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

Pandora and Sony/ATV No Longer Opponents in Streaming Wars

Pandora Media and Sony/ATV announced a multiyear licensing deal yesterday that brings the companies together to provide better rates for artists while allowing Pandora to “benefit from greater rate certainty” that could also help “add new flexibility to the company’s product offering over time.” The direct licensing deal arrives as the music industry prepares for potential changes regarding federal regulation of songwriting rights. Sony/ATV is the world’s biggest music publisher with songwriting rights to thousands of artists, including the Beatles and Taylor Swift. Continue reading Pandora and Sony/ATV No Longer Opponents in Streaming Wars

BlackBerry’s First Android Device Retains Security Technology

BlackBerry has finally done something it said it would never do: ditch its own operating system. Expected to ship by the end of November, Priv is based on the Android operating system but also incorporates BlackBerry’s encryption technology, still considered superior by the government and industry entities that have been central to the company’s success. Whereas BlackBerry phones once dominated usage among bank, law and other professional employment, the Canadian company lost market share to Apple and Android smartphones. Continue reading BlackBerry’s First Android Device Retains Security Technology

Governor Brown Vetoes Legislation Restricting Use of Drones

California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed California Senate Bill 142, proposed legislation that would require drone users to obtain permission to fly their unmanned aerial systems less than 350 feet over private property. “Drone technology certainly raises novel issues that merit careful examination,” wrote Brown. “This bill, however, while well-intentioned, could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action.” Tech groups opposed the bill and the CEA applauded the Governor’s decision. Continue reading Governor Brown Vetoes Legislation Restricting Use of Drones

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

Companies Share Cyberthreat Info on New Facebook Platform

When Facebook launched ThreatExchange in February, the idea was to create a platform where companies could share information on potential cyberattacks, malware and other malicious hazards. Now, the Silicon Valley company says that the number of companies on the platform has reached 90, after 23 joined last week when the application process became easier. Facebook, which isn’t alone in offering a platform for centralized cyberthreats, is continuing its work to integrate these other information-sharing platforms. Continue reading Companies Share Cyberthreat Info on New Facebook Platform

Pew Research: Facebook, Twitter Are Preferred News Sources

While social networks such as Facebook and Twitter prefer to describe themselves as content distribution platforms rather than content publishing platforms, denying any involvement in the editorial reshaping of what users see (despite their editorial ability to remove content from their sites), a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center reveals that Facebook and Twitter users across multiple demographics in the United States are increasingly turning to the two services to access external news. Continue reading Pew Research: Facebook, Twitter Are Preferred News Sources

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