Displaying items by tag: Washington

Facebook faces lawsuit over data leak scandal

Written on Thursday, 20 December 2018 10:15

A DC attorney general has announced that he will file a lawsuit against Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Attorney General Karl Racine said the social media giant had “failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them,” after the data of tens of millions of its users were leaked to third-parties.

The suit alleges the company violated the Consumer Protection Procedures Act through its lax privacy standards, and that it misrepresented third-party developers’ ability to obtain data. The office intends to seek civil penalties if proven in court.

After the scandal emerged in March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress and answered questions from the Senate commerce and judiciary committees on privacy, data mining, regulations and Cambridge Analytica. The political consultancy had gathered names, “likes” and other data from more than 87 million Facebook users without their permission or knowledge.

Facebook was fined £500,000 by the UK's data protection watchdog for its role in the scandal.

“Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them” about who had access to their data and how it was used,” Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement. “Facebook put users at risk of manipulation by allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica and other third-party applications to collect personal data without users’ permission. Today’s lawsuit is about making Facebook live up to its promise to protect its users’ privacy.”

The lawsuit is the latest blow for the social media giant in recent weeks. A report in the New York Times revealed that Facebook had allowed ‘partner’ companies such as Netflix, Spotify and the Royal Bank of Canada the ability to read, write and delete users’ private messages.

On the stock exchange, Facebook had fallen by 7.3%, with Loup Venture founder Gene Munster advising against the buying of its stocks, quoting that the social media behemoth’s ‘best days are behind it’.

Published in Apps

With an anticipated one million or more attendees expected to be in Washington, DC, the United States capital, for the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump, US telecoms giant Verizon prepared by making significant network enhancements, leading to a 500 percent increase in wireless data capacity and debuting new technologies.

For the first time, Verizon’s Network team is using Remote Electrical Tilt (RET) antennas to remotely change antenna angles. In addition, Verizon is using Matsing Ball technology, which divides crowds into sectors like slices of a pie.  Each slice or sector can be adjusted individually to handle wireless traffic, Verizon reported.

Verizon is using new technology in its temporary cell sites along the National Mall that allow Network engineers to make real-time adjustments, moving wireless capacity with the crowds as they move. All permanent cell sites around the Mall and the surrounding area have been upgraded with Electrical Tilt antennas to allow remote adjustment to boost coverage and capacity, according to Verizon, so DC residents and visitors will benefit for years to come.

Verizon is also using three-channel carrier aggregation (LTE Advanced) in the Washington metro area to enhance peak data speeds. This is a further enhancement to the nationwide August rollout of two-channel aggregation, providing 50% greater peak speeds in DC and across the country (to more than 90% of the population).

“Verizon customers attending the Inauguration will have early access to these new technological advancements we are deploying widely throughout our network in 2017,” said Nicola Palmer, Chief Network Officer for Verizon Wireless. “Our customers have always had the leading technologies first, providing them with the best experience.”

Network engineers have added 500 percent more wireless voice and data capacity throughout Washington D.C., including at Dulles International Airport, Union Station, and at local hotels and convention centers, Verizon reported. Teams of engineers equipped with hand-held test equipment are walking the Mall and most-densely populated neighborhoods of the nation’s capital throughout the festivities to monitor the network in real-time so changes can be made quickly as needed.

For President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, only 10 percent of the U.S. population used a smartphone.  Today, 88 percent of Americans own smartphones and more than 95 percent of Verizon’s data traffic runs on its 4G LTE network, which launched nationwide about two years after that first inauguration.

“We’ve been preparing our network in the D.C. area for months to be ready for this historic event. Verizon customers at the inauguration will be using Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter to share photos and videos of the swearing in ceremony, run Facebook Live while attending the parade, and connect with folks back home, all from their wireless devices,” added Palmer.

Published in Telecom Operators

Russia’s FSB security service announced in a statement on Friday, December 2, that it had received intelligence about “plans by foreign secret services to carry out large-scale cyber-attacks from December 5.” The plans, it said, were aimed at “destabilizing Russia’s financial system including the activities of a number of major banks.” FSB is reportedly working to neutralize the threat.

In November, Moscow-based security giant Kaspersky announced that a massive cyber-attack had penetrated at least five of Russia’s largest banks. Those attacks, according to Kaspersky, were carried out using devices located in 30 countries including the United States. One of the banks that were attacked, Sberbank, acknowledged that it had been attacked, but also said that none of its main operations has been affected.

But Russia is not just the victim of large-scale cyber-attacks – in fact; the country has been accused in the past for several major hacking operations in the U.S. In October, Washington formally accused Russia of attempting to “interfere” in the 2016 presidential election. What’s more, German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently said that cyber-attacks by Russia have become so common that they are now a “part of daily life”.

Russia now faces skepticism, such as MI5, the British intelligence agency, warning that Russia is becoming more aggressive and using cyber-attacks to promote its foreign policy abroad. At this stage, Russia’s FSB has not disclosed which countries’ secret services were involved in the recent cyber-attacks aimed at the country’s financial institutions, but has alleged that the attacks would use servers and “command centers” located in the Netherlands belonging to Ukrainian hosting company BlazingFast.

Anton Onopriychuk, director of the Kiev-based company, told AFP it provides "services for protection against cyber-attacks, not for attacks.” He continued, “As yet no one has contacted us about this, neither the FSB or clients,” adding that the company would investigate. The FSB said that "provocative publications" about a crisis in the Russian banking system were planned to appear on social media networks, blogs and mobile phone text messages.

Published in Government

The massive back-tax bill the European Commission slapped on Apple has put a spotlight on $2.4 trillion in untaxed earnings parked offshore by U.S. companies, a tempting target for governments seeking to strengthen their finances. While Washington lays claim to rights to tax the money, critics say it represents profits transferred out of other countries' jurisdictions by accounting tricks. They say that the companies hold the money in no-tax or low-tax havens like Ireland to ensure it stays out of the reach of fiscal authorities, Paul Handley reports for AFP.

But industrial and tech titans like Apple, Microsoft, Google, General Electric and Pfizer, also say they are waiting for Washington to cut corporate tax rates to reasonable levels before they repatriate the funds.

On Tuesday, August 30, the European Commission ruled that Ireland's deep tax breaks for Apple were “illegal” under EU rules and told the company to pay $14.5 billion in back taxes. Apple has since said it will fight the bill, and the U.S. Treasury accused EU authorities of breaking with international practice and assessing taxes retroactively. But the Treasury also made clear that Washington believes it has the right to tax the cash hoards that U.S. companies hold offshore, and that the European Commission was overextending.

"It reflects an attempt to reach into the US tax base to tax income that ought to be taxed in the United States," said Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

U.S. tax law allows companies to retain earnings offshore with taxes put off until the money is repatriated, and the sum out there has climbed quickly over the past decade, Handley reports. According to a July report by Boston-based Audit Analytics, the top 1,000 U.S. companies held $2.43 trillion in untaxed earnings offshore at the end of last year, double that of 2008 and up $130 billion since 2014. Companies say they want to see a lower U.S. tax rate before they bring it back; currently the top rate is 35 percent.

In 2004, Washington offered a tax holiday, cutting the rate on the repatriated funds to 5.25 percent, and attracted back some $300 billion. The goal was for the money to be invested in job-creating activities. But later studies showed most of the repatriated profits went to shareholders and corporate executives.

"Unfortunately, there is no evidence that it increased U.S. investment or jobs, and it cost taxpayers billions," assistant Treasury secretary Michael Mundaca wrote in 2011. Now the companies say they are ready to pay taxes on the money in the United States, just not at the current rate the U.S. government would assess.

"The U.S. should reform its tax system," Jenifer McCloskey, director of government affairs at the Information Technology Industry Council, a powerful tech industry lobby, told AFP. "On paper that money is owed to the United States at a certain rate of taxation. We have been working for years now to try and find a way forward with tax reform that rationalizes our system."

But with the piles of profits mounting offshore, tax activists say the companies are simply holding out for another tax holiday, and that the rules on taxation need to be reformed.

"Apple has systematically organized its Irish affairs in a way designed solely for tax avoidance," said Matt Gardner of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. He said U.S. regulators "should take a page from the European Commission's book and crack down on rampant corporate tax avoidance."

Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center said the Europeans are acting because the erosion of the global taxation system by multinational company activities has essentially gone too far.

"Now the ground may be crumbling from under that system," he said after the Apple ruling. "By forcing member countries to collect taxes from those US-based firms, the EU is trying to break the cycle of tax competition that has largely benefited those US multinationals. In effect, it is creating a new minimum tax for multinationals."

Published in Government

Electric Lightwave has deployed optical equipment to deliver 200G wavelengths on a 225-mile fiber route between Hillsboro, Ore. and Seattle. This technology enables Electric Lightwave to double WAN connectivity speeds and efficiently deliver on rapidly increasing bandwidth demands.

Electric Lightwave has strategically invested in its network assets by doubling the number of network long-haul routes, offering virtually unlimited bandwidth through its Spectrum solution and expanding Wavelength Services through 10G and 100G Express Routes as demand for high bandwidth access continues to increase.

“We continue to enhance the strengths of our network by deploying advanced technologies throughout our architecture to meet the exponential growth in bandwidth demand,” said Dan Stoll, president of Electric Lightwave. “Enabling our first customer with 200G capabilities on one of our many unique long haul routes is another example of how we deliver solutions that effectively combine the strength of our network with innovative technologies to effectively address our customers’ needs for low latency, high bandwidth service. Deploying Ciena’s 200G solution is helping us meet constantly changing bandwidth requirements driven by increasing volumes of digital content. We are already seeing significant demand from existing and new customers along our routes.”

Published in Telecom Vendors