Archive for April, 2011

More on smartphones and the use of location information

I’m an optimist, I believe people are smart.  And some people want to share more data than some other people do.  Ask them.  Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of you asking them.  Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data. That’s what we think (Steve Jobs, D8 Conference, June 1, 2010).

In order to give the big picture, it must be said that not only the iPhone is tracking the moves of its users, but Windows phones do it too, and Android phones as well, with a couple of particularities.

In short, phones store users’ location data in hidden files.  The concern was centered on the reason why this data was being retrieved, and its ultimate use.  Apparently, in order to make GPS and location services work faster, the phone would use the location data stored in the phone in previous sessions following information from cell towers.  Thus, the device will use this information to get a rough estimate of its location until more real-time data is available.

The key factor in this situation is time. In the case of the Android phones, after 12 hours (for cellular data) or 48 hours (for Wi-Fi data) the information is erased and replaced by new locations. This implies around 50 entries, whereas the Apple device would store around 13,000 data entries.

It is important that some other opinions are heard.  An interesting analysis has been made by A. Hesseldahl on the practical implications of the phenomenon of location and tracking position data retrieval.

Some developers and specialists (Gruber on Ihnatko) have stated that the only problem Apple would be facing is the amount of data the device is storing, as there would not be a need to keep such a long log of locations in order to facilitate the speed of certain applications. Another issue is if the data is being diverted to third parties, which, so far, has not yet been answered.

On a different note, we must remember that lately users have been quite keen on sharing locations through applications (Latitude, Facebook places, Foursquare). Nevertheless, these recent developments show that consumers are somewhat concerned (52-59%) about apps and their privacy.

It is possible that this controversy will be solved by correcting this bug via an update of  iOS (Apple) and the rest of the mobile devices’ operative systems. What can be considered a milestone for all of this controversy is the fact that users have shown concern on knowing how smartphones handle their personal information.

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The iPhone’s dilemma on user’s private location and tracking position

Apple’s iPhone has been recently subjected to scrutiny regarding its possibilities to store and provide information about the user’s location and tracking position.

While Apple has informed in the past that the use of certain information is useful to assist the company in refining its database of cellular and Wi-Fi access points, it remains unclear in terms of data protection security of users. This information is also used by police authorities in case of crime inquiries.

Independent programmers have issued an open-source application (iPhone Tracker) that reproduces the information that your phone has stored about your movements.

France’s data protection commissioner (CNIL) will ask Apple to inform and explain on the object of this database. As long as the data is not sent to a third person by Apple it is not illegal, as stated by a member of the French authority. The CNIL had already asked Google for the use of the stored data retrieved by applications such as Google Latitude.

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Google Street View objeto de una multa por la autoridad regulatoria francesa

La innovación que ha generado Google Street View también desató la necesidad de reajustar jurídicamente su funcionamiento y límites.  La operatoria de Street View ha generado cuestionamientos en diversos países, incluyendo Australia, Canada, Corea del Sur y Estados Unidos.

En un principio, los reparos se basaban en las imágenes publicadas. En Suiza, un juez ordenó a Google a revisar y borrar manualmente rostros, principalmente en lugares considerados sensibles como escuelas, hospitales o prisiones. Google  sostiene que estos medios se realizan a través de mecanismos automáticos y que una revisión manual atentaría contra su estructura de costos.

En Alemania también se han discutido las repercusiones jurídicas de Street View. Si bien en marzo un juez estableció que era legal tomar fotos callejeras, la creciente molestia de al menos 250,000 ciudadanos reclamando el borroneado de imágenes de edificios ha generado la incomodidad y rechazo del gigante de Internet. Parte del quid de la cuestión se refiere a la utilización de redes de Wi-Fi abiertas, a través de las cuales el sistema de Street View obtiene información.

Esta acusación tomó forma en Francia, donde Google fue multado en 100,000 Euros por violaciones a la privacidad, a través de la apropiación de información sensible via redes abiertas mientras sus móviles fotografiaban la ciudad. Entre los datos apropiados, se encuentran nombres de usuario, fecha y lugar de acceso, actividad en Internet y hasta contraseñas, así como identificadores SSID, direcciones MAC, y puntos de acceso de redes Wi-Fi. En su análisis, la autoridad también tomo en cuenta el funcionamiento de la aplicación Latitude de Google.

En la deliberación realizada por la autoridad de protección de datos personales francesa, CNIL, el organismo advirtió que la empresa había utilizado el programa gSlite (para acceder a las redes Wi-Fi abiertas) con una configuración que le permitía almacenar datos sensibles a través de las redes, así como indicar su localización vía GPS. Sin embargo, una correcta configuración de este software podría limitar el almacenamiento de la información, considerando solamente la imprescindible para el funcionamiento de Street View.

Entre la información no relevante para Street View, la CNIL descubrió contraseñas para sitios de Internet, sitios de encuentros y sitios pornográficos. También se accedió a contraseñas para casillas de e-mail, y direcciones IP, contraseñas e información de usuarios para el acceso a diversos sitios personales.

Debe señalarse que con posterioridad al procedimiento llevado a cabo, y luego de las recomendaciones de la CNIL, un control de los automóviles Google mostraron que estos no estaban almacenando información a través de redes Wi-Fi.

¿Cuál será el próximo litigio de los gigantes de la nueva tecnología?

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Open for business

Dear friends,

Welcome to the Arcadia Legal Technology Blog. This space will create an area to discuss, share and connect ideas, people and news that matter in the new technologies sector.

We’ll discuss Telecommunications, Internet, the music and movies industry, legal enforcement related to piracy on the Internet, interesting news in the sector, commentaries on legal instruments (Hadopi, Ley Sinde), research on new concepts (net neutrality, cloud) and contribute to share information that we believe relevant.

As a lawyer and a professional involved in legal resources related to technology and corporate law, I believe this could be an ideal way to begin a hopefully long conversation with people from different sectors.  Let’s try to create a new convergence.

The blog will post news in different languages, either French, English or Spanish. Some multilingual links and further information platforms are included, so as to make the stake as open as possible.

Your comments, critics and questions are welcome. See you next week.

Have a nice trip, bon voyage, buen viaje.

Florencio Travieso


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Vivendi prend le contrôle de SFR

Vivendi a annoncé le 3 avril le rachat de sa participation de 44% de SFR détenus par Vodafone. La transaction porte sur un montant de 7,95 milliards d’euros. “L’accord est sujet à l’approbation des autorités de la Concurrence. La transaction devrait être finalisée à la fin du mois de juin 2011”, a précisé Vivendi.

L’année dernière, SFR représentait 43% du chiffre d’affaires de Vivendi (12,6 milliards d’euros de chiffres d’affaires pour SFR en 2010). Cette opération a certainement été rendue possible grâce à la revente à General Electric de sa participation de 20% dans NBC Universal, un deal qui a rapporté 5,8 milliards de dollars à Vivendi. Le groupe avait également reçu en janvier dernier 1,254 milliard d’euros de l’opérateur téléphonique allemand Deutsche Telekom, pour régler un différend de onze ans pour le contrôle du troisième opérateur mobile polonais PTC.

Reste donc à Vivendi ce deuxième souhait à réaliser: racheter les 20% restants de Canal+ au groupe de médias français Lagardère.

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Amazon launches a cloud storing and playing system… and starts a legal turmoil

Amazon, in tone with the “cloud”, has launched last March 29th the Amazon Cloud Player, coupled with the Amazon Cloud Drive. Users can store files for free up to 5Gb of memory in Amazon’s cloud. This data can be either songs, documents, videos or any other file they wish to upload.

The purist have objected that this is not a 100% cloud service, but an accessible virtual drive with uploaded files you already own. The problem in this situation is that a pure cloud service would make those files available on any platform, not only the Amazon one. Moreover, multiple platforms require users to long uploads on each system.

The main question to ask is if Amazon must pay for licenses to record labels in relation to the music stored in the Amazon Cloud. One side will say that as long as it’s a storing device for files you’ve already purchased, Amazon should not be paying for any licences. On the other hand, it has been said that some record labels would be seeking Amazon to pay for the actual licences (as EMI with MP3Tunes).

Sony Music decided to keep their “legal options open” regarding the “unlicensed” locker service by Amazon, hoping that they will resolve the situation by agreeing with a licence.

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Apple busca ampliar sus posiciones entorno al futuro del negocio musical

Apple ha iniciado hace algunos meses negociaciones con las principales discográficas (Vivendi-Universal, Sony Music, Warner y EMI) a efectos de poder transferir en forma ilimitada la música adquirida en una unidad (iPhone) hacia cualquier otra de la línea Apple.

Al mismo tiempo, continúa la carrera de negociaciones para poner en marcha un sistema de streaming de música como Pandora, Spotify o Deezer a partir de la interface de iTunes.

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