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May 8, 2013

Technology News Briefs — May 8, 2013

German Court Rules Apple Violating Consumer Privacy        

The rights of consumers who make a purchase via Apple’s website violate privacy-protection laws, a German court has ruled.

The Berlin Regional Court ruled that eight of Apple’s 15 data use policy clauses contravene German law. As such, the court has ordered Apple to change the way it handles customer information. The iPhone maker can no longer request “global consent” to use German consumers’ data and can no longer access location-based data for targeted advertising campaigns.

Apple also can no longer ask for the names, addresses, e-mail addresses and phone numbers of users’ contacts.

German consumer rights group VZBV, which filed the lawsuit against Apple, said on its website that the Cupertino firm’s policies “unduly disadvantaged consumers because they violated fundamental principles of the German data protection law.”

Although the post is written in German, according to a Google translation of the document, VZBV executive director Gerd Billen welcomed the decision.

“The verdict shows the importance of privacy for consumers in the digital world,” he said.

Apple agreed before court proceedings began not to use seven of the 15 clauses at issue.

Facebook Can Cause ‘Psychotic Episodes,’ ‘Delusions’

Facebook and other social networking sites may just be driving you crazy — literally.

According to researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel, high levels of Internet use, particularly use of social networks, can cause “psychotic episodes and delusions.”

While the participants in the study did suffer from loneliness, none had issues with drugs or a history of mental illness.

Lead researcher Dr. Uri Nitzan of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Shalvata Mental Health Care Centre told The Daily Mail the three patients studied in-depth sought solace from loneliness in intense online relationships.

Although the relationships went well initially, they soured in time causing the participants to feel hurt and betrayed. They also felt their privacy had been invaded.

“All of the patients developed psychotic symptoms related to the situation, including delusions regarding the person behind the screen and their connection through the computer,” Nitzan was quoted by The Daily Mail.

“Two patients began to feel vulnerable as a result of sharing private information, and one even experienced tactile hallucinations, believing that the person beyond the screen was physically touching her.”

Google Glass a No-Go for Nevada Gamblers

Google Glass is subject of yet another ban.

Caesars Palace, a world-famous casino located in Las Vegas, has said it will not permit gamblers in its establishment to wear Glass.

The move, a Caesars Palace representative told The Verge, is to comply with Nevada state laws.

“Nevada gaming regulations (and those in other states, as well) prohibit the use of computers or recording devices when gambling,” the spokesperson said. “As a result, we cannot allow guests who are gambling to wear Google Glass.”

It is likely other casinos in the state will have similar restrictions.

This is not the first time Glass has been viewed as a problem by legislators.

A West Virginia state legislator recently introduced a bill proposing a ban on the use of computerized head-gear, such as Google Glass, while driving.

West Virginia state Rep. Gary G. Howell wants to expand the state’s texting-while-driving laws to include Glass — the upcoming computerized spectacles that will be controlled by the wearer’s voice.

The ban, according to the bill, will include any “computing device which is worn on the head and projects visual information into the field of vision of the wearer.”

If the bill passes, the ban would take effect July 1.

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