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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.
The Top 20 CRM Blogs of 2014, Part 1
January 12, 2015
The field of CRM bloggers is like the start of a marathon: There may be thousands of entrants, but there are only a few elite runners. Spotting them in the rest of the pack is not always easy -- especially as their enthusiasm for blogging waxes and wanes, or as they move into other formats, like becoming regular columnists in publications. However, there are a few things that identify the elite.
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 09, 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.
IT's 10 Steps to IoT Success
January 09, 2015
This past week's International CES brought even greater attention to the seemingly infinite opportunities being created by the rapidly evolving Internet of Things. However, it also created plenty of hype that can become pitfalls for companies that are not properly prepared to achieve the promise of the IoT. There are 10 steps IT organizations must take to help pave the way to success.
Net Neutrality Hostilities Resume
January 08, 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 07, 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.
The Long Slog to Level the Document Playing Field
January 06, 2015
Free open source office suites to read, write, convert or replace the industry-standard Microsoft Office document formats are in ample supply. Yet their use in business and government, especially in the U.S., lags far behind proprietary products. The Document Foundation, creator of the LibreOffice variant of the free OpenOffice suite, recently joined the Open Source Business Alliance.
Writers Worldwide Chilled by Government Surveillance
January 06, 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.
CFPB May Rein In Payday Lending
January 05, 2015
The CFPB reportedly is considering various approaches to reforming the payday loan industry. The bureau is concerned about the short-term, high-rate debt consumers take on. States typically have been responsible for regulating payday loan company practices. If the CFPB should take action, it would be the first time federal regulations were applied to this financial niche.
PlayStation Now Subscription Service to Offer Instant Gaming Gratification
January 05, 2015
Sony Computer Entertainment America on Monday announced that the PlayStation Now subscription service will become available in the U.S. and Canada on Jan. 13 for the PlayStation 4. It will become available for other PlayStation Now-enabled devices at a later date. The service will provide unlimited online access to more than 100 PlayStation 3 games.
Yikes! Ransomware Could Take Over Your Hard Drive
January 05, 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.
Gmail Struggles for Air in China
December 30, 2014
China last week apparently began blocking Gmail, and the outage was still in effect on Tuesday, although to a lesser degree, according to reports. A sharp drop in traffic from China to Google services began last Friday, according to its Transparency Report, and the company could find no explanation in its own systems. China's "Great Firewall" censorship program is to blame, according to GreatFire.
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.
Boeing Picks BlackBerry to Brace Black's Security
December 22, 2014
Boeing has enlisted BlackBerry to help bolster the security of its Black smartphone by providing "secure mobile solutions for Android devices utilizing their BES-12 platform," said Boeing spokesperson Andrew Lee. BES 12 provides cross-platform enterprise mobile management that gives organizations strict control of devices, while letting users keep personal data private.
The Untold Stories of 2014
December 22, 2014
It is time to look back at 2014, so I'll focus here on a series of stories I thought were interesting but didn't seem to catch much or any real air. Some, like what is really behind Sony's decision to pull The Interview still might take off. Hadoop analytics is one of the most powerful platforms to come to market, and one vendor stands out above all others: Cloudera.
Flat Federal IT Market Means Vendors Must Work Harder, Smarter
December 19, 2014
The U.S. government will remain a steady and significant customer for information technology providers over the next several years. That's the good news for vendors. For the foreseeable future, though, the days of ever-growing federal spending for IT are over. "the reality of shrinking federal budgets has set in," said Tomas O'Keefe, civilian senior analyst at immixGroup.
US Mulls Response to Sony Hack
December 19, 2014
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Thursday said the United States "is actively considering a range of options" to take in response to the Sony hack. The hack is "very serious," Johnson said, though he refused to label it as a terrorist attack. There has been widespread suspicion that North Korea engineered the hack. The FBI is investigating.
Docker CTO Solomon Hykes to Devs: Have It Your Way
December 18, 2014
Docker has moved from an obscure Linux project to one of the most popular open source technologies in cloud computing. Project developers have witnessed millions of Docker Engine downloads. Hundreds of Docker groups have formed in 40 countries. Many more companies are announcing Docker integration. Even Microsoft will ship Windows 10 with Docker preinstalled.
Experts Forecast the End of Privacy as We Know It
December 18, 2014
Privacy's future appears muddy at best, judging from a survey released Thursday by the Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center. More than 2,500 Internet experts and analysts were narrowly divided on whether policy makers and technology innovators would create a secure, popularly accepted and trusted privacy-rights infrastructure by 2025.
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.
Skype Begins Dismantling the Language Barrier
December 16, 2014
Microsoft on Monday announced the first phase of its Skype Translator preview program, which initially will facilitate conversations between English and Spanish speakers. It will convert spoken words both ways. It also will translate instant messages in 40 languages. Translations occur in near-real time. Participants must run Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 Technical Preview on a desktop or tablet.
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."
Berners-Lee Sounds Clarion Call for Universal Web Access
December 15, 2014
The Internet should be a basic human right, but access to it is increasingly unequal around the globe, said World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee last week. The Web has the potential to be a great equalizer, he asserted, but only "if we hard-wire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access and Net neutrality into the rules of the game."

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