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Learning Something CRM-ish From Brexit
July 6, 2016
This summer has started out to be anything but a somnolent day at the beach. The Brexit vote for the UK to leave the EU is enough to disturb your slumber. To be frank, it appears we are at one of those major historical transition points that might happen a few times in any of our lives. Without stirring up a hornet's nest, I would like to discuss CRM in all of this.
BlackBerry Lets Go of Its Classic Phone
July 5, 2016
BlackBerry on Tuesday announced it will cease manufacturing the BlackBerry Classic. "The Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone in today's market," noted COO Ralph Pini. "To keep innovating and advancing our portfolio, we are updating our smartphone lineup with state-of-the-art devices." BlackBerry intends to continue supporting its BlackBerry 10 platform, however.
FCC's Internet Privacy Proposal Sparks Congressional Action
July 5, 2016
With breaches of consumer data occurring all too frequently, who could be against proposals to improve privacy on the Internet? Well, a broad swath of the e-commerce sector, ranging from CTIA-The Wireless Association to USTelecom and the National Retail Federation, is strongly opposed to a recent proposal from the Federal Communications Commission to regulate privacy.
Clinton Issues Clarion Call to Boost Tech in the US
June 30, 2016
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential candidate, this week unveiled a technology and innovation agenda that calls for a broader commitment to improving computer science and STEM education, expansion of broadband Internet to the entire United States, and deployment of 5G wireless networks. Clinton's plan calls for advancing high-tech training in American schools.
Senate Falls Short on Expansion of FBI Surveillance Authority
June 27, 2016
The United States Senate last week rejected a Republican-backed amendment that would have given the FBI expanded authority to access the browser histories and other electronic records of targets of terrorism and other national security investigations without first obtaining a warrant. The Senate voted 58-38 for the amendment, cosponsored by Sens. Richard Burr and John McCain.
Gun Control and Learning to Make Data-Driven Decisions
June 27, 2016
We live in an unprecedented age of information and computing power -- yet whether publicly or privately, we still make decisions largely on how we feel rather than based on hard information. With this massive influx of data and computing power, when it comes to issues like global warming or gun control, we are more likely to decide based on how we feel rather than figuring out the facts.
C-SPAN Resorts to Social Media to Cover Gun Control Sit-In
June 23, 2016
C-SPAN cameras in the U.S. House of Representatives were shut off Wednesday morning during a sit-in over gun control legislation, but the cable network soon began broadcasting social media streams from legislators taking part in the event. House Democrats, led by Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., had refused to stop their protest, which demanded a vote on gun control.
Microsoft Sees Fertile Ground in Cannabis Compliance
June 21, 2016
Microsoft has entered a partnership with Kind Financial to create an entity that will obtain government contracts to track seed-to-sale compliance in the legalized marijuana business. The new entity, Kind Government Solutions, will provide state, county and local municipalities with tracking information on marijuana sales to keep them in compliance with government regulations.
Apple Won't Put Its Money Where Trump's Mouth Is
June 21, 2016
Apple reportedly has declined to sponsor the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month amid increasing concerns over the rhetoric coming from presumptive nominee Donald Trump. The company notified RNC officials that it would withdraw its support from the July convention after Trump made a number of highly charged statements targeting minority and religious groups.
Amazon's Bold Indian Strategy
June 20, 2016
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently announced an expansion of the company's investment in India to the tune of $3 billion -- that was in addition to the $2 billion in investments it announced in 2014. Bezos announced the new investment during the 41st annual U.S.-India Business Council Leadership Summit, which was attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several top business leaders.
Feds Seek to Cut Software Costs and Expand Licenses
June 16, 2016
Software vendors who sell their wares to the U.S. government soon will face a significantly different marketing environment in terms of how federal agencies acquire the programs and technologies that keep IT systems going. Federal agencies spent nearly $9 billion in 2015 on software, and the OMB has directed them to adopt practices that will simplify and streamline software acquisition.
Russians Hack DNC Servers to Get Goods on Trump
June 15, 2016
Two groups of Russian hackers burrowed into the Democratic National Committee's servers and spent months stealing information on Donald Trump, the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee, according to Crowdstrike. The security firm identified "two sophisticated adversaries on the network," noted CTO Dmitri Alperovitch, dubbed "Cozy Bear" and "Fancy Bear."
FCC Wins Huge Net Neutrality Victory Over Big Telecom
June 14, 2016
An appellate court on Tuesday handed a major victory to the FCC by upholding the Open Internet Order, which ensures equal access to the Internet. By a 2-1 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the FCC's right to impose Net neutrality rules that essentially prevent big telecom and broadband companies from slowing down, speeding up, or blocking service.
The Tricky Business of Crafting Solid Cloud SLAs
June 10, 2016
In the five years since the U.S. government put a clear emphasis on utilizing cloud technology, federal procurement offices have engaged in seemingly endless tinkering of contracting vehicles to promote cloud adoption. The core element of virtually every type of federal cloud procurement contract is the service level agreement, upon which billions of dollars of cloud investments are based.
Snowden and the NSA Gets Curiouser and Curiouser
June 8, 2016
Edward Snowden made a greater effort than originally believed to raise his concerns within the NSA before releasing thousands of classified documents detailing programs that allowed the agency to spy on U.S. citizens. The truth is more complex than the NSA let on, according to a report based on documents secured through two years of Freedom of Information Act litigation.
Supreme Court Snubs Google's AdWords Appeal
June 7, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear Google's appeal of a lower court ruling in a suit alleging the company used deceptive practices in the sale and placement of advertising through its AdWords program between 2004 and 2008. Google, a unit of Alphabet, sought to overturn the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals September 2015 ruling that the lawsuit could go forward as a class action case.
Yahoo Publishes NSLs Following Freedom Act Reforms
June 6, 2016
Yahoo last week published the text of three National Security Letters it received from the FBI in 2013. The letters demand the names, addresses, length of service, and electronic communications transactional records -- existing transaction and activity logs and all email header information -- of the targets. However, they do not ask for any content -- either the subject lines or bodies of emails.
Rights Advocates Blast EU and Tech Firms' Hate Speech Code
June 2, 2016
Digital rights and free speech advocates are up in arms over Tuesday's announcement of an agreement between the European Commission and four leading U.S. social media firms -- Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft -- on a Code of Conduct designed to crack down on hate speech. The companies have agreed to adopt a system that allows users to flag illegal hate speech and incitement to violence.
Federal IT Living in the Floppy Age, Reports GAO
May 31, 2016
Antiquated IT systems are soaking up federal technology dollars and creating risks for both bureaucrats and citizens, the Government Accountability Office reported last week. More than 75 percent of the federal IT budget in 2015 went toward the operation and maintenance of nearly obsolete legacy systems that use outdated software languages and unsupported hardware parts.
Facebook Tweaks Trending Topics Out of Abundance of Caution
May 26, 2016
Facebook this week said it would make several procedural changes to its Trending Topics feature to quell concerns that the results could be steered in a particular political direction, even though it has found no evidence of bias. The company will retrain workers in the Trending Topics department and institute additional oversight and control to make sure trending stories are selected fairly.
Vendors Gain Congressional Support on IT Pricing
May 23, 2016
Selling information technology to the U.S. government is never easy, and it's even harder when a vendor cannot highlight the qualitative differences it believes separates its competencies from other providers competing for the same work. Yet a major contracting tool federal agencies use in seeking IT products and services tends to smother those differences in skills and competencies.
Using the Scientific Method to Pick the Best US President
May 23, 2016
I've been thinking a lot this week about what it takes to select a strong CEO and being annoyed by robocalls from the different campaigns. On one such call, when asked what I'd do if given the choice between Clinton and Trump, my response was "move to Canada." That apparently wasn't what they were looking for. Boards often have to select from a very small pool of CEO candidates, and they don't get the "move to Canada" option.
Google Patents Tech to Limit Injuries in Vehicle-Pedestrian Accidents
May 20, 2016
The United States Patent and Trademark Office earlier this week granted Google a patent for "Adhesive Vehicle Front End For Mitigation of Secondary Pedestrian Impact." The patent application, filed a year and a half ago, credits Google employees Alex Khaykin and Daniel Lynn Larner as the inventors of the new technology. This latest patent grant is for "a system for protecting a colliding object from a secondary impact."
Google Challenges Right to Be Forgotten in French High Court
May 20, 2016
Google on Thursday filed an appeal with France's supreme administrative court over an order from a privacy regulator requiring it to scrub certain search results around the world under a law called "the right to be forgotten." The March order from the CNIL requires Google and other search engines to delist the information of Europeans that shows up in searches for their name.
China Subjects Tech Imports to Heavy Security Scrutiny
May 19, 2016
China reportedly is investigating the encryption and data storage features of technology products sold there by large foreign companies such as Apple to determine whether the products pose a security threat. A committee associated with the Cyberspace Administration of China reportedly is conducting reviews that include interviews of company executives and other employees.
Facebook Looks Into Bias Claims
May 17, 2016
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week announced that the company would investigate allegations that its Trending Topics feature had an anticonservative bias. "We have found no evidence that this report is true," he said, referring to a news report that kicked off the storm. "If we find anything against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it."
Privacy Concerns Curb Online Commerce, Communication
May 17, 2016
Concern about online security and privacy are leading Americans to curtail online activity, the NTIA reported last week. More than 41,000 households with at least one Internet user in July responded to several privacy and security questions the U.S. Census Bureau posed for the NTIA. Eighty-four percent of those households named at least one online privacy and security concern.
Charter-TWC Merger Clears Final Regulatory Hurdle
May 16, 2016
Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable last week announced that California regulators approved their planned merger following a series of hearings in which the companies agreed to open access to underserved communities. The California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to approve the merger, which requires the combined company to provide low-cost broadband access.
Google Boots Ads for Predatory Payday Lenders
May 12, 2016
Google on Wednesday announced that it would ban advertising for payday loans in its ad systems. Starting July 13, the company will prohibit ads for payday loans and related products where funds are due within 60 days of the date of issue, as well as ads for loans with an APR of 36 percent, said David Graff, Google's director of global product policy.
Defense IT Contract Rekindles Pricing Complaints
May 12, 2016
What's not to like about the U.S. government offering IT vendors $17.5 billion for products and services? The opportunity is attractive, and many vendors have expressed interest in a Department of Defense contract that covers the acquisition of a broad range of IT capabilities. A request for proposals for the Encore III contract was issued in March. Bids were accepted through late April.
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