STLR Link Roundup – October 1, 2012

Google Can Test Its Driverless Cars in California

A new law in California allows Google’s cars on the road, as long as there is a driver inside ready to take control. This license to Google to test their cars comes on the heels of similar legislation in Nevada. A reporter from CNN test-drove Google’s car, and a columnist for Wired predicted that nobody will need a drivers’ license in 2040.

 

FBI Battles Industry Over Access to Electronic Communication

In the good old days, it was easy for the FBI to open a wiretap on a landline. With more would-be wrongdoers communicating through other channels, like VoIP, instant message, email, or social networks, the FBI has had a harder time monitoring communication. In May, the FBI proposed an amendment to the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act that would require providers of these technologies to build the FBI a backdoor for eavesdropping on users. At the same time, the Wall Street Journal reports that technology companies are pushing back on the FBI’s attempts to monitor content, questioning the Third Party Doctrine. Google recently challenged the legality of an FBI search warrant, refusing to share the content of a smartphone belonging to a suspected pimp.

 

Gizmodo’s Coverage of the Apple Maps Release

Apple’s iOS6 came with Apple Maps, creating much grumbling. Apple reassured customers, “The more people use it, the better it will get.” Gizmodo has an interesting collection of posts on the topic, including speculation on why Apple made the switch and and reactions from people whose iPhone got them lost. However, students of contract law can take note that Apple had a whole year left on its contract with Google. Apple’s release of the new app mid-contract caught Google off-guard.

 

Facebook Will Not Use Facial Recognition Software in Europe

Facebook turned off tag suggestion for all users after European regulators objected to the feature as an invasion of privacy. The tag suggestion feature recognized the faces of users in photo albums and helped those users’ friends tag photos of them. Facebook plans to restore tag suggestion outside of Europe, but did not say when the feature will return. The feature will return to Europe only after approval by the regulators.

 

New York Times Discusses Environmental Impact of Data Centers

The Time’s James Glanz wrote a thought-provoking series on the environmental and social externalities of data centers and other infrastructure that power the Internet. In the first article, Glanz described the astronomical power needs of some data centers, which are equipped to handle peak traffic. The next article examines the impact of data center construction on rural communities.

 

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