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Is the FTC Investigation Into Google’s Operations Warranted? Definitely, Here’s Why.

googleThe world’s largest online search engine, Google Inc., is now subject of a U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) review, after the agency officially announced the formal investigation last Friday.

Users do have many alternatives to finding information online, from other search engines, including Microsoft Bing, to specialized search engines that retrieve information from particular databases, like financial information from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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Amazon Launches Android App Store, Apple Sues for Trademark Infringement

The world’s largest Internet-based commerce company, Amazon Inc., is venturing into unfamiliar territory by launching a new mobile applications store, Amazon Appstore, for Google Android powered devices on Monday.

Amazon Appstore directly competes with Android Marketplace, the native application store for Android powered devices, but currently only has about 4,000 applications in its index, a number that is likely to grow exponentially in the coming weeks.

Users could access Amazon Appstore directly from their PC browser, or from an Android device.

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Obama Could Veto Just Approved $61bn House Spending Cut Vote

WASHINGTON—Early this Saturday morning, the United States House of Representatives voted 235 to 189 in favor of trimming $61-billion in federal spending costs off of the $1.2-trillion federal budget for fiscal 2011.

The Republican controlled House vowed to cut spending in a bid to avoid any future tax hike, even adding new limitations to the access of money that would have been earmarked to support Obama’s health-care reform plan.

Democrats will not accept the spending concessions, and as an early March spending deadline looms, the government could be shut out if lawmakers don’t reach a consensus on spending.

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Privacy Standards For The TV That Is Watching You

Digital screens that can gather information about consumers are growing more common in stores and other public places. In response to privacy concerns, trade associations have issued privacy standards. Will they be enough?

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Harley Geiger, Policy Counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), a non-profit public interest organization based in Washington, DC. With expertise in law, technology, and policy, CDT’s mission is to keep the Internet open, innovative, and free. Geiger wrote a paper on digital signage privacy standards for CDT and worked with Digital Signage Federation to adapt the paper into their guidelines.

All too often, it is only after public uproar that companies see the value of privacy and adopt safeguards that should have been present in the first place. For industries seeking to grow in visibility and to attract and retain customers, it is not helpful to be burdened with a reputation for being intrusive or creepy. Consumer mistrust can last long after any public outcry fades. The digital signage industry just took a critical step in the other direction, adopting privacy rules before large-scale controversy.

The Digital Signage Federation, a major industry trade association, announced last week that it is adopting a comprehensive set of digital signage privacy standards for its member companies and their affiliates. The move comes as identification technologies are gaining traction within the digital signage industry. The digital signage trade associations are showing considerable prudence in adopting the standards now, rather than after a backlash over privacy. However, as digital signage transforms the media landscape, it remains to be seen whether the voluntary standards will be enough. That is up to the individual companies deploying and using the technology.

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JPMorgan Chase Says It Had No Duty to Mitigate Madoff Fraud

Bernard Madoff, the disgraced investment executive responsible for the biggest ponzi scheme in U.S. history, kept his client’s capital at the financial intermediary JPMorgan Chase.

A recently filed lawsuit by appointed trustee Irving Picard aimed at JPMorgan is seeking $6.4-billion in damages from the New York City-based investment bank, citing internal e-mails, among other communications, that allegedly proves JPMorgan knew something was off with Madoff’s account.

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Sony Seeks Personal Information from Twitter, YouTube Users In PlayStation 3 Hack Case

The notorious 21-year old computer programmer from New Jersey, George Hotz, best known for being the first to crack Apple’s iOS iPhone to run homebrewed applications, is facing legal troubles after releasing a hack variation for Sony’s PlayStation 3 gaming system.

At first believed to be un-crackable, programmers were finally able to crack the firmware of the four-year-old gaming console, allowing gamers to play pirated games, and to run homebrewed third party applications.

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NASDAQ Confirms Part of Its Systems Were Hacked, Repeatedly Accessed

nasdaq-nyc-times-squareThe New York City-based equities index, NASDAQ, confirmed on Saturday that unknown Internet hackers successfully penetrated part of the organization’s sensitive networks, even multiple times, throughout 2010.

Hackers were able to access data from the company’s Directors Desk product, which is a cloud-based service NASDAQ Group offers to companies that have their securities listed on its index, which allows users to securely share documents.

Top-level government agencies, including the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), the FBI, the Secret Service, and the Justice Department, among others, are working together to identify the perpetrators and what information they could have illegally accessed.

Investigators have not reached a motive for the attacks, which could span to include industrial espionage, to financial gain from accessing material nonpublic information.

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Millions of Honda/Acura owners affected by hacked Honda database

The Japanese motor company, Honda, today issued an alert to U.S. customers concerning a security breach resulting from a hacked database.

The database that was managed by a third-party marketing group contained confidential information, including names of car owners, personal e-mail addresses, and even Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN).

The company downplayed the breach, saying it would be very difficult for the hackers to actually utilize the stolen information to steal a person’s identity.

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Skype’s downtime explanation could have caused new patent infringement lawsuit

The world’s most popular online video teleconferencing company, Skype, has been served with a new patent infringement lawsuit by Gradient Enterprises, alleging the way Skype has setup its network infrastructure infringes on patents it holds.

Court documents filed by Gradient Enterprises on December 21, 2010 in a New York district court cite U.S. patent number 7,669,207, a patent that relates to how information systems detect, report, and respond to network node-level events.

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IE9 and Microsoft’s Shrewd Play to Become Privacy Leader

microsoftEditor’s note: This is a guest post by Mark Stanley from the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), a non-profit public interest organization based in Washington, D.C. For more on online privacy, visit CDT’s Take Back Your Privacy page.

For online privacy, the pressure is mounting in Washington, D.C. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a highly anticipated privacy report. The 122-page report was the subject of much discussion, with particular interest focused on the endorsement of an online “Do Not Track” mechanism.

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