A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news

By Charlie Stiernberg

What Changed in Google’s Privacy Policy

Google recently announced changes to its privacy policy and terms of service, prompting concerns by a bipartisan group of congressmen over the future safety of customer data. Reuters reports that Pablo Chavez, Google’s director of public policy, responded directly to the lawmakers’ questions in a letter, stating that “the updated privacy policy does not allow us to collect any new or additional types of information about users.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) applauded Google’s efforts to notify its customers of the changes, but criticized the company for not adequately explaining what it meant until after the congressional inquiry. According to EFF, the major substantive changes include (1) combining all of Google’s separate product policies into one, (2) removing the separation between customer data sets stored in each of those products, and (3) using the information obtained from one product in another. The new privacy policy goes into effect on March 1, 2012.

Intel Purchases $120M in Patents from RealNetworks

Intel agreed to pay RealNetworks $120 million for 190 patents and 170 patent applications covering RealNetworks’s streaming video codec technology. The Wall Street Journal reports that this is the latest in a set of large patent purchases by major technology companies, which peaked in June with the Nortel Networks patent auction. Competition in the smartphone and tablet markets has become more intense and patents more important as companies, including Intel, expand their businesses into the mobile sector. According to ZDNet, Intel called some of the patents “foundational,” indicating its belief that that some are important to the company’s efforts in the mobile media space. In addition to the sales agreement, Intel acquired the video codec’s development team, and the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to develop next-generation video software and related products.

New Mobile Device Privacy Act Proposed

Rep. Edward Markey released draft legislation this week that would require mobile phone carriers to reveal if they are employing tracking software such as Carrier IQ. Wired reports that under the Mobile Device Privacy Act, consumers would have to give their consent before data—including web usage, call history, and text messages—can be sent to third parties. According to Ars Technica, the controversy started when a developer publicized the widespread use of Carrier IQ software on smartphones a few months ago. Rep. Markey said such software should only be used with the consumer’s “express consent,” and emphasized that the legislation is just a “discussion draft” right now. Sprint and Apple both recently announced they are dropping Carrier IQ, but T-Mobile and AT&T still use it. Verizon does not.

Twitter Reveals 4,400+ DMCA Takedown Notices Last Year

Twitter partnered with Chilling Effects, a project sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, to publish all Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) takedown notices it has received since November 2010. Ars Technica reports that the site lists 4,410 takedown notices in that time frame. While Twitter regularly deletes tweets to gain safe harbor under the DMCA, the company stated that it wants to “be transparent with users.” The Huffington Post breaks down the requests by sender, showing that Magnolia Pictures, a New York film distributor owned by Mark Cuban, was responsible for a third of them. Web Sheriff, a third-party that automates takedown notices for its customers, sent at least half of all the requests in the list.

 

Posted On Feb - 11 - 2012 Comments Off

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