National / International News

PODCAST: Colleges going green

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-08-06 03:00

First up, more on Walgreens' decision not to move its headquarters overseas. It will, however, go through with a purchase of European pharmacy Alliance Boots. Plus, two large merges have fallen apart; Rupert Murdoch has abandoned his bid to purchase Time Warner, and Sprint lets go of its merger with T-Mobile. Also, what if colleges and universities could grow, rather than subtract, from their endowment money by making their campuses more environmentally friendly? The Sustainable Endowments Institute is trying to help them do just that.

AUDIO: Scientists hail dinosaur discovery

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-06 02:22
Scientists from the University of Zurich and The Natural History museum have discovered a previously unknown species of dinosaur.

Megadeth and CeeLo pull Israel gigs

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-06 02:17
Thrash metal band Megadeth and singer CeeLo Green have cancelled concerts in Israel amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Google's email filtering in the spotlight

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-08-06 02:00

A technology called PhotoDNA -- developed by Microsoft and used by Google along with other online companies -- is being credited with leading to the arrest of a man accused of distributing child pornographic images through Gmail.

Google’s CEO has previously come out in favor of a more aggressive approach to the issue, as has the company’s chief legal officer

Google has argued that they were largely complying with the law in notifying police. According to Stephen Balkam, founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, the company's actions are consistent with the legal understanding.

“They are to report images of child sexual abuse, and they have done so,” he says.

What makes this particular case different from finding evidence of other criminal activity in an email, according to Balkam, is that Google does not scan for illegal content in such a way as to detect things like planned robberies.

But even with these efforts tackling email attachments, there are other methods of disseminating this material, so action by search engines isn’t the end of the story.

Keeping student data safe from the marketing machine

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-08-06 02:00

In New Hampshire, the state collects the basics about kids; name, race, gender. It also tracks how many days they were suspended from school, and whether or not they are homeless.

But, under its new law, the state is prohibited from collecting information about a kid’s Body Mass Index. It also can’t keep a record about whether she’s pregnant, and it can’t gather kids' email addresses.

And that’s just a small part of what the state’s law covers.

"States have taken a huge step forward in the last two years in really strengthening their capacity to safeguard data," said Aimee Guidera, head of the Data Quality Campaign,  a non-profit  that is tracking student data laws.

There are already federal laws in place to help protect student records.

But, as technology advances and students do more work on computers, a lot of states want more.

Idaho, for example, rules out certain biometric data; the kind that are collected by analyzing brain waves and heart rate.

New York calls for a parents bill of rights for data privacy and security.

Kentucky has made it illegal for student data to be used to target ads to kids.

So far, more than 20 states have passed laws. And that’s just the beginning.

 
 States with new student-data laws
 (click state for details)
 Colorado 
 Florida
 Idaho
 Kentucky  
 Louisiana
 Maine
 Maryland 
 Missouri 
 New Hampshire
 New York        North Carolina 
       Ohio
       Oklahoma
       Rhode Island
       South Carolina
       South Dakota
       Tennessee
       Virginia
       West Virginia
       Wyoming

"Our sense is that we’re going to see a growth in the number of pieces of legislation introduced next year," said Guidera.

A lot of this legislation is being driven by fear, particularly among parents. They worry about what data is being collected and by whom. They want to know how it's being used and whether it is safe. 

The rash of new laws and the push by states to pass more is also creating fear among educational technology companies.

"Some of the requirements provide real practical challenges to their ability to serve their customers," said Mark Schneiderman, Senior Director of Education Policy at the Software & Information Industry Association.  

In other words, the privacy push is making it harder for companies who want to get their apps into classrooms across the country, he said.  It also makes it harder to for them to cash in on the multi-billion dollar market for educational technology.

"We’ve heard it from developers who are now shying away a little bit from the education sector," said Schneiderman.

In tech-centric California, state legislators have been trying to find a way to keep everybody happy.

"We think we’ve found the sweet spot here," said Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. He's proposed a law that’ll let app developers use student data to improve their products, but not to market to students.

"We’re not trying to stifle this technology," he said. "To the contrary, we want more apps to help more kids."

 But, said Steinberg, there are too many weak privacy polices right now, and there's too much free rein for companies collecting data about kids.

 

Android now tops Apple in web traffic, too

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-08-06 02:00

The operating system Android scored a point recently in its ongoing war with Apple. According to the latest data - for the first time ever - the web traffic generated from Android smartphones and tablets was greater than that of Apple’s mobile devices

The news wasn't entirely a surprise. For some time now, sales of Android smartphones and tablets worldwide have been beating Apple. But Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has waved off any concern by saying Apple dominates when it comes to online traffic. Then he’d ask, where are all those Androids anyway?

"They must be in warehouses, or on store shelves, or maybe in somebody's bottom drawer," Cook would quip. 

Cook will have to retire that joke with the news that Android now beats Apple’s mobile devices in web traffic. Tuong Nguyen is an analyst at Gartner and he doesn’t think Apple users will just switch to Android.

"When you talk about the iOS crowd, they tend to be a more self-selecting crowd," he said. "Users who have more income or are more engaged with their technology and devices."

Pai-Ling Yin is the co-founder of the Mobile Innovation Group at Stanford. She says the real turning point will be when greater Android web use turns into more money.

"Just because they’re using it more doesn’t mean you can get them to pay you more," says Yin.

She says Apple users still buy more apps and goods online and so, from a business perspective, can be seen as more valuable.

Rosetta goes into orbit around comet

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-06 01:00
In a historic first, a European spacecraft arrives at a speeding comet after a 10-year chase.

Would-be students 'have no plan B'

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-06 00:56
More than half of students in England and Wales have no back-up plan if they fail to get the grades they need, finds research for Which? University.

VIDEO: Virtual reality brings news to life

BBC - Wed, 2014-08-06 00:46
Journalist and film-maker Nonny de la Pena has been using virtual reality to help tell news stories.

VIDEO: Energy market riggers 'to face jail'

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-05 21:55
Plans to make rigging energy markets a criminal offence are being outlined by the government.

Tory 'war' and F1 Bernie's 'cheek' - front pages

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-05 21:44
Baroness Warsi's resignation as a minister over the UK's stance on the Gaza conflict makes the front pages, while papers digest the first TV debate on Scottish independence.

Plane bomb hoax suspect still held

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-05 21:44
Police are continuing to question a man on suspicion of making a hoax bomb threat on a passenger plane from Doha to Manchester Airport.

Man struck and killed by police car

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-05 21:37
A man dies when he is struck by a police car in Reading as it attends a burglary during the early hours.

Killed general was true hero - US

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-05 21:26
The US military pays tribute to Maj Gen Harold Greene, killed in an insider attack in Afghanistan on Tuesday, as a true hero.

Heart charity in inequality warning

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-05 21:14
People living in Belfast are three times more likely to die from heart disease than those in the south of England, a charity claims.

Cameron faces fresh Gaza pressure

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-05 21:04
The Liberal Democrats are calling for the suspension of arms export licences to Israel, adding to the pressure David Cameron is facing over Gaza following Baroness Warsi's resignation.

Kerry in talks plea amid Gaza truce

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-05 20:50
John Kerry tells the BBC that Israel and the Palestinians must take advantage of the Gaza truce, as the two sides prepare for talks in Egypt.

China earthquake toll nears 600

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-05 20:35
Almost 600 people are now known to have died in the Yunnan earthquake, officials say, as residents are evacuated from barrier lakes.

Apple and Samsung drop non-US cases

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-05 20:08
Smartphone and tablet rivals Apple and Samsung agree to withdraw all legal cases against each other outside the United States.

East Ukraine dangers increasing - UN

BBC - Tue, 2014-08-05 19:59
Civilians in eastern Ukraine are facing increasing danger as the conflict continues, the UN warns, hours after heavy fighting erupted in Donetsk.

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