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Compensation Is the Window on Business
January 15, 2015
The continuing rollout of platform technology is bringing many applications together to support better business processes. Not long ago, it was nearly impossible for back-office people to know what the front office was doing. It was hard for marketing and sales to know how they were affecting each other. It's now easier for different areas of the business to understand operations as a whole.
Instacart Bags $220 Million
January 14, 2015
Instacart on Tuesday announced it has raised $220 million, following a $44 million investment round in June of last year. The company uses a fleet of personal shoppers, who are independent contractors, to purchase and deliver items to customers. "The two main differentiators for Instacart are our focus on grocery and our strategy to partner with retailers," said Instacart's Nilam Ganenthiran.
SCOTUS Seeks DoJ Input on Google-Oracle Java Dispute
January 13, 2015
The Supreme Court of the United States on Monday invited the Obama administration to weigh in on whether it should hear arguments in the ongoing dispute between Google and Oracle over Java copyrights. U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr. "is invited to file a brief in this case expressing the views of the United States," reads the SCOTUS memo.
The Fallout From the NSA's Backdoors Mandate
January 13, 2015
The United States National Security Agency (NSA) is widely believed to have mandated high-tech vendors build backdoors into their hardware and software. Reactions from foreign governments to the news are harming American businesses and, some contend, may result in the breakup of the Internet. For example, Russia is moving to paper and typewriters in some cases to move certain types of information.
Data Breach Law Tops Obama Privacy Initiatives
January 12, 2015
A proposed national data breach reporting law, aimed primarily at protecting consumer privacy, headlined several initiatives the Obama administration announced Monday. The Personal Data Notification & Protection Act clarifies the obligations of companies when there's been a data breach. It includes a requirement to notify customers within 30 days of the discovery of a breach.
Auto Insurance? Just Google It
January 12, 2015
Google reportedly is gearing up to launch a shopping and comparison site for auto insurance in the United States. The company has been operating such a site in the UK, dubbed "Google Compare," for the past two years. Although it apparently has been beset by delays, an entity called "Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc." now is licensed to do business in 26 states.
Starboard to Yahoo's Mayer: Our Way or the Highway
January 09, 2015
Activist hedge fund Starboard, which has been dissatisfied with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's strategy for some time, on Thursday sent a letter advising her to toe the line or expect to be ousted. Starboard expressed concern over recent media reports that Mayer has been considering some large acquisitions. Starboard also appears worried about what Yahoo will do with its remaining shares of Alibaba.
Google Joins Charlie Hebdo Solidarity Movement
January 09, 2015
Google has donated nearly $300,000 to help French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo make its largest print run ever, following Wednesday's massacre at the magazine's Paris office. Its normal production run numbers about 60,000 copies, but the surviving staff plan to print a million issues next week. A number of media outlets also have pledged to help keep the publication alive.
Net Neutrality Hostilities Resume
January 08, 2015
The battle over Net neutrality has been reignited, dashing the hopes of those who thought it might be settled in February, at least in part, when the United States Federal Communication Commission is expected to make its ruling on the issue. Democratic members of congress led by Sen. Patrick Leahy on Wednesday introduced the Online Competition and Consumer Choice Act of 2015.
Intel Takes Up Diversity Challenge to the Tune of $300M
January 07, 2015
Intel will invest $300 million over the next five years to promote gender and racial diversity, CEO Brian Krzanich announced Tuesday at CES 2015. The company plans to have full representation at all levels in its workforce by 2020. That's close to 100,000 people. "This is a highly relevant issue, and one that we all need to address," Krzanich said.
Federal IT Reform: Just Getting Started
January 07, 2015
IT providers who market to the federal government got some holiday cheer as the U.S. Congress and the White House approved legislation to improve the way the government acquires IT equipment and services. The reforms are significant, and no doubt will facilitate the marketing of IT to federal agencies. President Obama signed the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act on Dec. 16.
Writers Worldwide Chilled by Government Surveillance
January 06, 2015
Concern over government surveillance has been so heightened by confidential information leaked by former intelligence hand Edward Snowden that writers in free countries are as worried as those in autocratic nations, according to a new report. Three-quarters of writers in countries classified as "free" told researchers they were "worried" or "somewhat worried" about surveillance.
Yikes! Ransomware Could Take Over Your Hard Drive
January 05, 2015
Malware is running rampant on the Internet, affecting smartphones, tablets and PCs. Relatively new malware allows bad guys to encrypt devices until a ransom is paid. Usually the ransom is required in bitcoin, rather than U.S. currency, as it cannot be traced. What are the legal and other risks associated with ransomware? Ransomware is largely directed at personal devices and small businesses.
Tech Sector Sees Federal IT Act as 1st Step to Significant Reform
December 26, 2014
The political spotlight in Washington was on congressional approval of the 2015 budget before legislators broke for the holidays, but a less volatile proposal also was passed in the closing days of the session -- one of considerable importance to the information technology sector. In addition to the budget, Congress approved the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, or FITARA.
Amazon Plans Fire Phone Do-Over for 2016
December 23, 2014
Amazon reportedly is working on a second iteration of its Fire Phone for release in 2016. Following the disappointing performance of the phone's first generation, it appears the company has gone back to the drawing board to determine the combination of features that will succeed. The first Fire Phone was "quite the learning experience," said analyst Michael Morgan.
Netflix's Very Big Deal
December 22, 2014
Dish Network last week announced that it had integrated the Netflix app into its set-top box. The video streaming service is now available to Dish subscribers with a second-generation Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR. This integration of the services allows Dish customers the ability to stream Netflix movies and TV shows from the same platform that is used to access linear TV channels.
Google Calls In Legal Eagles in MPAA Piracy Skirmish
December 19, 2014
Google has filed a lawsuit against Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the latest salvo in its piracy battle with the Motion Picture Association of America. Hood targeted Google with an "unreasonable, retaliatory and burdensome" subpoena, the complaint says. The referenced subpoena likely is part of a coordinated campaign against Google known as "Project Goliath."
Feds Pounce on Sprint for Phone Bill Cramming
December 18, 2014
The United States government is delivering a one-two punch to Sprint over the practice of cramming -- allowing third parties to place unauthorized charges on customers' bills. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau on Thursday filed a civil suit against Sprint over the issue. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission reportedly is planning to hit Sprint with a $105 million fine.
Tech Industry Rallies Around Microsoft in Data Privacy Battle With US
December 18, 2014
A coalition of supporting organizations filed 10 amicus briefs with the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in a case challenging a U.S. government search warrant for Microsoft customer data stored on a server based in Ireland. The coalition includes 28 technology and media companies, 35 computer scientists, and 23 trade associations and advocacy organizations.
Disappointed iPod Plaintiffs: Jurors Didn't Weigh the Right Questions
December 17, 2014
After a 10-year knock-down drag-out battle, Apple on Tuesday prevailed in a class-action lawsuit over its use of digital rights management technology on iPods purchased between Sept. 1, 2006 and March 31, 2009. Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd -- one of the "most feared litigation firms" in the U.S. -- brought the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Sony Sends News Outlets a Stern but Toothless Warning
December 16, 2014
On behalf of Sony Pictures Entertainment, high-powered attorney David Boies has sent a letter to several news outlets demanding that they refrain from publishing stories based on material hackers recently stole from the company and that they destroy the pilfered data. The letter to the news organizations claims the stolen information is "protected under U.S. and foreign legal doctrines."
Good, Bad and Ugly 'Pirate Bays' Spring Up in Torrent World
December 15, 2014
The torrent world is in turmoil following last week's shutdown of The Pirate Bay in a police raid. Other torrent sites have seen traffic spikes, while Pirate Bay clones -- set up both by file-sharing activists and cyberscamsters -- are emerging. Meanwhile, authorities around the world appear to be playing a game of whack-a-mole. There have been indications The Pirate Bay may stage a comeback.
Sony May Have Succumbed to DDoS Temptation
December 15, 2014
Sony reportedly has used Amazon Web Services to launch distributed denial of service attacks on sites carrying files stolen from its network. Those attacks apparently involved "hundreds of computers" in Tokyo and Singapore. Amazon reportedly issued a statement denying the claim, but the language it used was vague: "The activity being reported is not currently happening on AWS."
Your Bitcoins Are Good at Microsoft
December 15, 2014
Microsoft last week began to accept bitcoins as payment for digital content purchases. Bitcoins can be credited to a Microsoft account by anyone in the United States at the currency's market value -- currently around US$352 per bitcoin -- and used to buy content at the Windows Store or stores that carry Xbox games, music and video.

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