Sen. Ron Wyden tells the FBI to stop forcing backdoors into tech products

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Originally posted on PandoDaily:

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Sen. Ron Wyden has introduced a bill meant to prevent federal agencies from forcing technology companies to build “backdoors” into their products. The move puts Wyden at odds with James Comey, the leader of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who has argued for increased access to consumer electronic devices to assist the bureau’s efforts to investigate criminals and terrorists.

“Strong encryption and sound computer security is the best way to keep Americans’ data safe from hackers and foreign threats,” Wyden said in a statement about the bill. “It is the best way to protect our constitutional rights at a time when a person’s whole life can often be found on his or her smartphone. And strong computer security can rebuild consumer trust that has been shaken by years of misstatements by intelligence agencies about mass surveillance of Americans.”

The bill itself is two pages long. It contains two sections: one…

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As Public Markets Beckon, Lending Startups Raise Over $1 Billion In 2014

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

If investors continue to funnel money into online lending companies at their current pace, 2014 may be the year that startup lenders finally break the bank — or at least banking’s hold on the lending market.

The imminent public offerings of LendingClub and OnDeck Capital show that markets have embraced the non-bank lending business, and private investors have taken notice pouring over $1 billion into startups in the past year alone, according to CrunchBase data.

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Including yesterday’s whopping $225 million equity investment in AvantCredit, led by Tiger Global, U.S.-based startup lending businesses have raised over $1 billion in the past five years, according to CrunchBase data.

Only two years old, AvantCredit has already built up a significant war chest with over $1 billion in equity and debt financing.

In addition to the $225 million equity investment it raised from previous investors Tiger Global and August Capital and new investors including PayPal…

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Retailer Bebe Confirms Payment Card Data Breach

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Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Another day, another payment card data breach. In what’s now becoming routine news, this morning retailer Bebe is confirming a security incident that took place over the busy holiday shopping period in November which saw attackers stealing customer’s names, account numbers, expiration dates and verification codes from cards swiped in stores. The breach occurred during the dates of November 8, 2014 and November 26, 2014, and affected those shopping in the retailer’s stores located in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The company says that international stores, as well as those shopping online or on mobile, were not affected.

Bebe currently operates 174 retail stores including the on-line store bebe.com, and 35 bebe outlet stores. We’ve asked the company to confirm, specifically, how many were attacked in the regions where the breaches were discovered.

The hack was first reported by the Krebs on Security blog on Thursday, which said…

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Payments processor Klarna to spend at least $100M on US push

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Originally posted on Gigaom:

The Swedish online payments processor Klarna is pushing into the U.S., and it said late Wednesday that it intends to spend at least $100 million doing so.

[company]Klarna[/company] Checkout is a competitor to the likes of [company]PayPal[/company] and [company]Stripe[/company], providing another way for online merchants to take payments. The service makes an algorithmic risk assessment of the customer, based on her behavior and credit scores – the less risky the customer, the less information they need to give to make the payment.

This low-friction approach to the buy-now-pay-later game is particularly handy in the mobile payments arena, where the less you neeed to type the better.

The Sequoia-backed firm, which is almost a decade old, is the largest payments processor in Europe, and it has been talking about its U.S. move for a couple of months. Now, it has said how much it’s willing to invest in this push —…

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Twitter is tracking the apps on your phone

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Originally posted on Gigaom:

In its latest effort to improve its ad targeting, Twitter will start collecting information on what mobile apps its users have downloaded.

If you’re in the Pandora camp instead of the Spotify camp, Twitter will know. Harbor a penchant for celebrity gossip with both the TMZ and Perez Hilton app in your arsenal? Twitter will know. If you’re on a diet and you’re tracking your calories with an app, Twitter will know.

The company says it’s using the information to benefit you, by improving its recommendation engines on other Twitter accounts you should follow. As mentioned in the Twitter Analyst Call, an “instant timeline” for new users is also on its way. Information on what apps a person has downloaded could help Twitter build that.

The second purpose, one not mentioned by Twitter in its blog post, is the holy grail of free consumer web companies: Ad targeting. Twitter needs as much information…

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Building your 2015 Marketing Plan

I’ve just started reading Tony Robbin’s new book, Money – Master the Game.  I haven’t moved past the introduction by Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff to find my first inspiration.

Marc writes about how he uses Tony’s insights and strategies to focus.  He highlights five of Tony’s questions in the introduction that could be a valuable first step in building your marketing plan for 2015.  I thought the ideas are worth sharing, which I’ve blatantly tweaked just a smidgen for the marketers working on their 2015 plans:

  1. What do you really want for your business in 2015 – and as important (probably more) what do your customers want? (Vision)
  2. What is really important about it – to you and your customers? (Values)
  3. How will you and your team – and your customers – get it? (Methods)
  4. What is preventing you and your team – and your customers – from having it? (Obstacles)
  5. How will you know you and your team are successful? (Measurements)

I liked Tony’s book so much, I’ve given copies to many friends and family members. It’s on Amazon for under $17.  Here’s a link