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Today's news has been filled with business and legal happenings, so here's one more! A teacher's aide has found herself on administrative leave after refusing Facebook access to her employer. This all started back in April of 2011 when Kimberly Hester posted a picture on her own time of her co-worker's pants around her ankles and a pair of shoes.
Hester felt the image was harmless enough, but someone disagreed. A parent of a student at the school where she worked felt that it wasn't appropriate filed a complaint with the school district. Hester was summoned to the office of the Intermediate superintendent Robert Colby. Colby asked to see her Facebook account.
"He asked me three times if he could view my Facebook and I repeatedly said I was not OK with that," Hester told WSBT. Because of this refusal, Hester received a letter from the Special Education Director which informed her that "...in the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly."
"I stand by it," Hester told WSBT. "I did nothing wrong. And I would not, still to this day, let them in my Facebook. And I don't think it's OK for an employer to ask you." I think most people would agree with her. This has been on the minds of many people these days, and the lawmakers are even trying to pass a law regarding it in the United States.
I'm sure most of us know about the lawsuit going on between Motorola and Microsoft, but in case you don't, here's the quick rundown. Motorola is trying to block Microsoft from selling Windows 7 and the Xbox 360 based on a patent claim regarding H.264 video technology. Motorola is demanding way more money than other companies for licensing its patent.
A decision in the case is expected April 17. If Motorola succeeds, the Xbox and Windows 7 could be banned from being sold in Germany, effectively gutting business. This is where Microsoft's move comes in. If Microsoft moves to the Netherlands, it could possibly reduce the vulnerability to legal actions if Motorola wins.
Microsoft ended teamwork with Germany company Arvato for software distribution. This move will cause a loss of about 50 jobs and is retaliatory to Motorola's patent lawsuit. Germany's patent system favors the suing party by allowing bans to be enforced by the winning party and and having court precedent that often finds in the favor of the suing party.
I'm sure that everyone here will agree that those pesky, annoying ads that come on before your favorite cat video starts playing on YouTube are really annoying. But SkipIt, a new service from the video advertising company SpotXchange has your back. If you don't want to watch the ad, you can just pay $0.10 to skip it. That's $0.10 per ad.
Meanwhile, SkipIt claims that web publishers will make more money from people skipping ads than if they had watched the ad in the first place. Additionally, they claim that the rest of the site's ads will be more valuable because people will only be seeing ads they really like. I can't really see any consumer reaching for their credit cards just to skip an ad. I know I wouldn't.
There's a new bill running around in the UK and it is akin the US Patriot Act. This bill, if passed, would give the Government Communication Headquarters, or GCHQ, the ability to access phone calls, text messages, emails, and online activity of any citizen without a warrant. The actual contents of the emails and messages would be off-limits, but this is still a gross violation of privacy.
I know we live in an age where privacy doesn't exactly mean much to anyone anymore, but at least with Facebook, we get to choose what to share with the world. This new bill would share the recipients, time, duration and frequency of conversations, plus a list of websites being visited with the government without the need for a warrant.
A similar bill was tried in 2009, but they made the decision to drop it after the massive public outcry. The public was not to happy about having their privacy violated anymore than it already was. The question is, will it pass? It most likely will have a similar outcry to the 2009 attempt, but Britain might still try to pass it. It's estimated at costing $2 billion, and that was in the 2009 attempt. Hopefully it's cost prohibitive enough so that it doesn't get passed.
We live at a scary time in the world where more and more of our lives are being put online in the form of communications and such. We have to take a stand at every chance to protect our rights and privacy.
It looks like life is starting to get fair for the inventors of the technology that everyone uses daily around the world. Yes, I'm talking about the inventors of the Wireless LAN. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) patented the technology in the 1990s, and has used that patent to sue companies without a license since 2005.
Back in 2009, CSIRO recovered AUD$205 million (US$212 million) after suing and settling with 14 companies. They have continued to sue and settle with an additional 23 companies in which they have just received another AUD$220 million as payment. "It was important that Australia protect its intellectual property, and that those major companies who are selling billions of devices pay for the technology that they were using," Australian Minister for Science and Research Chris Evans said.
"CSIRO's commercial and legal teams on both sides of the Pacific have worked very hard over the past several years to gain a reasonable return and I would like to pay particular tribute to them for their extraordinary efforts," Nigel Poole, a senior executive at CSIRO, said. But, some credit also goes to the inventors. They had to solve the problem of the radio waves bouncing off of indoor surfaces and creating echos. They did just that and beat many of the major communications companies that were trying to do the same.
Apple has, until now, only given developers 60-percent of the revenue from iAd clicks. But, just now, Apple have increased this from 60- to 70-percent. This isn't a big change in the short-term, but in the long-term it means fatter profits for developers who rely on the iAd platform for their income.
Apple notes the change in their updated developer agreement:
(a) Apple Campaigns. Developer shall receive seventy percent (70%) of the Net Advertising Revenue derived from the sale of advertising on the Developer's Mobile Properties ("Developer Revenue Share") net of any applicable taxes as provided in Section 6 of this Agreement. The Developer Revenue Share percentage may be adjusted from time to time at Apple's sole discretion. Notice of material changes to the Revenue Share percentage will be posted on the Company Portal. "Net Advertising Revenue" is defined as gross advertising revenue recognized through the delivery of ads by Apple less: a) any allowances actually made or taken for returns, credits, cash discounts and promotional allowances; and, b) Agency and agent fees, discounts, commissions and referral fees.
U.K. 'to announce' real-time phone, e-mail, and Web traffic monitoring, the Queencould announce it in early-May
The U.K. has always been a strange place in terms of security policy and the amount of CCTV cameras per citizen, but this is just going a step too far. If you aren't already aware, the U.S. and various security agencies (namely the NSA) already monitor online chatter in real-time, but they just don't admit it freely. The U.K. government is at least putting the news out there.
Under new U.K. legislation, Internet service and broadband providers will be obligated to pass personal browsing, e-mail and call data to the intelligence services for real-time processing. Shocking, isn't it? These new "Internet firms" could also include things outside the basic three options listed above, such as social networks and search engines. This would mean everything you type into Google, Facebook, Twitter and more would be accessed, in real-time.
Access to ISP logs will be opened up to the government on-demand. Scared yet? Currently, the 'third' U.K. intelligence service, GCHQ, which is a signals and electronics station based in Cheltenham, process call, web and e-mail data, but not the contents of the data itself. ISPs, on the other hand, do process this data within their facilities and datacenters. The new legislation would force ISPs to 'mirror' all traffic through GCHQ allowing for more detailed inspection on a law enforcement level to quickly process information as it happens.
A recent security breach within Global Payments is getting bad, with up to 1.5 million VISA and Mastercard accounts being compromised. While credit card numbers may have been compromised, no customer names, addresses or Social Security numbers were accessed, according to a statement from Global Payments. The company believes the breach was isolated to just North America.
At the moment, the company doesn't know whether there have been any fraudulent charges made on the stolen card details. The company process payments from credit, debit, and gift cards between merchants and banks. Global Payments believe that the incident may have been contained, but are still working with third parties to investigate the incident, and to hopefully minimize the impact to customers.
CEO Paul Garcia said:
We are making rapid progress toward bringing this issue to a close.
Both VISA and Mastercard have sent out notices to their affected customers, and as a result of the breach, VISA removed Global Payments from their list of approved service providers.
We only reported a few weeks ago that GAME had gone into administration, with share prices tanking and job losses on the chopping board. But, in a reverse April Fools Day joke, OpCapita scooped up 333 GAME stores across the UK.
This new agreement secures nearly 3,200 jobs, which is a great thing in this shaky economy. There were also a few employees from head office who were made redundant, that may be re-employed. OpCapita is a private investment firm specializing in retail, they have set up a company called Baker Acquisitions to buy the GAME stores.
Financial terms of the deal haven't been disclosed, but it's being reported that OpCapita will not have to pay much up-front for the business, but will have to absorb a considerable amount of their debt. BBS business editor Robert Peston said on Saturday that the deal had been approved by six banks, led by the Royal Bank of Scotland, who are owed £85m between them.
Managing partner of OpCapita, Henry Jackson, has said:
We strongly believe there is a place on the high street for a video gaming specialist and Game is the leading brand in a £2.8bn market in the UK. We have assembled a strong team of experienced industry operators to implement the programme of operational change that is needed.
Apple vs. Motorola, is has been going on in the U.S. for a while now, but Judge Richard Posner has upheld the majority of a patent central to the case this week. Judge Posner mostly agreed with Apple's interpretation of its touchscreen heuristics patent, limiting complaints mostly to the lack of specificity for certain gestures.
Motorola countered with arguments to invalidate the patent, but were unpersuasive, including an odd insistence that a patent construction claim was only valid at a 27-degree angle of touch that had only been used as an example. Judge Posner wrote:
I reject Motorola's argument (this is the third time they've made it and the third time I reject it) that the structure must be limited to the 27-degree angle used as an example by the specification.
This decision will most likely see Motorola violating the patent. Motorola will most likely be found infringing and face the threats of damages and product bans for some of its Android-based devices. Apple hold the patent until 2028, which could mean more problems down the road for other touchscreen-based smart devices.