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Claire Cain Miller
The New York Times|nytimes.com

Eight prominent technology companies, bruised by revelations of government spying on their customers’ data and scrambling to repair the damage to their reputations, are mounting a public campaign to urge President Obama and Congress to set new limits on government surveillance.

The companies, led by Google and Microsoft, presented a plan to regulate online spying and urged the United States to lead a worldwide effort to restrict it. They accompanied it with an open letter, in the form of full-page ads published Dec. 9 in national newspapers, including The New York Times, and a website detailing their concerns.

It is the broadest and strongest effort by the companies, often archrivals, to speak with one voice to pressure the government. read more »


SAN FRANCISCO — These days, smartphones know everything — where people go, what they search for, what they buy, what they do for fun and when they go to bed.

That is why advertisers, and tech companies such as Google and Facebook, are finding new, sophisticated ways to track people on their phones and reach them with individualized, hypertargeted ads. And they are doing it without cookies, those tiny bits of code that follow users around the Internet, because cookies don’t work on mobile devices.

Privacy advocates fear that consumers do not realize just how much of their private information is on their phones and how much is made vulnerable simply by downloading and using apps, searching the mobile Web or going about daily life with a phone. read more »


The RetailMeNot coupon app.Smart online shoppers always search the Web for a coupon before they make a purchase. RetailMeNot, one of the leading coupon Web sites, is also trying to offer coupons for mall shoppers via their cellphones.

The idea is the same as the paper coupons that people used to clip out of newspapers. But now they are delivered by RetailMeNot’s new iPhone app, which is awaiting approval from Apple, when a shopper walks near one of hundreds of malls across the country. read more »


Harold Pollack used to spend $1,000 a year on Amazon, but this fall started buying from small online retailers instead. The prices are higher, but Dr. Pollack says he now has a clear conscience.

“I don’t feel they behave in a way that I want to support with my consumer dollars,” Dr. Pollack, a professor in Chicago, said of the big Internet retailers.

Giant e-commerce companies like Amazon are acting increasingly like their big-box brethren as they extinguish small competitors with discounted prices, free shipping and easy-to-use apps. read more »

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