Technology Now
The business and culture of our digital lives
FCC's new net neutrality rules are sure to be challenged

After two failed attempts to enact rules for Internet traffic, regulators adopted a heavily criticized — but legally stronger — strategy to try to make sure their net neutrality rules stand up in court.

But an expected lawsuit is only one hurdle for the new policy.

The plan that the Federal Communications Commission approved this week treats broadband as a more highly regulated telecommunications service, directly addressing a problem federal judges found last year in the agency's last attempt to create net neutrality regulations.

The move should keep the new rules, designed to ensure the uninhibited flow of data online, from being overturned, said Marvin Ammori, an affiliate scholar at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society.

"I am about as confident as you can be," said Ammori, who argued an earlier net neutrality case before appellate judges as general counsel for digital rights group Free Press.

But critics of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal, which passed on a...

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Apple hit with more patent lawsuits

Things got quite litigious for Apple late this week.  

Since a jury Tuesday ordered Apple Inc. to pay $532.9 million for infringing on a Texas company's patents,  the Cupertino, Calif., company has been hit with a a slew of new patent lawsuits. 

Smartflash, the Texas company that got the jury win, filed a new suit Wednesday alleging that Apple violated its patents with devices that debuted after the original case was already underway. 

Meanwhile, an ongoing patent dispute with Ericsson ratcheted up a few notches Thursday when the Swedish mobile phone pioneer filed seven lawsuits in federal court and two complaints with the U.S. International Trade Commission accusing Apple of infringing on 41 patents covering a wide array of technologies related to iPhones and iPads.

Apple and Ericsson have traded suits since January when a licensing agreement expired that required Apple to pay Ericsson royalties for using its mobile technology. 

All told, Ericsson's legal actions are seeking an...

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Uber security breach may have affected up to 50,000 drivers

Thousands of Uber driver names and driver's license numbers may be in the hands of an unauthorized third party due to a data breach that occurred last year, the ride-hailing company said Friday.

In a statement, Uber’s managing counsel of data privacy, Katherine Tassi, said the company discovered on Sept. 17, 2014, that one of its many databases could have potentially been accessed because one of the encryption keys required to unlock it had been compromised. Upon further investigation, it found the database had been accessed once by an unauthorized third party on May 13, 2014.

The company said it could not say how the security vulnerability was first discovered because the matter was under investigation.

According to Tassi, the company immediately patched the security vulnerability. It has not received any reports of misuse of the data.

The database contained only the names and license numbers of approximately 50,000 former and current Uber drivers from various states, the company said...

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Photos: Google releases renderings of proposed new HQ campus

Google wants to transform its Silicon Valley headquarters, replacing static, concrete structures with flexible blocks of metal and glass arranged within giant greenhouses.

On Friday, the company submitted the redevelopment plan to the Mountain View City Council and released a nearly 10-minute video about the design.

As Google’s projects expand far beyond its search engine to making driverless cars, Internet-connected eyeglasses, smart contact lenses and more, it figures its old-school office parks just won’t do. New buildings are to be designed for flexibility to accommodate shifting space demands. The redesigned space could also soften the rift between the swelling tech industry and Northern California residents frustrated by traffic and soaring housing prices.

“Google's presence in Mountain View is simply so strong that it can't be a fortress that shuts away nature, that shuts away the neighbors,” Danish architect Bjarke Ingels says in the video. “It really needs to become a...

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Net neutrality: What's next after the FCC's landmark vote?

In approving strong net neutrality regulations, the Federal Communications Commission fulfilled a decade long desire by public interest advocates, technology firms and Democrats to tighten government oversight of the Internet to prevent abuses by broadband service providers.

But the agency's closely watched decision on Thursday didn't end the debate. Not even close.

The partisan divide over net neutrality -- reflected in the FCC's party-line 3-2 vote -- highlighted the passions on both sides of the arcane technology policy concept and showed that final resolution of the issue still could be years away.

Here's what's coming next.

The devil's in the details

Only the five FCC commissioners and some agency staffers have seen the 317-page net neutrality order, which prohibits broadband providers from blocking, slowing or selling faster delivery of legal content flowing through its networks.

The outlines of the plan from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has been disclosed only in speeches, summaries...

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Music royalty hunter Kobalt wins Google funding

Since the music industry began in the early 20th century, musicians and songwriters have complained about paltry royalty payments for their creations.

It's not only the amount of money they complain about. It's waiting for their money, sometimes for years. And it's the music industry's opaque and arcane reporting practices that leave artists with no clear idea whether they're getting everything they are owed.

Now, Google Ventures, the search giant's venture capital firm, and Michael Dell, the founder of the namesake computer company, are investing $60 million in Kobalt — a New York company whose sophisticated computer system scours payment systems around the world to make sure royalty money ends up where it belongs.

“I am super excited about this investment,” Google Ventures Managing Partner Bill Maris told The Times. “This is a real company with a real engine behind it.”

According to Maris, Kobalt's revenues are growing at an annual rate of 40%.

The privately held Kobalt claims that...

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