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March 9, 2013 at 11:05 AM   |   Comments

Google close to a deal on privacy breach

LOS ANGELES, March 9 (UPI) -- U.S. Internet giant Google is finalizing details for a $7 million settlement over an inadvertent breach of privacy, a source told the Los Angeles Times.

The settlement, which will be split among more than 30 states, is meant to resolve charges that Google violated privacy laws when it sent cars to neighborhoods to create its Street View mapping service.

Inadvertently, Google said, it ended up collecting passwords and other personal information from unsecured wireless networks, the Times reported Saturday.

The Federal Communications Commission levied a fine of $25,000 for the breach of privacy that took place in more than 30 countries. But the FCC choose not to pursue Google for breaking wiretapping laws.

In a statement, Google said: "We work hard to get privacy right at Google. But in this case we didn't, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue."


Tesla to repay federal loan early

PALO ALTO, Calif., March 9 (UPI) -- Niche U.S. auto company Tesla Motors Inc. said it would pay off its $465 million government loan five years earlier than originally planned.

In its annual report, the California electric car maker said it had been given permission to repay the Department of Energy's loans early, completing payment by the end of 2017, rather than the end of 2022, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

The loans were intended to help Tesla build alternative-energy vehicles, which is the company's specialty.

The company makes only top-end, electrically powered vehicles and power train components.

In its annual report, Tesla said the production of its Model X crossover sport utility vehicle had been pushed back a year with an expectation of starting production in late 2014.

Instead, the company will concentrate on production of its Model S sedan, for which the company forecasts sales of 20,000 units, Tesla spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks said.


News Corp. spinoff to start up with $2.6B

NEW YORK, March 9 (UPI) -- News Corp. said in a U.S. regulatory filing its publishing business will start up with $2.6 billion and no debt when it spins off from the parent company.

Details of the media giant's plan for its publishing business were included in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Analysts expect some of the cash will be spent on the company's online operations, the BBC reported Saturday.

News Corp. announced in June it will spin off its publishing business, separating it from its film and television business, which includes Fox News and 20th Century Fox film studio.

The film business, after the split, will be called Fox Group.

Other huge media firms are splitting up their film and publishing operations. Time Warner, which was formed out of Time Inc. and Warner Communications, said this week it will split its film and print businesses, spinning off the producers of Time magazine, Sports Illustrated, Fortune, People and several other publications that are struggling to adapt to the digital age.


Airline pros slam TSA rule on knives

WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) -- The head of Delta Airlines says a U.S. rule change allowing passengers to carry small knives on airliners "will add risk to airline personnel and passengers."

The Transportation Security Administration announced the change this week -- set to take effect April 25 -- allowing passengers to carry certain small knives on board. The TSA said the change was intended to align U.S. rules "more closely with International Civil Aviation Organization standards" and reduce the amount of time required for passengers to go through screening.

Passengers will be permitted to carry "knives that do not lock, and have blades that are 2.36 inches or 6 centimeters or less in length and are less than 1/2 inch in width" -- as well as "novelty-sized and toy bats, billiard cues, ski poles, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks and two golf clubs" as part of their carry-on baggage.

"These items have been banned for more than 11 years and will add little value to the customer security process flow in relation to the additional risk for our cabin staff and customers," Delta Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said in a letter to the TSA.

Association of Flight Attendants President Veda Shook said the rule change "makes no sense," CNN reported Saturday.

"How big is this knife? Is it long enough? Is it wide enough? Does it lock? Does it not lock? That is going to create confusion at the checkpoint, We're all better off and were all safer without weapons on board the aircraft," Shook said.

The 90,000-members strong Flight Attendants Union Coalition is organizing an effort to reverse the decision, CNN reported.

Former TSA administrator Kip Hawley said the rule change would allow checkpoint security to focus on more dangerous items, such as bombs.

The TSA said existing security measures -- including hardened cockpit doors, armed federal air marshals, armed pilots and crew members trained in self-defense -- will help preserve safety on airliners.

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