Settlement With Google for Violating Privacy Rights – The U.S. Attorney General, plus 37 states and the District of Columbia, have made a multi-million settlement with Google over its unauthorized collection of data from unsecured wireless networks nationwide. Google took photographs for its Street View service part of Google Earth, and for future geolocation services. They also collected and stored email and text messages, passwords, and web histories being transmitted over unsecured wireless networks without consent from the consumer. Google has agreed to destroy the information it improperly collected, launch an employee training program to ensure its employees understand how to protect consumers and their information, conduct a national advertising campaign educating consumers on how to protect their information, and pay a $7 million fine to the states involved. Google has since disabled or removed both the equipment and software used to collect such data from its Street View vehicles. New York’s share of the settlement is about $192,000.
New FCC Rules Make It Difficult to Get Cable Channels Without a Cable Box – Cable companies have long been required to offer unscrambled versions of basic channels, including ABC/NBC/CBS/FOX/PBS and local public-access. HBO etc. are encrypted so you require a set-top box to unscramble them. Most HDTVs have two tuners: a Clear-QAM tuner for cable stations and an ATSC tuner for over-the-air HD reception with an antenna. This was ideal for those who only subscribe to the basic cable package and don’t want to pay rental fees for a set-top box. The cable companies complained that the satellite and telco providers were not required to offer the same unscrambled channels. The FCC agreed and has allowed the cable companies to scramble all their digital channels, meaning users will now need a set-top box or CableCARD for each room in which they want cable. However, cable providers are required to offer subscribers the “choice of a set-top box or CableCARD on up to two television sets without charge for two years from the date of encryption.” The six largest cable companies are also required by the FCC to make basic-tier service available to third-party manufacturers who produce IP-based Clear-Q
AM products. [Also remember that the government is busily selling off some of the broadcast spectrum to the highest bidder for wireless services, destroying the original idea of OTA telecasting…Ed.]
Vienna Philharmonic to Disclose Its Nazi Past – The Vienna Philharmonic has been accused of shielding its archives to conceal darker aspects of its Nazi past. The principal accusations stem from the orchestra’s presentations of its ring of honor in 1942 to the governor of Vienna and to the Reich minister of Austria. The first was later sentenced to 20 years in prison for his part in the deportation of tens of thousands of Viennese Jews to extermination camps in Poland, and the Reich minister was sentenced and executed for war crimes in 1946. Charges of a cover-up have been leveled at Clemens Hellsberg, the President of the Philharmonic, who also plays violin in the ensemble and set the historians’ study in motion. A trumpeter in the orchestra, Helmut Wobisch, joined the SS in 1934. He worked as a spy, producing denunciations of musicians. He was fired after WWII, but rejoined the orchestra in 1947 and became its executive director in 1953.