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Privacy

When a Company Gets Sold, Your Data May Be Sold, Too 87 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-yours-is-ours-and-what's-ours-is-somebody-else's dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new report points out that many of the top internet sites have language in their privacy policies saying that your private data might be transferred in the event of an acquisition, bankruptcy sale, or other transaction. They effectively say, "We won't ever sell your information, unless things go bad for us." 85 of the top 100 websites in the U.S. (ranked by Alexa), had this sort of language, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Hulu, and LinkedIn. (RadioShack did this recently.) "The potential ramifications of the fire sale provisions became clear two years ago when True.com, a dating site based in Plano, Tex., that was going through a bankruptcy proceeding, tried to sell its customer database on 43 million members to a dating site based in Canada. The profiles included consumers' names, birth dates, sexual orientation, race, religion, criminal convictions, photos, videos, contact information and more. Because the site's privacy policy had promised never to sell or share members' personal details without their permission, Texas was able to intervene to stop the sale of customer data, including intimate details on about two million Texans." But with this new language, users no longer enjoy that sort of protection. Only 17 of the top 100 sites even say they will notify customers of the data transfer. Only a handful allow users to opt out.
Facebook

FB Reveals Woeful Diversity Numbers 250 250

Posted by timothy
from the talent-on-hand dept.
theodp writes: There's more work to do," said Facebook's Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams, who issued a straight-out-of-How-to-Lie-With-Statistics diversity update on Thursday that essentially consisted of a handful of bar charts labeled with only percentages for select measures of the social networking giant's current demographics. In search of real numbers, the Guardian turned to Facebook's most recent Equal Employment Opportunity report filing, which showed that the ranks of black employees swelled by a grand total of seven (7) (1 woman) in the year covered by the filing, during which time Facebook saw an overall headcount increase of 1,231. Comparing Facebook's new bar charts of US tech employees to those issued last year shows the proportion of Hispanic and Black employees remained flat at 3% and 1% respectively, while a decline in the proportion of white employees from 53% to 51% was offset by an increase in the proportion of Asian employees from 41% to 43%.
The Almighty Buck

Philanthropy For Hackers 27 27

Posted by Soulskill
from the giving-it-good dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster and the first president of Facebook, was part of a generation of geeks who rode the dot-com boom to financial success. Over the past two decades, that population has dramatically increased, and former hackers are carving out spots as leaders of industry. In the Wall Street Journal, Parker has posted advice for how the hacker elite can approach philanthropy. He points out that they're already bringing a level of strategy and efficacy to charity work that hasn't been seen before. "These budding philanthropists want metrics and analytic tools comparable to the dashboards, like Mixpanel, that power their software products. They want to interact directly with the scientists, field workers and academics whose ideas power the philanthropic world but who have traditionally been hidden away in a backroom somewhere, shielded from their beneficiaries by so-called development officers." One thing he advises is keeping away from large charity organizations, which largely exist to keep themselves going. He also suggests getting actively involved with the political process, even if such organizations are often distasteful.
Google

Google Takes Over NYC's Free WiFi Project 68 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the ok-google-get-me-some-wifi dept.
dkatana writes: Google's new Smart Cities venture Sidewalk Labs announced the purchase of Intersection, the new company behind the LinkNYC project. nGoogle wants to speed up the developing of free internet access to New York residents and visitors, as a way to gather more information about their activities. Users of the pylons will provide the company invaluable data about their habits, places they visit, and browsing activity.

As part of the original LinkNYC plan, Intersection is scheduled to start deploying the new ad-supported, locally manufactured, WiFi 'pylons' this fall, reaching all five boroughs of the city. It will be the largest and fastest free municipal WiFi system in the world. After that, the company plans to start rolling out similar initiatives in other U.S. cities, but details have not been made public yet.
Facebook

Facebook's Absurd Pseudonym Purgatory 289 289

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-not-to-encourage-discussion dept.
An anonymous reader sends a story from a writer whose Facebook account was locked because somebody reported it as using a pseudonym. It doesn't, but Facebook demands a look at identification documents before releasing control over the account. Anyone whose name doesn't sound "real" to Facebook is at risk for this, and the social network doesn't even have a consistent stance on what an "authentic" name is. "Aside from the complexity of identity, the policy is haphazardly enforced at best. At worst, it’s dangerous and discriminatory, and has demonstrably and repeatedly been used to target people who often already are marginalized and vulnerable." Matt Cagle, attorney for the ACLU, says, "By controlling the identity of the speaker with this policy, Facebook has the effect of both reducing speech and eliminating speakers from the platform altogether. This is a particularly concerning move to the ACLU because forums like Facebook serve as the modern-day equivalent of the public square for a lot of communities.
Social Networks

Facebook Has a New Private Mobile Photo-Sharing App, and They Built It In C++ 173 173

Posted by timothy
from the fortran-was-busy dept.
jfruh writes: Facebook [on Monday] announced Moments, a new mobile app that uses Facebook's facial recognition technology to let you sync up photos only with friends who are in those photos with you. Somewhat unusually for a new app, the bulk of it is built in the venerable C++ language, which turned out to be easier for building a cross-platform mobile app than other more "modern" languages.
Facebook

Belgian Privacy Watchdog Sues Facebook 72 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-them-to-court dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Belgium is taking Facebook to task – and to court – about the company's opaque user-monitoring frameworks. The country's independent Privacy Commission, which is partnered with equivalent institutions in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain, failed to obtain information from the social media giant about the extent and nature of its user-analysis network, and has now decided to take action. The commission is particularly interested in the use that Facebook makes of information about users who are not logged in to Facebook, and may not even be members. The ubiquity of Facebook "share" buttons, along with other popular widgets or modules, have extended the company's reach far beyond its own site. The court convenes on the matter this Thursday.
The Media

Journalist Burned Alive In India For Facebook Post Exposing Corruption 219 219

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
arnott writes: Journalist Jagendra Singh used a Facebook page to expose corruption in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. Though he posted under a pseudonym, he was quickly found and burned alive by police, allegedly on the order of the minister accused. He died a week later from his injuries. This is not the first case of a journalist being attacked in this state. Amnesty International had urged the local government to launch an official investigation, and now five policemen and a politician have been brought up on murder charges. What can Facebook or other companies do to help these journalists report on corruption in a safe manner?
The Internet

ISP Breaking Net Neutrality? The FCC's Got a Complaint Form For That 99 99

Posted by timothy
from the handy-dandy-forms dept.
Presto Vivace writes with news from The Consumerist that the FCC has updated its consumer help center with a revamped form for complaining about an unsatisfactory ISP. From the article: Among the issues concerned consumers can complain about, the form now contains "open internet/net neutrality," right there alphabetically between "interference" and "privacy." So what, specifically, qualifies as a net neutrality violation you can complain about? The FCC has guidance for that, too. In general, paraphrased, it's a problem if there's:

Blocking: ISPs may not block access to any lawful content, apps, services, or devices.
Throttling: ISPs may not slow down or degrade lawful internet traffic from any content, apps, sites, services, or devices.
Paid prioritization: ISPs may not enter into agreements to prioritize and benefit some lawful internet traffic over the rest of it on their networks.
Apple

Woz To Be Immortalized In Wax 72 72

Posted by timothy
from the but-wax-can-suffocate dept.
mikejuk writes: Having already made wax figures of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, the Madame Tussauds museum recently put out a call for nominations for who should be next, with the stipulation that the nominees have a connection with the Bay Area. The shortlist was then whittled down to ten, including Google co-founder Larry Page, Tesla's Elon Musk, Marc Benioff of Salesforce, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo. Any of them would look great as wax figures, but outcome of the public vote was a clear winner — Steve Wozniak. Once his statue is complete Woz will be on display next to Steve Jobs in San Francisco and an ideal setting for a selfie.
Facebook

How Facebook Is Eating the $140 Billion Hardware Market 89 89

Posted by timothy
from the any-sauce-on-that? dept.
mattydread23 writes: It started out as a controversial idea inside Facebook. In four short years, the Open Compute Project has turned the $141 billion data-center computer-hardware industry on its head. This is the comprehensive history of the project, including interviews with founder Jonathan Heiliger and members of the financial services industry who are already on board, plus a dismissal from Google's own data center guru Urs Holzle.
Software

Face Recognition Tech Pushes Legal Boundaries 110 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-else-will-the-cyborgs-find-john-connor dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As face recognition software becomes more capable, companies and governments are coming up with new ways to use it. Microsoft has already patented a Minority Report-style personalized billboard, and loss prevention departments in big stores are rolling out systems to "pre-identify" shoplifters. But this rush to implement the technology runs afoul of privacy laws in at least two U.S. states: Illinois and Texas forbid the use of face recognition software without "informed consent" from the target. Facebook is the target of a recent lawsuit in Illinois over this exact issue; it's likely to test the strength of such a law. "Facebook and Google use facial recognition to detect when a user appears in a photograph and to suggest that he or she be tagged. Facebook calls this "Tag Suggestions" ... With the boom in personalized advertising technology, a facial recognition database of its users is likely very, very valuable to Facebook. ... Eager to extract that value, Facebook signed users up by default when it introduced Tag Suggestions in 2011. This meant that Facebook calculated faceprints for every user who didn't take the steps to opt out." If Facebook loses and citizens start pushing for similar laws in other states, it could keep our activities in public relatively anonymous for a bit longer.
Encryption

US Tech Giants Ask Obama Not To Compromise Encryption 108 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the beholden-to-shareholders-vs.-beholden-to-voters dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Two industry bodies which represent Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, IBM, and others, have written to President Obama urging that the U.S. government not seek to legislate "official back doors" into encryption techniques. The Software and Information Industry Association and the Information Technology Industry Council sent the "strongly worded" letter on Monday, saying, "Consumer trust in digital products and services is an essential component enabling continued economic growth of the online marketplace. Accordingly, we urge you not to pursue any policy or proposal that would require or encourage companies to weaken these technologies, including the weakening of encryption or creating encryption 'work-arounds.'" The letter is the latest salvo in a public battle for secure communications, one that has reached the public eye in a way that few security stories do.
The Internet

SpaceX Wants Permission To Test Satellite Internet 98 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes: SpaceX has filed documents with the FCC asking for permission to begin testing a project to serve internet access from space. "The plan calls for launching a constellation of 4,000 small and cheap satellites that would beam high-speed Internet signals to all parts of the globe, including its most remote regions." This follows news that Facebook and Google had stepped back their efforts in that arena. SpaceX could prove to be a better fit for the project, given that they need only rely on themselves for launching satellites into orbit. "The satellites would be deployed from one of SpaceX's rockets, the Falcon 9. Once in orbit, the satellites would connect to ground stations at three West Coast facilities. The purpose of the tests is to see whether the antenna technology used on the satellites will be able to deliver high-speed Internet to the ground without hiccups."
Google

Google and Facebook Cancel Satellite Plans 33 33

Posted by Soulskill
from the turns-out-space-is-hard dept.
schwit1 writes: Facebook and Google have both cancelled their plans to build satellite systems to provide global internet access. It appears Google pulled out earlier this year, while Facebook's decision was revealed today (paywalled). Google remains a partner in Skybox, a space imaging company, as well as O3b, which is trying to provide internet using satellites.

"While Facebook’s cancelled project comes from the more traditional approach to satellite internet, the current hope of Wyler and other satellite entrepreneurs is that constellations made up of many small satellites could solve those two problems. They would offer faster service, since they are closer to earth than the typical communication satellites, which fly at high altitudes to maximize coverage; and they would cost less, since tiny satellites are typically less expensive than their larger siblings. But even this plan may over-promise—one of the pioneers of the satellite business, Martin Sweeting, chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd., compared interest in small satellites to the froth on top of a cappuccino. The technical challenges to flying and operating a full-fledged constellation of them may still prove too difficult to surmount."
The Internet

Feds Want To Unmask Internet Commenters Writing About the Silk Road Trial Judge 183 183

Posted by Soulskill
from the oh-no-somebody-said-something-mean-on-the-internet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A grand jury subpoena, obtained by Ken White of the law blog Popehat, demands that libertarian news magazine Reason hand over "any and all identifying information" about certain commenters posting on an article published May 31st, "Silk Road Trial: Read Ross Ulbricht's Haunting Sentencing Letter to Judge." The subpoena cites a law against "interstate threats" as the reason for demanding the information, which the Supreme Court very recently decided must include real intent.

As White points out, the comments — repugnant as they are — may very well not constitute a true threat, as they aren't directed at the judge and don't detail any real plans for violence. The kicker: although it's possible to fight the subpoena, precedent suggests the U.S. Attorney's office may have the power to obtain the information anyway. However the situation shakes out, this isn't nearly the first fight over commenter anonymity and the First Amendment, and certainly won't be the last.
Japan

Robots Compete In Navigating Simulation Of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Plant 64 64

Posted by samzenpus
from the finding-the-path dept.
schwit1 writes: A new DARPA Robotics Challenge completed its final competition recently. 25 teams operated robots around a landscape designed to simulate the hazardous environment that aid workers found after the Fukushima Daiichi reactor in Japan melted down multiple times in 2011. Engineers tried to help, but disaster ensued, rendering a huge area around the plant uninhabitable after toxic steam was released into the skies. The radioactive leftovers are still emitting a million watts of heat. First prize is $2m, second prize is $1m, and third gets $500,000.
Censorship

Anti-TPP Website Being Blacklisted 180 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the fighting-the-anti-fight dept.
so.dan writes: The CTO of Fight for the Future — the non-profit activism group behind Battle for the Net, Blackout Congress, and Stop Fast Track — Jeff Lyon, is seeking advice regarding a problem with facing the website they created — stopfasttrack.com — to fight the secret Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal.

The site been blacklisted by Twitter, Facebook, and major email providers as malicious/spam. Over the last week, nobody has been able to post the website on social networks, or send any emails with their URL. Lyon has posted a summary of the relevant details on Reddit in the hope of obtaining useful feedback regarding what the cause might be. However, none of the answers there right now seem particularly useful, so I'm hoping the Slashdot community can help him out by posting here.

Lyon indicates that the blackout has occurred at a particularly crucial point in the campaign to kill the TPP, as most members of the House of Representatives would likely vote against it were it brought to a vote now, and as pro-TPP interests have started to escalate their lobbying efforts on the House to counteract what would otherwise be a no vote.
Facebook

Facebook Sued In US Court For Blocking Page In India 100 100

Posted by timothy
from the proper-jurisdiction dept.
itwbennett writes: Facebook has been sued in California by the non-profit organization Sikhs For Justice for blocking their page in India. The group has charged Facebook with engaging in 'a pattern of civil rights violation and blatant discriminatory conduct' by blocking its content in the whole of India. It has asked the court for a permanent injunction on further blocking of the page, access to Facebook's correspondence with the Indian government about the block, and an award of damages, besides other relief.
Microsoft

Microsoft Hasn't Given Up On the Non-Smart Phones It Inherited From Nokia 66 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-phone-left-behind dept.
jfruh writes: Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's handset business was mostly focused on gaining a hardware line that ran the company's Windows Phone OS; but in the process, Microsoft also gained ownership of some model lines that are classified as "feature phones" and some that are straight up dumb, and they're still coming out with new models, confusingly still bearing the "Nokia" brand. The $20 Nokia 105 as billed as "long-lasting backup device" and comes with an FM radio, while the $30 Nokia 215 is "Internet-ready" and comes with Facebook and Twitter apps.