Friday, 20 February 2009

Judge dismisses Google lawsuit

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Street View car, PA
Google's Street View has been criticised on several occasions

A legal claim by a Pittsburgh couple that Google's Street View feature violated their privacy has been thrown out by a federal judge.

Christine and Aaron Boring sued the search giant after photos of their home appeared on the free mapping program.

The couple accused Google of privacy violation, negligence, trespassing and unjust enrichment.

In her ruling, Judge Amy Reynolds Hay said the Borings "failed to state a claim under any count".

"We are pleased the judge agreed the suit was without merit," said Google in a statement to the BBC.

Street View displays street level, 360-degree photographs of areas taken by specially equipped Google vehicles.


The photographs at the centre of the lawsuit, launched last year, were taken at the foot of Mr and Mrs Boring's driveway and shows their house, a pool area and detached garage. Signs marked the road as private.

The suit alleged that Google's Street View had caused Mr and Mrs Boring "mental suffering" and diluted the value of their home.

Google conference
Google removed the offending pictures after the lawsuit was filed

"While it is easy to imagine that many whose property appears on Google's virtual maps resent the privacy implications, it is hard to believe that any - other than the most exquisitely sensitive - would suffer shame or humiliation," Judge Amy Reynolds Hay of US District Court for Western Pennsylvania wrote in her 12-page decision.

The judge also suggested that the Borings' lawsuit made it possible for more people than ever to view the picture of their home.

"The Borings do not dispute that they have allowed the relevant images to remain on Google Street View, despite the availability of a procedure for having them removed from view," wrote Judge Reynolds Hay.

"Furthermore, they have failed to bar others' access to the images by eliminating their address from the pleadings, or by filing this action under seal," she said.

The publicity has actually perpetuated dissemination of the Borings' name and location, and resulted in frequent re-publication of the Street View images, the judge concluded.

"The plaintiffs' failure to take readily available steps to protect their own privacy and mitigate their alleged pain suggests to the Court that the intrusion and that their suffering were less severe than they contend," wrote Judge Reynolds Hay.

The Borings had sought $25,000 (£17,700) in damages.

'Removal tools'

Google said the company respects individual privacy and provides ways for that privacy to be maintained.

"We blur identifiable faces and licence plates in Street View and we offer easy-to-use removal tools so users can decided for themselves whether or not they want a given image to appear.

Street View
Photos of real world locations are tied to maps

"It is unfortunate the parties involved decided to pursue litigation instead of making use of these tools," said Google in its statement.

Privacy concerns following the launch of Street View in 2007 prompted Google to start blurring faces of people caught in the photographs.

The company had argued earlier in response to the lawsuit that "today's satellite-image technology means that even in today's desert complete privacy does not exist."

"Privacy claims are not easy to prove," said Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

"One of the challenges is showing what's the damage, what's the harm. But Google is more at risk here because there is always the possibility someone might prevail in one of these cases, so I don't think the issue is resolved in terms of Google."

Privacy law call in Facebook row

By Maggie Shiels
Technology Reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley
Facebook logo, AP
Mark Zuckerberg said the new policy will be a "substantial revision"

The row over Facebook's change in its terms of service governing users personal data highlights the need for a privacy law, claims a leading watchdog.

The Electronic Privacy Information Centre was on the brink of filing a legal complaint when Facebook announced it would revert to its old policy.

The new terms seemingly gave Facebook vast control over users' content.

"This row underlines the need for comprehensive privacy laws," said Epic's president Marc Rotenberg.

"It is great that Facebook has responded by going back to its old terms of service. That is a step in the right direction, but these issues don't go away.

"It's going to be an ongoing concern for users until we get privacy laws in place," Mr Rotenberg told the BBC.


Epic, along with 12 other consumer and civil liberty groups, were intending to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about the policy changes when it was stopped in its tracks.

"We got a call late last night from Facebook and they said that they were thinking of going back to their original terms of service," said Mr Rotenberg.

Countless Facebook users cancelled their accounts following the changes

"We said that if they would agree to do that, we wouldn't see the need to file the complaint."

In a blog post, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote: "Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago.

"Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues people have raised."

Mr Zuckerberg said Facebook would draw up a new document in conjunction with its users. The company has set up a special group called "Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" to let users have their say.

The group had more than 55,000 members just a few hours after its creation.

"Overarching and scary"

Originally Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg defended the changes, unveiled on 4 February noting they were to "better reflect how users used the site."

He had said they were made to ensure that if a user deleted his or her account, any comments he or she had left on a friend's Facebook page would not also disappear.

Teenage boy using the internet, SPL
Tens of thousands of users voiced their anger at the changes

That was not how they were interpreted.

Over the weekend, a popular consumer advocacy blog, The Consumerist , raised alarm bells over the issue.

It defined the changes as meaning "anything you upload to Facebook can be used by Facebook in any way they deem fit, forever, no matter what you do later".

Users took notice and created Facebook groups to oppose the changes. One of the biggest, "People Against the New Terms of Service" grew to over 90,000 in a matter of days.

Group founder Julius Harper Jr of Los Angeles hypothesised that if Facebook wanted to it could take his photographs and "I could see my face on the side of a bus and there would be no recourse to complain".

Such situations were never intended said Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt.

"Facebook does not, nor have we ever, claimed ownership over people's content. Your content belongs to you," he stressed.

"Wake up"

The issue has raised concerns over who does own personal material, from photos to videos to comments stored on a social networking site.

Facebook is the world's biggest with 175 million users.

Computer keyboard, Eyewire
The Electronic Privacy Information Centre had planned to file a complaint

"This just reflects the ongoing process of people trying to figure out the internet," John Byrne, a senior analyst at Technology Business Research Inc. told

"The lesson that should be learned is that these content sites are not your own personal diaries. Consider it more as publishing and less about your personal circle of friends. People need to wake up," suggested Mr Byrne.

Simon Davies of Privacy International criticised Facebook for allowing commercial and legal concerns to override its commitment to users.

"It appears to be going down the same road as Google. Its halo is beginning to slip," Mr Davies told the BBC.

He advised users to "ratchet their privacy settings up to the maximum" to restrict advertisers' access to their data and ensure that their details are fully protected.

Back in 2007, Facebook faced a firestorm of criticism when it introduced a service called Beacon. Users were concerned Facebook would provide advertisers with too much of their information.

Mr Rotenberg said Facebook is not alone in trying to juggle the needs of users with the need to make money.

"There is always a tug of war over users' data."

However Mr Rotenberg said he was impressed with the speed in which Facebook acted and hoped such willingness to listen will continue.

"Mark Zuckerberg said users should be able to own and control their information. If everyone starts with that principle we can end up in a very good place. On a lot of these issues where there is confusion on that point, I see a lot of debate."

Friday, 6 February 2009

Wireless infrastructure providers have been at the heart of all major industry evolutions.

Regarding to the source : WirelessWeek
The WIP Race
By Keith Radousky
WirelessWeek - October 01, 2008

Ameritech launched the first commercial cellular network on Oct. 13, 1983, with much fanfare at Soldier Field in Chicago. New customers began signing up by the 25 Years of Wirelessthousands despite the near $3,000 price tag and subscription fee of $50 per month and 50 cents per minute of airtime.

Leading up to the launch, wireless infrastructure providers (WIPs) had been working feverishly behind the scenes to make the magic happen. Since that time, WIPs have adapted to tremendous industry consolidation, experienced competitive power shifts and accelerated technology migrations. Much has transpired in the last 25 years, and much remains to evolve in the coming years as those early radio networks transform into spectrally efficient all-IP networks.

The first major WIPs were Motorola and AT&T Networks (previously Western Electric). In the early 1980s, the networks consisted of a mobile telephone switching office (MTSO), cell sites, and a connection to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). That’s it. No voice mail, caller Blackberryidentification, messaging or data services of any kind.

The WIPs were eager to earn business in this new and exciting market. Motorola had marked success with cellular “A” block licensees (primarily radio common carriers known as RCCs) while AT&T focused on “B” block licensees (primarily regional Bell operating companies known as RBOCs). This made sense: Motorola was the dominant supplier of land-mobile equipment to the Radio Common Carrier (RCC) industry while AT&T supplied the majority of wireline equipment to the RBOCs.

In April 1984, a new entrant, Ericsson, launched a small network serving Buffalo, N.Y., called Buffalo Telephone Company. Even though Buffalo didn’t need that many cell sites to provide coverage, (remember these were the days of 3 watt mobiles and a 3 dB gain outside antenna), it was huge success for Ericsson.

Motorola and AT&T didn’t appear threatened by Ericsson at the time. Motorola had won business in most of the “A” block markets while AT&T was experiencing similar success in “B” block markets.

However, Ericsson was clever; it focused on winning the “A” side business on Motorola’s turf in Chicago. The “A” block licensee was Rogers Aircall, which already operated paging and 2-way radio networks there and was a customer of Motorola. Roger’s key decision maker, Bernard (Bud) Kahn, did his due-diligence and chose Ericsson. He did so because he and his team concluded Ericsson’s equipment was more advanced than both AT&T and Motorola. Ericsson leveraged lessons it learned from the Nordic cellular system (the world’s first commercial cellular network) in the equipment designed for America. Essentially, Ericsson was providing second-generation equipment.

The Rogers Chicago network was launched in January 1985 under the brand name Cellular One. The debut TV commercial during Superbowl XIX on Jan. 20, 1985, promised to “Drive Ameritech Crazy.”

Cell TowerCellular One did succeed in convincing many Ameritech customers to switch (the first churned subscribers) by offering 90 days of free service and attracted new customers with aggressive pricing of only $15 per month plus 34 cents per minute primetime and 20 cents non-primetime.

Other major cities such as Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco chose Ericsson as well. As the years went by, Ericsson also was successful in changing out many networks from Motorola and AT&T Networks. Two of the most notable events involved Craig McCaw swapping out many AT&T markets and New York’s Metro One replacing Motorola equipment with Ericsson.

Northern Telecom was successful in Minneapolis, Minn., and other smaller markets. It’s worth pointing out that the Canadian company managed to win both the A and B licenses in Minneapolis.

CellphoneOverall, Northern Telecom didn’t do as well as the others primarily because it outsourced cell site supply to Novatel at first and then GE. To its credit though, it offered a world-class switch, but a cellular system is half radio technology and operators recognized the challenge of integrating and operating multiple providers within one network.

In 1992, Northern Telecom (by then renamed Nortel Networks) and Motorola joined forces to form Motorola-Nortel, thinking that the venture could leverage each company’s forte. But the partnership quickly fell apart. As a result, Motorola lost much market share. Motorola discontinued its internal switch program and returned to its old switch partner DSC. Nortel soon introduced a dual-mode (AMPS-TDMA) cell site. However, neither company was able to keep pace with Ericsson or AT&T Networks (by this time renamed Lucent Technologies).

In the mid-1990s, Ericsson, Motorola, Northern Telecom and Lucent enjoyed much success with the introduction of six new frequency bands at 1900 MHz that were auctioned by the FCC.

iPhone 3GNortel was the only company to offer and succeed in selling all three air-interfaces; TDMA, CDMA and GSM. Lucent sold TDMA and CDMA and offered GSM in Europe but not in America. Ericsson successfully sold TDMA and GSM. Motorola was successful but only sold CDMA. It’s interesting to note that Ericsson was initially opposed to CDMA but later bought Qualcomm’s CDMA infrastructure business. That business unit has faded into history.

The 1900 MHz spectrum auction enabled European GSM WIPs Nokia and Siemens to enter the American market. They both enjoyed some success but not to the degree that Ericsson did. Then in 2004, another opportunity arose with Cingular’s launch of UMTS. Ericsson and Lucent captured all of Cingular’s UMTS business. Verizon and Sprint have continued their relationship with Lucent, Motorola and Nortel for CDMA upgrades 1X RTT and EV-DO.

Ericsson and Nokia recently earned T-Mobile’s UMTS business. Now that Nokia and Siemens have joined forces, it’s unclear if the new Nokia-Siemens can recapture market share as operators begin the process of choosing their suppliers for the fourth generation (4G) of technology, which is referred to as Long Term Evolution (LTE). Finally, Alcatel and Lucent (known today as Alcatel-Lucent) joined forces in order to lower costs and better compete in the market for LTE.

Today, the WIPs selling in the United States include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia-Siemens, Nortel, and a new entrant, Huawei.

Now to the “Huawei Factor.” Both AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless have chosen LTE as their 4G technology. Sprint also will likely choose LTE now that it has essentially spun off its WiMAX business to Clearwire. Sprint does own 51% of Clearwire but it still needs a 4G path for its CDMA business. T-Mobile has yet to deploy 3G nationally so it probably won’t focus on LTE for some time. Ultimately, AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless are racing to be the first American operator to deploy LTE.

Huawei, which recently closed $200 million of CDMA business with Cricket Communications, can be compared to Ericsson in 1985. The Chinese company is taking on the large incumbent WIPs. One difference this time around is the incumbent WIPs are quite aware of the threat. They recognize Huawei’s ability to offer very attractive deals. Huawei is hungry for business and appears to have quality products. One thing is certain; Huawei is eager to earn market share in America primarily though aggressive pricing.

Ericsson may be in the best position to hold off Huawei because of its growing services business. Several years ago, Ericsson leadership recognized that wireless equipment margins would shrink dramatically and made a strategic decision to nurture and grow its services business. Today, services account for more than 20% of Ericsson’s revenue.

Keith Radousky
The author on his serial number 6 brick phone.

Huawei has to rely on outsourcing for much of its services work. Nevertheless, Huawei is likely to earn LTE business with AT&T and/or Verizon Wireless. Furthermore, Huawei’s ability to offer low pricing will enable AT&T and/or Verizon Wireless to deploy LTE sooner rather than later. As in the past, there will be spectrum challenges and mobile device issues, but they will be solved.

History has proven time and time again that the wireless industry tends to understate demand. Case in point: in 1980, AT&T forecast that the total U.S. wireless subscriber market was 1 million. Today, there are more than 264 million subscribers.

Wireless subscribers are rapidly adopting data services, and thereby are triggering a capacity challenge that is driving the need for 4G. Huawei will force the incumbent WIPs to lower their prices to capture market share. Operators will enjoy lower cost per bit for their networks. Wireless subscribers will enjoy even higher data rates.

Make no mistake, Huawei is disrupting business as usual for the incumbent WIPs and there’s a new horse in the race for LTE business in the good ole’ USA.

Radousky is president of Wireless Industry Systems Expertise (WISE), LLC, which provides “Keep it Simple” technical expertise to the wireless industry and financial institutions. He can be reached at 404-520-8206 or

Privacy fears over Google tracker

Google has announced a new feature that allows users to share their locations among a chosen network of friends.

The "opt-in" Latitude service uses data from mobile phone masts, GPS, or wi-fi hardware to update a user's location automatically.

Users can also manually set their advertised location anywhere they like, or turn the broadcast off altogether.

The service has raised a number of security concerns, as many users may not be aware that it is enabled.

Latitude is based on Google's My Location feature that has been in place since last year.

The new interface and social networking element makes Latitude similar to a number of websites such as Loopt and Brightkite that make use of the location data of a network of friends.

Users can set the service to update automatically using the best location data it can obtain from the phone's hardware, set the location to display at city level only, or to not send any location data at all.

Locations are shared only between people who mutually agree to share them, and users can also see their Latitude friends' locations on a computer.

Privacy concerns

Google Latitude screenshot

Google says it has built the service from the ground up with security and privacy issues in mind, and that the service only stores the last known location of a given user.

However, privacy watchdog Privacy International argues that there are opportunities for abuse of the system for those who may not know that their phone is broadcasting its location.

Privacy International director Simon Davies gives the example of employers who might give phones to employees with Latitude enabled.

"With Latitude, Google has taken steps toward privacy that it has hitherto not taken," Mr Davies told BBC News.

"The problem is that they launched the services without allowing all phones to be notified."

Google admits that the notification service is currently only available for BlackBerry users.

"We have implemented a feature on the BlackBerry version of the software to display several notifications (i.e. pop-up messages) to a device which informs the user that his or her phone's location is being shared," said a Google spokesperson.

"We hope to extend this to other versions of the software soon," the spokesperson added, noting that all platforms should be supported within a week's time.

For Mr Davies, the issue is principally a philosophical one about the nature of privacy.

"I have absolutely no doubt, as a tech-lover, about the utility of this as extremely beneficial," he said.

"But it will be destroyed by privacy if the companies don't get it right."

From BBC