Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Facebook, Google, Yahoo Fight "Do Not Track" Privacy Measures

There's a growing social and legal momentum behind the "do not track" initiative to protect online privacy, but now Facebook and Google are opposing the legislation, hinting that job losses and profit cuts could be the result. Are there slightly dirty tricks afoot?

Californian legislators are slowly pushing ahead with a Do Not Track law introduced by Senator Alan Lowenthal, which would force Net companies to allow consumers to easily and effectively opt out of personal data being collected online--violators could face civil legal action. Lowenthal has noted that in his opinion legislation "is consistent with California's long history of championing privacy issues."

But now Facebook, Google, Yahoo and other companies have written to Lowenthal to state their specific objections. "The measure would negatively affect consumers who have come to expect rich content and free services through the Internet" is one of their counter-arguments, along with an allegation that a no-track law would make the public "more vulnerable to security threats." Also, forcing the law through would "prove costly to the state" and also "cumbersome for the Attorney General to figure out how to regulate under the bill and to enforce the law."

Essentially the letter's signatories say the proposed law would deplete user experience of online services (and potentially stifle innovation), put them at risk from Net criminals in ill-determined ways (an allegation that could scare users), be expensive to enforce, and potentially spawn extra work and maybe legal cases at a governmental level. Oh, and as an extra point the firms note that Net-related businesses are the fastest growing source of jobs in California. Putting this at risk, they argue, would damage the state's potential employment figures. That's a broad list of reasons--each of which, by itself, could really affect the current model for how websites make money from users, or force lawmakers to reconsider. If they're true.

The key part of this to consider are the words "business model." Google and Facebook pretty much own the online ads business between them. A key part of this is highly targeted advertising based on key data on individual subscribers--acquired through systems like cookies, historical archives of web searches, or which sites users visit and log in to via Facebook Connect. The Do Not Track bill threatens this income, as many users could press a button and disconnect Google and Facebook (and other firms like Microsoft) from potential revenue streams. Apple is also an indirect signatory on the objections letter, possibly due to its interest in iAds--its new high-tech ad platform on iOS devices--and other future ad-related plans the firm has, leveraging off increasing use of its iPhones and iPads.

Would a Do Not Track button really put users at risk of security breaches, though? Surely a database of user profiled behaviors is actually more risky--as the Sony hack is ably demonstrating right now. How about the TV business--it doesn't track all the individual viewers, but it manages to bring in billions in advertising revenues by profiling ads in other ways. It's possible to make a case using these, and other, arguments that a Do Not Track law may actually encourage innovation in the online ad space.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Aflac to Present Live, Online at on May 5th

Company invites Main Street and Wall Street investors to attend interactive real-time virtual conference

NEW YORK May 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Aflac Incorporated (NYSE: AFL) the insurance company that helps employers offer their workers a financial safety net at no direct cost to their businesses, has been declared a World's Most Ethical Company for a fifth consecutive year, today announced that Delia Moore, Investor Relations Manager, will present at

DATE:  May 5th, 2011
TIME:  4:00 PM EDT

LINK: > Click the red "register/ watch event now" button.
This will be a live, interactive online event where investors are invited to ask the company questions in real-time both in the presentation hall as well as the company's "virtual trade booth." If attendees are not able to join the event live in real-time, an on-demand archive will be available for 90 days.

It is recommended that investors pre-register to save time and receive event updates.

About Aflac Incorporated:

When a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For more than 55 years, Aflac insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance. In Japan, Aflac is the number one insurance company in terms of individual insurance policies in force. Aflac insurance products provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For five consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In addition, Forbes magazine has named Aflac as one of America's Best-Managed Companies in the Insurance category. In 2011, Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America for the thirteenth consecutive year and included Aflac on its list of Most Admired Companies for the tenth time. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit

A copy of Aflac's Financial Analysts Briefing (FAB) supplement for the first quarter of 2011 can be found on the "Investors" page at, along with a complete listing of Aflac's investment holdings in the financial sector and a separate listing of the company's investments in perpetual securities.

About, created by BetterInvesting (NAIC), PR Newswire and MUNCmedia, is the first monthly virtual investor conference series that provides an interactive forum for presenting companies to meet directly with retail investors using a graphically-enhanced online platform.

Designed to replicate the look and feel of location-based investor conferences, Retail Investor Conferences unites PR Newswire's leading-edge online conferencing and investor communications capabilities with BetterInvesting's extensive retail investor audience network and MUNCmedia's sophisticated retail investor targeting.

Forward-Looking Statements

The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a "safe harbor" to encourage companies to provide prospective information, so long as those informational statements are identified as forward-looking and are accompanied by meaningful cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those included in the forward-looking statements. We desire to take advantage of these provisions. This document contains cautionary statements identifying important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected herein, and in any other statements made by company officials in communications with the financial community and contained in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Stocks coming off down week:

NEW YORK (AP) — It was a down week for stocks. Wall Street is hoping for better this week as earnings reports pick up.

In Friday trading, the Dow rose 57 points to close at 12,342. The S&P 500 index was up 5 points to 1,320. The NASDAQ composite added 4 points to 2,765.

For the week, the key averages were down between 0.3 and 0.6 percent.


Asia markets higher on US economic news

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stocks were mostly higher Monday, shrugging off yet another anti-inflation move by China after encouraging news about the U.S. economy.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index eked out a marginal gain of less than 0.1 percent after opening lower. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent, while South Korea's Kospi slid 0.5 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent.

Benchmarks in Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and New Zealand were also higher. Mainland China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3 percent. Taiwan's TAIEX was down slightly.


Oil near $109 as US gasoline prices jump

SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices fell to near $109 a barrel Monday in Asia as gasoline jumped to average $4 a gallon in six U.S. states and the District of Columbia, raising fears higher fuel costs will undermine crude demand.

Benchmark crude for May delivery was down 58 cents at $109.08 a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.55 to settle at $109.66 on Friday.

In London, Brent crude for June delivery was down 33 cents to $123.12 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.


Reports on housing among those due

WASHINGTON (AP) — The week is fairly light for economic reports. A reading is due today from the National Association of Home Builders on builder sentiment. Tomorrow, the government weighs in with housing starts for March. Also due this week, existing home sales, new unemployment claims and the index of leading economic indicators.


Poll: US economy improving despite global events

WASHINGTON (AP) — Economists say the U.S. economy is gaining strength despite political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East and last month's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

A survey from the National Association for Business Economics finds that economists are hopeful that the broader economy is substantially improving, with rising employment reported for the fifth quarter in a row.

The outlook for employment rose slightly, reaching a 12-year high. No firms reported significant layoffs, with the only reductions coming from already planned cuts.

Sales increased for the third consecutive quarter, profit margins continued to improve and the number of economists whose firms increased spending over the previous quarter held steady. Nearly all of the 72 economists surveyed, about 94 percent, now expect the economy to grow at least 2 percent in 2011.


6 states and nation's capital now at $4 gas

WASHINGTON (AP) — Six states and Washington, D.C., now have gasoline prices averaging more than $4 per gallon.

Triple-A says New York State joined the list yesterday, which also includes Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii and Illinois.

The next states could be Michigan, which has gas for $3.95 per gallon on average, and Indiana, where the average price is $3.94. Nevada, Washington and Wisconsin are close behind.

Hawaii has the highest price in the U.S. at $4.48 per gallon. Wyoming has the lowest, at $3.54.

The national average for gas has increased for 26 straight days, and is now at $3.83 per gallon.

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Monday, February 28, 2011

New Tool to Ease the Life of the Online Business Entrepreneur

Online Business entrepreneurs can now find the perfect or .com domain name – thanks to a new free tool from web development company, Bird and Co Creative. The new domain tool is the fastest way to check if a domain is available. With thousands of new businesses starting up in the UK every month, this tool will be vital to many business entrepreneurs.

A website’s domain name is recognised as an essential piece of a company’s branding. The best names can change hands for thousands or even millions. One of the most expensive transactions was in 2009 when the domain name changed hands for a staggering $16 million.

Many popular terms have already been registered as domain names. So people setting up a new business often find it difficult to find the name that they want. In the past, checking to see if domains were free was a frustrating and time-consuming process. But that has now changed. With Bird and Co Creative’s domain tool it is possible to check the availability of domains instantly. As fast as a person can type, it is checking to see if the domain name can be registered.

The tool can be accessed by visiting the following web page:

The tool was created by the web developers at Bird and Co Creative, Bromsgrove. As Online Marketing Manager Paul Ajao explains “We initially developed this tool to be used in-house, as we create many online campaigns for our clients. Everybody that used it thought it was outstanding, so we decided to make it generally available.”

In today’s economic climate, there are thousands of business entrepreneurs looking to set up an online business. Some people are taking their redundancy money and using it to invest in themselves - they start an online business rather than just wait for another job to become available. The domain tool will help them create a branded website that will give them the best chance of success.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

‘Social Media for Business’ – Online Course for Marketers Launched by Oxford Learning Lab

‘Social Media for Business’

Facebook and LinkedIn, are heralding an enormous change to the way businesses market themselves. But are marketers keeping up with the important changes? Oxford Learning Lab, an independent digital publisher that works with renowned marketing experts, is launching a new online marketing course that illuminates how social media can work as a marketing tool for any business. Released to coincide with the launch of Oxford Learning Lab’s revamped website, the course - ‘Social Media for Business’ - is based around high quality video content and downloadable course notes. It is perfect for busy people and affordably priced.

Aimed at professional marketers, marketing students and marketing consultants who wish to increase their knowledge base, the social media course, 'Social Media for Business' provides high quality, flexible learning, round the clock, for the fraction of the cost of an instructor-led course and has the benefit of being eligible as Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for marketers.

All course videos feature highly trained marketing professionals, including authors of popular marketing books, and most of the speakers are collaborating with The Chartered Institute of Marketing. The product is endorsed by Oxford College of Marketing, one of the largest providers of The Chartered Institute of Marketing courses.

Giorgio Burlini of Oxford Learning Lab comments: “The user bases of social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook have grown enormously in the last year or so and have become the biggest global channels to market. Businesses are winning work from Twitter and LinkedIn, while Facebook has become a vital advertising medium as well as a channel for direct customer communications. It’s important for marketers to understand the many applications and benefits offered to business by social media in engaging customers as well as benchmarking and measuring activities, and planning ahead with quantifiable, achievable objectives.”

Monday, February 14, 2011

P.L.A.Y. Launches New Business and Website Geared Toward Pet Owners

San Francisco retailer of unique dog beds presents a new option for environmentally conscious and fashion-forward pet owners.San Francisco, CA (Vocus/PRWEB) February 14, 2011

New online retail business P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You) just passed a successful one-month mark in its business, offering pet owners across the US and Canada an affordable, artistically-designed alternative in designer dog beds.

"We can honestly say that we love what we do, and starting this business is one of the best decisions we've ever made. Well, besides getting our own dog, of course," said William Chen, founder and owner of P.L.A.Y. "We've taken that love we have towards our pug and created products that dog-lovers everywhere can appreciate in terms of design, environmental-friendly materials, washable construction and price."

Recognized for its ergonomic construction made with recyclable fill materials, P.L.A.Y. makes designer beds for pets of all sizes. From small beds to extra large dog beds suitable for breeds up to 110 pounds, there is a wide selection of designs and styles, with more in the works.

After solidifying its online ecommerce store, P.L.A.Y. plans to work with brick and mortar retail stores nationwide to allow consumers to physically see and test its products before buying. With quality products and fashionable designs, P.L.A.Y. anticipates expanding into the international market to carve out its own reputation for excellence and care.

"We offer something that is unique," said Chen. "We understand that dog owners want to give the best to their furry friends, so we make that possible at a great price, which is different from many of our competitors. You can get an environmentally-conscious dog bed that is fashionable, made with quality construction and still affordable-all in one pet-friendly package."

About P.L.A.Y.
P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You) began with the mission to create the perfect dog bed for Momo, the pug belonging to P.L.A.Y. owner and founder William Chen. Collaborating with a manufacturer of infant and children products for the ultimate standard in safety and comfort, the company paired with San Franciscan designer David Collins to offer aesthetically pleasing, top quality designs. Each pet product is made with recycled materials, making P.L.A.Y. dog beds great for the environment, your pet and your interior design.

Friday, February 11, 2011

House Republicans lead charge to reduce regulations

WASHINGTON — House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa gaveled Thursday's hearing to order with two posters displayed behind him: "How do regulations block private sector job growth?" asked one. "We're listening," promised the other.

The problem, said Democrats on the panel, is whom the committee is listening to: business owners, their lobbyists and conservative think tanks who came with a built-in bias against federal health and safety regulations.

"We need to expand the scope of our inquiry to include the benefits of regulation, as well as the costs," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee's top Democrat. "We also need to expand the groups we are seeking input from beyond those who want to repeal regulations."

The oversight hearing was part of a coordinated GOP effort to "expose job-killing regulations." A judiciary subcommittee held a similar hearing Thursday afternoon, followed by floor debate on a resolution requiring House committees to list and review regulations in their jurisdiction.

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, the resolution's sponsor, said stronger oversight was necessary to "rein in big government and shine light on our federal regulatory process."

Democrats questioned the necessity, if not the goals, of the effort.

"A meaningless gimmick that only wastes time," said Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y. "Nothing more than a vehicle to rehash old politically motivated fights," said Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif. "A feel-good resolution from the Republican majority," said Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.

President Obama is conducting his own review of regulations. He told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday that he would work with business leaders to "get rid of regulations that have outlived their usefulness."

Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., said Congress should "weed out the hyperbole" and look at specific regulations.

Issa, R-Calif., agreed that more work remained to be done but said Congress first needs to raise awareness of the impact of regulations on jobs. "We think what we can be is the canary in the coal mine," Issa told reporters.

"It's easy to rail against regulations in the abstract. It's like railing against taxes," said Nicholas Bagley, a law professor who studies regulation at the University of Michigan. "But it's hard to sell to the American people that we should water down environmental or consumer protection regulations specifically."

Even if Republicans aren't successful in rolling back existing regulations, the effort could make regulators think harder about the costs of compliance.