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Timothy B. Lee

Timothy B. Lee

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Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government. She also delves into the societal impacts of technology access and how innovation is intertwined with cultural development.

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Posted at 01:10 PM ET, 08/15/2012

German officials reopen Facebook inquiry #thecircuit

Germany takes second look at Facebook: German data protection authorities are reopening a probe into Facebook’s facial recognition technology that had been suspended in June, The New York Times reported.

According to the report, data protection commissioner Johannes Caspar wants Facebook to clear its database of information and get explicit consent from its users before collecting the data from its photo-tagging feature.

Facebook said that it is complying with all data laws and providing adequate notification to its users.

In a statement to The Washington Post on Wednesday, Facebook said: “We believe that the photo tag suggest feature on Facebook is fully compliant with EU data protection laws. During our continuous dialogue with our supervisory authority in Europe, the Office of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, we agreed to develop a best practice solution to notify people on Facebook about photo tag suggest.”

Mobile payments: Major retailers, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target, have created a new mobile payment company called Merchant Customer Exchange, which will provide coupons, rebates and loyalty programs on smartphones, the Associated Press reported. The app will also let users buy things directly from their phones.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, the move takes aim at Google’s plans for mobile payments and — to a lesser extent — Apple, as more tech companies focus on how to make smartphones act as digital wallets.

Warrantless wireless tracking: The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that no warrant is required for authorities to use real-time tracking on mobile phones, Wired reported.

“If a tool used to transport contraband gives off a signal that can be tracked for location, certainly the police can track the signal,” wrote Judge John M. Rogers in the majority opinion. “The recent nature of cell phone location technology does not change this.”

AT&T focuses on texting and driving: AT&T has started a campaign to eliminate texting and driving, calling on drivers to sign a pledge Sept. 19 to stop the practice altogether.

AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said in a statement that the company is also “challenging all device makers and app developers to offer devices that come pre-loaded with a no-text-and-drive technology solution.”

In a statement, Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski commended the telecommunications firm for its efforts, saying the practice of texting while driving is as troubling as drinking and driving.

“All of us must be part of the solution, recognizing that while mobile technologies offer enormous benefit, they create new challenges we must tackle together.”

By  |  01:10 PM ET, 08/15/2012

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