FORTUNE -- "How would you feel," Google (GOOG) chairman Eric Schmidt asks in Friday's Guardian, "if your neighbour went over and bought a commercial observation drone that they can launch from their back yard. It just flies over your house all day. How would you feel about it?"
Good question. Probably the same way I'd feel about a company that monitored all my online activities -- the e-mail I send and receive, the sites I visit, the products I buy, the YouTubes I watch, etc. etc. -- and sold that information to advertisers.
Google's corporate guidelines on such matters were delineated two years ago by what Schmidt calls "the creepy line."
"The Google policy on a lot of things," he told attendees at the Aspen Institute's Washington Ideas Forum, "is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it."
Creepy privacy issues, however, are not Schmidt's primary objections to Amazon's (AMZN) plans to create a fleet of automated delivery drones, revealed Sunday on 60 Minutes by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Drone technology, Schmidt warned, could "democratise the ability to fight war" and fall into the hands of terrorists.
"Self-driving cars, though," deadpanned Daring Fireball's John Gruber. "Those are OK."
Apple (AAPL), meanwhile, is trying to make a virtue -- if not a marketable feature -- out of the difference between its business model and Google's. From the Report on Government Information Requests Apple released last month:
"Our business does not depend on collecting personal data. We have no interest in amassing personal information about our customers. We protect personal conversations by providing end-to-end encryption over iMessage and FaceTime. We do not store location data, Maps searches, or Siri requests in any identifiable form."
"We're kind of a square peg in a round hole" Wojcicki says in exclusive interview
On November 22, the FDA sent 23andMe a letter saying that the company did not have approval to market its product as a medical device. The company sells DNA Spit Kits for $99, which are then mailed back to 23andMe and used to sequence part of a customer's genome. 23andMe has since stopped marketing the kits MOREDec 6, 2013 11:37 AM ET
One app's downtime is another's opportunity.
FORTUNE -- One serious glitch is all fickle users need to abandon one service for another. That, and a competitor that accomplishes the same goal, but does it better. Just ask the Friendster folks.
The same phenomenon that played out with social networks over the last decade is quite possibly doing the same now, this time with gay-focused social apps. Indeed, ask gay men in San Francisco MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Dec 6, 2013 10:27 AM ET
News Corp's Wall Street Journal calls for Judge Denise Cote to be taken off the case.
FORTUNE -- Most of arguments the Wall Street Journal made Friday in a strident editorial calling for the ouster of the judge in the e-book antitrust case were taken from a motion Apple (AAPL) filed last week. (See Apple to judge: You and your antitrust monitor are way out of line.)
But there was also a nugget MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 6, 2013 8:12 AM ET
How one startup hopes to reinvent the act of gift-giving.
By Ryan Bradley, senior editor
FORTUNE -- When the robot wrote to me it used a pen. The robot's letter came in the mail, the usual way a letter does, and on the envelope, in fine cursive, the robot had written my address, its return address, and sealed the envelope using wax the color of gold. The robot's words were MOREDec 6, 2013 8:00 AM ET
Sony's Gran Turismo racing franchise celebrates its 15th anniversary with sales of 70 million copies and revenue of over $2.5 billion, but is ignoring the PS4 (for now).
By John Gaudiosi
FORTUNE -- While Sony (SNE) is pushing its new PlayStation 4 hardware this fall, the PS4 won't be getting Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo 6. Sony is focusing on the 80 million PlayStation 3 global gamers for its newest internally developed racing simulation, MOREDec 6, 2013 5:00 AM ET
Talk is cheap.
FORTUNE -- All the noise over what Apple ought to do with its cash almost makes one wistful for the days when everyone obsessed only over Apple's products.
Time coverboy Carl Icahn is on Apple's (AAPL) case to give back more of its cash to shareholders -- like himself. It's a perfectly reasonable position to take. Apple's hoard had grown to the nine figures with no reasonable prospects for MOREAdam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large - Dec 5, 2013 9:22 AM ET
The on-demand, mobile app-based transportation service has enjoyed tremendous growth. Its new financing platform promises to press the pedal even closer to the metal.
By Chanelle Bessette, reporter
FORTUNE -- Uber, the company behind the eponymous mobile application that promises to hail a personal driver with a tap of one's finger, announced last week a new program intended to help would-be Uber drivers afford vehicles. It might just kick the startup company's growth MOREDec 5, 2013 9:02 AM ET
He cut his buyback demand from $150 billion to $50 billion and gave Apple a year to do it.
FORTUNE -- From the headlines, you would think that Carl Icahn, America's most famous corporate raider, had donned a headdress and gone into his war dance:
Icahn beats Apple buyback drum (again) with new proposal (CNET)
Carl Icahn Rallies Apple Shareholders To Demand Stock Buyback (Cult of Mac)
Carl Icahn ups ante in crusade for Apple buyback (Associated Press)
Cites a single unnamed source "familiar with the situation."
FORTUNE -- Is this the news Apple (AAPL) investors have been waiting so many years to hear?
WSJ: Apple, China Mobile Sign Deal to Offer iPhone
Without an official announcement or independent verification it's hard to say. The fact that it comes from the Wall Street Journal speaks well for the report. The fact that it hangs on a single, unnamed source... not so MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 4, 2013 9:45 PM ET
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