FTC also probing Apple’s upcoming music service over deals with record labels

By Christian Zibreg on May 6, 2015

Increasingly, Apple is finding itself in hot water with regulators over its rumored subscription-based music service. Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that the United States Federal Trade Commission is now probing Apple’s efforts to line up deals with record labels.

The agency is reportedly taking a closer look at the possible misuse of the iPhone maker’s dominant market position as the largest seller of music downloads to put rival music services such as Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, YouTube and others at a disadvantage. Read More

 

Apple reportedly makes push to kill free music streaming tiers

By Christian Zibreg on May 4, 2015

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly taking a closer look into Apple’s business practices ahead of the rumored Beats Music relaunch, with DOJ officials having already interviewed high-ranking music industry executives about Apple’s business habits, The Verge reported Monday.

Citing multiple sources, the publication claims that Apple’s “aggressive tactics” have garnered scrutiny from DOJ, which has apparently taken issue with Apple’s push to kill free Spotify streaming ahead of Beats relaunch. If true, the cunning move has the potential to reduce competition for Apple’s music service as popular service like YouTube, Pandora, Rdio and others are also the target. Read More

 

China’s ludicrous new cybersecurity rules aimed at Western companies could hurt Apple

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 29, 2015

The Chinese government has adopted new cybersecurity rules targeted at Western technology companies that are bound to give firms like Apple a major headache.

According to The New York Times on Thursday, the new rules require vendors that sell computer equipment to Chinese banks to turn over secret source code.

The Chinese government also requires that Western technology providers submit to “invasive audits” and even build backdoors into hardware and software. As a result, the Apples, Dells and HPs of this world are going to need to jump through more hoops to do business in China.  Read More

 

Apple bows to pressure, consents to security audits of iPhones, iPads and Macs sold in China

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 23, 2015

CEO Tim Cook has agreed to allow Chinese government officials to conduct security audits on Apple devices sold in China, IDG News Service reported yesterday.

The surprising development comes amid tensions that have erupted in the 1.33 billion people country, Apple’s second largest market by revenue, over allegations that other governments are using Apple devices for surveillance and accusations of state-sponsored phishing attacks on Apple’s iCloud users. Read More

 

BlackBerry calls upon US government to force Apple to port iMessage to its smartphones

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 22, 2015

Disregarding for a moment the fact that Apple has never actually made any promises regarding bringing iMessage to other platforms (unlike FaceTime, but that’s a topic for another story), the embattled smartphone maker BlackBerry wants Apple’s messaging platform on its smartphones so badly that it’s calling on the United States government to intervene and do something about it.

It’s not a joke: BlackBerry CEO John Chen penned a post over at the company blog proposing just that.

In a nutshell, rather than let the market dictate what any company should do, he’s demanding that the Cupertino firm make iMessage cross-platform. Read More

 

Apple doubles lobbying in Washington ahead of Apple Watch release

By Jake Smith on Jan 21, 2015

Apple has increased its lobbying presence in Washington heavily following the release of Apple Pay, and the impending release of the Apple Watch later this Spring. Bloomberg reports that Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, was even seen in December at the US capitol – a rare place for a company’s executive. Read More

 

Snowden docs give new insight into how GCHQ tracked iPhone users

By Christian Zibreg on Jan 19, 2015

New documents by NSA leaker Edward Snowden were published this weekend by German newspaper Der Spiegel, giving us new insight into how the GCHQ tracked iPhone users without their consent.

Rather than tap specific exploits that GCHQ’s U.S. counterpart, NSA, relied on in order to compromise the iPhone’s software, GCHQ surveilled targets by following a device’s UDID across different services.

They were even able to pull data from the device itself when syncing with a compromised computer took place. Read More

 

Apple terminates registered App Store developers in Crimea following US sanctions

By Jake Smith on Jan 18, 2015

Apple sent an email to registered developers who are registered in Crimea on Sunday terminating their developer agreement with Apple and ceasing the development and distribution of apps.  Read More

 

Apple hires former HP exec to boost corporate sales

By Cody Lee on Jan 8, 2015

Apple has hired former HP senior vice president John Solomon, according to a new report from Recode. A spokesperson for the handset-maker has confirmed the hire, but would not specify what Solomon’s title or role would be with the company.

Recode’s Arik Hesseldahl is hearing, though, that Solomon will be “central to Apple’s push to boost sales to big companies and government agencies with large technology budgets.” He may also play a part in international sales of the Apple Watch. Read More

 

T-Mobile agrees to pay $90 million to settle with FTC over unwanted charges

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 19, 2014

Following a complaint that the United States Federal Trade Commission filed over T-Mobile this summer over fraudulent services, the Deutsche Telekom-owned wireless carrier today announced it has agreed to pay $90 million to settle cramming accusation. Carrier cramming, a form of fraud popular among major US carriers, results in small charges being added to a bill by a third party without the subscriber’s consent or disclosure.

Such unlawful charges typically cover unwanted text message alerts and other services like unauthorized SMS subscriptions for horoscopes, sports scores, ring tones and similar services that cost ten bucks per month or more. Read More

 

Department of Justice compelling smartphone makers to bypass encryption

By Christian Zibreg on Dec 2, 2014

The United States Department of Justice is reportedly pursuing an unusual legal strategy to compel cellphone makers to assist investigations by removing device encryption on iPhones and other mobile devices, according to findings by technology website Ars Technica.

Tapping the All Writs Act, feds want Apple’s help to defeat encrypted phones, as revealed by newly discovered court documents from two federal criminal cases in New York and California. Read More

 

Alibaba CEO on why a deal with Apple would help Apple Pay take off in China

By Christian Zibreg on Nov 17, 2014

Following its report last week alleging that Apple and Alibaba are currently ironing out specifics of an upcoming Apple Pay partnership in China, The Wall Street Journal on Monday published an interview with Alibaba CEO Jack Ma who explained why such a deal would be hugely beneficial to the iPhone maker.

Long story short, the Apple-Alibaba deal would help avoid any regulatory scrutiny that Apple would be subjected to as a new financial player in China. Read More

 

DOJ reportedly using fake aircraft-mounted cell towers to spy on mobile phones

By Cody Lee on Nov 14, 2014

The US Department of Justice is installing equipment on airplanes that masquerades as a cell phone tower in order to gather mobile phone data, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The program’s goal is to identify criminals, but each plane is capable of collecting data from thousands of phones in a single flight.

The Journal says these spy devices are called “dirtboxes,” and have a surface area of two feet by two feet. They’re being installed on fixed-wing aircraft by the US Marshals Service’s Technical Operations group, and purport to be strong-signaled cell towers. This tricks cellphones into giving them their IMSI info, making them totally trackable. Read More

 

US government warns iOS users about new ‘Masque Attack’ threat

By Cody Lee on Nov 13, 2014

The United States government issued a warning for iPhone and iPad users today regarding the recently-discovered ‘Masque Attack’ vulnerability, reports Reuters. The security flaw, which began circulating the web earlier this week, allows malicious third-party apps to be installed to a device using enterprise provision profiles.

Today’s bulletin was issued by the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, and it warns users of how Masque Attack can spread and what it’s capable of doing. The malware installs itself through a phishing link disguised as a new app or game, and then it can masquerade as a well-known app like Gmail. Read More

 

The EFF files petition with Copyright Office to keep jailbreaking legal

By Cody Lee on Nov 8, 2014

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (or EFF) is once again fighting to keep the practice of jailbreaking legal. The non-profit digital rights group announced this week that it has filed a petition with the Librarian of Congress and the Copyright Office to extend and expand the exemption that allows you to jailbreak your phone, without violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Because the software on mobile phones and tablets is copyrighted, the act of jailbreaking (and rooting on Android devices) is technically forbidden by the DMCA. But Congress created a procedure to allow for exemptions on activities where users make fair use of copyrighted works, reviewed every three years. The last exemption for jailbreaking was awarded in 2012, so it’s set to expire soon. Read More

 

Apple may bring iPhone to Iran, beginning talks with distributors

By Jake Smith on Oct 29, 2014

Apple is in preliminary talks to offer its iPhone in Iran, perhaps one day marking the company’s first entry in the country, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Cupertino-based company is said to be in contact with Iranian distributors in case “Western sanctions ease sufficiently” and it makes sense to enter the country for business.  Read More

 

Apple launches new site regarding its ConnectED education program efforts

By Cody Lee on Oct 27, 2014

Apple today added a new section to its website detailing its efforts regarding President Barack Obama’s ConnectED education program. As part of its participation in the program, the company will be providing hardware, services and infrastructure to 114 schools across the United States.

According to the site, Apple will give each student at the selected schools an iPad, and every teacher and administrator will receive both an iPad and Mac. They’ll also be providing an Apple TV for each classroom, which can be used for displaying lesson content on larger displays via AirPlay. Read More

 

AT&T forced to pay $105 million over bogus billing

By Cody Lee on Oct 8, 2014

The US government has just handed AT&T a significant fine for allowing third party companies to stealthily tack on their charges to customer phone bills for things like spam SMS text messages. The announcement was made on Wednesday in a joint press conference by the FCC and FTC, who say this is the largest “cramming” settlement in history.

In total, AT&T will pay out $105 million to settle the case—$80 million is earmarked for the FTC, which it will use to set up a reimbursement program, $5 million will go to the FCC, and $20 million will go to individual states. Additionally, the carrier has been ordered to begin proactively informing subscribers if extra fees are going on their accounts. Read More

 

Minneapolis school district deploys iPads for 40,000 students, as LA schools suspend rollout

By Jake Smith on Aug 26, 2014

The St. Paul School District in Minneapolis has announced plans to rollout iPads to 40,000 students in its district, all payed for by taxpayer dollars. The school district has chosen a suite of apps that will be used by students, teachers, and administrators for enhanced learning in the classroom, including an app called Nearpod that can project images and videos, and gather instant responses from students to enhance engagement.  Read More

 

California smartphone ‘kill switch’ bill passes state legislature

By Cody Lee on Aug 11, 2014

Earlier this year, California Senator Mark Leno introduced a new bill that would require cellphone makers to install ‘kill switches’ in all of their handsets, rendering them inoperable when stolen. The move comes as smartphone thefts continue to rise in major US cities.

Unsurprisingly, Leno’s bill won Senate approval by a vote of 27-8 today, meaning that it’s just one step away from becoming law in the state of California. All it needs now is Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, and device manufacturers will have essentially a year to comply… Read More

 
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