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Leahy Bill Aims to Rein In Government Snooping
July 30, 2014
Government snooping on Americans would be curtailed under a bill introduced Tuesday in the U.S. Senate. The measure, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., would ban bulk collection of domestic information, limit the scope of searches by government agencies, and add transparency and reporting requirements. Further, it would reform procedures of the FISA Court.
Symantec, CA Squirm Under DoJ's Unfair Pricing Allegations
July 30, 2014
The TV game show The Price is Right may be an entertaining diversion, but for federal information technology vendors, getting the price right in government contracts is serious business. Two major software providers, Symantec and CA Technologies, recently found out how serious it can be as a result of separate U.S. Department of Justice investigations.
China Trumps Up Anti-Monopoly Charges Against Microsoft
July 29, 2014
China's State Administration for Industry & Commerce on Tuesday announced it has launched an investigation into Microsoft under the country's antimonopoly laws, according to press reports. The announcement comes days after SAIC officials reportedly raided Microsoft offices in four cities, seizing documents, emails and other data from servers and computers, among other things.
Chinese Turn the Screws on Microsoft
July 28, 2014
China is ramping up its campaign against Microsoft, following its ban in May on the installation of Windows 8 on government computers. Officials of China's State Administration for Industry & Commerce reportedly have made unannounced visits to Microsoft offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu. They apparently questioned staff in at least one office.
Do Facebook Searches to Show Disability Fraud Violate the Constitution?
July 28, 2014
Looking for evidence of disability fraud, the district attorney for Manhattan last year obtained 381 search warrants and served them on Facebook as part of a long-term investigation into a massive scheme. The search warrants were "sealed," which means they were not made public. Ultimately, 106 former New York police and firefighters were arrested.
Patent Tips Apple's iWatch Hand
July 24, 2014
A patent awarded to Apple may be a tip-off of what it's planning for the smartwatch widely expected this fall. The patent for something Apple referenced in its application as "iTime" is for an electronic wristband that contains a recessed area for a device, such as a watch body. The iTime could feed and display information gathered from sensors in the band on a pop-in electronic device.
Long, Hot Summer Angling for Military Health Records Contract
July 22, 2014
Vendors could be spending a busy summer preparing to respond to a major federal IT project. The Defense Department is planning to issue a request for bids on a multibillion dollar EHR system by the end of September. The objective of the program is to modernize DoD's EHR system and to make records accessible to the VA, as well as to private medical providers.
China's Internet: It's Not Personal, It's Business
July 21, 2014
The Internet adoption rate in China appears to be slowing, based on a report that shows the lowest six-month increase in the number of Internet users in eight years. The total number of Internet users in the country reached 632 million by the end of June. That includes the 14.4 million people who joined Internet user ranks in the first half of the year, according to the CNNIC's biannual report.
Amazon Floats Drone Exemption Proposal to FAA
July 14, 2014
Amazon is ramping up its drone delivery project and is hoping approval to conduct outdoor testing on its own property. The company has petitioned the FAA for an exemption from rules barring it from testing the devices. Amazon last year revealed it was working on a project that would allow it to deliver small packages to consumers within 30 minutes of ordering via the unmanned aerial vehicles.
DoD and VA Chart Course for Electronic Health Records
July 14, 2014
In the wake of the problem-plagued rollout of Obamacare, similar government health IT efforts are being closely scrutinized within the administration and by Congress. That's why the DoD recently released the third version of a multibillion dollar proposal for a much-improved military health records information system. The objective is to modernize DoD's electronic health records system.
FTC Goes After Amazon for Fleecing Kids
July 11, 2014
The FTC has filed suit against Amazon over billing kids for unauthorized in-app purchases that in many cases they did not know they had made. The suit accuses Amazon of violating Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. The FTC is seeking a court order requiring Amazon to refund victims for the unauthorized charges.
Report: NSA Stalked Prominent Muslim Americans
July 10, 2014
It's been known for years that the U.S. National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have targeted Muslim Americans. What hasn't been widely known is that their targets included lawyers and some who have served the United States at the highest levels. Five highly prominent Muslim Americans were listed on an NSA spreadsheet called "FISA recap."
TSA Kills Dead Devices' Ticket to Ride
July 08, 2014
In a move that's bound to raise the power management consciousness of air travelers, the TSA on Sunday announced a ban on electronic devices that won't power up before they're carried onto a plane. During the security examination conducted by TSA officers before passengers board a plane, travelers may be asked to power up some electronic devices, the agency said.
NSA's Eyes Trained Less on Terrorists Than on Average Joes and Janes
July 07, 2014
Nine out of 10 people whose information is being collected by the NSA are Americans who have nothing to do with people targeted by the agency. Data provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden includes some information pertaining to terrorist activities and possible threats to U.S. national security, as well as a few successes in antiterrorist work.
Civil Liberties Board Takes Heat for NSA Spying Report
July 03, 2014
The U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has come under fire for its latest report on NSA surveillance. The report essentially says collection of information under Section 702 of FISA "has been valuable and effective in protecting the nation's security and producing useful foreign intelligence." However, because certain aspects of its implementation have raised privacy concerns.
T-Mobile's Legere Sputters Over FTC's Cramming Accusations
July 02, 2014
T-Mobile's efforts to market itself as the un-carrier that puts customers first may be impacted by the FTC's allegations that it has engaged in "cramming" -- charging consumers for services offered by third-party companies without their knowledge or consent. T-Mobile's fiery CEO, John Legere, dismissed the FTC complaint as "unfounded and without merit."
Tide Turns in Favor of Crime-Fighting Smartphone Kill Switches
June 23, 2014
In the wake of overwhelming evidence that the kill switch Apple introduced in iOS 7 last year has reduced iPhone thefts, Google and Microsoft have agreed to follow suit. SF D.A. George Gascon and NY A.G. Eric Schneiderman, who have spearheaded the battle to implement smartphone kill switches, last week announced that the next versions of Android and Windows Phone will include a kill switch.
White House Tilts Toward Public-Private Cybersecurity Cooperation
June 23, 2014
The Obama administration and the private sector -- often at odds over the regulation of everything from telecom issues to software protection to the environment -- apparently agree that a major issue dealing with cybersecurity should be addressed on a cooperative basis, largely free of federal regulation. The White House recently signaled its tilt toward a cooperative and voluntary approach.
The Maker Faire Gets the Obama Bump
June 19, 2014
Hopeful tinkerers and entrepreneurs gathered Wednesday on the White House lawn to showcase their innovative ideas at the Maker Faire. The Maker Faire brings together students, educators, artists, engineers and innovators who have an invention or an idea about how to make something. Billed as "The Greatest Show (and Tell) On Earth," the Maker Faire got its start in the Bay Area.
Dems Push Net Neutrality Against the Odds
June 19, 2014
Congressional Democrats are taking another go at Net neutrality. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Doris Matsui, a member of the House Energy Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, have introduced an act that would require the FCC to ban "paid prioritization" agreements between a broadband provider and a content provider.
How Will Regulators Chaperone the Big Merger Dance?
June 19, 2014
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son may have new hope for a Sprint, T-Mobile merger. After SoftBank merged with Sprint last summer, Son set his sights on T-Mobile. There was early resistance from regulators, but that may be softening, with Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV having joined the merger dance. Trying to understand and predict what regulators will do is always a challenge.
How Can a 'Tech President' Be So Tech-Backward?
June 16, 2014
Like a lot of people in tech, I was really excited to see President Obama get elected. It seemed like he got technology, and he used it brilliantly in two campaigns. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to use it well in actually running the government. From the Affordable Health Care Act to the Veterans Administration, the Obama presidency has been a tale of dumb and dumber when it comes to tech.

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