Verizon Fined for ‘Supercookies’

Carl Weinschenk
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5 Mobile Development Trends for 2016

The Verge reports that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined Verizon $1.35 million for the use of "supercookies" that track websites visited by phones on its cellular network.

This code allows sites to improve ad targeting. The story says that for a time, people were not told that this was being done nor allowed to opt out. Now, people must agree to supercookies even when they are visiting sites the company owns. The story suggests that this process will be tightly controlled going forward:

Today's settlement pushes the options Verizon offers customers even further, allowing those who don't opt out of the program to limit who gets to see their information.

Perfecting Robots

The intense development of robotics is something to behold. ZDNet posted a story this week about research Google is doing that seeks to train robots to grasp objects in the way in which people do. The story says that the company is using machine learning to reach for objects and make the kind of subtle adjustments that humans make when they are doing things like serving a tennis ball or washing dishes, to use the examples cited in the story.

Commentary in the story suggests that the research focuses on enabling the robot to use a series of cameras to adjust to conditions as situations unfold instead of the current method, which involves analyzing a situation before it plays out and subsequently sticking to the plan that was created.

KPMG Puts IBM Watson to Work

IBM Watson continues to expand. This week, tax auditing and accounting firm KPMG said that it will use the cloud-based natural language processing platform to buttress its professional services offerings.

The strengths of IBM Watson play well in many areas, including complex accounting tasks:

IBM Watson VP Ed Harbour observed in an email to InformationWeek that professional service organizations struggle to cope with the huge influx of data. ‘Cognitive systems are capable of not just ingesting, understanding and learning from massive amounts of data, but also delivering actionable insights in seconds,’ he said.

Steve Hill, U.S. and Global Leader of Innovation and Investments at KPMG, commented in the story that commercial loans, which feature a tremendous amount of unstructured data, are a good example of areas in which IBM Watson can drastically increase overall efficiency.

GM Acquires Cruise Automation

General Motors made a move this week in the hot area of autonomously driven vehicles by agreeing to acquire Cruise Automation. The three-year-old company develops and tests autonomous technology in the San Francisco area. Its RP-1 aftermarket highway autopilot system is slated to be available for some Audi models this year.  

The automaker is making its autonomous move:

GM has made a big push into self-driving technology in recent months. Since the beginning of the year, the company has established a new unit for autonomous vehicle development and invested US$500 million in Lyft in a partnership to create a network of on-demand autonomous vehicles.

Sprint Moving Toward 5G

Dan Jones wrote at Light Reading this week that Sprint is transitioning in its planning to 5G. He quotes Chief Financial Officer Tarek Robbiati’s comments at the 2016 Deutsche Band Media, Internet & Telecom Conference.

Jones wrote that Sprint plans to add “large numbers” of high-frequency small cell and distributed radio elements to its network. That network now, he writes, consists of about 40,000 cell towers in the United States.

The commentary in the piece suggests that the transition will be tricky – and different -- for each carrier.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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