Last February, Google launched Buzz, adding a social-networking layer to the array of Google applications that already collect a vast amount of personal information from each of us. People freaked out, and with good reason: Google Buzz assumed that we were eager to share online everything we did and everyone we knew. For one thing, it made public the e-mail addresses of the people we'd been e-mailing or chatting with the most, and it was activated among Gmail users automatically. Google quickly scrambled to address these privacy concerns, but the damage had been done.
The House of Representatives will now let members and their staff use the video conferencing tool Skype and its lesser-known competitor ooVoo on campus, the Committee on House Administration has announced.
Sony Computer Entertainment President and CEO Kazuo Hirai bows in apology for a security breach at the start of a press conference at the Sony Corp. headquarters in Tokyo May 1, 2011. Standing behind Hirai is Shiro Kambe, senior vice president of Sony.
Last week, President Barack Obama unveiled legislation aimed at making cyberspace safer. "Cyberspace" is, admittedly, a clunky term, but no one has yet come up with anything better to describe the totality of Internet connections, electrical grids, consumer databases, financial networks, military systems, and other networks on which American life has grown dependent. But when it comes to securing it, as Obama has said, "we're not as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country."
At this point, it's clear how AT&T intends to sell its $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile. "Indeed, the wireless marketplace will be more competitive," reads the company's 381-page report filed with the Federal Communications Commission last week, "because this transaction will expand overall output and relieve both AT&T and T-Mobile USA of capacity constraints that would reduce their competitive impact." Translation: AT&T, made stronger by eating up T-Mobile, will give consumers better choices than the two companies do separately. Even though the Department of Justice and the FCC could take a whole year to vet the deal, if AT&T succeeds in framing doubters as future-hating anti-capitalists, the debate might be over before it really starts.
Last week, the gay-rights group Truth Wins Out celebrated Apple's decision to pull from its store an app by Exodus International, perhaps the best-known "ex-gay" organization in the world. The app, a near mirror of Exodus' website -- including its podcasts, FAQs, blog posts, and news updates -- was removed after a petition circulated on Change.org collected more than 150,000 signatures. "The message Apple is sending here is clear: there is no place for 'ex-gay therapy' on the Apple platform," said a Change.org editor.
But there was another message that also came across: It's Apple's job to police who can see what online.