data Privacy Regulation
April 18, 2014
With the emergence of the Big Data era, technology developers see major benefits in the ability to manage huge volumes of information. However, with an onslaught of data breaches such as the recent hacking of the Target retail chain, consumers and their representatives in government are increasingly nervous about bigger threats to privacy. The White House is conducting a review of the issue.
FBI May Pick Out Your Face in a Crowd
April 16, 2014
The FBI is planning to have a fully operational facial recognition system in place by this summer and may be well on its way to reaching that goal. The system will be able to query a database of photos to identify individuals based on their appearance even if they do not have a criminal record, reported Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Google Clarifies Gmail Snooping in Updated ToS
April 16, 2014
Google this week updated its terms of service with new language that more clearly spells out how it scans and analyzes user content, such as emails, to match it with targeted ads. "Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection," it says.

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