Wass Up Tech: Paying a price, Paying fines

|July 14, 2016 0
This week has been eventful with many shades of happenings stirring up the word ‘safe’ furiously. There was eavesdropping, there was patent-payback and there were even gun shots. Pokemon and Line stay in news.

INDIA: Security is changing many things. If announcements made at Cisco Live (yes, the networking giant is rejigging a lot when it comes to cloud and security) did not show it enough as the week started, more followed, albeit in not so Vegas-ese form.

Playing games for one, is not where security gets a good corner. That became well learnt when Pokémon Go ‘rectified’ its mistake of allowing full access to Google accounts of its users, while adding a ‘not to worry’ hint pointing that ‘only’ basic Google profile information was on the table.

AR game’s developer Niantic called the mess an error. But asking someone logging in with a Google name and password for full account access is a question that most apps, including gaming ones, would have to seriously give a second thought to.

Because despite admitting it as an error and wiping off signs of any malicious intent out of the way, and despite the damage being limited to iOS for iPhones and iPads, the gaming company would have to contend with industry watchers’ doubts over what the app’s terms blanket when it comes to access to a user’s inbox, Drive, search, location or any such private data.

Sceptics are also wondering about the so-called privacy policy that ironically talks of not only being entitled to acquire and sell personal data or information collected from users but also the possibility of transferring such information to a third-party in scenarios of acquisitions.

Game’s not over on such valid questions yet Pokemon.

It’s the word Go for Apple too when it comes to patent fights. A lawsuit (Mirror Worlds LLC v. Apple) found David Gelernter claiming an upper hand over ideas like Spotlight, Cover Flow, and the Time Machine. Courts have granted a $25 million amount for Gelernter. Incidentally, back in 2010, a jury had called Apple on the infringing side and awarded the other side a royalty of $625 million. But an overruling flipped the outcome and prolonged the time for Gelernter to succeed.

Notably, Mirror Worlds has also been wrestling with companies like Samsung, Microsoft, HP, Dell, Lenovo etc over similar lawsuits. Microsoft, reportedly, had to cough up around $4 million.

As to Apple, the t(r)oll does not end here. The company has also been hit by another lawsuit, this time from a Texas-based firm Somaltus LLC, about claims round iPhone’s charging system that seems to have been acquired from Snap-On Technologies (owner of the patent for an integrated battery system since 2010).

Whilst Apple settles the lawsuit inside or outside the court, competition is busy too.

Google has managed to squeeze out some more time, a six-week window, to handle European commission’s anti-trust charges over alleged market abuse of Android and Google Search and Chrome apps. It, meaning possibility of fines up to $7.4 billion, has got to do something with Google Search and Chrome pre-install requirements from mobile phone manufacturers for access to other Google apps.

On the other side, an all-new Skype client with a Linux app for users of traditional Linux systems and a Skype Web Client supported in Chrome on Linux and Chromebooks running Chrome OS, is out of Microsoft’s hat.

As for Facebook, it made headlines for another reason altogether. Live streaming of men being shot.

At Norfolk town in the US, a live video showing three men listening to music and smoking in a car happened to capture shots when a gunman hit them and the streaming went for over an hour (before the battery collapsed too) after the firing of shots.

Investigation may look for clues here with this video that got viewed around 50,000 times in a few hours.

Looks like safety and technology are intersecting in more places than they started with. For now, industry is finding respite in a huge tech IPO with Japan’s messaging wonder Line’s arrival in the arena. It is pegged at some $1.14 billion and would be a Japan and US IPO. With about 200 million active users, and radical monetisation moves, cartoons, stickers, games and in-app purchase revenues, should it worry WeChats, Facebook Messengers and Whatsapps already?


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