Fantasy Sports May Return to New York if Governor Signs Bill

The New York legislature passed a bill over the weekend that would legalize and regulate fantasy sports in the state. Last fall, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said daily fantasy sports are a violation of state gambling laws; courts then ruled to shut down DraftKings and FanDuel. The new decision could impact the industry’s ongoing efforts “to pass bills in statehouses that would validate its contention the practice isn’t gambling and shouldn’t be subject to state gambling bans or other restrictions,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The industry has won passage of bills in Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri and Colorado, but it has lost battles in several other states.” Continue reading Fantasy Sports May Return to New York if Governor Signs Bill

Facebook Reveals More on Ethical Regulation of its Research

Facebook collects data from 1.6 billion people, on everything from “likes” to social connections, to establish behavioral patterns. That went further — some would say, too far — in June 2014 when the company conducted a psychological test on 700,000 people to look at how omitting “positive” or “negative” words could alter mood. The resulting controversy about the company’s ethics moved Facebook to add an internal review policy in October 2014. But it is just now publishing new details on how it conducts that research. Continue reading Facebook Reveals More on Ethical Regulation of its Research

Drone Sales Grow 224 Percent Year-Over-Year to $200 Million

The FAA’s mandatory drone registration does not seem to be impacting UAV sales, which have grown 224 percent from April 2015 to April 2016 for a total of nearly $200 million, according to The NPD Group. Robotics Trends reports the FAA’s database indicates there are now “461,433 registered hobbyist drone owners in 39,471 zip codes.” NPD notes that DJI is the clear U.S. market leader at 49 percent, followed by Parrot (19 percent), Protocol (6.3 percent), Yuneec (5.6 percent) and 3D Robotics (4 percent). Drones with 4K cameras represented more than one-third of sales for the 12 month period, and GPS-outfitted drones accounted for 64 percent of sales. Continue reading Drone Sales Grow 224 Percent Year-Over-Year to $200 Million

FBI iPhone Hack Could Impact the Future of Law Enforcement

Although the FBI was finally able to decrypt the iPhone belonging to San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook by paying for a third party private hack, the issues around accessing content on a personal smartphone are not resolved. The FBI is figuring out how and if it can re-use the hack, but it’s not simply interested in what’s called “data at rest,” says FBI director James Comey. The FBI is also interested in “data in motion,” the emails, texts and other information in transit over the Internet as “hugely significant” for national security. Continue reading FBI iPhone Hack Could Impact the Future of Law Enforcement

South Dakota’s New Internet Sales Tax Law Spurs Lawsuits

In March, South Dakota passed a new law requiring many out-of-state online and catalog retailers to collect the state’s sales tax, a challenge to a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Quill v. North Dakota prohibiting states from doing exactly this. The regulation has already resulted in several lawsuits. If the law is not overturned, other states are likely to follow suit, levying similar Internet sales tax rules. The implications would be enormous if numerous states adopt these rules, likely forcing audits and new tax rules in thousands of jurisdictions across the nation. Continue reading South Dakota’s New Internet Sales Tax Law Spurs Lawsuits

Messaging Service WhatsApp Temporarily Shut Down in Brazil

As the result of a court order, Facebook-owned WhatsApp was shut down in Brazil yesterday. In an effort to obtain user data for a criminal investigation involving drug trafficking, Judge Marcel Maia Montalvão ordered telecoms to suspend the popular messaging service for 72 hours throughout Brazil. In March, Judge Montalvão ordered the arrest of Facebook exec Diego Dzodan, who was briefly taken into custody for refusing to turn over WhatsApp data (a higher court ordered the release of Dzodan after one night). WhatsApp says it has cooperated to the “full extent of [its] ability with local courts.” Continue reading Messaging Service WhatsApp Temporarily Shut Down in Brazil

Popular Payment Service Venmo Under Federal Investigation

According to an SEC filing, PayPal-owned peer-to-peer payment service Venmo is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether the company “engaged in deceptive or unfair practices in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act.” PayPal received a Civil Investigative Demand (CID) from the FTC on March 28. “The CID could lead to an enforcement action and/or one or more consent orders,” explains PayPal, “which may result in substantial costs, including legal fees, fines, penalties, and remediation expenses and actions, and could require us to change aspects of the manner in which we operate Venmo.” Continue reading Popular Payment Service Venmo Under Federal Investigation

Regulators Set Conditions for Approval of Charter-TWC Deal

While federal regulators are closer to approving the Charter Communications acquisitions of both Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, the FCC and Justice Department have introduced conditions designed to protect streaming video companies and help provide affordable broadband services for low income households. The $71+ billion deal would make Charter the second-largest broadband service provider in the U.S. with about 19.4 million subscribers, and the nation’s third-largest cable TV provider with 17.4 million customers. Continue reading Regulators Set Conditions for Approval of Charter-TWC Deal

Teamsters Organize Uber Drivers Classified Indie Contractors

Riding-sharing app Uber has tussled with its drivers over how to define their status: independent contractors or full-time employees. Uber prefers to identify its drivers as independent contractors, which lets it off the hook for paying minimum wage, overtime and its share of Social Security. Recent settlements in class-action lawsuits in California and Massachusetts, which must be approved by a judge, allow Uber to continue this classification. The Teamsters union is busy organizing drivers who want representation. Continue reading Teamsters Organize Uber Drivers Classified Indie Contractors

FCC Spectrum Auction Begins, Transition to Take Four Years

As the airwaves are increasingly crowded by wireless data, the Federal Communications Commission devised a “broadcast incentive auction” to convince TV broadcasters to sell spectrum that would be used to expand wireless airwaves. By the end of this month, the FCC’s early round of the auction is expected to be complete, but the entire plan won’t likely be completed before 2020. By acting as middleman, the FCC stands to make billions of dollars, which will pay for the auction; the rest will go to the government. Continue reading FCC Spectrum Auction Begins, Transition to Take Four Years

FBI Tries to Unlock More iPhones, Debate Continues in Europe

Since the FBI broke the encryption of the iPhone 5C belonging to terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook, most likely with the help of the Israeli office of the Japanese mobile phone security firm Cellebrite Mobile Synchronization, it has been testing the method on other iPhone versions. It will not, however, disclose the phone’s flaw or the information found on Farook’s phone. European cases regarding locked phones are heating up, with France and England considering fines for companies that don’t help crack their phones’ encryption. Continue reading FBI Tries to Unlock More iPhones, Debate Continues in Europe

After Months of Setbacks, Foxconn Strikes Deal to Buy Sharp

Foxconn, the Taiwan-based factory operator best known for assembling Apple’s iPhones, is acquiring two-thirds of Japanese electronics manufacturer Sharp, which supplies phone screens to Apple. The $3.5 billion deal, which follows a slew of public negotiations, rumors and setbacks, could provide Foxconn with leverage to make it a more attractive Apple partner. However, some analysts suggest that the acquisition will hand Foxconn an ailing and costly business. Foxconn is facing rising labor costs in China and a global slowdown in smartphones, while Apple diversifies its supply chain. Continue reading After Months of Setbacks, Foxconn Strikes Deal to Buy Sharp

Sharp May Sell to Foxconn, Rather Than Japanese Consortium

Troubled Japanese LCD manufacturer Sharp is in talks to sell to Taiwanese company Foxconn. According to Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, the two companies have cleared 90 percent of the obstacles to sealing a final deal. If the deal does go through, it will mark significantly new openness of Japanese companies to foreign suitors. Also wooing Sharp is Innovation Network Corp. of Japan (INCJ), a Japanese government-supported consortium that has already acquired the display businesses of Toshiba, Hitachi and Sony. Continue reading Sharp May Sell to Foxconn, Rather Than Japanese Consortium

The Internet of Things Brings Benefits, Risks and Public Policy

Consumer taste, technology development are two of the forces impacting the growth and direction of the Internet of Things. A group of experts focused on policy issues surrounding IoT’s evolution at CES. Moderator Alan Davidson, director of digital economy for the Department of Commerce, reports that, about seven years ago, the number of Internet-connected things surpassed the number of people on the planet. “By 2025, this is an area that will have an economic impact of $4 to $11 trillion on the global economy,” he said. Continue reading The Internet of Things Brings Benefits, Risks and Public Policy

AT&T to Discuss Smart Cities Initiative and Partners at CES

AT&T plans to reveal details regarding its “smart cities” initiative during CES 2016. The company is making a major push to turn traffic lights and other city objects into new tools for reducing expenses while efficiently managing congestion and energy. Telecoms are starting to work with municipalities to leverage data collected from sensors positioned throughout cities to help drivers find parking spaces or clear driving routes, for example. According to AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie, partners in AT&T’s initiative will be introduced in Las Vegas this week. Continue reading AT&T to Discuss Smart Cities Initiative and Partners at CES

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