Of Interest

  • When an app tells companies you’re pregnant but not that you miscarried

    Date published: 
    September 12, 2016

    “The way privacy law largely works for consumers in the United States is through what regulators call ‘notice and choice,'” said Samford University law professor Woodrow Hartzog by email. “That means that so long as users were put on notice of an app’s data practices and made the choice to continue using the app in light of that notice, then the app’s data practices are presumptively permissible.”

  • Stupid Patent of the Month: Elsevier Patents Online Peer Review

    On August 30, 2016, the Patent Office issued U.S. Patent No. 9,430,468, titled; “Online peer review and method.” The owner of this patent is none other than Elsevier, the giant academic publisher. When it first applied for the patent, Elsevier sought very broad claims that could have covered a wide range of online peer review. Fortunately, by the time the patent actually issued, its claims had been narrowed significantly. So, as a practical matter, the patent will be difficult to enforce.

  • WhatsApp to Share User Data With Facebook

    Date published: 
    August 25, 2016

    "Thursday’s changes likely can’t be applied to data users have already shared with WhatsApp, said Ryan Calo, a professor of law at the University of Washington. “You can’t make a change like this retroactively under the FTC’s view of deception,” he said."

  • Uber to introduce self-driving cars to its fleet in coming weeks

    Date published: 
    August 18, 2016

    "Uber's move to carry people with autonomous vehicles is not surprising, given the company's history of pushing into gray areas where there is little or no regulation, said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina professor who studies self-driving technology.

    Pennsylvania, he said, has no laws governing autonomous cars and how they relate to ride-hailing, but local laws may require a driver behind the wheel. By using human backup drivers, Uber basically is going to test the technology and take people along for the ride, he said.

  • T-Mobile's New 'Unlimited' Data Plan Throttles Video, Slows Hotspots

    Date published: 
    August 18, 2016

    "Net neutrality advocates criticized the feature on a number of fronts, including that the company's technical requirements excluded some video distributors at launch. In January, Stanford professor Barbara van Schewick said in a report that Binge On undermined net neutrality by giving people incentives to watch videos from a select group of companies. "A core principle of net neutrality is that ISPs should not pick winners and losers online by favoring some applications over others," she writes. "But that’s exactly what Binge On does," she wrote."

  • Uber to launch fleet of self-driving Volvos. Will Pittsburgh residents hop in?

    Date published: 
    August 18, 2016

    "“Uber is doing the same thing many companies have been doing,” Bryant Walker Smith, an engineering professor at the University of South Carolina, told the NewsHour. But the big news is Uber inviting the general public into its self-driving cars, he said.

    Walker Smith said that consumers should expect to see more changes in transportation in the next couple of years.

  • Uber To Roll Out Self-Driving Cars In Pittsburgh

    Date published: 
    August 18, 2016

    ""Pittsburgh is going to have some self-driving car tourism. That's exciting for them," says Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina who monitors law and policy developments in autonomous technology.

    An Uber staff member (an engineer or specially trained driver) will be inside, as the human co-pilot. So, to be clear, it's not a car without a human. "If we were putting this in terms of a tightrope walk, there would definitely be a net," Smith says.

  • Uber's big test in the steel city

    Date published: 
    August 18, 2016

    "By using human backup drivers, Uber is basically testing the technology and taking people along for the ride, said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina professor who studies self-driving technology.

    "Part of this is marketing in the sense that they're going to be doing continued research and development of these systems," he said."

     

  • When the Cops Come A-Knocking: Handling Technical Assistance Demands from Law Enforcement

    What kind of surveillance assistance can the U.S. government force companies to provide? This issue has entered the public consciousness due to the FBI's demand in February that Apple write software to help it access the San Bernardino shooter's encrypted iPhone. Technical assistance orders can go beyond the usual government requests for user data, requiring a company to actively participate in the government's monitoring of the targeted user(s).

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