EU and U.S. Agree to Data Privacy Pact, Now Awaits Approval

After three months of often-tense meetings, Europe and the U.S. agreed to a pact to enable digital data to move back and forth across the Atlantic. Negotiating beyond the January 31 deadline, European and U.S. officials hammered out details of the “EU-US Privacy Shield,” which will enable Google, Amazon and thousands of other businesses to continue operations. But the agreement isn’t out of the woods: it still faces official approval by the EU’s 28 member states, and EU privacy advocates have vowed to oppose it. Continue reading EU and U.S. Agree to Data Privacy Pact, Now Awaits Approval

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

European Union Expresses Privacy Concerns Regarding Google

The European Parliament recently voted in favor of breaking up Google in European territories. While the nonbinding vote holds no legal power, the decision to vote in favor of such a break-up shows the resistance that Google has encountered from the European Union. The vote comes in the wake of a recent appeal by privacy advocates and the EU to extend the “right to be forgotten” policy for European citizens beyond the European Google search engine. Continue reading European Union Expresses Privacy Concerns Regarding Google

Report: NSA Keeps Information Not Targeted in Surveillance

According to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post, ordinary Internet users significantly outnumber the legally targeted foreigners in electronic communications intercepted by the NSA. Based on the collection of intercepted conversations from U.S. digital networks that Edward Snowden provided, 90 percent of account holders were not the intended surveillance targets. And nearly half of the files included names, email addresses or other details belonging to U.S. citizens. Continue reading Report: NSA Keeps Information Not Targeted in Surveillance

NSA Turns to Web Images for Facial Recognition Programs

According to top-secret 2011 documents released by Edward Snowden, the NSA is collecting online images of people for its facial recognition programs. As estimated in the documents, the agency intercepts about 55,000 images that have facial-recognition quality. Civil liberties advocates are concerned that these technologies could result in an invasion of privacy. However, neither privacy nor surveillance laws protect against the government’s use of facial images. Continue reading NSA Turns to Web Images for Facial Recognition Programs

Ultra HD: Consumer Adoption on the Rise with Lower Prices

New data from analyst IDC finds that shipments of 4K televisions have reached over one million per month and are projected to reach upward of 15.2 million for 2014. Consumer adoption is on the rise as the average selling price has dropped 85 percent worldwide in the last two years, from $7,851 in 2012 to $1,120 in 2014. A new report from BI Intelligence predicts a faster adoption curve than HDTV, with 4K TVs to be found in more than half of North American homes within 10 years. Continue reading Ultra HD: Consumer Adoption on the Rise with Lower Prices

House Passes USA Freedom Act to Curb NSA Surveillance

Late last week the House overwhelmingly passed legislation that is intended to bring an end to the National Security Agency’s bulk phone records program. The USA Freedom Act is designed to restrict the federal government’s ability to collect records about citizens in bulk, a program that had sparked debate regarding privacy and civil liberties. The House voted 303-to-121 in support of the USA Freedom Act, which could signal a change in how both political parties view the power of the NSA. Continue reading House Passes USA Freedom Act to Curb NSA Surveillance

Senate Intelligence Committee Drafts Cyber Threat Legislation

The U.S. government has had little success in passing bills to establish security standards and facilitate data sharing between the private and public sectors, but the Senate Intelligence Committee is currently drafting a new bill that would serve that purpose. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Saxby Chambliss co-authored a bill which states that a company cannot be sued for sharing threat data to any entity or the federal government to prevent or investigate a cyberattack. Continue reading Senate Intelligence Committee Drafts Cyber Threat Legislation

SXSW: Snowden Talks Digital Privacy, Pushes Better Encryption

Former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden addressed the crowd at SXSW in Austin, Texas yesterday via videoconference from Moscow. Speaking on NSA leaks and data security, Snowden urged tech firms to adopt better encryption methods to help protect users from government surveillance. He also shared privacy tips for citizens, such as encrypting your hard drive, implementing browser plug-ins that prevent online tracking, and using online network Tor, that promises anonymity. Continue reading SXSW: Snowden Talks Digital Privacy, Pushes Better Encryption

Cortana: Microsoft’s New Siri-Like Personal Digital Assistant

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.1 update will include its new personal digital assistant “Cortana,” named after the AI character in the “Halo” game series. Designed to rival Apple’s Siri and Google Now, Cortana’s circular animated icon will replace the built-in Bing search functionality on Windows Phone, and will animate while speaking or thinking, creating a personality similar to the Siri approach. Cortana will save data in a Notebook system that will enable it to track data and generate notifications much like Google Now. Continue reading Cortana: Microsoft’s New Siri-Like Personal Digital Assistant

Netflix Will Use Deep Learning to Improve Recommendations

Netflix has been experimenting with new methods of artificial intelligence to improve its products. The streaming service has plans to begin using deep learning models, and while it has yet to specify what exactly it will be improving, the service is likely to use the tech for enhancing its movie recommendations feature. Other companies have also begun putting deep learning into practice in order to train their systems to better recognize text and images, as well as their meanings. Continue reading Netflix Will Use Deep Learning to Improve Recommendations

Deep Learning: Google Plans to Acquire AI Startup DeepMind

In another deal involving “deep learning,” Google is purchasing London-based DeepMind Technologies, a somewhat secretive artifical intelligence startup. The move is viewed as a talent acquisition to bring CEO Dennis Hassabis to Google. The games prodigy and neuroscientist was named “probably the best games player in history” by the Mind Sports Olympiad. While it is unclear what DeepMind does exactly, its website describes building algorithms for games, e-commerce and simulations. Continue reading Deep Learning: Google Plans to Acquire AI Startup DeepMind

NSA Creates Website and Games to Educate Young Children

In a mission to make government agencies more understandable to children, and the general public, the National Security Agency has created a website filled with interactive games, cartoon characters and puzzles. The goal is to educate children about spying, and spark an early interest in related career paths. The CryptoKids website for “future codemakers and codebreakers” is aimed to make these occupations seem cool, and even has a section entitled “How Can I Work for NSA?” Continue reading NSA Creates Website and Games to Educate Young Children

More Companies Turning to Video Analysis to Measure Big Data

When it comes to big data, video is being regarded as the next big thing to help collect — and help make sense of — information from consumers. At the Structure Data 2014 conference in March, techies and business people will come together to talk about how video can be used for things other than content creation and passive surveillance. Video analysis, for example, is becoming more widely used by retailers and companies to figure out consumers’ shopping habits. Continue reading More Companies Turning to Video Analysis to Measure Big Data

Tech Companies Hopeful for Change in NSA Disclosure Policy

President Barack Obama spoke about the National Security Agency last week at the Department of Justice in Washington. The President touched on allowing technology companies to disclose information to the public about the kinds of data the government requests from them. However, he did not address issues such as secret government taps on data centers located overseas and encryption standards, two issues of particular interest to technology and phone companies. Continue reading Tech Companies Hopeful for Change in NSA Disclosure Policy

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