IBM, Cisco, Intel, and Sandvine make huge bank selling ISPs the networking gear needed to discriminate against online services that haven't paid bribes for access to the "fast lane" -- but it's totally a coincidence that they've told the US government to make sure that the FCC doesn't ban the corrupt practice. Read the rest
Online retailer Amazon is accused of hooking millions of dollars from underage users making unauthorized in-app purchases. The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit Thursday charging that the company willingly allowed kids to set up purchases without the consent of their parents.
Though most were for smaller ammounts, some of the charges ranged as high as $99, and typically were for game weapons, clothes and other virtual bullshit installed on its Kindle Fire gadget.
"Amazon’s in-app system allowed children to incur unlimited charges on their parents’ accounts without permission," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez wrote in a press release issued by the comission. "Even Amazon's own employees recognized the serious problem its process created. We are seeking refunds for affected parents and a court order to ensure that Amazon gets parents' consent for in-app purchases."
Amazon's in-app purchase system, established in 2011 to help the firm catch up with competitors Apple and Google, was relatively rudimentary and lacked locks or passwords to prevent unuathorized users racking up huge bills. Within a month, internal emails show that Amazon was aware of "problems" that were "clearly causing problems for a large percentage of our customers," according to the FTC's lawsuit.
Amazon only added passwords months later, and did not apply them to purchases of less than $20 for a year. Even then, according to the suit, Amazon did not disclose that doing so once would enable further purchases for more than an hour.
The FTC settled a similar lawsuit with Apple earlier this year, when the company agreed to institute stricter policies and paid $32.5m in restitution. Read the rest
Jerktech is the very apt epithet for the class of "disruptive" startups that sell things that don't belong to them, like parking spots and restaurant reservations, simply raising the prices of them and making access to public resources a factor of your disposable income. Read the rest
Debris sightings have drawn attention to a particular region, but choppy seas and rough waters deny a conclusive discovery. The TPL-25 is a military underwater microphone that could improve our chances of finding the flight data recorder, the "black box" that holds Flight 370's secrets. [Wired] Read the rest
Gen Xers like to complain about not having the flying cars they were promised. But it was the Boomers who were promised flying cars. Unless you're that old, the joke goes, you were promised a cyberpunk dystopia: presently under construction for the Millenials to enjoy.
To kids growing up in the 1990s though— born in an empty space between these "generations" of entertainment marketing—such grand concepts were drowned by the mundane reality of the early web. Too young to be on the pre-AOL net, when it was still cool, but old enough for it to remain a new and strange land, this thinly-sliced cohort experienced a certain yearning bathos, a search for the real in a medium freshly proven otherwise.
In Breathing Machine: A Memoir of Computers, Leigh Alexander captures a powerful scent of what it was like to be born into computer gaming's golden age, to have a taste of a "world bigger than the one you can touch" only to spend adolescence in a world of chatrooms, terrible internet speeds and false frontiers. Read the rest