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August 09, 2012

Google fined $22.5 million for lying to people, tracking their every move online

The Consumerist -- Google On The Hook For A Record $22.5 Million In Safari Privacy Case
The FTC said that for many months in 2011 and 2012, Google placed a particular advertising tracking cookie on Safari users' computers who were visiting sites within Google's DoubleClick advertising network. That way, Google could serve ads based on what users were surfing for. But the funny thing was that Google had already told users they'd be automatically opted out of that tracking because it was supposed to be a default setting in Macs, iPhones and iPads using Safari. Nope! According to the FTC's complaint, Google went around all this by putting a temporary cookie from DoubleClick's domain in the browser, circumventing the default setting. That first little cookie then opened the floodgate for any other DoubleClick cookies, including that pesky advertising tracking cookie Google had said would be blocked from Safari. The earlier privacy settlement that the FTC said Google crossed was from October 2011, which told Google it couldn't misrepresent how much control users have over how their information is collected.

July 30, 2012

Music industry refusing to give artists their share of file-sharing settlements

Roughly a million bucks was the fine levied on The Pirate Bay. Ostensibly to pay artists for songs pirated. But the music industry has announced they will give none of that money to the artists and will instead use that money to further attack file-sharing. Who are the criminals again? Music Labels Won’t Share Pirate Bay Loot With Artists | TorrentFreak
While it may come as no surprise that the music industry has a hard time getting money from The Pirate Bay defendants, what comes next may raise a few eyebrows. “There is an agreement that any recovered funds will be paid to IFPI Sweden and IFPI London for use in future anti-piracy activities,” IFPI writes. In other words, the money that the Court awarded to compensate artists and rightsholders for their losses is not going to the artists at all. Instead, the labels will simply hand it over to IFPI for their ongoing anti-piracy efforts, which we documented in detail earlier this week. According to former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde, one of the people convicted in the case, this shows who the real “thieves” are. “Regarding the issue that they’ve already divvied up the loot, it’s always fun to see that they call it ‘recovered money’ (i.e. money they’ve lost) but that they’re not going to give the artists in question any of it,” Sunde told TorrentFreak.

July 20, 2012

In NYC, restaurants are intentiionally cultivating noise to get you to drink more, eat faster

I hate this trend so much. I pretty much will not eat at a super noisy restaurant because what's the point of dining with someone when you can't hear them? The SF Chronicle had an expose about this a year back and found that a lot of the trendy restaurant decor--concrete walls, bare ceilings, metal and glass--amplified noise and made for a more unpleasant experience. In New York City, Indoor Noise Goes Unabated - NYTimes.com
Some research has shown that people drink more when music is loud; one study found that people chewed faster when tempos were sped up. Armed with this knowledge, some bars, retailers and restaurants are finely tuning sound systems, according to audio engineers and restaurant consultants. “Think about places where they’re trying to get you in and out as quickly as possible,” said John Mayberry, an acoustical engineer in San Marino, Calif., who has railed against what he terms the “weaponization” of audio. “It’s real obvious what their intentions are.” Some customers like the loudness. Younger people can withstand loud music longer, while older ones may run from it, helping proprietors maintain a youthful clientele and a fresh image. But repeated exposure to loud noise often damages hearing and has been linked to higher levels of stress, hypertension and heart disease. Some restaurateurs said they were surprised that their decibel levels were too high, and a few said they were taking remedial measures. Indeed, employees at noisy places are often the most affected, yet enforcement of existing noise regulations is almost nonexistent at places like these. . . .

July 19, 2012

One day after Chick-Fil-A president calls gay people abominations, his company clumsily tries to walk it back

Seriously, don't eat there. Joe. My. God.: Chick-Fil-A Tries To Walk It Back