Commentary

Senate to Investigate White House Role in Google's Antitrust Victory

Brendan Sasso, National Journal,  Monday, March 30, 2015

A Senate panel plans to investigate whether the White House inappropriately derailed a federal investigation into accusations that Google was stifling online competition. Sen. Mike Lee, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary's Antitrust Subcommittee, plans to contact the Federal Trade Commission, Google, and other online companies to discuss the issue, Emily Long, a spokeswoman for the Utah Republican, said Monday. The subcommittee has no plans yet to hold a hearing on the issue, she said.

Mobile Alters Landscape Where Google Operates

Rolfe Winkler, Wall Street Journal,  Friday, March 27, 2015

Google is a big player in mobile through its Android mobile-operating system, which ran about 80% of the smartphones shipped in 2014, estimates Strategy Analytics. Its apps, including Google Maps, YouTube, and Gmail, are among the most popular for smartphones. When smartphone users do open a Web browser, Google is even more dominant than on personal computers, with an 84% share of U.S. searches in February, according to StatCounter. ComScore doesn’t release its mobile estimates. The company’s tactics, particularly the agreements that Google signs with smartphone makers, have piqued the interest of antitrust regulators in Europe. Those deals have required device makers to install a range of Google’s less popular apps and to set some Google services like search as defaults in order to gain access to more popular apps like Google Maps and the Play Store digital bazaar, where users can download more than a million other apps and games.

How companies secure their cloud data

Help Net Security,  Friday, March 27, 2015

As companies accelerate their adoption of the cloud, the cloud data footprint is expected to grow to 6.5 zettabytes by 2018. This rapid migration of data into the cloud creates the need for insight into both cloud adoption trends and cloud data security issues.

FISMA report highlights federal cloud security deficiencies

Rob Wright, TechTarget,  Friday, March 27, 2015

A newly released government report shows a lack of basic security controls in many departments and agencies, highlighting the precarious state of federal cloud security.

Google loses UK appeal court battle over 'clandestine' tracking

The Guardian,  Friday, March 27, 2015

Google has failed in its attempt in the court of appeal to prevent British consumers having the right to sue the internet firm in the UK. A group known as Safari Users Against Google’s Secret Tracking wants to take legal action in the English courts over what it says is Google’s tracking of Apple’s Safari internet browser. It has accused Google of bypassing security settings in order to track users’ online browsing and to target them with personalised advertisements. Three judges have dismissed Google’s appeal over a high court decision against it and ruled that claims for damages can be brought over allegations of misuse of private information.

F.T.C. Addresses Its Choice Not to Sue Google

Rebecca R. Ruiz, New York Times Bits,  Thursday, March 26, 2015

Several members of the Federal Trade Commission defended on Wednesday the actions taken by the agency in its antitrust investigation of Google, nearly a week after an internal document came to light, raising questions about the process. An internal document from the Federal Trade Commission written during the investigation in 2012 but first reported on last week showed that some central staff within the agency had wanted to sue Google for anticompetitive practices. The agency’s five commissioners ultimately voted not to sue. On Wednesday, the three commissioners who were at the F.T.C. at the time of that decision released a joint statement on the decision.

EU to Open Extensive E-Commerce Sector Probe

Tom Fairless, Wall Street Journal,  Thursday, March 26, 2015

The European Union is set to open a sweeping investigation into whether Internet commerce firms like Amazon.com Inc. are violating the bloc’s antitrust laws by restricting cross-border trade. The inquiry, announced Thursday by the EU’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, follows pressure from France and Germany to use EU competition rules and other regulations to better target the business practices of large technology firms. It is part of a broader EU strategy to knit together the bloc’s fragmented online ecosystems into a digital single market. Policy makers hope that will help European Internet firms to build their clout to better compete with U.S. Web giants like Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.

Microsoft Petitions U.S. Government for Surveillance Reform

Pedro Hernandez , eWeek,  Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Since Edward Snowden lifted the veil on the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) extensive spying capabilities, Microsoft has emerged as an outspoken critic of the government's intelligence-gathering tactics. Today, the Redmond, Wash.-based tech titan is once again imploring government leaders to rein in the NSA. "Today, Microsoft and members of the Reform Government Surveillance coalition, along with civil liberties advocates, sent a letter to the White House and Congressional leaders supporting essential reforms to the USA Patriot Act," announced Fred Humphries, vice president of U.S. Government Affairs for Microsoft. "As we've said before, these reforms must include an end to bulk collection and allow for companies to be transparent about the requests they receive for information." In the wake of the NSA spying scandal, Microsoft compared the intelligence agency's actions to those of hackers—and not the white-hat kind. "Indeed, government snooping potentially now constitutes an 'advanced persistent threat,' alongside sophisticated malware and cyber-attacks," Brad Smith, Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel, said in a December 2013 statement.

Federal Student-Data-Privacy Bill Delayed Following Criticism

Benjamin Herold, Education Week,  Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Introduction of a bill intended to establish a new level of federal involvement in the protection of K-12 students' privacy has been delayed following criticism that lawmakers fell well short of creating the strong national law for which advocates hoped. On Monday, U.S. Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Luke Messer, R-Ind., were poised to introduce the "Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act," developed in close consultation with the White House. But after critical press reports and concern from privacy advocates about the scope and rigor of a near-final draft of the bill, the lawmakers decided to hold off. A revised version of the proposed legislation is now expected to be made public later this week.

ECJ Hears Safe Harbor Arguments

Sam Pfeifle, IAPP,  Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) today heard arguments on C-362/14, a case originally brought by Austrian law student Max Schrems against the Irish Data Protection Commissioner in the Irish courts and then referred up the line to the EU's highest adjudicators. At issue is this: Does the Safe Harbor program adequately protect the rights of EU citizens when "compliant" companies are known to share EU citizen data with U.S. intelligence bodies, such as the NSA? Today, a number of voices weighed in on the question, including Schrems, the European Commission, the European Parliament, and a number of individual member states.