WhatsApp Updates Privacy Policy, Shares Data with Facebook

When Facebook bought the popular free messaging service WhatsApp, it promised it wouldn’t change the privacy policies. Now the company has done just that, and organizations including the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Center for Digital Democracy are not happy. Facebook has stated it will now connect users’ phone numbers with Facebook’s systems, offering “better friend suggestions” and more relevant ads. The new approach will help Facebook finally monetize WhatsApp. Continue reading WhatsApp Updates Privacy Policy, Shares Data with Facebook

FAA Issues Drone Operation Rules, Privacy Issues Unresolved

The operation of drones has sparked heated debate and industry angst regarding issues of safety, privacy and regulation. Now, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued its first detailed rules that clarify nationwide licensing requirements for pilots and bans operation of drones at nighttime. But it still hasn’t touched the hot button topics of privacy protections, high altitude flying, drones heavier than the currently-approved 55-pounds and other issues. In that vacuum, local governments are coming up with their own regulations. Continue reading FAA Issues Drone Operation Rules, Privacy Issues Unresolved

FCC Pushes for 5G Standards with Emphasis on Cybersecurity

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is reminding the tech industry that cybersecurity standards should be a significant consideration while moving forward with the development of 5G wireless Internet. Last week, the FCC published a request “for comment on a new set of proposed 5G rules to the Federal Register focused on adding specific ‘performance requirements’ for developers of example Internet-connected devices,” reports FedScoop. Companies interested in a license to access 5G spectrum will need to comply with the new requirements, which will include network security plans. Continue reading FCC Pushes for 5G Standards with Emphasis on Cybersecurity

EU Rules to Create Parity Between Internet Apps and Carriers

Deutsche Telekom and Spain’s Telefónica have long lobbied the European Union to either repeal some of the onerous regulations governing carriers or to extend them to Internet-based text-message and voice-call services, including Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s WhatsApp. Now, carriers might get their wish as the EU’s executive body is on the verge of suggesting more rules for Skype, WhatsApp and their ilk: tighter privacy and security, and an easier way for consumers to move information when switching services. Continue reading EU Rules to Create Parity Between Internet Apps and Carriers

Court Rules Against FCC Effort to Allow Municipal Broadband

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, a federal appellate court, ruled that the Federal Communications Commission overstepped its authority in its effort to eliminate state laws preventing municipal broadband networks. The FCC wanted cities to be able to build their own broadband networks. Last year, Wilson, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennessee petitioned the FCC for permission to be able to build out their own networks, to increase competition in their municipalities despite state laws that prevent that. Continue reading Court Rules Against FCC Effort to Allow Municipal Broadband

Trade Groups Petition for Rehearing on Title II, Net Neutrality

After a federal appeals court upheld the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules, the NCTA, CTIA, USTelecom and the American Cable Association — all the trade organizations representing U.S. Internet service providers — challenged that ruling. They did so by filing a petition for an “en banc” rehearing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. En banc hearings are to rehear a case in front of all the judges (rather than a panel), usually in cases of “exceptional public importance.” Continue reading Trade Groups Petition for Rehearing on Title II, Net Neutrality

EU Approves Debated Privacy Shield to Replace Safe Harbor

Following extensive debate, the European Union has approved the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield data transfer agreement that will replace Safe Harbor, which “was struck down by the European Court of Justice in October of last year over concerns about how EU data was being treated once it was transferred to the U.S.,” reports Digital Trends. According to the European Commission’s press release, “For the first time, the U.S. has given the EU written assurance that the access of public authorities for law enforcement and national security will be subject to clear limitations, safeguards and oversight mechanisms and has ruled out indiscriminate mass surveillance of European citizens’ data.” Continue reading EU Approves Debated Privacy Shield to Replace Safe Harbor

UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

The 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council “passed a resolution condemning countries that prevent or disrupt access to the Internet,” according to The Hill. The nonbinding resolution, likely most useful for public pressure, calls on nations to address security and privacy concerns while securing freedom of expression. It also “condemns violence or intimidation against people for ‘exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms on the Internet.’” Digital rights group Access Now cited at least 15 Internet shutdowns around the world last year, and 20 so far this year. Continue reading UN Human Rights Council Calls for an End to Internet Blocking

Consumers Report Financial Data Breaches, Still Trust Banks

According to a new Accenture report, 23 percent of consumers claim their financial data has been breached at least once in the past two years. Interestingly, most remain willing to share their data if it means better service. “About 63 percent of respondents are willing to give their bank direct access to personal information,” reports HousingWire. The National Association of Federal Credit Unions recently called on Congress to combat hacking with legislation that would create stricter standards for retail businesses. Accenture surveyed 4,013 bank customers in North America — 70 percent in the U.S. and 30 percent in Canada. Continue reading Consumers Report Financial Data Breaches, Still Trust Banks

FAA Issues New Drone Rules, Not Enough for Drone Industry

The Federal Aviation Administration just issued rules, to take effect in August, for how businesses can use small drones, specifically for those weighing less than 55 pounds. Among the new restrictions are that drone speed must be kept under 100 miles per hour and that users may operate them during twilight only if they are equipped with anti-collision lights. The maximum altitude has also been lowered to 400 feet from 500 feet, and the age limit for operators also lowered, to 16 from 17 years old. Continue reading FAA Issues New Drone Rules, Not Enough for Drone Industry

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

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

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

Banks Make Changes to Adapt to Today’s Mobile Technologies

As a growing number of consumers, particularly millennials, access financial services on their smartphones, traditional banks are struggling to keep up with new competitors. Major tech companies, from Apple to Snapchat, have entered the consumer banking industry, along with a wide variety of financial tech startups. Banks like Citigroup have formed new partnerships and departments for developing more mobile-friendly banking services as Americans’ banking habits continue to evolve. Continue reading Banks Make Changes to Adapt to Today’s Mobile Technologies

Amazon, Google Looking to Effectively Manage Drone Traffic

During CES 2016, representatives from Amazon, Google, Intel and NASA discussed the future of air traffic control in regards to drones. Both Google and Amazon are developing drones that they hope will eventually deliver packages to their online customers, but the companies differ on how to regulate the drones’ flights. Google favors a system in which drones report their flight to a centralized coordination facility before takeoff. Amazon, on the other hand, wants less emphasis on a central command center. Continue reading Amazon, Google Looking to Effectively Manage Drone Traffic

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