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T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Teeters Between FCC Approval, DoJ Rejection
May 23, 2019
United States Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai this week gave the green light to a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, currently the third- and fourth-largest mobile carriers respectively. The nation's top telecom regulator agreed to the $26 billion merger, but with some conditions -- the most notable being that Sprint would sell off its Boost Mobile prepaid cellphone brand.
ARM Joins Firms Shunning Huawei's Business
May 23, 2019
British mobile device software design firm ARM has ordered its staff to stop working with Chinese smartphone giant Huawei, in compliance with a ban issued by President Trump. Under an executive order he signed last week, foreign companies and individuals are prohibited from buying United States technology and services without first obtaining special approval from the U.S. government.
US Post Office to Test-Drive Autonomous Trucks
May 22, 2019
The U.S. Postal Service has announced a pilot project using self-driving trucks. It will conduct the two-week experiment in collaboration with TuSimple, an autonomous driving technology company based in San Diego. TuSimple's contract with the postal service calls for one of the company's self-driving trucks to make five round trips hauling USPS trailers between Dallas and Phoenix.
EU's Counterattack on Junk News May Help Protect Elections
May 22, 2019
Government efforts to minimize the effects of junk and fake news circulating on social media ahead of this week's EU parliamentary elections may have succeeded, suggest results of a study conducted by Oxford University's Computational Propaganda Project. The European Commission undertook targeted actions to counter junk news last year.
Cybercriminals Score Billions in Cryptocurrency Thefts
May 21, 2019
Is anyone surprised to learn that in just the first quarter of 2019 more than $1.2 billion worth of cryptocurrency was stolen? Probably not. This story follows the old line from bank robber Willie Sutton who is credited with saying that he robbed banks "because that's where the money is." So not much has changed. Cryptocurrencies are not exactly money, though, even if they do have a market value.
5G Could Mess With Accuracy of Weather Forecasts
May 21, 2019
Next-generation 5G mobile communications technology could have a harmful impact on weather forecasting in the United States, based on expert testimony presented before a U.S. House committee during a hearing on the future of weather forecasting. Interference from 5G wireless phones could reduce the accuracy of weather forecasts by 30 percent, said Neil Jacobs, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at NOAA.
Baltimore Held Hostage in 2nd Ransomware Attack
May 10, 2019
Baltimore officials have admitted that the city government once again has been victimized by ransomware -- the second such attack in just over a year. City computers reportedly were infected with the RobinHood ransomware virus. Hackers told city officials that they would unlock the computers in return for payment of three bitcoins per system, or 13 bitcoins for the entire system.
Amazon Touts Small Biz Success on Its Platform
May 8, 2019
Third-party gross physical merchandise sales on Amazon, made primarily by SMBs, accounted for more than half the units sold in the company's stores and totaled more than $160 billion in 2018, according to Amazon's 2019 SMB Impact Report. SMBs selling on Amazon created about 1.6 million jobs worldwide, up from 900,000 in 2017. Amazon gave startups more than $500 million in AWS credits in 2018.
Cybersecurity Pros Join 'Right to Repair' Battle
May 2, 2019
An advocacy organization formed by cybersecurity professionals has joined the fight for "right to repair" legislation, which would allow consumers and third parties to repair electronic equipment without voiding manufacturers' warranties. Legislators in about 20 states have been working on some form of this legislation, but they have been stymied by a number of tech companies and industry groups.
Facebook's Ad Library API Draws Fire
May 1, 2019
Facebook has come under fire for its Ad Library API, which lets users perform customized keyword searches of all active and inactive ads related to politics or issues of national importance stored there. Released in beta last summer, the archive became available to everyone in March, following pressure from Mozilla ahead of the EU's upcoming parliamentary elections.
What Social Can Learn From CRM
April 25, 2019
There's been a chorus of calls from all corners for social media regulation -- from pundits like me to the halls of Congress and even from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself. The social media community seems tied up in knots over what to do about the abuse happening within their communities, but if you look elsewhere you might see signs of solutions that could solve some fundamental problems.
FAA Greenlights Wing Aviation Drone Deliveries
April 25, 2019
The Federal Aviation Administration has given its first air drone delivery certification in the United States to Alphabet's Wing Aviation, paving the way for the service to begin commercial package delivery in Blacksburg, Virginia. "This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy," said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
EU Gives Nod to 'Big Brother' Biometrics Database
April 24, 2019
The European Parliament overwhelmingly approved two measures that would integrate the region's fragmented law enforcement and home affairs databases into a centralized one that would include biometric information on some 350 million EU and non-EU citizens. It approved creation of the new system on two votes -- one to merge border control systems, and one to merge law enforcement systems.
Managing Sales Tax Complexities in Merchandise Returns
April 17, 2019
As the world has become increasingly digital, the retail industry has gone through tremendous transformation. To survive in the competitive landscape and keep up with evolving customer preferences, merchants have had to adapt and learn how to deliver the seamless omnichannel experience that shoppers expect. Delivering that efficiency and convenience comes with challenging operational intricacies.
EU's New Copyright Directive Could Break the Internet
April 16, 2019
A copyright directive that some fear could break the Internet has cleared the final hurdle in the European Union. The directive makes platforms for user-uploaded content -- like Google and Facebook -- legally liable for violations of the rights of copyright holders. It requires them to obtain the permission of the holders before posting content to their sites.
Alphabet's Wing Delivery Service Takes Flight in Australia
April 10, 2019
Alphabet's Project Wing on Monday launched a commercial air delivery service in North Canberra, Australia, providing customers with fresh food, hot coffee and over-the-counter medications from seven local businesses. Shoppers can use Wing's mobile app to place orders and receive deliveries within 30 minutes. The launch follows an 18-month test period in the area.
Zuckerberg Tries, Tries Again
April 6, 2019
Mark Zuckerberg's most recent effort to change the conversation about Facebook seems like just another attempt at self-justification. In a recent op-ed, he places the onus squarely on the shoulders of government to regulate how social media works. "I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability," Zuckerberg wrote.
What Lies Beneath Facebook's Sudden Embrace of Government Regulation
April 5, 2019
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called for greater government oversight and even regulation of the Internet in an op-ed piece published last weekend. Zuckerberg, who famously built the social network by playing by his own rules, said it was time for government and regulators around the world to step up and help rein in the Internet. The main point was to regulate what he called "harmful content."
With More Than 8 Billion Things, Where Are the IoT Privacy Laws?
April 4, 2019
No one knows for sure how many "things" are connected to the Internet, but the Federal Trade Commission reported last year that it was more than 8 billion, and that it would exceed 20 billion by the end of 2020! Astonishing as it seems, it turns out that U.S. privacy laws do not apply to all of those devices and the data they collect. So, for the third time in three years, the Senate has proposed a new law.
FTC Eyeballs ISPs' Data Privacy Practices
March 28, 2019
The United States Federal Trade Commission has announced an investigation into the privacy policies, procedures and practices of seven Internet broadband providers and related entities: AT&T Inc., AT&T Mobility LLC, Comcast Cable Communications doing business as Xfinity, Google Fiber Inc., T-Mobile US Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., and Cello Partnership dba Verizon Wireless.
How to Rein In Powerful Companies Without Ruining the US Tech Industry
March 18, 2019
Elizabeth Warren's desire to curtail Facebook, Amazon and other companies that have misused their massive power -- or may do so in the future -- is well founded. The U.S. appears to be trending toward civil war, and I'd place social media in general on the wrong side of this trend. However, we need a plan that will cure the problem without killing the patient.
Can Facebook Solve Its Worsening Privacy Problem?
March 14, 2019
The good news is that of the many troubles Facebook has, privacy seems to be front and center for both CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. The question is, will the actions they take to address the company's privacy issues be enough? If not, this is the kind of problem that can and will cause long-term damage to the Facebook brand. Its leaders need to come up with an immediate fix.
Amazon Drops Lowest-Pricing Rule for Third-Party Sellers
March 13, 2019
Amazon reportedly has removed the price parity contract clause that barred third-party vendors on its platform from selling their products at a lower price elsewhere. The company long has been accused of anticompetitive behavior and has come under considerable political pressure because of its use of the price parity, also known as "most favored nation," restriction.
US Government Forging Ahead With Airport Facial Recognition Plans
March 12, 2019
Plans to bring facial recognition to major U.S. airports by 2021 are on a fast flight path, despite concerns about the new technology's readiness. President Trump in 2017 issued an executive order expediting the deployment of biometric verification of the identities of all travelers crossing U.S. borders. It stipulates that facial recognition identification be used in the top 20 U.S. airports.
Warren Dons Tech-Buster Mantle
March 12, 2019
Tech giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple would be broken up under a proposal from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. "Today's big tech companies have too much power -- too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy," the Democratic presidential hopeful wrote in an online post. Warren has called for legislative remedies to address the problems.
The Strange Tech Wars of 2019
March 11, 2019
The tech market is defined by its battles: Microsoft vs. IBM; Apple vs. Microsoft; Netscape vs. Microsoft; Google vs. Microsoft. If Microsoft were a person, it likely would have PTSD. Then there was Apple vs. Google, and now the big one is Apple vs. Qualcomm. The screwy thing for me is that Huawei represents a far greater threat to both companies than they represent to each other.
Facebook's 2FA 'Security' Practices Violate User Privacy
March 5, 2019
Facebook has undermined privacy on its network by exposing mobile phone numbers provided to secure user accounts through two-factor authentication. That's because anyone can use the numbers to look up a user's account. One doesn't even have to be a Facebook member to do so. Moreover, there's no way to opt out of the setting, although it can be limited to "friends" only.
FTC's Fake Reviews Settlement May Spur E-Commerce Fairness Era
February 28, 2019
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has announced a settlement of its suit against a company accused of using fake paid reviews to boost sales of its health supplement product on Amazon. The settlement puts vendors and marketing firms on notice that the FTC is committed to rigorous enforcement of rules against fraudulent reviews on e-commerce platforms.
Microsoft Defends Jumping in AR Bed With Military
February 27, 2019
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has defended the company's $479 million contract with the U.S. military -- a commitment that some Microsoft employees strongly opposed. While pledging to engage with employees and consider Microsoft's role as a corporate citizen, Nadella said the company would not withhold technology from institutions in democracies elected to preserve the freedoms of their citizens.
Will Congress Override State Net Neutrality Laws?
February 21, 2019
Way back in the dark ages in May 2011 -- about 2,345 Internet years ago -- I wrote a column about Net neutrality, which was in court at the time. For those of you who are not sure, "Net neutrality" is short for "Internet neutrality" or "network neutrality." The concept addresses user access to the Internet, and the debate around Net neutrality centers on whether ISPs can limit, tier, block or otherwise affect Internet performance.
See More Articles in Government Section >>
Is "too much screen time" really a problem?
Yes -- smartphone addiction is ruining relationships.
Yes -- but primarily due to parents' failure to regulate kids' use.
Possibly -- long-term effects on health are not yet known.
Not really -- lack of self-discipline and good judgement are the problems.
No -- angst over "screen time" is just the latest overreaction to technology.
No -- what matters is the quality of content, not the time spent viewing it.