bonch writes: Google is facing an FTC fine for its use of a controversial method to bypass Safari's privacy settings. The FTC will allege that Google violated a consent decree signed last year and is negotiating with Google over the the size of the fee, which could amount to more than $10 million.
bonch writes: The FBI plans to push surveillance backdoors on websites and is pressuring ISPs not to oppose laws making such such backdoors mandatory. The proposal, an extension to the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act which currently applies to telecommunications companies, would extend the law's coverage to social networks, email, and VoIP. The FBI's legislation has already been approved by the Justice Department.
bonch writes: After an FCC report revealed that Google's Street View wi-fi logging wasn't the act of a rogue engineer and that other employees knew about it, European regulators are considering reopening their investigations into the program. Dutch regulator Jacob Kohnstamm said that lawmakers were misled by executives at Google and that 'it is time for data protection authorities around the world to work together to hold the company accountable'. A Google spokesperson responded, '[W]e agree with the F.C.C.’s conclusion that we did not break the law. We hope that we can now put this matter behind us.'
bonch writes: According to the FCC report, Google's collection of Street View data was not the unauthorized act of a rogue engineer, as Google had portrayed it, but an authorized program known to supervisors and at least seven other engineers. The original proposal contradicts Google's claim that there was no intent to gather payload data: 'We are logging user traffic along with sufficient data to precisely triangulate their position at a given time, along with information about what they were doing.'
bonch writes: Google will begin redirecting blogs to country-specific URLs. Blog visitors will be redirected to a URL specific to their location, with content subject to their country's censorship laws. A support post on Blogger explains the change: 'Over the coming weeks you might notice that the URL of a blog you're reading has been redirected to a country-code top level domain, or "ccTLD." For example, if you're in Australia and viewing [blogname].blogspot.com, you might be redirected to [blogname].blogspot.com.au. A ccTLD, when it appears, corresponds with the country of the reader's current location.'
bonch writes: A massive Android malware campaign may be responsible for duping as many as 5 million users into downloading the Android.Counterclan infection from the Google Android Market. The trojan collects the user's personal information, modifies the home page, and displays unwanted advertisements. It is packaged in 13 different applications, some of which have been on the store for at least a month. Several of the malicious apps are still available on the Android Market as of 3 P.M. ET. Symantec has posted the full list of infected applications.
bonch writes: A partnership between Political and Facebook will allow deep access to Facebook users' political views, including private messages and status updates. Politico will use an automated tool to anonymously analyze references to political candidates and measure overall political sentiment, similar to Google's statistical reports on user search trends.
bonch writes: Starting in version 2.0, Adblock Plus will allow 'non-intrusive ads' by default in order to encourage advertisers to switch to better ways of advertising. Criteria for whitelisting includes static ads only and at most one script that delays page load. Outcry has been negative enough to lead the developer to disable comments to the blog post.
bonch writes: "The latest developer preview of OS X Lion includes a "do not track" privacy feature in Safari, the latest browser to do so following Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer. The feature complies with a privacy system backed by the FTC that allows users to declare that they do not wish to be tracked by online advertisers. This leaves Google Chrome as the last prominent browser not to support the feature. As an online advertiser themselves, Google states that they 'will continue to be involved closely' with industry discussions about compliance with the do-not-track system."
bonch writes: Democrat Herb Kohl, the Senate's leading antitrust legislator, has vowed an antitrust probe into Google as one of his top priorities. Others in Congress are criticizing the search giant over several flubs, including scanning personal data over neighborhood WiFi, collecting Social Security information from children in a doodling contest, and sidestepping net neutrality rules through a deal with Verizon. They're also concerned over ties with the administration--Eric Schmidt is a technology advisor to President Obama, Andrew McLaughlin serves as Obama's deputy chief technology officer, and Sonal Shah leads the White House Office of Social Innovation. Google spent $5.2 million last year on federal lobbying, but critics say their increased Washington presence has made more enemies than friends.
bonch writes: South Korean police say Google was in violation of Internet privacy laws when its Street View service archived private information in more than 30 countries, including email and text messages. The country's Cyber Terror Response Center broke the encryption on hard drives raided from Google last August and confirmed that private information had been gathered, violating South Korea's telecommunications laws. Police are seeking the original author of the program, though they say it is likely to be a U.S. citizen. Google said it stopped collecting the information as soon as it realized what was happening. 40 states in the U.S. are demanding access to the information gathered by the mapping service in order to determine what was archived, which Google refused to hand over. 'We have been cooperating with the Korean Communications Commission and the police, and will continue to do so,' said a Google Korea spokesperson.