Amazon Refuses to Give Police Echo Digital Assistant User Transcripts

Today's topics include Amazon's resistance to giving police investigators access to Echo digital assistant user data, the Korea Fair Trade Commission's antitrust fine against Qualcomm, the massive increase in the maximum file size supported by Microsoft's Azure Blob Storage service and Microsoft's preparations to release its OneDrive for Business Admin Center in early 2017.

Amazon is resisting law enforcement demands for any voice recording or user data that might have been stored on one of the company's Echo digital assistants seized by police at a Bentonville, Ark. home were a man was found dead.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for the Echo and another for a cell phone belonging to James A. Bates, the home's owner, who was charged with second degree murder in the man's death.

While Amazon has turned over business information relating to the Echo device, it has balked at turning over any user data that might have been stored on the digital assistant.

In a statement, Amazon has said, "Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Amazon objects to over broad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course."

South Korea on Dec. 27 slapped Qualcomm with an $852.9 million fine for alleged antitrust violations involving its patent licensing business.

The Korea Fair Trade Commission has charged that Qualcomm unfairly limited the access of competing chipset makers to its patents and used its position as a key supplier as leverage in its negotiations to make mobile-phone producers agree to unfair conditions.

South Korea may have felt emboldened to do this after the San Diego, Calif.-based chip maker agreed to a $975 million settlement in China last year for similar antitrust violations.

Microsoft has drastically increased the maximum file size limit on Azure Blob Storage, the company's cloud-based object storage offering, from 195GB to a whopping 4.77TB.

Now science researchers and other customers with hefty cloud storage needs have the storage capacity for their most demanding workloads, according to Michael Hauss, a Microsoft Azure Storage program manager.

"The increased blob size better supports a diverse range of scenarios, from media companies storing and processing 4K and 8K videos to cancer researchers sequencing DNA," he wrote in a blog post.

Hauss also announced that Azure Blob Storage's maximum supported block size had been raised to 100MB from 4MB. The 50,000 block per Blob limit remains unchanged.

OneDrive for Business usage is growing at a steady clip, and to help businesses take greater control over the cloud file storage platform, Microsoft is rolling out a new management platform in early 2017.

The new OneDrive for Business Admin Center offers several security-enhancing features split among a handful of settings. Similarly, the Admin Center's Device Access section allows users to place restrictions on file access based on the type of device used or specific networks.

Meanwhile, administrators can use the options found in the Sync section to block specific file types from synchronizing and prevent PCs that are not connected to a specific network domain from synchronizing with the service, a tactic that can help business keep a tight lid on sensitive files.