News & Analysis

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    Google reportedly nearing SpaceX investment

    Google is preparing to invest in Elon Musk’s SpaceX at a $10 billion valuation, according to a report from the Information. The investment would allow SpaceX to develop a project meant to provide Internet connectivity to people in currently-unconnected areas. It’s not clear how large the investment is going to be. [Source: The Information]
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    Snowden documents reveal British intelligence agency’s fear of investigative journalists

    Britain’s top intelligence agency deemed surveillance of investigative reporters a higher priority than doing the same to terrorists, according to a report from the Guardian based on classified documents provided to the newspaper by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Journalists, especially those who “specialise in defence-related exposés either for profit or what they deem to be of the public interest,” were called a “potential threat to security” because they often attempt to “gain official information to which they are not entitled.” The documents…
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    Bangladesh “temporarily” blocks access to Viber and Tango to disrupt violent protests

    Bangladesh has temporarily blocked access to Viber and Tango, two free services which allow users to communicate via mobile applications, to disrupt protests in the country. The services are thought to be popular with members of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) responsible for violent protests which have led to the deaths of at least 25 people. Agence France-Presse reports that Viber and Tango have only been blocked “for the time being.” Bangladesh’s government has also “harassed newspaper and television…
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    Report: NSA surveillance guided efforts to blame North Korea for the Sony hack

    A report from the New York Times purports to answer a question which has dogged the security community since the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack in November: how did the government attribute the cyberattack to North Korea so quickly after its revelation? According to the Times, the answer is that the National Security Agency has worked to monitor a secret hacking unit within North Korea since at least 2010, which allowed it to quickly determine that the Sony hack was most likely the country’s…
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    Dan Lyons’ Career: An Obituary

    Editor’s note: It’s well known that most media organizations keep a vault of pre-written obituaries for public figures. Earlier this weekend, Gawker’s Valleywag gossip site published a takedown of prominent female tech blogger, Shanley Kane. The post, written by Valleywag editor Dan Lyons, didn’t focus on Kane’s work but rather on allegations about her private life, made by an ex-boyfriend. As Kane herself wrote on Twitter: This, you’ll recall, is the same Dan Lyons who recently insisted to TechCrunch: “If I had my druthers, I’d write about AI,…
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    Here are just some of the amazing people joining us for “Don’t Be Awful.” You should come too

    A couple of weeks back, when we announced our 24-hour “Don’t Be Awful” event, I knew the even was a bit of a risk. That is, I had absolutely no idea if anyone would show up. After all, it’s easy to list all the many, many problems facing (or caused by) the tech industry: inequality, discrimination and just plain bad (or inconsequential) ideas.  What’s far harder is suggesting solutions to those problems. It’s with as much surprise as delight, then, that…
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    NYC beats affordable housing goals for 2014. Time to step it up, San Francisco

    San Francisco may have New York beat when it comes to tech companies with big-money valuations. But the City by the Bay has a lot of work to do if it wants to compete with its cross-country rival on affordable housing. Today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city had financed the construction or preservation of more than 17,300 affordable housing units in 2014, exceeding its projection of 16,000 units. 86 percent of these…
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    Watch a video of a SpaceX rocket crash and explode

    SpaceX recently attempted to land a rocket on a drone barge in the Atlantic Ocean, but things didn’t exactly go as planned, as shown in a Vine the company posted today. [Source: Vine]
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    Cameron Wants US To Call Out Apple, Others Over Encryption

    “U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is expected during a meeting this week to press President Barack Obama to publicly denounce recent moves by U.S.-based companies such as Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. to equip their products with encryption that can’t be cracked by law enforcement, according to media reports.” – Law360
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    Raif Badawi: Saudi King ‘refers case to Supreme Court’, says blogger’s wife

    “The King of Saudi Arabia is to refer the case of blogger and activist Raif Badawi’s to the Supreme Court, his wife has told BBC News.” — The Independent
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    Are Facebook and Yelp losing the support of small businesses?

    Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Stuart Wall, founder and CEO of Signpost. The post went through Pando’s usual editorial process and Mr Wall was not paid for his work.  Last month I struggled to help my sister remove an inaccurate Yelp listing. Her pottery business moved over a year ago, yet many would-be-customers are directed to her old address. Simple problem, right? Not quite. Yelp offered her little in the way of support: there’s no phone hotline, customer service requests disappear…
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    ACLU comes out against Gov. Christie’s metadata-based smear campaign against a political rival

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has condemned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to use tollbooth information to embarrass a political opponent. Christie and a subordinate used information gathered by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to criticize now-deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)’s opposition to fare hikes on the many bridges and tunnels which allow travel between the two states. Experts told International Business Times reporter David Sirota (a Pando alumnus) that the use of EZ-Pass…
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    As antivirus software cries wolf at every “threat,” consumers ignore real dangers

    How much alarmism is too much when it comes to digital security? The answer isn’t clear, whether the question is focused on how governments should respond to attacks or on how consumers should consider their own security in an increasingly unsafe world. What is clear is that security products shouldn’t cry wolf every time they detect a modest threat to someone’s computer. A new survey shows that the practice of notifying people about even the least-important of digital…
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    NASA: 2014 was the hottest year on record

    To the surprise of no one whose head isn’t stuck in the sand, NASA and NOAA announced on Friday that 2014 was the hottest year on record. Fantastic. [Source: Guardian]
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    As Boehner bashes Obama with Taylor Swift GIFs, 2016 is shaping up to be the first “content election”

    Have you created content today? John Boehner has. The Speaker of the House’s digital team just published a BuzzFeed-style listicle titled “12 Taylor Swift GIFs For You.” The article utilizes that time-honored rhetorical technique favored by Daniel Webster and Winston Churchill, the animated Taylor Swift GIF. With these GIFs, Boehner aims to explain to Millennials and sub-Millennials why President Obama’s tuition-free community college proposal is a very bad idea. First off, Obama’s community college plan has many nuances that we shouldn’t expect a predictably partisan blog…
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    Whipser EIC Neetzan Zimmerman gets a job at the Hill

    Neetzan Zimmerman, who left Whipser amid a controversy over tracking users despite promises of anonymity, has landed a job as “senior director, audience and strategy” at the Hill, a political news website. [Source: The Hill]
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