HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update During This ‘Silly Season’

In another annual HPA Tech Retreat panel, Jim Burger, a copyright attorney with Thompson Coburn in Washington, D.C. gave his “Washington Update.” “We’re talking about Congress and the Silly Season, and it’s crazy,” said Burger, who said he would touch on intellectual property litigation on the copyright side; the FCC and communications; net neutrality; and unlocking the set-top box among other topics. Burger noted that the House Judiciary Committee has held over 20 copyright hearings this year. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update During This ‘Silly Season’

FTC Has Authority Over Corporate Hacks, says Appeals Court

The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Trade Commission can advance its lawsuit against Wyndham Worldwide, which the FTC holds partially culpable for theft of online data three times between 2008 and 2010, for a total of over 619,000 credit- and debit-card numbers. Since Congress has yet to pass sweeping legislation on data security, the FTC has stepped in, so far instigating 50 additional data-security cases based on its mandate to act against unfair and deceptive business practices. Continue reading FTC Has Authority Over Corporate Hacks, says Appeals Court

GAO Report Looks at Privacy Concerns of Facial Recognition

U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) highlighted the findings of a just-released GAO (Government Accountability Office) report focusing on the privacy implications of facial recognition technology. The report details concerns about the practices of companies that collect, use and store massive amounts of personal information. Franken, chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy Technology and the Law, pointed to the report’s findings as more proof that federal standards are needed. Continue reading GAO Report Looks at Privacy Concerns of Facial Recognition

Amazon Proposes Zones for Drones, Ensuring Safe Air Travel

At a conference hosted by NASA, Amazon described a plan that would split U.S. airspace into specific heights for various types of unmanned aerial vehicles. A high-speed transit zone, from 200 to 400 feet above the ground, would be reserved for the kind of delivery drones being developed by Amazon and others. Consumer and industrial drones would be restricted to below 200 feet, and aircraft would fly above 500 feet, with a 100-foot no-fly zone. All drones would be banned from in and around airports. Continue reading Amazon Proposes Zones for Drones, Ensuring Safe Air Travel

Judge: FilmOn Entitled to Compulsory License of Programming

Less than a year after the Supreme Court shut down Aereo for delivering OTA TV signals to Internet subscribers, a U.S. District Court in California granted FilmOn, an Internet video streaming site, a compulsory license to retransmit TV station programming online. The difference between the two cases, says the judge, was that the Supreme Court did not address whether Aereo was entitled to a compulsory license, but rather found that it violated copyright laws. Fox Broadcasting has said it will appeal the ruling favoring FilmOn. Continue reading Judge: FilmOn Entitled to Compulsory License of Programming

Tech Industry Presses Government to Address Patent Reform

A number of top technology executives representing the Internet Association submitted a letter this week to leaders of the House of Representatives calling for quick passage of the Innovation Act of 2015. CEOs of Etsy, Gilt, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Rackspace, TripAdvisor, Twitter, Yahoo and Yelp are among those urging politicians to pass the patent-reform bill this summer. The letter explains that these execs have “direct experience of the negative consequences of the patent troll business model on our economy.” Continue reading Tech Industry Presses Government to Address Patent Reform

NSA Preps Shutdown of Controversial Phone Tracking Program

After the Senate declined to reauthorize the bulk collection of phone records, the National Security Agency began shuttering its controversial counter-terrorism program over the weekend. The Senate failed to reach an agreement to extend the program beyond May 31, when the law used to authorize it will expire. Some intelligence and law enforcement officials have argued that the program is crucial to tracking terrorists. While the Senate rejected two bills that would have continued the program, some believe an agreement could still be reached before the deadline. Continue reading NSA Preps Shutdown of Controversial Phone Tracking Program

Tech Groups Express Their Support for the USA FREEDOM Act

Technology trade groups — including TechNet, the Internet Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association — have joined the Reform Government Surveillance group in support of the USA FREEDOM Act. The bill intends to limit federal government bulk surveillance programs in an effort to protect privacy while still addressing national security. The consortium supports more transparency and a change to the collection of bulk data. Continue reading Tech Groups Express Their Support for the USA FREEDOM Act

President Obama Introduces Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

The Obama administration has proposed new legislation, the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act that intends to fill in the gaps between current federal laws such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Video Privacy Protection Act to provide consumers with added control over how companies use the personal data they collect about individuals. However, some privacy advocates are already arguing that the proposed legislation does not go far enough and provides too much control to companies. Continue reading President Obama Introduces Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

President Obama Calls for New Improvements to Cybersecurity

President Barack Obama proposed a series of new regulations that intend to help protect the country from cyberattacks. In the wake of a series of significant hacks last year, Obama is asking Congress to increase prosecution and toughen the penalties of people committing cybercrimes. He also wants companies to be able to share their information about hacks. In other news, President Obama wants to increase broadband competition by ending the laws in 19 states that limit municipal broadband. Continue reading President Obama Calls for New Improvements to Cybersecurity

President Obama Calls for New Rules Protecting Net Neutrality

In a statement and video posted on the White House website, President Obama formally announced his support of an open Internet, urging the FCC to treat consumer broadband service as a public utility. The president is proposing a strict net neutrality policy that opposes any need for content providers to pay broadband companies extra for faster access. Service providers including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon were quick to respond, suggesting that the proposal would not stand up in court. Continue reading President Obama Calls for New Rules Protecting Net Neutrality

Proposed FCC Rule Change Potential Big Step for Internet TV

The FCC is considering a change to federal regulations that could potentially put Internet TV providers on the same level as traditional cable TV companies. If the change were implemented, Internet TV providers would reportedly have the same ability as today’s cable and satellite companies to negotiate for carrying broadcast TV stations. The change could therefore help emerging multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD) to license the content necessary to become serious contenders. Continue reading Proposed FCC Rule Change Potential Big Step for Internet TV

Startups Are Paying Consumers for Permission to Track Data

Instead of tracking consumers’ personal data without their consent, a few companies are beginning to experiement with a new model of paying people directly for permission to track activity on their social media accounts and their credit cards. Datacoup, for example, pays consumers $8 a month for access to their personal data. For $100 a month, participants in ZQ Intelligence’s program agree to be tracked on their devices and answer questions about their consumer behavior. Continue reading Startups Are Paying Consumers for Permission to Track Data

NAB Files Lawsuit Over FCC’s Auction Rules for TV Airwaves

The National Association of Broadcasters filed a lawsuit yesterday in response to the FCC’s plan to auction airwaves next year. NAB argues that the spectrum reverse auction, the first of its kind, would negatively impact TV stations financially and reduce coverage areas. The auction would allow stations in large cities to accept bids so their spectrum can be resold to wireless carriers for mobile broadband. Participating stations can close shop or move to another channel with fewer airwaves. Continue reading NAB Files Lawsuit Over FCC’s Auction Rules for TV Airwaves

Bleep: BitTorrent Develops Secure Calling and Messaging App

San Francisco’s BitTorrent is leveraging its expertise in online file sharing tech to develop Bleep, an encrypted snoop-proof chat app. None of the texts or calls are stored, and only the two computers are involved in the communication. While the NSA could potentially monitor the interactions, the job becomes much more difficult with the new app. Not only does Bleep encrypt its traffic and encourage users to keep their identities secret, but it also uses no central server. Continue reading Bleep: BitTorrent Develops Secure Calling and Messaging App

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