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Faster Forward
Posted at 11:15 PM ET, 12/02/2011

Today in Tech: Carrier IQ, Zynga, free speech and cellphones

Carrier IQ: Carrier IQ, the company that has been accused of installing surveillance software on smartphones, clarified what its program does in an updated statement to the press late Thursday.

“We measure and summarize performance of the device to assist Operators in delivering better service,” the statement read. “While a few individuals have identified that there is a great deal of information available to the Carrier IQ software inside the handset, our software does not record, store or transmit the contents of SMS messages, email, photographs, audio or video.”

Security researcher Trevor Eckhart thrust the company into the spotlight earlier this month after posting research showing that the Carrier IQ program registers each key press and many other activities on cellphones. His research drew the scrutiny of the press, and the attention of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who sent a letter Thursday asking the company to more fully explain its practices.

Zynga IPO: Gaming company Zynga is pricing its initial public offering at $8.50 to $10 per share for 100 million shares, and could raise the company up to $1 billion, according to its filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Citing a “person familiar with the plans,” Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Zynga had been planning a much larger public offering, but scaled back after seeing Groupon and Pandora fall after their market debuts.

BART and cellphones: Addressing concerns raised when it shut down all wireless communications, the San Francisco area’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) board of directors has decided to set down in writing when it is appropriate to block cell phone use in its stations.

On Thursday, the BART board approved a policy saying it would only turn off wireless communications in the face of “extraordinary circumstances.” Such circumstances include evidence that cell phones are being used as “instrumentalities in explosives,” to facilitate criminal activity such as the taking of hostages, or to facilitate plans that would destroy property or “substantially disrupt public transit services.”

Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski said that BART had taken an “important step” in responding to the concerns raised by its actions over the summer but that the FCC will be reviewing the issue of when it’s appropriate to disrupt cell service.

Facebook to launch in NYC: Facebook announced Friday that it is recruiting engineers in New York at an event with Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on the guest list. New York City, and particularly Bloomberg, have been on a tech-recruiting tear in recent years, announcing in July a plan to make New York “the technology capital of the United States — and the world.”

The recruitment will be for Facebook’s first engineering office outside of the West Coast, scheduled to open in early 2012, said the company release. The firm said it would be taking applications immediately.

Chrome and Firefox: Google’s Chrome browser appears to be soaring up the charts, taking over the number two spot from Firefox in StatCounter’s latest global survey. In October, Google CEO Larry Page announced that Chrome had 200 million active users, excellent growth considering the company announced 70 million active users at its 2010 I/O conference.

Yahoo trends: Pop idols and celebrities peppered Yahoo’s list of its top 10 search terms of the year, but the leading spot went to the iPhone. Apple’s iPhone led the list, probably thanks to the cottage industry of Apple rumors that constantly — and often incorrectly — leaked information about the company’s next handset. The iPhone 4S, released just a day before the death of Apple co-founder and chairman Steve Jobs, became Apple’s fastest-selling device.

By  |  11:15 PM ET, 12/02/2011

 
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