News & Analysis

  1. Swiss Cheese

    Apple Pay remains secure, but the banking support call centers it relies on have proven easy targets for fraud

    Security is a never-ending juggling act between preventing unwanted accessibility and delivering an easy, enjoyable user experience. Often, when companies overly prioritize the latter, the unintended consequence is marked increase in incidences of fraud. So has been the case with the banking industry’s adoption of Apple Pay. With the popularity and rapid adoption of the new iOS payment platform, card issuers have had to authorize and provision encrypted card details for more than 2 million US consumers (and more individual…
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  3. smoking-e-cigarettes

    Study: It’s easier for teens to buy e-cigs online than to get real cigarettes in a store

      It’s hard for teenagers to buy cigarettes. Most stores are required to check someone’s ID before selling them any tobacco products, and new driver’s licenses are getting harder to fake. Barring help from someone who can legally buy them — which seems disturbingly easy to get, unfortunately — many teenagers won’t be getting cigarettes any time soon. A new study in North Carolina, the heart of tobacco country, shows that it isn’t nearly as difficult for teens to buy…
  4. venmolucas

    Venmo still hasn’t apologized for — let alone addressed — its security issues

    Venmo isn’t responding to criticism of its security practices as well as some might like. Its security was questioned last week when Slate revealed that it doesn’t inform users when their passwords are changed, nor when new email accounts are connected to existing Venmo accounts, which allowed one thief to make off with about $2,850 of a Venmo user’s money. The service usually informs its users when money has been transferred. In addition to adding a new email address…
  5. strictly-business

    PayPal plans $280M acquisition of Paydiant

    PayPal is planning to acquire Paydiant, the company behind CurrentC — retailers’ answer to Apple Pay — for a reported $280 million. No word yet on how the companies will mix, nor if Paydiant’s relationship with the industry group behind CurrentC will remain intact. [Source: Re/code]
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  7. Green Bitcoin

    Barry Silbert’s BIT wins the race to become the first publicly traded bitcoin investment vehicle

    Even for those investors interested in finding exposure to bitcoin, you could forgive them for feeling skeptical about even the most high profile of exchanges within the category. Bitcoin exchanges have proven a high profile target for hackers and internal fraud, with many of the most widely traded platforms falling victim to such attacks. But thanks to a new investment vehicle hitting a major US stock exchange, these bitcoin-specific exchanges are no longer an investor’s only option. Bitcoin Investment Trust…
  8. isis-gaza

    Islamic State supporters threaten Twitter employees

    Supporters of the so-called Islamic State have called for attacks on Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and other Twitter employees as retribution for shuttering its propaganda accounts. BuzzFeed was the first to translate the threat from its original Arabic. It reads, in part: You started this failed war … We told you from the beginning it’s not your war, but you didn’t get it and kept closing our accounts on Twitter, but we always come back. But when our lions…
  9. elsewhere

    Microsoft reportedly wants to acquire Prismatic

    Microsoft is in talks to acquire Prismatic, a news aggregation service that uses natural language processing to recommend content in which its users might be interested, according to a report from TechCrunch. Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook are all said to have expressed similar interest in the company. (Which is surely a sign of actual interest and not at all an attempt by someone at the company to make it seem like a hot commodity — right?) [Source: TechCrunch]
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  11. Overheard

    “Just wanted to confirm that the rumors are true — I’m excited to be running Google’s Photos and Streams products!  It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users.”

    — Bradley Horowitz announcing he will now lead Google+

  12. strictly-business

    Samsung announces Samsung Pay

    Samsung has announced Samsung Pay, a competitor to the Apple Pay product included in Apple’s latest iPhones, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The feature will allow new Samsung Galaxy S6 owners who use MasterCard to pay for goods with their phones. It’s not clear when other credit card companies will be supported. [Source: The Guardian]
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  14. elsewhere

    Google’s mobile network to be unveiled in ‘coming months’

    Google’s product head, Sundar Pichai, said during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today that the company’s wireless network will debut in the United States in the “coming months.” Asked about the network’s features, Pichai said that it wants to “experiment” like it has with Android, and that it has carrier partners with which it’s working. [Source: TechCrunch]
  15. jacob-appelbaum-tor

    Internet privacy, funded by spooks: A brief history of the BBG

    For the past few months I’ve been covering U.S. government funding of popular Internet privacy tools like Tor, CryptoCat and Open Whisper Systems. During my reporting, one agency in particular keeps popping up: An agency with one of those really bland names that masks its wild, bizarre history: the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or BBG. The BBG was formed in 1999 and runs on a $721 million annual budget. It reports directly to Secretary of State John Kerry and…
  16. OmidyarAAA

    Meet Pierre Omidyar! A handy primer for new First Look hires

    Early last week, Ken Silverstein — former Harpers editor and founder of Counterpunch — quit Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media, citing management incompetence. [UPDATE: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described Silverstein as co-founder of Counterpunch with Alexander Cockburn; Silverstein sent me an email correctly noting that he founded Counterpunch four months before Cockburn joined, one of those small but not insignificant errors I know all too well as the sole founding editor of The eXile—M.A.] By the end of the…
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  18. female-voices-silicon-valley1

    Fair warning: Pandoland is not that kind of conference

    Most people take for granted that the 21st century Western world believes women should have a voice. And yet, as America starts to become a place where white, straight men are a minority– a small but significant group of those men are doing everything they can to smack women back down. You know some of the men I’m talking about: Brogrammers in Silicon Valley, those who send death threats to female games journalists in the name of “ethics”, anyone who…
  19. pando-breaking-news-small

    Uber database breach compromises the name and drivers license data of 50,000 drivers

    Uber revealed in statement today that the names and driver’s license numbers of as many as 50,000 of its current and former drivers may have been compromised. Approximately 21,000 of these drivers were based in California. The company identified the responsible database vulnerability in September of last year, and said that the unauthorized access occurred in May of the same year. The company began notifying the affected drivers today, while also notifying the California attorney general’s office of the breach. [via LA Times]
  20. house-of-cards

    Read all 13 recaps from our sleepless House of Cards marathon

    We also gave each review its own separate article page. To browse through those, click here. Netflix just flipped the switch on Season Three of House of Cards, and with a pot of coffee brewing and a freezer full of popsicles (nothing but the coldest snacks for the coldest show on television) I’m staying up all night to watch it. Follow all the outrageous political machinations here (and on my Twitter feed) as I recap each episode. Note: This isn’t a live blog…
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The Week in Review

Friday

female-voices-silicon-valley1 Fair warning: Pandoland is not that kind of conference Read all 13 recaps from our sleepless House of Cards marathon Courts deem CallFire a common carrier, setting a major precedent at intersection of telecom and tech law An average season ends on a high note: House of Cards Season 3, Episode 13, reviewed “An empire without heirs.” House of Cards Season 3, Episode 12, reviewed Will Claire jump? House of Cards Season 3, Episode 11, reviewed Facebook now allows its users, not a drop-down menu, to define their genders How Frank got his groove back: House of Cards Season 3, Episode 10, reviewed Kim Dotcom’s Mega is dropped by PayPal over end-to-end encryption, may adopt Bitcoin instead Prepare for war? House of Cards Season 3, Episode 9, reviewed The War Nerd: Why did Mohammed Emwazi become Jihadi John? Has Frank become… boring? House of Cards Season 3, Episode 8, reviewed Twitter keeps Dick Costolo’s promise with new anti-harassment tools Will Frank lose his Lady Macbeth? House of Cards Season 3, Episode 7, reviewed “I should’ve never made you president.” House of Cards Season 3, Episode 6, reviewed SF’s real income inequality issue isn’t hipsters priced out of homes — It’s the homeless What House of Cards gets wrong about Russia: Season 3, Episode 5, reviewed Another episode, another enemy: House of Cards Season 3, Episode 4, reviewed Has Frank Underwood met his match? House of Cards Season 3, Episode 3, reviewed “You are entitled to nothing.” House of Cards Season 3, Episode 2, reviewed Meet President Underwood: House of Cards Season 3, Episode 1, reviewed