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Amazon's $10-a-Person Attempt to Wriggle Off Privacy Hook
August 1, 2019
Some very large companies now are under scrutiny by the U.S. government for their data collection and use. As the pressure increases, Amazon seems to have come up with a creative solution. It has been offering to pay users $10 for permission to track them. Interesting. While $10 is practically nothing, this move does suggest companies are beginning to realize they crossed the line.
GitHub Blocks Devs in US-Sanctioned Regions
July 30, 2019
GitHub is blocking users in Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria from accessing its services to comply with U.S. trade control laws. The Microsoft-owned company disclosed the action on a support page as a courtesy, noting that GitHub users ultimately are responsible for ensuring that their use of GitHub's products and services complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
Automation: Helping SMBs Cut the Gordian Knot of Transaction Tax
July 27, 2019
Finance and accounting technology became the No. 1 software budgeting priority for small and mid-sized businesses, according to a survey conducted last year. Almost 54 percent of respondents were budgeting to invest in accounting tools in the next 12 to 24 months, with those in the retail industry specifically forecasting to spend between $30,000 and $40,000.
Timely Antitrust Investigation
July 26, 2019
The Justice Department is opening antitrust investigations into some of the biggest tech companies around, including Facebook, Google, Amazon and others. This is nothing that either the public or the companies involved should fret about. This is part of the evolution of the tech sector. We've been through this kind of thing before. Each economic era follows a similar trajectory.
Understanding the IP Policy Changes Coming to Amazon Sellers
July 25, 2019
Amazon is keenly interested in protecting the IP rights of its third-party sellers because the company depends upon them for their long-term success. In a recent newsletter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained that third-party sellers currently make up a majority of the site's gross merchandise sales, with the share of revenue from third-party sellers having grown to 58 percent.
DoJ to Examine Big Tech Competitive Landscape
July 25, 2019
The DoJ has announced an antitrust probe into big tech, following several months of rumors that it was about to do so. The DoJ plans to review how the leading online platforms achieved market power and whether they have engaged in practices that reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers. The department will consider widespread concerns.
Bug in Facebook Messaging App Exposes Kids to Strangers
July 24, 2019
A flaw in a Facebook app designed for children under 13 years old allows kids to chat online with people unapproved by their parents. The messaging app for kids is designed to give parents control over who their kids text and video chat with online, but a bug in the software lets a contact approved to chat with one child to talk to another without the approval of the second child's parents.
Equifax Data Breach Settlement No Wrist Slap
July 23, 2019
The United States Federal Trade Commission announced that Equifax has agreed to pay a minimum of $575 million as part of a global settlement of claims against it arising from a 2017 data breach that affected 147 million Americans. The settlement with the FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 50 states and territories potentially could reach $700 million.
Facebook Unfazed by $5B FTC Settlement
July 18, 2019
The Federal Trade Commission this week announced its approval of a $5 billion settlement with Facebook, ending a long-running investigation into the company's privacy practices. The commission's 3-2 vote was along party lines. The United States Department of Justice must finalize the settlement before the matter is closed. The DoJ's action will end the investigation that began early last year.
Isn't It Time to Buy Cyber Insurance?
July 15, 2019
Every day we read stories about data breaches and cyberattacks on business and government websites, and the resulting the loss of personally identifiable information. Cybercrime is on the rise, and given the ever-evolving methods of attack, meaningful relief and reliable measures to fend off cybercriminals are unlikely in the foreseeable future. Companies need to insure against cybertheft.
Social Media, Crafters, Gamers and the Online Censorship Debate
July 12, 2019
Ravelry, an online knitting community that has more than 8 million members, last month announced that it would ban forum posts, projects, patterns and even profiles from users who supported President Trump or his administration. "We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy," the administrators of Ravelry posted on the site.
FBI, ICE Turn Drivers' Licenses Into Facial Recognition Gold
July 9, 2019
State motor vehicle departments have become a rich source of facial recognition data for and FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Researchers at Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy & Technology reportedly used public records requests to gather a cache of documents that show the agencies have turned state DMV databases into the foundation of a vast surveillance infrastructure.
The Threat of a Deepfake Fiasco
July 5, 2019
An AI technology called "deepfake" may be the next big threat we face as a society. Consider a recent video clip of Facebook CEO Marc Zuckerberg saying some outlandish things. You might think it is real -- but it's a deepfake. It's his image, and it sure sounds like him, but he never actually made that speech. "Can't be," you might think. "That has to be Zuckerberg talking." Wrong.
The Growing Menace of Weaponized Deepfakes
June 27, 2019
The U.S. House Intelligence Committee recently heard expert testimony on the growing threat posed by "deepfakes" -- altered videos and other AI-generated false information -- and what it could mean for the 2020 general elections, as well as the country's national security overall. The technologies collectively known as "deepfakes" can be used to manipulate and falsify images and videos.
NSA Admits Improper Collection of Phone Data, 2nd Time Around
June 27, 2019
The ACLU has released documents showing the NSA improperly collected Americans' call and text logs in November 2017 and in February and October 2018. The unauthorized collections occurred just four months after the agency announced it was deleting more than 620 million call detail records acquired since 2015 under Title V of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Proposed Law Would Force Big Tech to Reveal Value of Consumer Data
June 25, 2019
A Democrat and a Republican have filed a U.S. Senate bill to require companies to report to financial regulators and to the public what consumer data they collect and how they leverage it for profit. "When a big tech company says its product is free, consumers are the ones being sold," said Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. "These 'free' products track everything we do."
Uber Drones to Make Meal Drops This Summer
June 21, 2019
Uber Elevate, the aerial arm of rideshare service Uber, will test a fast food delivery by drone service later this summer in San Diego. Delivery destinations won't be houses or apartment buildings, however, but instead will be "designated safe landing zones." Those landing zones could include the roof of a parked Uber vehicle in one scenario. An Uber courier would hand-deliver it to the consumer.
In Zuck We Trust: Facebook to Launch Own Cryptocurrency
June 19, 2019
Facebook's plans to mint its own digital coin will test the company's consumer credibility. After being savaged for months for its cavalier attitude toward users' privacy, the social network will be asking those same users to trust its new cryptocurrency. The currency, called "Libra," will be stashed in a digital wallet, the first product of new Facebook financial services subsidiary Calibra.
New Antitrust Probe Tightens Screws on Big Tech
June 5, 2019
The U.S. House of Representatives Antitrust Subcommittee has opened an investigation into competition in digital markets, increasing the pressure on big tech companies over antitrust issues. The subcommittee is part of the House Judiciary Committee. The bipartisan investigation will include a series of hearings on antitrust, commercial and administrative law about the rise of market power online.
The Cannabis Rush: Where There's Smoke, There's E-Commerce
May 31, 2019
The budding online cannabis industry has a long way to go before it delivers bumper crops. The market for both recreational and medicinal cannabis has been plowed and pre-seeded by the previous underground market and the impetus of state laws legalizing its use. Still, the cannabis industry is almost invisible online, cloaked as it is in a broad ad and search engine blackout.
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.
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.
SCOTUS Greenlights Apple App Store Antitrust Lawsuit
May 14, 2019
The U.S. Supreme Court has given thumbs up for a class action antitrust lawsuit to proceed against Apple for alleged monopolistic practices at its App Store. In the case, Apple Inc. v. Pepper et al., the consumer plaintiffs maintain the Cupertino, California, company has monopolized the retail market for the sale of apps, and that it used its position to charge higher-than-competitive prices.
Google, Microsoft In Step in New Era
May 13, 2019
Apple, Google and Microsoft are three very powerful companies. Two of them had big events last week -- Google I/O and Microsoft Build. What I found interesting was that both Google and Microsoft largely were on the same page about focusing on the customer. Both Google and Microsoft have been making massive advancements with AI. Both have increased their efforts to make the world a better place.
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.
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.
Apple's Looming Nightmare
April 22, 2019
The big news last week was that Apple finally agreed to settle its fight with Qualcomm. Kudos to Tim Cook, because I've known a lot of CEOs rather who would have fought to the death than admitted they were wrong -- and not only wrong but acting disingenuously the entire time. Fighting this to the death would have been far worse. What spurred the settlement likely was he defense Qualcomm mounted.
Everyone's a Winner in Apple-Qualcomm Settlement
April 18, 2019
Apple and Qualcomm unexpectedly announced a settlement as their case entered the second day of a hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Diego. In related news, Intel announced it was getting out of the 5G smartphone chip business. The Apple-Qualcomm settlement provides an unspecified one-time payment from Apple to Qualcomm, among other terms.
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What should be done to curb hate speech online?
Social media should crack down -- "free speech" is not an issue for private companies.
Laws should impose penalties on companies that allow incitements to violence.
Schools should do a better job educating students about the dangers of hate speech.
Public officials should exercise stronger leadership in rejecting all forms of hate speech.
Parents should do a better job fostering tolerance and respect at home.
Nothing -- any attempt to regulate hate speech could have unintended negative consequences.

Inside TechNewsWorld