Google put itself in political hot water by “accidentally” collecting un-encrypted Wi-Fi data alongside roadside images, but offered to make amends by immediately deleting it with the co-operation of local governments. It’s hard to understand how such a human error could occur, however most people were willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. It turns out however, another human error prevented them from carrying through on their promise, and an undisclosed amount of data remains on Google servers.
Google's market capital is over $200 billion, and shares of the search giant sell for about $625 a pop. Why is this relevant? Well, let's just say that a $25,000 fine wouldn't exactly be painful to Google. In fact, it would barely register as a prick, yet it's the amount the Federal Trade Commission is seeking after accusing the sultan of search of acting like one, or more specifically, for 'impeding' an investigation into how it collects personal and private data, including emails and text messages, through its Street View service.
When it comes to the Internet, sifting through the crap to find the gems can be difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing – especially if you’re looking for unbiased opinions on retail products. Unscrupulous advertisers have been paying web workers nickels for whipping up false user reviews at shopping sites for a while now, and apparently, bloggers making false claims about products have become an epidemic in Taiwan. The country’s law makers are sick of it, and today they introduced a law that levies steep fines against bloggers and other reviewers that exaggerate the awesomeness of not-so-awesome products.
Oracle has agreed to cut a check for $199.5 million plus interest to the U.S. General Services Administration for "failing to meet contractual obligations," the U.S. Justice Department announced. For the GSA, this will be the largest False Claims Act settlement it has ever received to date, a record Oracle undoubtedly wishes it wasn't a part of.
Microsoft’s protracted patent battle with 30-man strong Canadian company i4i is finally over. The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously turned down Microsoft’s appeal against a lower-court ruling ordering it to pay $290 million in damages for infringing one of i4i’s XML-related patents with certain versions of its popular word processing software. More after the jump.
If you're a business owner living in Massachusetts, failing to keep your customers' personal information safe from virtual prying eyes isn't just bad for business, it's also illegal. This was underscored by a MA restaurant chain agreeing to pay a $110,000 fine to settle a complaint alleging that hackers were able to access customers' credit and debit card information. That's a big no-no in Massachusetts.
When Microsoft agreed to add a browser ballot screen to copies of Windows sold in Europe, many questioned just how much of an impact this would have on Internet Explorer’s market share. If you count yourself among the naysayers then feel free to make a triumphant fist pump, because the early feedback would seem to agree with you. According to the New York Times the first six months of data is suggesting that the browser ballot screen is having only a minor influence on the browser decision making process, and has renewed the debate over the effectiveness of mandated antitrust remedies.
According to StatCounter reports, Microsoft’s European share has dropped from 44.9 percent in January to around 39.8 percent today, but it’s almost impossible to tell if the browser ballot screen is to blame. Experts argue that the decline curve seen in the EU matches losses in other markets, with much of the lost IE business moving over to Google Chrome. Google’s share of the European market has doubled to 11.9 percent over the past twelve months, and they even managed to pick up 5.8 percent during the same period in which IE shed 5.1 percent. Is this the result of the browser ballot screen? Or just Google making a more compelling product?
What would you do if you were greeted with a browser ballot screen with your new install? For many people Internet Explorer is the best browser for downloading other browsers, but would you actually want a Windows PC without it at all? Let us know after the jump and help us conduct our own unofficial survey.
Microsoft's legal battle against Canadian firm i4i has been a complete disaster from the very outset. Last August, Microsoft was ordered to pay i4i $290 million in damages by a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas after certain versions of Word were found to be infringing on an XML-related patent held by the Canadian firm. The fine was accompanied by an injunction barring the sale of infringing versions of the popular word processing software.
All subsequent attempts to turn the tide also proved unsuccessful. Now, Microsoft has filed a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to review the lower court's decision. This hasn't come as a huge surprise to i4i, which is confident that it will once again “prevail” over its storied rival.
Minnesota resident Jammie Thomas-Rasset, 32, was thrust into the public eye in 2006, when the music industry chose her for the most unenviable role imaginable: the poster girl of the brand of digital piracy that the average Joe practices from the comforts of his home. Several record companies sued her for copyright infringement on April 19, 2006.
Though the court originally ordered Thomas-Rasset to pay a fine of $220,000, the fine was raised to a vertiginous $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song, at a retrial. She was now left with a three-pronged hope: a court will scrap the fine or at least lower it; or a bankruptcy court will pave the way for her escape; or she will land a major book deal.
The decision leaves the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) with seven days to either accept the fresh fine or request a retrial. Joe Sibley, one of the defendant's attorneys, told Cnet that the judge had made “it much more equitable and this was much closer to the $0 award that we were seeking."
Cnet's Greg Sandoval has learnt from his sources that RIAA is not too keen on taking this any further as it only wanted to use the case as a deterrent. Sandoval also reminds everyone that Thomas-Rasset's refusal to settle with RIAA left it with no choice but to drag her to court.
Alcohol has been blamed for some pretty outrageous things over the years, but this is the first time I’ve heard anyone blame it for copyright infringement. It’s a bizarre argument to make, but its likely one a UK based bar owner will be considering after being handed down an £8,000 fine, which works out to about $13,000 USD. Worse yet, the bar is likely not even responsible for the infringement since the offense occurred on the pubs open Wi-Fi hotspot, a fact that is sure to spur an interesting debate over responsibility.
According to Internet law professor Lillian Edwards of the Sheffield Law School, open Wi-Fi operators “should not be responsible in theory” for the actions of their users. The bar will likely be immune from the disconnection clause in the new Digital Economy Bill since it can be classified as a public communications service provider, but it will be interesting to see if this will also eventually get them out of the fine as well.
The debate over who is responsible for network security is an interesting one, and is sure to eventually cross borders as well. If laws end up making it too dangerous to operate open hotspots, what’s next? If a neighbor comes along and cracks your WEP key and downloads copyrighted material, do you fine the owner of the router for not having stronger security?