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Yelp Study Blasts Google for Screwing With Search
June 30, 2015
Google has been tampering with the responses its search engine gives to queries and, as a result, has been hurting social welfare, alleges a survey conducted by Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, and Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and former FTC advisor. Yelp sponsored the research. The team last week sent a paper reporting the results to the European Commission.
The Encryption Software Scuffle
June 29, 2015
In the face of encryption that could block brute force attempts for years, law enforcement agencies at every level have been calling for keys that allow investigators to crack open smartphones and court cases alike. Some of the world's leading tech companies and privacy advocates have called for the White House to stand against any proposal to weaken the security software on consumer products.
The Automobile as We Know It Is Dead
June 29, 2015
There's a massive number of efforts going on to kill the car as we know it. Among them are efforts to make it a tiny self-driving box that we'd likely be embarrassed to be seen in, efforts to make it highly customized and amazing, and efforts to change its fuel from gasoline to CNG, electricity or something else. There is no doubt that the car as we know it soon will be dead.
CFPB: Mortgage Servicers Still Rooking Consumers
June 29, 2015
Mortgage servicers got a bad name during the subprime mortgage crisis, but despite that reputation damage, and despite new laws designed to get them on the straight and narrow, they're still up to their tricks, the CFPB has found. Between January and April, many servicers violated Regulation X, which spells out requirements for soliciting, completing and evaluating loss mitigation applications.
Self-Driving Cars Avoid Collision, as They Should
June 26, 2015
Two self-driving prototype vehicles, one operated by Google and the other operated by Delphi Automotive, earlier this week avoided a collision in Palo Alto, California. Neither car touched the other, but the incident spurred a number of rattled headlines over the so-called "near miss." In actuality, both vehicles responded as they were supposed to, the companies said in response to the media brouhaha.
Internet Players Wrestle with Proposals to Prevent Capture
June 24, 2015
The Internet is run by a bunch of geeks sitting in a darkened space, lit only by the glow from LED screens, right? That Hollywood image may be how the general public perceives what it takes to send and receive emails, deliver apps, enable electronic transactions, and store great gobs of data. There is much more to operating the Internet, however, including a challenging management environment.
US, Brit Spooks Bedevil Security Software
June 24, 2015
The United States' National Security Agency and the UK's Government Communications Headquarters reportedly have been attacking antivirus and other security software since at least 2008. The aim is to infiltrate networks and track users. The agencies apparently have reverse-engineered security and antivirus software, sometimes under dubious legal authority.
Data Requests Put Amazon Between Rock, Hard Place
June 23, 2015
Amazon's recently released first report on government requests for information revealed that from January to May, it received 813 subpoenas and 25 search warrants. The company fully responded and provided all the requested information sought for 542 of the subpoenas. It provided only some of the requested information for 126 of the cases, and it did not respond to 145 requests.
Apple Knuckles Under to Taylor Swift
June 23, 2015
Apple has given in to a demand from pop diva Taylor Swift to pay royalties to owners of music streamed by its Apple Music service. "We hear you, @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple," tweeted Eddy Cue, who oversees Apple's content stores. "Apple will always make sure that artist[s] are paid." Cue's tweets might resolve the firestorm Swift ignited over the weekend.
Rumors Tell the Apple Watch Story
June 22, 2015
Apple hasn't been saying much, as usual -- but insiders and analysts are fitting together pieces of the Apple Watch puzzle through sales estimates, revelations about the vast gulf separating production costs from final prices, and expected features of the next version. CEO Tim Cook recently said the company was off to an "exciting start to the June quarter with the launch of Apple Watch."
Skies May Soon Be Friendlier to Amazon Drones
June 19, 2015
Amazon on Wednesday appealed to members of Congress to approve use of its fleet of drones for package deliveries. Electrically powered drones could deliver packages to consumer homes and offices faster, more efficiently and with less environmental impact than automobiles, Paul Misener, vice president of global public policy at Amazon, suggested in testimony before the House Oversight Committee.
Hyperloop Dreams May Become Concrete
June 19, 2015
SpaceX this week announced plans to construct a mile-long Hyperloop test track next to its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, scheduled for completion by June 2016. The company concurrently announced an open competition for university students and independent engineering teams to design and build the best Hyperloop pod. Entrants will be able to test their pods on the track.
US Internet Handoff Generates Sparks in Congress
June 19, 2015
The U.S. government has played a central -- perhaps critical -- role in the development of the Internet. Currently the U.S. retains a stewardship position in the worldwide operation of the Internet through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency within the Commerce Department. That stewardship is slated to end, however.
Uber Loses Crucial California Legal Battle
June 18, 2015
Uber on Tuesday filed an appeal of a California Labor Commission ruling that is widely viewed as a threat to the company's business model. The ruling resulted from a claim filed by a San Francisco driver against Uber last year. The commission found that the plaintiff was an employee of Uber rather than an independent contractor, as the company had maintained.
Senators Aim to Ground FBI's Warrantless Spy Planes
June 17, 2015
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require federal government agents to get a warrant before snooping from the sky. "Americans' privacy rights shouldn't stop at the treetops," Wyden said. The issue came to a head following the revelation earlier this month that the FBI was engaged in warrantless aerial surveillance across the U.S.
Anatomy of a CEO Failure
June 15, 2015
Much to Apple's dismay, I cover Apple events. One of the questions that frequently came up during its recent developer conference centered on Tim Cook. Was he becoming Steve Ballmer? The implication was that Steve was a failure at Microsoft, so the comparison didn't reflect well on Cook. I think this idea is wrongheaded, although Tim Cook's situation bears some similarity to Steve Ballmer's.
Costolo Out in Twitter's Latest Round of Musical Chairs
June 12, 2015
Twitter is changing CEOs for the fourth time in four years. Incumbent Dick Costolo is stepping down July 1 and company cofounder Jack Dorsey will take over as interim CEO while the board searches, both internally and externally, for a suitable candidate to hold the post. Costolo will remain on Twitter's board, and Dorsey will continue to serve as CEO of Square, which he also cofounded.
Duqu 2.0 Makes Other Malware Look Clunky
June 12, 2015
Duqu 2.0 may have just snatched the title of "most sophisticated malware ever," according to Kaspersky Lab, which published a report on the new threat this week. Kaspersky discovered Duqu 2.0 after the malware penetrated its own internal networks. "The philosophy and way of thinking of the Duqu 2.0 group is a generation ahead of anything seen in the APT world," said Kaspersky's Kurt Baumgartner.
Beware the Killer Robots
June 12, 2015
Russia's advanced military combat robot -- which has drawn alarmed comparisons to Hollywood's Terminator -- will be able to run and clear an obstacle course by late this year, according to reports this week. That's just the latest news fueling the already-fiery debate over what to do about killer robots. Stuart Russell, a UC Berkeley professor, believes the issue is urgent.
US Snooping Costs High-Tech Sector $35B and Counting
June 10, 2015
Other countries' concerns over U.S. government surveillance programs likely will cost American businesses more than $35 billion, according to a report released Tuesday by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. Originally it was thought that the fallout from Edward Snowden's revelations of U.S. mass surveillance programs would be limited to cloud service providers.
It's Hard to See WWDC Through My Apple TV Tears
June 4, 2015
By the time you read this, I'll have finished swearing in the privacy of my office, and likely will have entered the acceptance stage of grief. Already, realization is dawning that I was right to withhold hope that Apple would reveal a new Apple TV at its WorldWide Developers Conference on Monday. I hate it when pessimism wins. But how can I know that Apple isn't going to introduce a new Apple TV?
And the Dish Ran Away With T-Mobile?
June 4, 2015
T-Mobile, which has tried unsuccessfully several times to get acquired, is now in talks with Dish, according to press reports. The purchase price and possible cash-stock mix that could pay for the deal remain to be thrashed out. The two companies reportedly are planning a merger with Dish CEO Charlie Ergen to chair the new company and T-Mobile head John Legere (shown here) to be its CEO.
AT&T May Leave Anti-Net Neutrality Ranks
June 3, 2015
AT&T has just revealed what it would take for it to change its stance on Net neutrality: regulators' approval of its purchase of DirecTV. The company has offered to accept the rules adopted by the FCC early this year, according to reports. It was just last month that the FCC denied petitions from a slew of companies -- including AT&T -- to delay its implementation of the rules.
Customer Satisfaction With Pay-TV, ISPs Hits New Low
June 2, 2015
"Customer first" is the motto businesses live by -- or should -- but that doesn't seem to resonate with companies providing pay-TV or Internet-access services, based on ACSI data gathered in Q1 of 2015. Customer satisfaction with information services fell to 68.8 percent, the lowest level in seven years. Subscription-TV services and ISPs are at the bottom of the 43 industries covered by the index.

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