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California Lays Down the Kill-Switch Law
August 27, 2014
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a bill requiring that anti-theft measures be incorporated into all smartphones sold within California. It doesn't specify the particular technologies used to enable that capability, but it does require that the feature, also known as a "kill switch," give smartphone users the ability to remotely disable their devices in the event they're lost or stolen.
NSA Shares Its Data Wealth
August 26, 2014
The United States National Security Agency secretly shares the communications data it has amassed over the years with nearly 24 U.S. government agencies using a search engine resembling Google Search, according to documents released by Edward Snowden. That's more than 850 billion records of phone calls, emails, cellphone locations and Internet chats.
Google Autocomplete's Brushes With Libel
August 25, 2014
Can an automated Google feature that ostensibly helps users with a search be a basis for libel? Courts in Germany, Italy and Hong Kong have had to field that question. Google's position is that there is no human intervention, and that its algorithm is based merely on what others have searched for, or strings of words in indexed pages. Autocomplete predictions are just possible search terms.
Google May Start Grooming Little Googlers
August 19, 2014
Google may soon allow kids under 13 to have their own personal accounts on services such as YouTube and Gmail. Under the new system, parents would be able to set up accounts for their children, control their use of those accounts, and regulate the information collected about them. "You could say that Google is just recognizing reality," said the Local Search Association's Greg Sterling.
Freedom Act Leaves IT Sector at Risk for Spy Program Costs
August 14, 2014
A recent U.S. Senate proposal to curb the impact of electronic surveillance conducted by the NSA could enhance privacy for citizens and benefit businesses as well. However, major information technology companies that help the government collect telecom and Internet data still will be vulnerable to the substantial costs of working with the NSA, even if the proposed bill becomes law.
Smartphone Kill Switch Law Reaches California Governor's Desk
August 12, 2014
California is poised to enact a consumer-friendly law requiring smartphone manufacturers to install "kill switches" -- that is, antitheft technology that would be activated by the carrier when a consumer alerts it that a device has been stolen or lost. The technology not only wipes the device of personal data but also renders it inoperable. The state legislature passed the bill on Monday.
Feds Struggle to Corral Data
August 11, 2014
U.S. government agencies are struggling to manage the huge amount of data they generate or process, despite the goals of a program designed to operate thousands of data centers more efficiently. The idea behind the FDCCI was to save space, energy and IT costs by consolidating woefully underutilized electronic data storage centers into fewer sites and servers.
Wikimedia Blasts Europe's 'Right to Be Forgotten'
August 06, 2014
The Wikimedia Foundation has released its first-ever transparency report -- and along with it a protest against Europe's "right to be forgotten" law. Wikimedia is the nonprofit owner of Wikipedia and other sites. "Denying people access to relevant and neutral information runs counter to the ethos and values of the Wikimedia movement," wrote Wikimedia attorneys Geoff Brigham and Michelle Paulson.
DoT May Rule Out In-Flight Cellphone Talking
August 06, 2014
The U.S. Department of Transportation is drafting a notice of proposed rulemaking that could restrict consumers' ability to talk on their cellphones during airplane flights. The DoT earlier this year issued an invitation for comment as to whether it should adopt a rule to restrict voice communications on passengers' mobile wireless devices on scheduled flights within, to and from the U.S.
Cops Snag Child Pornography Suspect, Thanks to Gmail Scan
August 04, 2014
A routine scan of a Texas man's Gmail by Google has led to his arrest on child pornography possession and promotion charges. John Henry Skillern, 41, of Houston was arrested by police July 30 following a tip by Google to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He has been charged with one count each of child pornography possession and child pornography promotion.
Federal Judge Unswayed by Microsoft's Objections to Data Demands
August 04, 2014
Microsoft's objections to a court order requiring it to turn over a customer's emails held on a server in Ireland have been rejected. Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last week issued an oral ruling in the case, reportedly saying the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1996 authorizes such extraterritorial collections of data.
Facebook Staring at Fresh Privacy Class Action
August 01, 2014
Facebook is set for another legal battle over privacy, with a fresh class-action lawsuit fired up against the company. The legal action is the brainchild of Austrian law student Max Schrems, a noted campaigner against Facebook's treatment of user privacy. Schrems called on adult Facebook users around the world to join his suit after he filed a complaint in Vienna's commercial court.
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.
EU Rides Apple Over Weak In-App Purchase Policies
July 23, 2014
The EU last year adopted a "common position" on how purchases made within mobile and online applications should be treated by operators of app stores. Now Google is drawing praise for striving to comply with EU guidance, while Apple is being rebuked for dragging its feet. Google announced specific steps it's taking, including removal of the word "free" from any app that enables in-app purchases.
Black Hat Tor-Busting Talk Nixed
July 22, 2014
The Tor Project is working to remedy a vulnerability in its anonymity software following the sudden cancellation of a talk at next month's Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas that would have revealed it. The planned talk would have demonstrated a way to unmask users of Tor, the privacy-minded Web browsing software. CMU researcher Alexander Volynkin was to deliver the briefing.
Judge Rules Police Can Stuff Entire Email Accounts Into Evidence Lockers
July 21, 2014
Concerns about overly broad searches of digital data by law enforcement once again have emerged after a federal judge issued an opinion stating officials armed with a warrant can seize and hold a suspect's entire email account. Such an action would not violate the suspect's rights under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, said U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein.
Apple Settles E-Book Price-Fixing Case for $450 Million, Maybe
July 18, 2014
Apple has agreed -- conditionally -- to settle a lawsuit over allegations of fixing the prices of e-books brought against it by the attorneys general of 33 states in the United States, following a protracted legal battle. The settlement is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, which ruled on the case in September.
Dish's Hopper DVR Is No Aereo
July 17, 2014
Dish Network this week chalked up another legal victory for its Hopper DVR service. An appeals court rejected Fox's bid to disallow some features in the Hopper platform, namely the place-shifting capabilities of Dish Anywhere and Hopper Transfers. Dish Anywhere gives Hopper customers the option to view content remotely from Internet-connected devices like tablets, smartphones and computers.
Internet Heavyweights Lock Arms to Block Fast Lane
July 15, 2014
A trade association including Amazon, Google and Netflix on Monday called on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to adopt rules banning deals by broadband providers for faster delivery of some Internet traffic. The Internet Association, in written testimony submitted to the FCC, called for simple "light touch" rules to ensure an open and neutral Internet.

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