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Jasper Solander

Jasper Solander

A new South Dakota law may end up determining whether most U.S. residents are required to pay sales taxes on their Internet purchases.

The South Dakota law, passed by the Legislature there in March, requires many out-of-state online and catalog retailers to collect the state's sales tax from customers. The law is shaping up to be a legal test case challenging a 25-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits states from levying sales taxes on remote purchases.

Unless courts overturn the South Dakota law, it will embolden other states to pass similar Internet sales tax rules, critics said. The law could "set the course for enormous tax and administrative burdens on businesses across the country," Steve DelBianco, executive director of e-commerce trade group NetChoice, said in a statement.

If dozens of states adopt Internet sales taxes, online sellers could face audits and changing tax rules in thousands of taxing jurisdictions nationwide. Even with software that could make tax calculations easier, that would be a burden, NetChoice says. And online shoppers could end up paying up to 10 percent more for many products.

Supporters defended the law. It's time to provide a "level playing field" for bricks-and-mortar retailers that are required to collect sales taxes, said state Senator Deb Peters, a Republican and the main sponsor of the tax legislation.

With South Dakota's sales tax going up from 4 percent to 4.5 percent in June, out-of-state sellers have an advantage.

Even before the law went into effect Sunday, it prompted two lawsuits. Last Thursday, the state sued four online sellers, including Newegg and Overstock.com, in an effort to force them to register with the state and collect its sales tax. The law requires out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax if they have more than $100,000 in sales, or 200 remote transactions, in South Dakota each year.

Then, on Friday, NetChoice and the American Catalog Mailers Association sued the state, arguing the new law violates the Supreme Court's Quill v. North Dakota decision from 1992.

South Dakota lawmakers passed the law "with the express understanding that its terms contradict" the Supreme Court, lawyers for the two trade groups wrote in their lawsuit. The law is "plainly unconstitutional" because it usurps the U.S. Congress's authority to regulate interstate commerce, they said.

In the Quill decision, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not impose sales taxes on sales by out-of-state retailers because the taxes, with varying rules across thousands of jurisdictions, would be burdensome for sellers to collect. After the ruling, retailers with no store or warehouse in a state were not required to collect the state's sales tax.

The court left an opening for the U.S. Congress to streamline sales tax collection and allow states to extend it to out-of-state businesses. Lawmakers in Congress have been trying to pass Internet sales tax legislation for more than a decade, but opponents have stalled it.

Software and smartphone apps now make sales tax calculations easy, Peters said by email. "The burdens outlined in Quill no longer exist," she said.

Peters encouraged the Supreme Court to rule on the South Dakota sales tax law.

"We've been petitioning Congress for almost two decades to address the issue of remote sales tax collection because the ever-growing problem has negatively impacted local businesses and state revenue," she said. "To date, Congress has failed to act, leaving states to take action on their own."

Source:  http://www.pcworld.com/article/3065335/internet/south-dakota-law-will-be-a-test-case-for-a-us-internet-sales-tax.html

Over the last month there has been an unfathomable amount of content published about the massive privacy intrusion that is Facebook Messenger. With the ability to intrude into the lives of its users in ways that the NSA would never think to, it isn’t a surprise that the new download brought such strong opinions; many of which served as recommendations to not download the application.

The good news about the widespread dialogue on messenger is that it brought to light the issues that surround privacy of data. Further implicating what some of us have always known. “When the service is free, the user is the product.” Make sense?

In other words, when companies like Facebook create applications that we use in our everyday lives, for free, the real price is in what we sacrifice for the right to use the application for free, our data.

Internet of Things, Big Data and Jargon, Contextualized

Perhaps the only word more abused and used in the tech space than “Internet of Things” is “Big Data.” In itself, Big Data means very little. It is merely the massive collection of information that resides out in cyberspace that is waiting to be somehow organized, visualized, contextualized and “Ized” in some other TBD capacity.

For Big Data it comes down to what you do with it, otherwise it is like an English major staring at endless strings of PHP or Java; it’s meaningless.

Having said that, what Big Data really is and has meant is a revolutionary approach to marketing. It is our behavior online that helps brands and organizations learn about us in ways that they can contextualize and apply to their marketing strategies, and from the time that this became so eerily apparent, marketers have been seeking out ways to exploit it.

In a world where the web is moving from a search state to a semantic state it is without question our data that makes this possible. In a recent series of articles I posted about the semantic web it talked about the marriage that is taking place between Big Data, Semantic Search and User Generated Content that is shifting the way we explore the web.

If you consider this as a possibility or a reality then you will quickly realize for the web to be semantic, it is dependent upon us as users to feed it our data. And in order for the web to collect our data we need to voluntarily (even if not knowingly) give up our privacy so websites and brands can sell and use it to create this new online experience.

Our Privacy Died When We Grew Obsessed With Free

With Social Media users well over a billion and a growing mobile and wearable trends that puts us online almost around the clock, we are ever connected and endlessly sharing what seems like our every idea.

This feeling of connectedness undoubtedly gives many a sense of community and happiness as it is through the sharing of our everyday lives that we are able to garner the feedback we seek and the validity that we need.

However, if we are fooled, for even a moment as to what all of this is really about; the desire to have us tethered without wires and connected without cost, then we are delusional.

I for one can say that I have almost never read the privacy policy of an application I downloaded. As a millennial I suppose this puts me in the group of about half of us that are okay with trading our privacy for a potentially better experience online. Now whether having more targeted ads and content during our everyday browsing is really a better experience; that is yet to be seen.

As a society, it really came down to our insatiable desire for free. Free content, free social media, free productivity tools and free games. We want to be connected and we want to play with the latest games, toys and widgets, but we by in large don’t want to trade our cash for them. So instead we trade something else; our data and our privacy.

Just as long as you know what you are giving up and you make that choice then you are fine. But know, whatever you know “They” know and that is the way it will be.

So here’s to a better web experience, marketers that know more about what we want than we do and a complete and total loss of privacy that really makes minimal difference in our lives. Heck, we share it all anyway. Don’t we?

But one thing is for sure, on the Internet of Things, there is no privacy.

Source:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2014/08/20/there-is-no-privacy-on-the-internet-of-things/#1d5932886b4e

The U.S. House of Representatives' information technology team has blocked lawmakers from accessing software applications hosted on a Google cloud service to prevent possible hacking campaigns, two congressional sources said on Wednesday. The move came after Yahoo Mail was also blacklisted by House authorities due to fears of ransomware infiltratio

 

The two restrictions, which have hampered some internal communications in the lower chamber, have both been implemented within the past two weeks and are still in place. The episodes are not believed to be related, the sources said.

 

 

Devices connected to the House's Internet via wifi or ethernet cables have been barred from accessing appspot.com, the domain where Google hosts custom-built apps after the FBI notified Congress of a potential security vulnerability, the sources said.

 

"We began blocking appspot.com on May 3 in response to indicators that appspot.com was potentially still hosting a remote access trojan named BLT that has been there since June 2015," one of the sources, a House staffer with direct knowledge of the situation, told Reuters.

 

 

A Google spokesman said the company was investigating reports of the restriction and would work with the House to resolve any issues. The FBI has so far not responded to a request for a comment.

 

The FBI sent an advisory to private industry in June 2015 about a number of remote access tools capable of stealing personally identifiable information, including a trojan file named BLT found on the Google appspot.com domain.

 

 

Ted Henderson, a former House employee, said two Google-hosted apps he created specifically for use by congressional staffers to discuss politics and share alerts on votes are now effectively banned from their work network.

 

The disabling of appspot.com occurred after the House Information Security Office sent an advisory email to lawmakers and staffers on April 30 warning of increased phishing attacks on the House network from third-party, web-based mail applications including Yahoo Mail and Gmail.

 

"The attacks are focused on putting 'ransomware' on users' computers," the email, seen by Reuters, states. It added that the primary focus of the attackers appeared to be Yahoo Mail, which was being blocked on the network "until further notice."

 

Two individuals fell victim to ransomware by clicking on infected Word document email attachments, sources familiar with the hacking said. The infected files were able to be recovered without paying any ransom, the sources said.

 

Ransomware attacks, which involve accessing a computer or network's files and encrypting them until a ransom is paid by the victim, have grown more severe and common in recent years.

 

Yahoo is working closely with the House to resolve the matter, a company spokesperson said.

 

Source:  http://www.dnaindia.com/scitech/report-us-house-blocks-google-hosted-apps-and-yahoo-mail-over-security-fears-2211602

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getty Images on Wednesday filed a competition law complaint against Google with the European Commission.

The company last year filed an "interested third party" submission in support of the EC's investigation into Google's anticompetitive business practices.

 

Getty's complaint, in essence, is that Google Images creates galleries of high-res copyrighted content, and that providing easy access to them dissuades consumers from going to the source to view or license those images. That damages Getty's image licensing business.

 

"Google's behavior is adversely affecting the lives and livelihoods of visual artists around the world, impacting their ability to fund the creation of future works," said Getty General Counsel Yoko Miyashita.

Getty also complained about Google giving preference to its own image search over its rivals' search tools.

 

 

Encourages Piracy

 

Online search is "an essential tool for the discovery of images," and Google Images dominates the market, Miyashita told TechNewsWorld. The Google Images format "promotes right-click piracy by making high-res imagery easily available" without the need to get a license or permission from the source.

"By cutting off user traffic to competing websites like Getty Images and reserving that traffic exclusively for its own benefit, Google creates captive, image-rich environments, and is able to maintain and reinforce its dominance in both image search and its general search services," Miyashita argued.

 

Fair Use or Not?

 

"Google's rationale for image search, in general, is that displaying the image is necessary for the user to assess how well the image corresponds to their search," noted Matthew Sag, a professor at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

 

That practice "has been litigated at least twice in the United States in relation to thumbnail images and has easily passed the test of fair use," he told TechNewsWorld.

 

Getty's complaint "is directed more specifically to the creation of high-resolution galleries," and Google could make a similar argument that consumers need to see the image in high-res to properly evaluate it, but "this argument is not nearly so compelling," Sag said.

 

What Getty Wants

 

Getty Images wants to encourage the EC, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and other government bodies "to implement competition law-based sanctions against Google," Miyashita said.

 

The goal is to ensure that Google "ceases its anticompetitive practices and that when displaying images, it does so in a format that simply directs users to the most relevant source website in a way that doesn't prejudice image owners for Google's benefit," he explained. That means one click to source.

 

Further, Getty Images "would like to see Google taking steps to discourage copyright infringement," added Miyashita.

However, Google "is under no obligation to design its information services in a way that drives traffic to a particular website, or external websites in general," Loyola's Sag pointed out.

 

Getty's Chances of Success

 

The type of claim Getty is making "failed in the United States in Perfect 10 v. Google," noted Ben Depoorter, Sunderland Chair at UC Hastings College of the Law.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Google's framing and hyperlinking as part of an image search engine constituted fair use because it was highly transformative.

 

However, in Getty's case, "the context is different," Depoorter told TechNewsWorld, "because of the antitrust angle and the fact that EU countries do not have a similar broad and flexible fair use exception to copyright law."

Google Images "is part of Google's continued effort to provide the most attractive search engine in the world," Depoorter remarked. Image thumbnails on Google "direct you to other websites," and the higher-res versions "seek to improve the display of the results."

 

Google "will claim that they're in the business of directing traffic to the sites, not replacing them," he suggested.

While the design of Google Image search "would make a poor antitrust case in the U.S.," said Sag, "it might go further in the EU, because they take a broader view of abuse of dominance."

 

Source:  http://www.technewsworld.com/story/83438.html

 

 

Isn’t it weird when two big movies come out simultaneously—with exactly the same plot? In a single year, we might have two movies about killer volcanoes (1997), asteroids hitting Earth (1998), Truman Capote (2005), or terrorists taking the White House (2013).

The same bizarre, highly improbable coincidence just occurred in a strange little corner of the tech world: on-screen keyboard replacements for the iPhone.

Plenty of little companies make those free software keyboards, of course. But how weird is it that two behemoths—Microsoft and Google—both turn out to have been working on iOS keyboards in parallel?

(You understand that Microsoft and Google each make phone operating systems that compete with iOS, right?)

In any case, Microsoft struck first with its Microsoft Flow keyboard last month. Its chief virtues are a clever one-handed typing layout, a spinning emoji palette, and the freedom to dial up any colors you want.

And now, this week, the Gboard has landed: Google’s clever (and cleverly named) keyboard for the iPhone, containing features that even Google’s own Android phone keyboard lacks.

 As always, the iPhone makes it possible, but not simple, to install alternative keyboards. As always, these keyboards work identically in every app—messaging, email, notes, whatever. And, as always, you can switch among your installed software keyboards by tapping the little globe icon (or using it as a menu).

 Instant access to Google

 Google’s new iPhone software keyboard offers four powerful features that you don’t get with Apple’s built-in keyboard.

 The big one is a Google logo right next to the autocomplete suggestions. Tap it to open a Google search box, right there on your screen.

 From here, you can perform Google searches—for restaurants, addresses, articles, definitions, flight information…anything, really. That comes in handy really often. With each search, you save yourself some flipping around into your browser or another app to find the info you need.

The company says emphatically that your search terms are the only bits of data that get sent to Google; the keyboard doesn’t send or collect any other information.

Maybe you believe that, maybe you don’t—but there are two huge disappointments to this feature.

Disappointment #1: When you conduct a search of the Web, the results appear as scrolling, attractive tiles at the bottom of the screen. Cool! So how do you insert one of these results into whatever you’re typing?

If you tap it, you insert only a link to a Google search for that information—not the information itself:

You’re forcing your recipients to open their browsers and, of course, do a Google search, rather than just showing the information you’re seeing in the results.

Tapping a results tile also produces a message that you’ve copied that link. Alternatively, then, you can tap a second time (in your text, to produce iOS’s command bar), and a third time, on the Paste button, to paste in the entire tile.

In other words, one tap doesn’t insert the search result, and three taps is too many.

Searchable emoji

When you want to insert an emoji (those little smileys or emoticons) using the iPhone’s built-in keyboard, you have to scroll through several screens full, scanning through hundreds of them as though on a Where’s Waldo hunt.

With Google’s keyboard, you can type the name of the emoji you want. So much better.

The Gboard’s row of three autocomplete words even includes the occasional emoji suggestion when you’ve typed a word that merits it:

 Source:  https://www.yahoo.com/tech/gboard-why-did-google-make-such-a-good-154806972.html

GBoard: Why Did Google Make Such a Good Keyboard for the iPhone?

 
May 13, 2016
 
 

Isn’t it weird when two big movies come out simultaneously—with exactly the same plot? In a single year, we might have two movies about killer volcanoes (1997), asteroids hitting Earth (1998), Truman Capote (2005), or terrorists taking the White House (2013).

The same bizarre, highly improbable coincidence just occurred in a strange little corner of the tech world: on-screen keyboard replacements for the iPhone.

Plenty of little companies make those free software keyboards, of course. But how weird is it that two behemoths—Microsoft and Google—both turn out to have been working on iOS keyboards in parallel?

(You understand that Microsoft and Google each make phone operating systems thatcompete with iOS, right?)

In any case, Microsoft struck first with its Microsoft Flow keyboard last month. Its chief virtues are a clever one-handed typing layout, a spinning emoji palette, and the freedom to dial up any colors you want.

And now, this week, the Gboard has landed: Google’s clever (and cleverly named) keyboard for the iPhone, containing features that even Google’s own Android phone keyboard lacks. (You can download it here.)

As always, the iPhone makes it possible, but not simple, to install alternative keyboards. As always, these keyboards work identically in every app—messaging, email, notes, whatever. And, as always, you can switch among your installed software keyboards by tapping the little globe icon (or using it as a menu), as shown in this little video.

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