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Google in European Privacy Watchdog’s Crosshairs Yet Again

Google LegalDespite having put forth an effort in 2012 to put European countries at ease about data collection its data collection efforts, Google finds itself back in hot water over privacy concerns.

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has told Google of the perceived inadequacies in their current privacy policies and similar organizations from Germany, France and Spain have followed suit. Of course, with France being accused of having their own PRISM like way of gathering data on their citizens this rings a little hollow but that’s for another day.

The Guardian reports

Privacy watchdogs in the UK, Germany and Italy have told Google to rewrite its privacy policy in Europe or face legal sanctions, 15 months after the search giant unilaterally altered them to unify data collection.

If You Market To Kids Note That Stricter COPPA Rules are Now in Effect

123215_democratizing_infoIf you run a website for children or sell products aimed at kids, your job just got a whole lot tougher. This past Monday, the updated Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) rules went into effect and ignoring the rules could cost you up to $16,000 per violation.

The biggest change is in what constitutes personal information. In the past, you only needed a parent’s permission to collect emails and addresses for kids under 13. Now, photos, audio and video uploads are also included in the rule as well as geo-location information.

That means if you run a website where kids upload photos or videos of themselves for fun or for a contest, you must get verifiable permission from a parent. You can do this in a number of ways:

Natural Search Return or Paid Result? FTC Says Its Too Hard To Tell the Difference

ad note on googleWhen looking at a page of search results I often feel like I’m playing a round of Where’s Waldo. But instead of the guy in the striped t-shirt, I’m looking for the place where the paid ads end and the natural search results begin.

I don’t have evidence to prove it, but I feel like that line used to be more clearly defined. There would be a couple of very obvious ads at the top of the page and rest would be sites that earned their spot the hard way. Results in the right hand column were always ads. I can’t remember at what point ads started appearing in the main results as well.

Twitter Gets A Buddy In The White House

twitter-bird-blue-on-whiteTwitter’s legal director of products, Nicole Wong, has joined the Obama administration as deputy U.S. chief technology officer.

Following in the footsteps of Google who has a rich history of sending ex-Googlers to Washington, DC to help the world (yes there is a bit of sarcasm there), Twitter now can count a White House staffer amongst its alums.

The Washington Post reports

Twitter executive Nicole Wong is joining the Obama administration as deputy U.S. chief technology officer, the White House said in a statement Thursday.

Wong, who has been Twitter’s legal director of products since November, will be working on Internet privacy and technology issues, according to a spokesman for the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Google Looks to Distance Itself From Its Competition Amidst NSA Data Leak Fallout

google-logo1In the wake of the leaks by Edward Snowden, many tech companies have been looking to distance themselves from the controversy by releasing how many requests they receive for information from the US government. The latest to take that step was Yahoo! yesterday which followed suit with the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Facebook.

Google is taking this battle to the next level as reported in the Washington Post

Google asked the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Tuesday to ease long-standing gag orders over data requests the court makes, arguing that the company has a constitutional right to speak about information it is forced to give the government.

Code Names, Leaked Docs, the NSA: Google and Facebook Land in the Center of a Spy Drama

PrismThe code name is PRISM. It’s a top secret program that gives the National Security Agency direct access to the inner workings of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype and just about every other big data company on the web. It even has its own snazzy, SciFi looking logo and reports that are stamped TOP SECRET.

Sounds like something you’d find in a Ben Affleck movie but the UK paper The Guardian says it’s real and they have the proof; a 41-page PowerPoint presentation created to train operatives on the program.

I’m telling you, just looking at those documents online makes me nervous. The news broke several days ago and since then the parties involved have been in damage control mode.

Google was the first to respond with a post appropriately titled “What the …?

Virginia Politician Says House Unlikely to Pass Marketplace Fairness Act

The bill that is making its way through Washington DC that would require Internet companies to collect sales tax like brick and mortars businesses do is not likely to get through the House of Representatives according to Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va).

Here is the report from WSLS

WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

This is important to Internet retailers but it is not likely that it is simply going away any time soon. Representative Goodlatte’s statement about Internet retailers being treated fairly is likely to stir some resentment from the brick and mortar community since they feel like they are the ones getting screwed with the current state of affairs regarding taxation.