Tech Picks of the Week – Or, News Not Fútbol-Related

With the World Cup festivities kicking off yesterday and continuing through the better part of the summer, no one would blame you for falling a bit behind on this week’s tech news due to a pique in your Brazilian interests. Lucky for you though, we didn’t take our eyes off the biggest tech announcements, talks and updates for a moment this week — not even to watch JLo and Pitbull perform on a very Umbel-esque stage (as tempting as that truly was). 

Below, find the tech talking points you can squeeze in this weekend during commercials, on your way to the sports bar or just when your friends and family get little bit fatigued of soccer-talk. 

The Netflix v. Verizon Battle Lives On

Netflix isn’t backing down to Verizon’s cease and desist attack, the site defending its right to inform customers of Verizon’s network performance when it comes to streaming Netflix content. Netflix maintains that poor performance on the site for mutual Verizon and Netflix customers is on the fault of Verizon during peak traffic times, not Netflix. David Hayman, Netflix’s general counsel, said that the messaging appearing on the Netflix site as movies or shows try to load alerting consumers to where the speed bottleneck is occurring is part of a larger effort toward transparency. He also added that Verizon is disregarding its own responsibility to provide subscribers the service it promised

In all, Hayman compared Verizon to pulling a Chris Christie-esque scandal, saying, “To try to shift blame to us for performance issues arising from interconnection congestion is like blaming drivers on a bridge for traffic jams when you’re the one who decided to leave three lanes closed during rush hour.”

Both Comcast and Yahoo! Look to Clone a More Profitable YouTube

YouTube may be the most popular video sharing site on the web with more than 1 billion unique viewers coming to the site every month, but the platform’s business strategy isn’t the money-making machine once predicted to be. Though Google is generating revenue off of YouTube, it isn’t at the scale of TV advertising and worse, content partners making videos for the site aren’t seeing the monetary payoff they expected. Both Comcast and Yahoo! believe they have better solutions, and can sway YouTube stars onto a new platform (along with their millions of viewers) simply by increasing contributor income. 

Both companies want to expand their offering and brand name, Comcast specifically looking at a YouTube clone because of its ability to reach 18-34 year-old adults more than any cable network, according to Nielsen ratings.

Court Rules Cell Phone Location Information Protected by Fourth Amendment

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has unequivocally ruled that the unwarranted collection of location data from cell phones is a violation of the Fourth Amendment and is not admissible in court. The ruling came down during the trial of Quartavious Davis, in which the collection of cell phone location data was used to connect him to a series of armed robberies in Miami. 

“In short, we hold that cell site location information is within the subscriber’s reasonable expectation of privacy,” the court ruled in an opinion written by Judge David Sentelle. “The obtaining of that data without a warrant is a Fourth Amendment violation.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, who argued the case, said that the decision is a “resounding defense of the Fourth Amendment’s continuing vitality in the digital age.”

The ruling comes at a pivotal moment in amendment expansion and coverage as it concerns the digital age. Much of the debate surrounding the FCC’s net neutrality issue is over the First Amendment right to free speech, many claiming that ending net neutrality threatens free speech online.

Facebook Lets Users Opt Out of Targeted Ads – But There’s a Catch

Facebook has begun rolling out privacy notifications to its user base of 1.28 billion, alerting them to the logistics behind why they are receiving certain types of ads, particularly those that have been targeted to them based on their “likes” and other on-site behavior. The social media network will also show users the information the platform has collected on them, then allow users to remove entire ad categories as they deem irrelevant.

With this update though, Facebook will also begin to collect data from the websites and apps that you use, and allow advertisers to use this information to better inform their targeting and messaging strategies. Google, along with a slew of other companies, already do this, and Facebook will allow users to opt-out of the service if they so choose. 

For privacy advocates, this is a bold and appreciated transparency move on Facebook’s part.

NPR Investigates How Well Tech Companies Protect Your Data – And Only Twitter Wins

Last week, Google started naming and shaming email service providers who do not encrypt emails in transit, meaning that an email’s content is open fodder for snoopers (AKA hackers). NPR followed up on the story with a deep dive into some of today’s top tech companies, looking at how they encrypt, or if they do, their emails, messages, photos and so forth. 

What did they find? Well, a lot of bugs, to be frank. But, most of the companies responded to and then fixed the issues immediately.

Twitter stood out as the leader in keeping user data secure, telling NPR that the process is a “never-ending journey … where [we] continually try to keep moving the bar up.”

Check out how your favorite tech company fares on user data security.

Tesla Technology For All

Elon Musk said in a blog post Thursday that he will not file lawsuits against anyone who uses Tesla patented technology to build competitor vehicles. 

Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology,” he wrote. “Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen, rather than diminish, Tesla’s position in this regard.”

Get at ’em, innovators! It’s clean tech’s time to shine.

Feedly and Evernote Suffer DDos Attacks – Refuse to Pay Ransom

Feedly, the popular content aggregator that gained steam after Google took its much-loved Google Reader offline, suffered a DDoS attack on Wednesday that shut the site down. The attackers asked for a ransom in order to resume service. Feedly refused to comply. Evernote, a close partner with Feedly, also suffered a similar attack, though service was restored quickly for Evernote users. No user data from either company was breached during the attack. 

On Wednesday night, the Feedly team managed to put Feedly back online, reminding users that the 40 million feeds the site pulls from may take a while to fully update. Again on Thursday morning, Feedly suffered a second attack, putting the site offline for the morning hours. 

Service has been fully restored since, after Feedly engineers updated the site.