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Senators Say “Smart TV’s Are Invading Privacy

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Two Democratic US senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate privacy problems related to Internet-connected televisions.

“Many Internet-connected smart TVs are equipped with sophisticated technologies that can track the content users are watching and then use that information to tailor and deliver targeted advertisements to consumers,” Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote in a letter yesterday to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons.

It would be up to Congress to pass new laws for smart TVs. But the FTC can punish companies for unfair and deceptive business practices. Action was taken against smart TV manufacturer Vizio last year.

 

Senate To vote For Net Neutrality By June 12, 2018

Enlarge / WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 09: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) (L) is flanked by Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) while speaking about a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to preserve net neutrality rules.

 

There may be enough Democratic  votes in Senate—but the House is a another story.

Today Senate Democrats filed a long-promised petition to prevent the repeal of net neutrality rules in a move that will force a vote of the full Senate by a deadline of June 12.

The Senate will have to vote on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval, which would nullify the Federal Communications Commission’s December 2017 vote to repeal the nation’s net neutrality rules. The CRA was filed in February, and Democrats today filed the discharge petition that will force the full Senate to vote on it.

This is the same mechanism that Congressional Republicans used to eliminate broadband privacy rules last year.

If successful, the Democrats’ resolution would prevent the deregulation of the broadband industry and maintain rules that prohibit blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.

“The CRA resolution would fully restore the rules that ensure Americans aren’t subject to higher prices, slower Internet traffic, and even blocked websites because the big Internet service providers want to pump up their profits,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said at a press conference today. “By passing this resolution, we can send a clear message that this Congress won’t fall to the special interest agenda of President Trump and his broadband baron allies but will rather do right by the people who sent us here.”

The Internet Association said it is weighing its legal options for “a lawsuit against today’s Order” but would also accept a strong net neutrality law imposed by Congress.

Plenty of organizations might appeal, said consumer advocate Gigi Sohn, who was a top counselor to then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler when the commission imposed its rules.

Best Buy Getting ahead By Boosting Customer Satisfaction, & Employee Investment

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Two executives from Best Buy described the work they’ve done over the last three and a half years rethinking employee training by investing in support for customer and product interaction — as opposed to clunky, corporate technology — by using dedicated resources from a retail user experience and a change management perspective.

They believe it’s super important for their employees to feel like they have a place in the future of where we’re going.” These efforts have helped drop employee turnover by “well into the double digits. 

Employee turnover is still problematic. The average turnover rate is north of 60%, according to the National Retail Federation, and retailers collectively lose over 230 million productive days and $19 billion in new staff costs as a result.

 Last year, newfound investment in employee training became a priority for the National Retail Federation as well as 21 major retailers like Walmart, Target and Macy’s, which together launched the RISE Up (Retail Industry Skills and Education) program.

Although Best Buy is not a part of the program, the retailer has spent the last few years tackling the problem by conducting “hundreds and hundreds” of one-on-one interviews with employees across the country to ask about usability problems when it comes to applications and technology, and other pain points of the job.

“Through redesigning systems and bringing new technology into the stores they were able to cut their POS transaction time in half. This allows their associates to spend less time typing on keyboards or holding tablets and reinvest that time to connect with the customer experiences so they don’t end up cutting labor or anything similar. 

NYPD Gets iPhone 7 & 7 Plus

The New York Police Department is moving away from Windows Phones after two years with the platform and replacing some 36,000 Windows phones with iPhones, which are now being rolled out to police officers…

The Officers get to choose between an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 7 Plus. Currently, officers in Manhattan are taking part in the transition, but once that is complete, the rollout moves to Brooklyn and then Queens.

The iPhones also improve functionality that smartphones bring to officers in general. For instance, smartphone use by police officers can respond to scenes much quicker than relying on the traditional radio:

 

The New York Daily News reports that the NYPD has been rolling out about 600 phones per day to its officers, who get to choose between an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 7 Plus. Currently, officers in Manhattan are taking part in the transition, but once that is complete, the rollout moves to Brooklyn and then Queens.

The move to iPhone is already being heralded as a major success by some officers. “I truly feel like it’s the ultimate tool to have as a patrol cop,” said Police Officer Christopher Clampitt.

The iPhones also improve functionality that smartphones bring to officers in general. For instance, smartphone use by police officers can respond to scenes much quicker than relying on the traditional radio:

UnWanted Robo Calls

Robocalls beat out live spam calls by a significant margin.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data released a report last week revealing 4.5 million consumers complaints about robocalls in 2017, way up from 2016’s 3.4 million. For every single month of the year, robocalls topped the list of “Do Not Call” violations, and they came in six common forms:

  • Reducing your debt (credit cards, mortgage, student loans)
  • Dropped call or no message
  • Vacation & timeshares
  • Warranties & protection plans
  • Calls pretending to be government, businesses, or family and friends
  • Medical & prescriptions
  • Religious Organizations

In addition to all the complaints, use of the “Do Not Call” registry has exploded since it was started in 2003. 10 million numbers were registered in the first four days after launch, and the registry now hosts 226 million active registrations.

Expert System “Virtual Psychiatrist” Effective In Diagnosing Disorders

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India has a severe shortage of psychiatrists and as a result, mental illness in rural areas remain undiagnosed or does not get the proper treatment. Indian researchers have developed a virtual tool to help address this problem. It has been found that it can be used by non-psychiatrists and is as effective as a diagnosis by specialists. The expert system is called clinical decision support system (CDSS) for diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders was developed at the Department of Psychiatry of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. 

The tool covers 18 common mental disorders-delirium, dementia, mania, depression, dysthymia, psychosis, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorder, somatoform disorder, dissociative disorder, neurasthenia, sexual dysfunctions, alcohol dependence, substance dependence and mental retardation.

Mental health care is mostly unavailable or inaccessible in most parts of  India. About 90 percent patients in need of psychiatric treatment do not get it due to lack of psychiatrists. That gap is filled by creating a virtual psychiatrist. The expert system can assist a non-medical person to interview a patient with mental disorders leading to an automated diagnosis. The ICT technology is very simple to use, just a computer, broadband internet, Skype and a telephone line. Telepsychiatry holds the potential to solve the massive and intertwined problems of underdiagnosing and undertreating persons with mental illness and the lack of trained workforce at the grassroots level. 

 

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