detroit auto show

Ford Execs' Contrasting Statements Underscore Rise of Data Privacy Issue

Posted by Dale Buss on January 15, 2014 02:57 PM

Ford's CMO said something Snowden-esque about privacy at CES last week. And at NAIAS this week, Ford's CEO clawed back what he said. It was one of the biggest illustrations yet of how connectivity and all that it implies has become one of the most important dimensions of the global auto—and greater tech—industries.

The controversy began last week when Ford CMO Jim Farley said at a panel that the company can use global-positioning technology to know when Ford drivers break laws.

"We know everyone who breaks the law; we know when you're doing it," Farley said, according to Business Insider. "By the way, we don't supply that data to anyone."Continue reading...

let's make a deal

Google's Connected Home Ambitions Take Flight with Nest Acquisition

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 14, 2014 12:57 PM

On the heels of CES 2014, Google has effectively tapped into arguably one of the biggest trends in consumer tech—the smart home—by buying Nest Labs for $3.2 billion in cash, its second-largest acquisition to date. 

The company founded by former Apple executives Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell, who is credited as a key player in the invention of the iPod, is known for creating smart thermostats and smoke detectors. Nest told Forbes that it has sold about 1 million of its thermostats, placing them in nearly 1 percent of US households. 

And that's where excitement turns to concern, as consumers fear that Google may use Nest's technology to monitor them. Google has already addressed the concerns, saying its existing privacy policy "clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services," but that hasn't quieted the critics much. 

But Nest, a company started by and filled with ex-Apple employees, doesn't seem to be worried. Continue reading...

social media

Facebook Aims to Build Back Trust with Drop of Sponsored Posts as Twitter Pats Users on the Back

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 10, 2014 05:33 PM

Twitter and Facebook are taking divergent paths—the former adding a feature and the latter subtracting one, but users won't likely be complaining about the changes.

Twitter is testing a new feature in which 'power users' will now be rewarded with direct messages when their tweets achieve major reach. Facebook, on the other hand, will officially kill-off controversial "Sponsored Stories" as of April 9. 

According to TechCrunch, Twitter’s new feature is based out of the handle @AchievementBird, which will send DMs of kudos and encouragement for tweets that see a lot of retweets, comments and favorites. “Sending alerts to users notifying them that people are actually reading and even using their tweets in articles seems to be a good way to encourage those users to tweet more. And converting users from lurkers to active tweeters is important for retention and growth," the site notes.

Previous Twitter experiments in this vein include @MagicRecs, which suggested who to follow and what tweets to read, and @eventparrot, which sent messages containing links to tweets on breaking news.Continue reading...

privacy alert

Apple Denies NSA Tie-Up in New Privacy Claim

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 2, 2014 07:22 PM

Apple is under fire, refuting allegations it worked with the National Security Agency on back-door malware for spying on iPhone users called DROPOUTJEEP, with which it could, in theory, snoop on "any" Apple iPhone with "100 percent success."

A report in Der Spiegel on Sunday revealed a tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit within the NSA focused on penetration of foreign computer systems for data retrieval to protect national security, along with a separate division, ANT, created to compile data on hacking network systems and consumer electronics. 

Apple responded with the following statement:Continue reading...

tech fail

Snapchat Slow to React to Data Breach as SEA Strikes Skype

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 2, 2014 11:14 AM

Being among the top downloaded apps of 2013, attracting brands as diverse as MTV and IHOP, and getting immortalized in a marching band halftime show wasn't enough to save Snapchat from a data hack of immense proportions. 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers were leaked online Tuesday night, posted as a downloadable database by still-anonymous hackers.

The database site disappeared Wednesday morning—ironically mirroring Snapchat’s founding promise of photos that would self-destruct in a snap.

The hacker group seems to be sending more of a message to Snapchat than the public, as it censored the last two digits of phone numbers "in order to minimize spam and abuse," but said users could contact them directly for the uncensored version, which they would make available "under certain circumstances," according to RT.com. 

In a statement on the now-defunct webpage, the group said it posted the database to "raise awareness on the issue" and warn Snapchat users: "The company was too reluctant at patching the exploit until they knew it was too late and companies that we trust with our information should be more careful when dealing with it."Continue reading...

brand challenges

Target Facing Investigations, Lawsuits After Data Breach

Posted by Dale Buss on December 23, 2013 04:38 PM

Target is understanding what it's like to have a bulls-eye painted on its brand. Regulators, banks and some American consumers have joined the hackers who breached the retailer's data troves in dumping coal into Target's corporate stocking this Christmas season.

In full crisis-mitigation mode, CEO Gregg Steinhafel offered a 10 percent, one-checkout discount to all customers over the weekend after a massive data breach left information of about 40 million shoppers vulnerable to thieves. But there was evidence that some shoppers already had begun to shy away from Target for their holiday shopping last weekend, with the Wall Street Journal reporting a 3- to 4-percent decline compared with the weekend before Christmas a year ago.

Meanwhile, Chase popped restrictions onto debit cards affected by Target's security breach, contacting about 2 million card holders over the weekend and telling them that they would be limited to a maximum of $100 cash withdrawals and $300 in purchases per day, affecting less than 10 percent of Chase customers.Continue reading...

tech talk

Tech Giants, Obama Converge Over Surveillance, Healthcare.gov Concerns

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 17, 2013 07:37 PM

It seems to be tech week in Washington, D.C., as some of the country's top technology leaders met with President Obama to discuss several topics, including security and goverment surveillance. 

Since the Edward Snowden/NSA scandal broke earlier this year, consumers and tech innovators alike have been concerned about the government's practices of monitoring emails, social media activity, and phone conversations—behavior that was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge this week. According to The Verge, the President plans to discuss the economic effects of such unauthorized leaks, as well as how the government can further work with the tech sector to create jobs, and most importantly, how it can help to fix Healthcare.gov. The White House is even hitting up kids for ways to better use technology to learn.

15 leaders, including Apple CEO Time Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, as well as other high-level representatives from Zynga, Google, Etsy, Netflix, Dropbox, AT&T, Comcast, and Yahoo! were among those in attendance.Continue reading...

tech innovation

IBM Predicts Five Technologies That Will Change the World in the Next Five Years

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 17, 2013 05:43 PM

As the year readies to close out, it's time for the annual onslaught of year-end lists of best ofs, worst ofs, and 2014 look-aheads. So in due course, IBM has released its annual 5 in 5 annual technology predictions, highlighting what the company thinks will come to the forefront in the next five years. 

“We try to get a sense of where the world is going because that focuses where we put our efforts,” Bernie Meyerson, VP Innovation at IBM, told VentureBeat. “The harder part is nailing down what you want to focus on. Unless you stick your neck out and say this is where the world is going, it’s hard to turn around and say you will get there first. These are seminal shifts. We want to be there, enabling them.”

Among the expected innovations in cloud computing and smarter cities, IBM expects there to be significant changes in the way the medical community treats illness, and how our digital lives are made more secure.

The new list of tech trends and innovations that IBM expects to impact our lives in the years ahead:Continue reading...

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