Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Geolocation Apps and Social Networks Can Be a Dangerous Combo

/PRNewswire/ -- Geolocation, or identifying the geographic location of people via Internet-enabled devices, has spawned a new type of social networking--one that leading outlets like CNN and ZDNet say has relevant future business applications but dangerous capabilities. According to Edison Research, only 7 percent of Americans are aware of location-based social networks--which means awareness should start now before the trend grows in popularity.

Foursquare, one of the most popular social geolocation networks, has pushed sharing geo-location data mainstream, with Facebook and Twitter now offering geolocation options for updates. But is this new trend simply an open invitation to criminals? Foursquare acknowledges the problem on their blog saying that the question is a legitimate one that should include all methods of giving away one's location, such as posting about a vacation on Facebook or tweeting with "headed to" followed by a location on Twitter.

"Smartphones are more prevalent now, especially among preteens and teens, and social networks like Foursquare and Gowalla target that demographic by using geo-locational data as part of a game," said InternetSafety CTO Aaron Kenny. "Linking the game to social networks like Twitter--an easy integration--publicly displays the location of you or your child, representing a potentially dangerous and invasive privacy breach. It's clear that the sites want people to share their data, so it's up to individuals to make sure their use of these sites is safe."

Users of geolocation apps can follow a few basic tips to limit the amount of personal location data they share:

-- Monitor connected accounts - If your child has a Twitter page, make
sure that games like Foursquare and Gowalla aren't linked to it.
Twitter's feed runs over a public network and makes location-based
data available to prying eyes.
-- Educate Yourselves and Your Kids - Take time to learn the pitfalls of
sharing location-based data and explain to your kids why sharing
location-based privacy data is dangerous. Weighing the risks and
rewards that these services provide is a great start.
-- Know Your App - Be sure to check and double-check all settings in all
apps that broadcast geolocation data. These apps seek to make as much
information public as possible because it increases the visibility of
the app, and using the most popular social networks to do so helps the
app spread virally. The unwanted side effect is that the user's exact
location is made public to the world.

In addition to providing industry-leading web filtering products, InternetSafety.com seeks to spread awareness of potentially dangerous online interactions and activities. Visit www.internetsafety.com for more information.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Alliance for Digital Equality (ADE) Opposes The FCC's "Third Way" Approach to Address Network Neutrality

/PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Alliance for Digital Equality (ADE) expressed opposition to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) recently developed "third way" approach to regulating the Internet, and urged Congress to play a larger role in the network neutrality debate.

"This policy shift appears to be a risky experiment and will likely lead to higher broadband prices," said ADE Chairman Julius H. Hollis. "It could conceivably keep 100 million Americans economically disenfranchised and locked out of our society - keeping the miracles and benefits of this 'Digital Revolution' far beyond their reach. That is something that we as a country simply cannot afford and, as such, we strongly feel that this is the wrong path to take."

In the letter, ADE urged Congress to play a larger role in the net neutrality debate. The group asked for "sensible action to guarantee all Americans have access to the benefits of high-speed Internet technology," and made several recommendations to achieve this.

"As the world of business, medicine and education shift towards a more digital-based economy, the Chairman's proposal could worsen the problems of low and moderate-income Americans, who are already stretched financially and have disproportionately borne the brunt of this recession," said Manuel A. Diaz, Vice Chairman of the ADE Board of Directors.

"ADE and the Communications Workers of America (CWA) are dedicated to closing the economic divide through digital technology so that everyone, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, has the opportunity to access information in order to improve their quality of life, said Larry Cohen, CWA President. "With quick action from Congress, we can move forward to build the world class Internet society that will truly transform our nation into a better and fairer society for all Americans."

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Remington Financial Group Chairman Issues 'Email Fraud Warning,' Alerts FBI

/PRNewswire/ -- Chairman and founder of Remington Financial Group, Andy Bogdanoff, has alerted the FBI and other law enforcement agencies that an email scam is falsely using Remington's name to gain private information that may be used in identity theft.

In making the announcement, Bogdanoff emphasized that none of Remington's customer data had been breached by what appears to be a 'copycat email' scam similar to those that attempted to victimize bank and credit card customers in the past.

Remington is a national financial services company, specializing in providing commercial real estate owners and developers with access to needed capital. Since 1993, Remington has arranged more than $5 billion in financing for all types of commercial property.

Remington uncovered the "phishing" scheme through routine monitoring of the Internet for potential fraud activity. "In keeping with Remington's fraud policy," Bogdanoff said, "we referred the data we collected to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and appropriate state and local authorities."

Earlier in the year, Remington implemented what is believed to be the most comprehensive and stringent fraud policy in the financial services industry. At the time, Bogdanoff called on others in the industry to "shore up" their fraud policies and to rectify any deficiencies. "By doing so," Bogdanoff said, "the financial services industry can help regain public confidence and trust, which has been sorely tested by recent scandals."

The Remington Financial Group Fraud Policy includes strict monitoring controls and rigorous due diligence procedures designed to protect the integrity of the company and the interests of every person and entity involved in Remington activities.

"My hope is that Remington's Fraud Policy will become the 'gold standard' throughout the industry," Bogdanoff said. "At Remington, our goal is clear: To be super-vigilant against even the hint of fraudulent or other inappropriate activity by any employee, customer or lender associated with Remington. Any such behavior will not be tolerated. And any violation of this policy will be met with swift and appropriate disciplinary or legal action," Bogdanoff said.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Small Business Group Bemoans Federal Intrusion on the Internet

/PRNewswire/ -- Despite the fact that Congress has not given the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authority to regulate the Internet, along with a recent court decision informing the government agency that it exceeded its regulatory boundaries in trying to do so, the FCC announced that it will move forward with intrusive and risky rules that hurt innovation, the economy and small business. According to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), such federal government intrusion dictating how the Internet operates will suffocate innovation, chill investment, and erode U.S. competitiveness. Moreover, Internet regulation undermines two crucial goals of the Obama Administration - accelerating the pace of economic recovery, and making broadband available for every American who wants access.

Commenting on the FCC's fixation to control the workings of the Internet where no problem exists, SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan said: "I cannot tell you how disappointed and concerned we are that the federal government has decided to intrude into an area where creativity, capital and freedom have joined to produce unprecedented gains and opportunities for the individual, society, entrepreneurs and our economy. We are particularly troubled because the FCC has not offered any compelling evidence that an 'Open Internet' has been compromised. In fact, the vast record accumulated by the FCC over the years proves this point: There is no problem."

Raymond J. Keating, SBE Council's chief economist, added: "The FCC's drive to micromanage broadband networks is a case of irrational exuberance for government interference. While Internet providers have every incentive to serve their markets well, and clearly no market failure exists, the FCC chairman nevertheless wants government calling the shots on broadband pricing and operations. Investment and innovation will suffer accordingly, as will the entrepreneurs and small businesses that rely on and contribute to the Internet. At a time of great uncertainty regarding the economy and markets, the FCC inexplicably is creating greater uncertainty."

As the SBE Council has argued in its comments to the FCC, certainty is needed in order for broadband providers to invest the billions upon billions needed to fully deploy broadband and maintain its complex operations and growth. Indeed, the FCC has developed a National Broadband Plan recognizing the need for massive private sector investment in order to reach its goal of making broadband available to every American who wants access. Unfortunately, the FCC's obsession with regulation will undermine the essential goals it sets out in the National Broadband Plan, according to SBE Council.

Kerrigan continued: "Chairman Genachowski is moving full-steam ahead with a risky regulatory scheme even though the Congress has never given the Commission such authority to regulate the Internet. As consumers of broadband, and as entrepreneurs engaged in its deployment, maintenance and development; small business owners have the most to lose if intrusive new rules are enacted. That is why small business owners overwhelmingly oppose 'net' regulation, and we will continue to work with our supporters and small business leaders in Congress to ensure the FCC does not impose burdensome rules that disrupt innovation, service offerings, deployment as well as the Internet's staggering progress and the opportunities it offers."

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FCC's Third Way Would Transfer Costs for Digital Expansion to the Un-served and Underserved

/PRNewswire/ -- The CEO and Chairman of the Alliance for Digital Equality (ADE), Julius Hollis, issued the following statement regarding FCC Chairman Genachowski's announcement yesterday that the FCC will seek to reclassify broadband providers as common carrier services under certain provisions of Title II of the Communications Act, in order to restore a legal foundation to their regulatory authority following the recent FCC vs. Comcast lawsuit:

"Yesterday's announcement by Chairman Genachowski is both perplexing and concerning. The FCC, after conferring with various stakeholders, crafted a comprehensive National Broadband Plan which seeks to guide the build out of high speed Internet and stimulate much-needed job growth. The FCC's National Broadband Plan provides a level and competitive landscape across all networks allowing for the spread of broadband to all American consumers. All this while maintaining an open Internet.

However, the Chairman's "third way" approach constricts economic development, particularly in communities of color that have been economically marginalized for decades due to the absence of private sector investment. This "third way" that the Chairman speaks of could further perpetuate economic inequalities by restricting consumers' choice and access to affordable broadband as our society moves towards a digitally-based economy.

"The Alliance for Digital Equality fully supports an open Internet and a regulatory environment that incentivizes the private investment necessary to bring digital technology to our currently un-served and underserved communities, leading to economic equality. ADE calls on the FCC today to focus on the critically important task of getting all Americans connected as delineated in the National Broadband Plan by promoting a more balanced regulatory environment. The ADE encourages Chairman Genachowski to reconsider his plans to implement a third way."

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

FCC Moves Toward More Government Regulation of the Internet

/PRNewswire/ -- According to reports, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genacowski will seek to reclassify broadband services under New Deal-era "common carrier" laws created for early landline telephone technology, thereby allowing the government to regulate the Internet via outdated rules. In response, Center for Individual Freedom's Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs Timothy Lee issued the following statement:

"The FCC should not attempt to apply archaic 1930s rules to 21st century technologies. This move by Chairman Genacowski will do nothing but stifle innovation, investment and growth within the broadband sector.

"Reclassifying broadband will merely allow the government to intervene in a thriving Internet market and hamper the constant service improvement and innovations to which consumers have become accustomed. It's the proverbial 'solution in search of a problem.' This bald partisan move also ignores all of the new technologies that are available precisely due to limited government intervention, and will ultimately move us backward to old-fashioned rules that once governed telephone services in the early 20th century.

"With everything else going on, do we really need a government take over the Internet?"

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