RadioShack Puts Customer Information on the Auction Block

by Jeff Wiener on March 27, 2015

Like many boom-to-bust tech firms before it, the now defunct RadioShack saw the remnants of its once respectable retail business put up for auction earlier this week; giving hungry vultures bidders the chance to start plundering the company’s remaining stock of trademarks, patents, and other intellectual property. But in an issue truly unique to the digital age there is a privacy debate brewing around the company’s selloff, as aside from all the physical and intellectual assets a bankrupt company usually sells, RadioShack is attempting to sell off a completely new class of assets as well: its customers’ personal data.

As a Bloomberg report explains, “A website maintained by Hilco Streambank, which is serving as an intermediary for RadioShack, says that more than 13 million e-mail addresses and 65 million customer names and physical address files are for sale.” The website also noted that the bankruptcy court may not approve the inclusion of customer data as corporate assets, and there have already been two separate legal challenges attempting to block the sale of personal data.

Things get more complicated when one realizes that RadioShack already made an explicit promise to its customers to not sell customer information, as one legal challenge cites a sign displayed in a RadioShack store window that read: “We pride ourselves on not selling our private mailing list.” I suppose that same pride may now also be on the auction block, any takers?

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Sprint CEO Backs Net Neutrality

by Matt Klassen on March 27, 2015

In a move that truly rivals anything we’ve seen so far in T-Mobile’s ongoing UnCarrier revolution, Sprint has done something that totally and absolutely sets it apart from the rest of the wireless industry: it has supported Net Neutrality.

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure praised the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to impose utility style regulation to govern and maintain an open Internet—which in its latest iteration includes regulation for both wired and wireless service—noting that his company won’t be able to compete, let alone survive, without them.

Claure acknowledged that being the only wireless carrier to come out in favour of the FCC’s Net Neutrality standards will likely make him unpopular among his industry peers, but for a company rife with issues and still haemorrhaging customers at an alarming rate one can’t argue that America’s third largest wireless carrier is in desperate need of reprieve from the free-wheeling free market capitalism that’s currently driving it out of business and Net Neutrality may just be able to provide an industry framework that would allow Sprint to not only recover, but once again perhaps even thrive.

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Bell Media President Kevin Crull Publicly Apologises for CTV News Interference

by Istvan Fekete on March 26, 2015

Following media reports of his “intrusion” into CTV’s CRTC coverage, Bell Media president Kevin Crull has publicly apologized for his action and says he has “relearned a valuable lesson” from the incident.

The “fire” was started by the Globe and Mail (partly owned by Bell Media) on Wednesday, alleging that last Thursday Crull influenced CTV’s news coverage of the latest CRTC decision forcing broadcasters to introduce “pick and pay” packages by 2016.

Following the Globe report the CRTC published a strongly worded statement from Jean-Pierre Blais, Chairman and CEO of the regulator, on journalistic independence. While the statement does not name Bell, the timing suggests that these words target Bell Media and Crull’s action.
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Facebook Aims to Control the News

by Matt Klassen on March 26, 2015

Building on its desire to become everyone’s one-stop Internet hub, Facebook is reportedly now in talks with multiple news organizations in an attempt to convince the media industry to host their content on the social network, rather than link to external webpages as media currently does.

The move to host the news is equally as ambitious as Facebook’s recent marketing blitz across the two-thirds world, where the social network is attempting to become the Internet for many people who are just now getter access to the online world. While such control of our online world is likely out of reach here at home, the next best thing for the social network is to control the content we want, giving us simply one more reason to linger on our Facebook page just a little longer.

There’s no question that traditional print media is struggling to evolve in the digital age, unsure of how to redefine its identity in light of the dramatic changes to the ways we consume and interact with information. The draw of Facebook’s proposal to host news content is clear, media providers see that change is coming and it’s always better to be pioneer than it is to be a follower. The downside is obvious: Like its ambitious Internet.org campaign, Facebook will then control that much more of our online experience.

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Partnership with Samsung Brings Microsoft’s Services to Android Devices

by Istvan Fekete on March 25, 2015

In an effort to reach more potential users, Microsoft has struck a deal with Samsung and seven lesser-known Android device manufacturers to have some of its software and services pre-loaded.

The deal comes at a time when Microsoft is struggling to compete with other mobile operating systems: Windows Phone captured only 2.7% of the smartphone market last year, according to data from IDC. That’s more than disappointing compared to Android’s 81.5%.

The company’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, however, has taken a totally different approach to address this issue: He is pushing what the company does best – software and services such as Skype and OneDrive – to other mobile platforms, such as iOS and Android. By doing so, Nadella hopes Microsoft will reach potential users and be able to compete with similar Google services.
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Let the Lawsuits Begin: Broadband Industry Challenges Net Neutrality

by Matt Klassen on March 25, 2015

Just a few weeks old and the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial Net Neutrality have now officially met its first legal challenges, as US broadband providers have filed lawsuits to overturn the open Internet regulations.

The USTelecom Association, a trade firm representing some of America’s largest Internet providers, was the first to the plate on Monday, filing a complaint with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The complaint contends that the FCC’s reclassifying of broadband service under Title II of the Communications Act is a violation of federal law and was “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.” The Texas-based Alamo Broadband followed suit the same day, making similar arguments in opposition to the FCC’s reclassification.

It wasn’t long ago that the broadband community banded together to fight against the FCC’s first several iterations of the Net Neutrality regulations, fights they ultimately won that in turn forced the FCC to find proper legal footing for its open Internet standards. What’s ironic now is that the broadband community has publicly declared its support for the idea of Net Neutrality—ostensibly embracing the less onerous rules proposed in previous iterations of the FCC’s plans—while rejecting the path they forced the FCC to take with their previous legal challenges. All that to say, this is only the beginning of the legal challenges we all knew would appear when meaningful regulations were imposed upon the broadband industry, regulations for which the industry has only itself to blame.

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Public Mobile Founder Joins Wind Mobile as CEO

by Istvan FeketeMarch 24, 2015

Founder and CEO of Public Mobile Alek Krstajic has joined Wind Mobile as its new Chief Executive Officer, as Pietro Cordova steps down and returns to VimpelCom, the carrier announced yesterday. “We are very happy to welcome Alek as our new CEO. His strong operating history will further strengthen WIND as the company solidifies its [...]

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Smartphones, Mental Health, and our Constantly Connected Kids

by Matt KlassenMarch 24, 2015

As our kids have only known a world dominated by the ubiquitous smartphone it’s tough for them to imagine their lives without it, as not only have our mobile devices become integral to our communication, they’ve seemingly been inexorable from our very existence. But is constant connection too much, are smartphones negatively impacting our children? [...]

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Women are Less Aware of Cyber-Threats, Study Finds

by Matt KlassenMarch 23, 2015

Women who use the Internet are statistically less concerned about protecting themselves from online threats compared to their male counterparts, according to a survey by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, but paradoxically, female Web users seemingly have less need to be wary, as they’re less likely to be victims of malware attacks to begin with. [...]

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BlackBerry Launches BBM Protected, a Secure “Bring Your Own” Instant Messaging Service

by Istvan FeketeMarch 23, 2015

BlackBerry has a solution for protecting your company’s sensitive data: The Canadian firm has announced a new service for iOS and Android devices called BBM Protected. To make the service appealing, BlackBerry points to costly data security breaches, and we don’t have to go too far back in time to find headlines related to such [...]

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