DOJ Looks at Antitrust in Google Pickup of Fitbit; Twitter Backs Research into Open Social Media Standard; Apple Updates iOS Parental Controls; Electric Seaplane from Harbour Air

The Department of Justice is apparently looking into the Google acquisition of Fitbit. Cnet.com reports that the agency is concerned about consumer data…especially health information…that Google could access via the 2.1 billion dollar deal. Most all Google mergers have been reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission, but this signals a broader probe. Google had previously gotten heat for its handling of medical data. As reported here and elsewhere, two years ago, Google partnered with University of Chicago in a deal that let the search giant use patient data and health records in a project to improve predictive analysis. A lawsuit was filed last summer when it came out that identifiable information had not been stripped out of the data of hundreds of thousands of patients.

Twitter is backing a small team of researchers who are working on building an “open and decentralized standard for social media,” with the goal of making Twitter a client for that standard. According to theverge.com, Project Bluesky aims to make ‘protocols, not platforms.’ A goal is to use blockchain technology as a way decentralized social networks could implement “open and durable hosting, governance, and even monetization.” Don’t expect any overnight breakthrough….the 5 person team is just getting under way.

Apple has upgraded parental controls in the latest version of iOS. Techcrunch.com says that now parents can limit who kids can call, text, and FaceTime, and WHEN. The time restriction feature allows setting Downtime not only late evening and at night, but during school hours, or whenever parents want…think ‘homework time.’ Google has also bulked up Android’s parental controls. As per before, these features work well on little kids, but tweens and teens quickly figure out ways around them or how to hack past them.

A friend who lived right by the seaplane concession in Marin County, California would be jumping for joy right now if they still lived in the spot. Harbour Air out of Vancouver, B.C. has just successfully test flown it’s all-electric seaplane over the Fraser River. The electric model is worlds quieter than the de Havilland Beaver seaplane was with its gas engine. Harbour Air is running a MagniX 750 horsepower electric motor. The entire certification process is expected to take 2 years. All that you could hear from the ground is a quiet ‘buzz.’ Once certified, the initial commercial flights will be 30 minutes, due to battery limits at present…but the company expects to see improvement that will allow for longer tourist flights in the future.



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