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Communications

Telco CEO: Consumers Have 'Double Standards' Over Data Privacy (thestack.com) 67

An anonymous reader writes: Despite consumers continuing to criticize corporate attempts at monetising data, they are happily handing over data to major tech companies such as Facebook, according to the head of Telefonica Deutschland, Thorsten Dirks. Dirks argued that there is a double standard among consumers who 'scrutinize any attempt to make money off their data', while at the same time 'handing over data voluntarily to companies such as Google and Facebook.' These firms, he opined, are stealing away business across the very infrastructure that telcos have invested billions in. Calling for a wide debate around data privacy in Germany, Dirks said that he was looking into ways to make money from Telefonica Deutschland's huge store of customer data. One proposition was to leverage the anonymised data of its 44 million mobile subscribers' location and movements to support crowd and traffic control.
Crime

Prisons Moving To All-Video Visitation (mic.com) 277

"A new system called 'video visitation' is replacing in-person jail visits with glitchy, expensive Skype-like video calls," reports Tech.Mic. "It's inhumane, dystopian and actually increases in-prison violence -- but god, it makes money."

Slashdot reader gurps_npc writes: In-person costs a lot to administer, while you can charge people to 'visit' via video conferencing. (Charge as in overcharge -- just like they charge up to $14 a minute for normal, audio only telephone calls). This is new, and the few studies that have been done show that doing this increases violence in the prison -- and it's believed to also increase recidivism. But the companies making a ton on it like that -- repeat customers and all. Of course, the service is horrible, often being full of static and dropped calls -- and the company doesn't help you fix the problem.
Meanwhile, the EFF reports that last year Facebook disabled 53 U.S prisoner and 74 U.K. prisoner accounts at the request of the government, and is urging people to report takedown requests for inmate social media to OnlineCensorship.org.
AT&T

AT&T Caps Are A Giant Con And An Attack On Cord-Cutters (dslreports.com) 173

An anonymous reader writes: Following a report from DSLReports that ATT would be imposing usage caps on the company's U-Verse broadband customers, ATT has announced it would now be following Comcast's lead by "allowing" users to pay $30 more a month if they wanted to avoid usage caps entirely. However, ATT has taken it to a new level by "allowing" users to graciously avoid the $30 fee -- if they subscribe to DirecTV or U-Verse TV service. These data caps allow ISPs like ATT and Comcast to cash in on internet video and make cord-cutting less viable by making streaming more expensive. And now, ATT is using caps to force users to subscribe to traditional TV if they want their broadband connection to work like it used to.
The Almighty Buck

California's $15-an-Hour Minimum Wage May Spur Automation (computerworld.com) 940

An anonymous readers links to an article on ComputerWorld: For many California business groups, the state's decision to gradually raise its minimum wage to $15 by 2022 is a terrible thing. But for its technology industry, it may be a plus. Higher wages, says the California Restaurant Association, will force businesses to face "undesirable" options, including cutting staff, raising prices and adopting automation. But a higher minimum wage will "signal to tech companies and entrepreneurs" to look at the restaurant industry, said Darren Tristano, president of Technomic, a research group focused on the restaurant industry. The state's governor and legislators reached an agreement Monday to raise the wages. "I think there are a lot of tech companies that are looking at the restaurant industry to accelerate their growth," said Tristano. The restaurant industry is primed for change, said Tristano, "Many of the routines that take place in restaurants are not very different from 30 to 40 years ago," he said.
Businesses

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Endorsed by Major Tech Group (siliconbeat.com) 93

An anonymous reader shares a report on SiliconBeat: An industry group representing major tech firms including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Twitter, Uber and eBay has endorsed the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact plan "The TPP recognizes the Internet as an essential American export," Internet Association CEO Michael Beckerman said in a statement. "Historically, pro-Internet policies have been absent from trade agreements, which is why the TPP is an important step forward for the Internet sector that accounts for 6 percent of the GDP and nearly 3 million American jobs. "It will be critical that the TPP is implemented in a way that supports the Internet economy." While President Barack Obama backs the trade deal, it has met with strong opposition from critics including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who attacked secrecy around the pact's drafting and has said the deal could weaken U.S. regulations that are good for Americans but might threaten foreign companies' profits.Brier Dudley, Seattle Times Columnist, tweeted, "TPP "taken a 180" since TPA, when there was confidence of passage, Rep @davereichert says. Issues incl. biologic protections, tobacco lobby."
The Almighty Buck

How Much Do Tech Bosses Really Earn? (dice.com) 59

Nerval's Lobster writes: Everybody knows that tech's top figures, such as Google CEO Larry Page or Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, are worth billions of dollars thanks to stock options. But how much do everyday tech executives -- the CIOs, Chief Data Officers, and so on -- earn? Generally between $150,000 and $175,000 per year, not [including] possible perks such as stock options, according to a new analysis. That's based on national data, although anyone who works in tech knows that in high-demand areas such as Silicon Valley, salaries can skyrocket far higher for those with highly specialized skill sets and the right mix of experience. It's a good time to be a Pointy-Haired Boss, but then again, when isn't it?
Businesses

Peter Jackson and JJ Abrams 'Back' Sean Parker's Screening Room (variety.com) 288

An anonymous reader writes: Reports claim that Napster founder, Sean Parker, is working on a new service, called Screening Room, which would make major blockbusters available at home on the same day as they hit cinemas. The service would apparently charge users $50 per movie, and provide them with a 48-hour window to watch it. Now a new report claims that Hollywood titans Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams are among backers of Screening Room.
Government

Former Disney IT Worker's Complaint To Congress: How Can You Allow This? (computerworld.com) 605

dcblogs writes: At a congressional hearing Thursday on the H-1B visa's impact on high-skilled workers, the first person to testify was Leo Perrero, a former Disney IT worker. He was overcome with emotion for parts of it, pausing to gather himself as he told the story of how he was replaced by a foreign visa holder. Perrero wondered how he would tell his family that "I would soon be living on unemployment." He paused. The hearing room was still as the audience waited for him to continue."Later that same day I remember very clearly going to the local church pumpkin sale and having to tell the kids that we could not buy any because my job was going over to a foreign worker," he said. But a person who made a case for access to foreign workers was Mark O'Neill, the CTO of Jackthreads, an online retailer. He argued that there is a need for more skilled workers. Competition is so fierce for developers "that my developers' starting salaries have risen by 50% in the last eight years," said O'Neill, and "senior positions command compensation that meets or exceeds even that of United States Senators."
AT&T

AT&T Sues Louisville Over Google Fiber (wdrb.com) 157

An anonymous reader writes: Louisville was one of the cities identified in 2015 as a potential Google fiber location? Since then, Louisville has completed the pre-work Google requires and, most recently, unamiously passed an ordinance to remove legacy bureaucratic speed bumps to installing fiber on existing utility poles. This applies to any telco wanting to add infrastructure, so that's good, right? Well, not according to AT&T. They are suing the city to block this ordinance and prohibit the city from using its infrastructure as it sees fit to provide better broadband to its citizens.
Television

CBS, Others Sued For Copyright Infringement Over "Soft Kitty" In Big Bang Theory (arstechnica.com) 349

UnknowingFool writes: In the popular sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, Penny has sung "Soft Kitty" to the difficult Sheldon Cooper on numerous occasions as a lullaby and to comfort him. These scenes are such fan favorites that the song lyrics are sold on merchandise. The daughters of poet Edith Newlin are suing CBS, Warner Bros, and others claiming copyright infringement for her poem, "Warm Kitty".

The situation is not a simple copyright infringement case of Warner Brothers not obtaining any permission. The poem was created in the 1930s by Newlin, but she granted permission to Willis Music to be used as lyrics in their songbook Songs for the Nursery School. Warner Brothers obtained permission from Willis Music in 2007 for the song to be used in the show. Willis Music is also named as a defendant.

Sci-Fi

Paramount and CBS File Lawsuit Against Crowdfunded, Indie Star Trek Movie (hollywoodreporter.com) 228

An anonymous reader writes: Back in August, an Indiegogo campaign raised $566,023 to produce Axanar, a Star Trek movie in development by an independent group of fans, who also happen to be film professionals. Now, unfortunately but predictably, Paramount and CBS have filed a lawsuit in California federal court claiming their intellectual property is being infringed upon. They are "demanding an injunction as well as damages for direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement." The guy running the crowdfunded film is a lawyer, and he said, "We've certainly been prepared for this and we certainly will defend this lawsuit. There are a lot of issues surrounding a fan film. These fan films have been around for 30 years, and others have raised a lot of money." He said CBS/Paramount weren't willing to provide guidelines on what types of fan productions would be tolerated (unlike Lucasfilm with Star Wars), because they worry about setting precedent.
The Almighty Buck

How Mark Zuckerberg's Altruism Helps Himself (nytimes.com) 240

HughPickens.com writes: Jesse Eisinger writes in the NYT that if you heard that Mark Zuckerberg donated $45 billion to charity, you are wrong. Here's what really happened: Zuckerberg did not set up a charitable foundation, which has nonprofit status. Instead Zuckerberg created an investment vehicle called a limited liability company (LLC) that can invest in for-profit companies, make political donations, and lobby for changes in the law. What's more an LLC can donate appreciated shares to charity, which will generate a deduction at fair market value of the stock without triggering any tax. "He remains completely free to do as he wishes with his money," writes Eisinger. "That's what America is all about. But as a society, we don't generally call these types of activities 'charity.'"

A charitable foundation is subject to rules and oversight. It has to allocate a certain percentage of its assets every year. The new Zuckerberg LLC won't be subject to those rules and won't have any transparency requirements. According to Eisinger what this means is that Zuckerberg has amassed one of the greatest fortunes in the world — and is likely never to pay any taxes on it. "Instead of lavishing praise on Mr. Zuckerberg for having issued a news release with a promise, this should be an occasion to mull what kind of society we want to live in," concludes Eisinger. "The point is that we are turning into a society of oligarchs. And I am not as excited as some to welcome the new Silicon Valley overlords."

Verizon

Verizon Boosts Price of Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans By $20 (theverge.com) 176

nicholasjay writes: In November, Verizon Wireless is going to start charging its customers with the grandfathered "unlimited data" plans an extra $20 for the data. This is obviously an attempt to get people off of the old unlimited data plans. Even though a Verizon spokesperson confirmed the change, I'm hoping they won't go through with this plan — but right now I'm weighing all my options.
Books

Amazon Is Only Going To Pay Authors When Each Page Is Read 172

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has a new plan to keep self-published authors honest: they're only going to pay them when someone actually reads a page. Peter Wayner at the Atlantic explores how this is going to change the lives of the authors — and the readers. Fat, impressive coffee table books are out if no one reads them. Thin, concise authors will be bereft. Page turners are in.
Businesses

Restaurateur Loses Copyright Suit To BMI 389

Frosty P writes: BMI claims Amici III in Linden, New York didn't have a license when it played four tunes in its eatery one night last year, including the beloved "Bennie and the Jets" and "Brown Sugar," winning $24,000 earlier this year, and over $8,200 in attorney's fees. Giovanni Lavorato, who has been in business for 25 years, says the disc DJ brought into the eatery paid a fee to play tunes. "It's ridiculous for me to pay somebody also," he said. "This is not a nightclub. This is not a disco joint . . . How many times do they want to get paid for the stupid music?"

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