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The Circuit: Do not track, eHarmony hit by breach, big data

Do Not Track: Since announcing that it will include a do not tack mechanism by default in Internet Explorer 10, Microsoft has been the target of criticism from advertisers who say the feature will harm their business.

On Wednesday, The World Wide Web Consortium (WC3) reached a consensus that browsers that turn on do not track by default would not meet its compliance standards, stressing that consumers need to be given a choice rather than having technology decide the issue for them. This was not an official decision by the working group.

“The consensus is that a user agent [a browser, in this case] cannot turn on a default without a user choice,” the group’s co-chair, Mozilla privacy researcher Aleecia McDonald told Ad Age in an interview Wednesday.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Microsoft said it has not changed its decision regarding do not track. The company’s Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch said: “We are engaged with the W3C, as we are with many international standards bodies. While we respect the W3C’s perspective, we believe that a standard should support a privacy by default choice for consumers.”

eHarmony also hit with breach: The dating service eHarmony confirmed Wednesday that it had been hit with a data breach that is estimated to have leaked around 1.5 million passwords, Ars Technica reported. LinkedIn confirmed Wednesday that it had been hit with a breach, and sent e-mails to its affected users. Security experts estimate that more than six million passwords from LinkedIn’s 160 million users were affected in the breach, based on the files that have been posted on hacking sites asking for help cracking the encryption on the passwords.

Big data: Big data,” as it has been dubbed by researchers, has become so valuable that the World Economic Forum, in a report published last year, deemed it a new class of economic asset, like oil, The Washington Post reported.

Companies are looking at the data for insights on how stocks will move, how diseases will spread or to measure public sentiment toward candidates. The explosion in the use of Google, Facebook, Twitter and other services has resulted in the generation of some 2.5 quintillion bytes each day, according to IBM.

Standard essential patents: The Federal Trade Commission has urged the International Trade Commission not to ban the iPhone and the Xbox 360 over claims made by Motorola — now a part of Google — that cite standard essential patents.

In the filing, the FTC suggests the ITC “refrain from imposing [] remedies in conflict with the public interest.”

Microsoft, which has joined Apple in criticizing Google’s use of standard essential patents in lawsuits, issued a statement of its own Wednesday, saying, “We welcome the FTC’s statement agreeing with Microsoft that standard essential patent abuse harms consumers and competition. The FTC joins a growing chorus of regulators from around the world who recognize the danger posed by companies who try to use standard essential patents to block the sale of products.”

Apple, Samsung patent decision: Samsung has said that it will fight Apple’s attempts to ban the Samsung Galaxy S III in the U.S., the Associated Press reported, and that it still plans to launch the device as planned on June 21.

Apple asked for the ban Tuesday, the report said, a request that would seriously hamper Samsung’s ability to compete with Apple in the smartphone market.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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