Press Room

CEO Michael Fertik discusses impact of US government surveillance on journalists on ‘Real Money with Ali Velshi’

How do you bring a vision to life?  Michael Fertik talks innovation and entrepreneurship at the 2012 Blouin Leadership Summit.

Irish Times: Netfix – Cleaning Up Your Reputation Online

Names are typed into Google over a billion times every day. Whether it’s a prospective employee, a new babysitter or a first date, that little search bar has become an automatic point of reference. But just as a bad customer review can harm businesses, search results can easily damage the standing of individuals – even when you simply share the same name as someone else.

It’s not just the results that matter. A first impression can form before the search button has even been clicked, as Google’s auto-complete feature makes additional suggestions while you type. If the words popping up after your name are in any way disparaging (Jane Smith scam artist, for example), you may have a problem.

It could be something you shared in the past and now wish to take back: a comment on an article, a debate on a message board, a post on social media that brought unwanted attention. Or it could be something beyond your control: an embarrassing video, an outdated news report, a defamatory blog post.

False information in particular can spread at an alarming speed and it may require a prolonged battle to undo the damage. In 2011, DCU student Eoin McKeogh was wrongly identified in a YouTube video of a man leaving a taxi without paying, sparking an online campaign of misdirected abuse.

Despite having incontrovertible proof that he was in Japan at the time, McKeogh struggled to get the associated content taken down. Fearing it could affect his career prospects, he took the matter to court and succeeded in having all defamatory material relating to the video permanently removed from the web. But media reports on the case only generated more publicity, indelibly linking him with the fight to clear his name.

The prospect of being permanently branded on the internet, even when you’ve done nothing wrong, is one reason why interest in online reputation management is booming. Web specialists offering to help clean up search results began appearing in 2006, initially serving corporate clients who were negatively affected by consumer review sites such as Tripadvisor. But interest from everyday people soon followed. From university students desperate to expunge inappropriate photos to doctors blighted by anonymous comments, increasing numbers of people have been attempting to regain control over their name.

Michael Fertik founded reputation.com after realising that there was no recourse for people harmed unfairly by content about them online. The internet’s architecture, he believes, favours the attacker: preserving complaints and allegations that have long since been addressed or rendered obsolete.

“Much of the problem stems from people’s unchecked ability to publish whatever they like to the internet – no matter how untrue, malicious or damaging it might be,” says Fertik. “We see posts from disgruntled employees, people who create websites devoted to slagging their former spouse, review sites with comments clearly left by competitors purporting to be angry customers, etc.”

Though the issues vary, an online makeover is no longer something that’s sought out reactively. ReputationDefender now has one million users across 100 countries including, Fertik says, a growing volume of customers in Ireland.

“In earlier years, there was typically a [specific] problem that people wanted to solve – for example, a nasty blog written by someone’s ex that was dominating page one of their search results. That’s still true, but now the internet’s power and reach into our personal and professional lives is much, much clearer to us all – so people want to ensure that the most accurate and current information about themselves appears first. They now view their search results as a digital portfolio.”

Ideally, when someone enters your name into Google they will see a relevant set of results that relate specifically to you. The top result draws about a third of all web traffic and the number of clicks only decreases from there. Roughly 91 per cent follow a link from the first page whereas only about five per cent continue to page two. Therefore “owning page one”, as it’s referred to, becomes the primary goal.

Reputation managers employ various strategies to push negative items further and further down the list of search results until they’re out of sight. The most straightforward technique is to fill out the first page with an official website or blog as well as profiles on high-ranking platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Depending on the extent of the problem, progress can vary between weeks and years. Particularly high-profile cases tend to require continuous monitoring, costing as much as €10,000 per year.

There is, however, a question of ethics. Some people attempt to have their search results “scrubbed” even when the negative content is accurate and a matter of public interest.

“You can imagine the kind of people who call us,” says Simon Wadsworth of Igniyte, a UK-based reputation management agency. About half the company’s clients are individuals, he says, and a significant percentage are based in Ireland.

“I’ve had a couple of high-profile people who’ve been in the press call me this week and in both cases I said, ‘There’s nothing I can do. I can’t get it pulled, moved or shifted. It’s just too powerful’.”

The internet does not forget, but search engines recall some things better than others, so the type of content you’ve been affected by may determine how long it takes to move on. Google’s algorithm favours authoritative sites such as media outlets, meaning press reports are likely to feature prominently on an ongoing basis.

“It takes a long, long time for anything like that to drift away,” says Wadsworth. A personal attack on sector-specific sites like Solicitors from Hell can also rank highly, particularly when the person being criticised has little or no online presence. The impact of an individual blog post may diminish somewhat quicker, though Wadsworth explains that some blogs are frequently created for the sole purpose of slating one specific person. Typically the blogger responsible tends to be an ex-partner, ex-employee or former client.

Challenging such websites can be difficult. Getting content pulled is relatively straightforward when the material is deemed racist, defamatory or in violation of the host site’s terms and conditions. But in cases where a parent is concerned that something may be harmful to their child’s reputation, having it removed may come down to a matter of good practice on a website’s part. Some reputation fixers may attempt to contact the person responsible in a bid to reason with them, though this has been known to make the situation worse.

In theory, the recent “right to be forgotten” ruling by the European Court of Justice provides what Wadsworth describes as “another piece of armoury in the toolkit”. It stemmed from a legal case brought by Mario Costeja González, a Spanish man who found that a Google search of his name led to a 1998 newspaper notice concerning the auction of his house to pay off debts.

After a five-year legal battle, this led to a landmark decision that now enables people to ask websites to omit content containing their name from search results if the information is irrelevant, out of date, inaccurate or an invasion of privacy. Within 24 hours of launching its online request form, Google reportedly received more than 12,000 take-down applications from across Europe.

Online reputation management companies such as Igniyte have experienced a surge of interest since the ruling, but Wadsworth says that many people have misunderstood its parameters. “It’s been pretty chaotic,” he says. “A lot of people mistakenly assume it applies to them and just latch on to this idea of, ‘I want to be deleted from Google. Can you do it for me?’ I’d say we’re only helping one out of every 10 or 15 people who contact us and we’re having to tell the rest, ‘Look, don’t waste your time and money because it’s just not going to happen’.”

The first misconception is that the content itself is deleted. In reality, the original source material is untouched. It’s simply omitted from search results for the complainant’s name.

If someone wished to prevent an Irish Times article from appearing in their Google results, for example, it would still be found by searching the Irish Times website. It may also be found by Googling other relevant terms that do not include the person’s name.

Secondly, matters of public interest are an exception to the ruling – something Google must determine on a case-by-case basis. Whenever a request is approved, Google notifies the website in question that one of its pages may no longer appear in certain search results. And therein lies the potential for this ruling to backfire. Media outlets have been responding to these notifications by highlighting articles no longer being linked to by Google, bringing greater scrutiny to stories that applicants hoped to have permanently suppressed.

“It’s important that the ‘right to be forgotten’ is only the right to be de-linked [where appropriate] and no more than that,” says Billy Hawkes, the Data Protection Commissioner. “The Google ruling is extremely clear in that distinction: you don’t have a right to demand erasure. And that’s been misunderstood by many people.”

Anyone in Ireland seeking to appeal applications rejected by Google under the “right to be forgotten” ruling will turn to Hawkes’s office, an open-plan space above a convenience store in Portarlington, Co Laois. This is where the data and privacy of nearly a billion internet users around the world are safeguarded.

Since being appointed as Data Protection Commissioner in 2005, Hawkes believes that general awareness levels about online privacy have improved significantly in Ireland, though he feels that some people can still act imprudently when it comes to seeing the bigger picture of sharing data.

“Obviously the internet is a wonderful resource in terms of accessing information and interacting with people, but you have to understand that it is a very public service which was designed to be a somewhat loose network with limited oversight,” he says. “It’s quite different from writing a letter or talking to your friend in the pub. In terms of education, that’s the key point: once you put something on the internet, it is extremely difficult to undo.”

Original article: http://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/netfix-cleaning-up-your-reputation-online-1.1875637

Image credit: Irish Times

Marketwatch: 10 Things Retirement Communities Won’t Tell You


1. You’ll need a Ph.D. to tell us apart.

Active-adult communities, assisted-living facilities, continuing-care retirement communities — that’s just the tip of the jargon iceberg for places people 55 and over might spend their golden years. And since each facility uses different terms and has different pricing structures, comparison-shopping becomes very difficult. “You can go crazy learning the terminology,” says Karyl Cafiero, 61, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who has researched communities for her mother-in-law.

The senior housing industry has largely recovered from its slump during the Great Recession, when many prospective residents couldn’t relocate because they couldn’t sell their homes. Assisted living facilities and continuing-care retirement communities aim for occupancy rates between 90% and 95% and are currently at the lower end of this range, says Andrew Carle, executive-in-residence at the program in senior housing administration at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

The differences among communities, of course, are very important to residents. Active-adult communities are a “want-driven product,” says Gregg Logan, an Orlando, Fl.-based managing director of RCLCO, a real estate consultancy. In other words, they’re a place where people choose to live and play among like-minded adults (in most cases, children are only allowed to visit, not live).

Assisted-living facilities and continuing-care retirement communities, by contrast, are “need-based communities” that folks move to when they can no longer live on their own or, for those who move into the independent-living section of a continuing-care retirement community, when they anticipate a future need for assistance. There are between 30,000 and 40,000 assisted-living facilities in the U.S. and about 2,500 CCRCs, according to industry estimates. (Active-adult communities aren’t counted by the U.S. Census Bureau and are thus harder to track, analysts say.)

While assisted living is often a way station between home and the more intensive care of a nursing facility, continuing-care retirement communities accommodate three levels — independent living, assisted living and nursing care — on one campus. Regulations vary on whether assisted-living facilities can accommodate people with serious dementia, and to what extent.

Nursing homes aren’t really considered retirement communities — they focus on round-the-clock medical care, whereas assisted-living facilities and continuing-care retirement communities emphasize amenities such as Olympic-size pools and structured social activities. What’s more, nursing homes fall under federal regulation, while assisted-living facilities are overseen at the state level (continuing-care retirement communities are a bit of a hybrid whose oversight depends on the level of care provided).

2. There’s no doctor in the house.

Assisted-living facilities house frail, vulnerable residents, so it’d be natural to assume that they have a doctor on the premises. Turns out, many don’t even have a registered nurse. “There’s not much health care there,” says Eric Carlson, directing attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center, an advocacy group.

With assisted-living facilities, regulations vary at the state level on what type of personnel must be present, and during what hours. A lack of medically trained staff can mean an overuse of emergency services and hospitalizations, a stressful and costly proposition for residents, experts say.

The population of assisted-living facilities has grown older and sicker in the roughly two decades since this housing concept first appeared, says David Kyllo, executive director of the National Center for Assisted Living. What’s more, hospitals are discharging patients much sooner than they did back then. Assisted-living facilities are responding to these trends by adding more on-site nursing services, Kyllo says, noting that families should always ask what the medical staffing levels are at the facilities they’re considering.

Nursing homes generally have a doctor as medical director who supervises the nurses on staff. There may not be a doctor on site all the time, but there will be one on call, says Shirley B. Whitenack, a partner with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park, N.J., and president-elect of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

Active-adult communities tend not to advertise their long-term care services, to the extent they have any at all, Logan says. Yet still-active boomers who are shopping for a community should at least think about what happens if they have a health emergency, experts advise. “If I have a heart attack, I don’t want to be waiting for a medevac helicopter,” Logan says. Prospective residents should check on the proximity of — and available services at — the nearest hospital.

3. Look beyond the brass chandelier.

First impressions count, and many facilities invest in attractive touches such as fancy furniture and flower displays for their lobbies. While these are nice, they don’t necessarily speak to the quality of care offered at facilities, experts say.

Prospective residents and their families should look beyond the décor and the glossy brochures. Activities and staffing levels can vary according to the time of day, so visit more than once at different times and make sure one visit includes a meal in the dining hall. That meal can tell families about more than just the quality of the food, itself not a small consideration — dining there will also show how staff interacts with residents. Families should also ask what procedures the facility has for monitoring who shows up for meals and for following up with those who don’t.

One of the most important criteria when picking a facility? Staff stability.Turnover is high among health aides at retirement communities, as the work is hard and low-paying. But continuity of care is important for older people, especially those with dementia who can become disoriented adjusting to too many new faces. One conversational way for prospective families to get a sense of turnover is to ask every staff member they meet how long they’ve been there.

Ask to talk to the facility’s top executive, and take it as a bad sign if a brief meeting is declined, advises Andrew Carle. “The community is only as good as the administration,” Carle says. “I don’t care if it has a brass chandelier in the lobby.”

4. Prepare for price increases and airline-style fees.

Price structures and fees are typically outlined in the contract residents sign when they join. Still, price changes often take residents by surprise. All too often, the move to a care facility happens under duress: the family is dealing with the logistical hassles of packing up a loved one’s long-time home, and the emotional stress and worry of the big move can overshadow important details. And salespeople tend to focus on what the prospective resident needs at that moment, not mentioning how prices will rise if those needs change, Carle says.

Among the problem areas: The base rent for assisted-living and continuing-care retirement facilities rises about 4% per year to cover inflationary increases in utility costs and other expenses. But a typical contract will note the possibility for base rent increases without stating the exact dollar amount or percentage, industry insiders say.

Many facilities charge additional fees for services such as meal delivery for those not feeling well enough to go to the dining hall, transportation to the local mall, and, as one New Jersey continuing-care retirement community puts it, “valet snow removal” from cars parked in the outside lot. The fee structures vary from place to place and can get confusing — some places include medication management for up to five different prescriptions at no extra charge, for example, while others might charge per drug.

In recent years, consumer demand has driven a trend toward a la carte pricing, says David Schless, president of the American Seniors Housing Association, a membership group for executives involved in retirement housing. Just as some people don’t want to pay for a checked bag if they never check one on a plane ride, Schless says, some residents of care facilities don’t want to pay for a service they won’t use.

Many family members moving their relatives into a retirement home don’t take time to read the contract carefully. Whitenack advises families to do just that and then ask, “Are there any other fees you haven’t told me about?”

While consumer bargaining power might not be as strong as it was during the recession, prospective residents should speak up if they don’t like something in the contract. “People lean too far to the passive,” Carlson says. Folks could also try negotiating some sort of break in the rent. Whitenack says that in 2012, her mother successfully negotiated two free weeks of a trial stay at her independent-living facility (notably, she accomplished this without her daughter’s professional assistance).

5. We’ll tell you when it’s time to move on.

Just as each state has differing laws about which types of residents an assisted-living facility can safely accommodate, each facility retains broad discretion over who is allowed to stay there, elder law attorneys say.

This includes asking residents to leave if their behavior is deemed a problem, experts say. Of course, the facility will rarely frame it in those terms. “’We can’t meet your needs’ is a common justification facilities rely on to kick folks out,” Carlson says. Families should read the contracts carefully and understand the conditions under which their loved one might be asked to leave, including behavioral issues and deteriorating health.

Facilities are licensed by the state to provide a certain level of care. If the resident’s needs exceed the facility’s capabilities, then the resident may have to move on, often to a nursing home, Schless says. Not every facility can safely accommodate an Alzheimer’s patient who has become combative, for example. Under some circumstances, a resident with increased needs may be allowed to stay in assisted living if the family can afford to hire a round-the-clock health aide to stay on site at additional cost, Schless notes.

Continuing-care communities are different in that they’re designed to accommodate frailer residents who need nursing care. However, it’s often management — and not the family — that decides when it’s time for a resident to move on to the next level of care, experts say. And relocating to a nursing home can be a traumatic move, even if it’s right across the campus green. “That’s an extremely difficult recognition that you’re giving up your independence,” Whitenack says. Prospective residents should understand in advance what might trigger that decision, experts advise.

6. You could wind up paying Mom’s bills.

Often, the person signing the contract for a nursing home, assisted-living facility or a continuing-care community is the new resident’s adult child, experts say. That’s because, by the time many older people enter these facilities, they are experiencing cognitive decline. Legally speaking, they no longer have the capacity to make financial or medical decisions for themselves.

In these cases, a trusted person will act as power of attorney and sign the contract on the resident’s behalf. That means this person will access the older adult’s funds to make payments on her behalf. But if they’re not careful, they could inadvertently sign on as a guarantor who is personally responsible for making payments if the resident runs out of money. Failure to pay could result in the facility calling a collections agency on the guarantor, which could damage the guarantor’s credit. Even worse, the facility could take steps to evict the resident if payments stop.

The best way to ensure this won’t happen is to sign the parent’s name as the responsible party on the contract, and after that write “by [name of agent] acting as power of attorney, followed by the date, says Bradley J. Frigon, an elder law attorney in Denver and president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

7. We may take Medicaid, but we’d prefer not to.

Medicaid pays certain long-term care costs for people who have exhausted their assets and meet strict income criteria. About 70% of nursing home residents and 19% of assisted living residents are on Medicaid, while the percentage is lower at continuing-care retirement communities.

Facilities receive less compensation from Medicaid than they do from residents who pay out of pocket, which makes Medicaid-eligible residents less desirable from a financial standpoint, Carlson says. Facilities of all kinds will typically screen prospective residents, requesting documentation to show they have enough money to pay their own way for at least several months.

Facilities that take Medicaid — not all do — cannot refuse someone just because they are on Medicaid. But many states have only a fixed number of what are known as Medicaid-waiver slots allotted for assisted-living residents in a specific geographic area, Kyllo says. The problem with this structure, Carlson says, is that self-paying residents are sometimes told when their funds run out that there’s no Medicaid slot available for them.

One way to help ward off this response is for residents or their families to give facilities advance notice that they’re applying for Medicaid. Carlson suggests saying something to the effect that, “I expect to be Medicaid eligible in three months, and when that happens I would like to be transferred to a Medicaid-certified bed.” That warning will make it harder for the facility to say they don’t have a Medicaid slot available. And before a resident even enters the facility, she should ask, “What happens if I spend down?” Kyllo suggests, using a term that refers to depleting one’s assets before going on Medicaid.

The good news, elder law attorneys report, is that Medicaid status isn’t a source of discrimination at the level of day-to-day care. Staff members who directly care for residents don’t know who is on Medicaid and who pays privately.

8. Good luck finding quality ratings for us.

It’s not always easy assessing whether assisted-living facilities and continuing-care communities provide quality care. Many states don’t post inspection records online, and people are less likely to post a review of a care facility on FourSquare than, say, a restaurant. “The biggest problem is the absence of complete information,” says Michael Fertik, founder and CEO of ReputationDefender, a company that is helping retirement communities collect and analyze consumer feedback.

During a visit, prospective residents can ask to see a facility’s licensing survey, Carle says. This is the document that’s made when state regulators assess compliance with licensing requirements. Just make sure to keep any listed violations in perspective, he cautions: Not conducting fire drills is a much more serious infraction than failing to complete a resident’s chart or failing to have a thermometer in the refrigerator, for example.

Nursing home ratings are transparent by comparison (this includes the nursing home portion of continuing-care retirement communities). Nursing homes are regulated at the federal level, unlike assisted-living facilities, which remain under state oversight. The website Medicare.gov has a “Nursing Home Compare” function where consumers can search inspection reports for nursing homes throughout the country.

Again, some perspective is in order, Carle says. A high number of incident reports at a nursing home isn’t necessarily a sign of subpar care — it might instead show a facility that’s committed to taking care of the most difficult patients.

9. Your retirement suite may have side-by-side bathtubs, if you know what I mean.

Andrew D. Blechman’s on-site research at the Villages, a large active-adult community in central Florida, found that golf wasn’t the only popular activity on the sprawling campus. Blechman, author of “Leisureville: Adventures in a World without Children,” found residents ages 55-plus enjoying plenty of sex. “Every night is Saturday night, and who’s going to get pregnant?” Blechman says.

Pregnancy might not be an issue for the post-menopausal crowd, but sexually transmitted diseases are. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a rise from 2007 to 2011 in chlamydia rates among those ages 55 and over. Dating coaches report high levels of genital herpes among older clients.

While the rates of sexually transmitted disease among older adults remain much lower than those among young adults, people re-entering the dating scene after a long hiatus may not appreciate the importance of disease prevention, experts say. That said, some 2.2 million Medicare beneficiaries took advantage of free sexually transmitted disease screening and counselling in 2011 and 2012.

10. Some of our fees may be tax deductible.

Taxpayers 65 and over who itemize their deductions can deduct medical and dental expenses exceeding 7.5% of their adjusted gross income. The definition of medical expenses includes certain nursing services, such as bathing and changing dressings, whether those services are provided in the home or in a care facility. It also includes part of the “life-care fee” paid to certain continuing-care retirement communities, which is essentially a pre-payment for future medical care.

The part of the payment a resident can claim is the amount properly allocated to medical care. That can vary from facility to facility and, sometimes, from person to person. At ACTS Retirement-Life Communities, a nonprofit organization based outside Philadelphia, about 39% of the entrance fee and the monthly fee is tax deductible.

While a spokesman says ACTS tells prospective residents about this benefit, most retirement communities remain mum on it; like anything tax-related, it’s complicated, and facilities understandably don’t want to be in a position of giving out tax advice, Whitenack says.

Residents, or family members acting as their power of attorney, should ask for an itemized bill and bring it to their accountant to determine how much they can deduct.

This is one of many aspects of elder care that must become better understood as boomers inexorably grow old. “People keep aging,” Carle says. “We haven’t found a cure for it.”


Original article: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-retirement-communities-wont-tell-you-2014-07-18/print?guid=A345EF8C-0E88-11E4-ADF3-00212803FAD6

Image credit: Allison Seffer

Technologr: Microsoft Publishes ‘Right to be Forgotten’ Request Form


Joining Google in its acceptance of the EU’s “right to be forgotten” ruling, US software giant, Microsoft has begun processing applications related to its Bing search engine.

A form on the Bing website provides European users with the ability to request that links to certain pages be omitted or deleted from searches for their names. The form states that Microsoft will use the information provided to evaluate the request and may also consider other sources of information beyond this form to verify or supplement the information provided. “Making a request does not guarantee that a particular search result will be blocked,” Microsoft noted in the statement.

The ruling by the European Court of Justice is being praised in many quarters. Michael Fertik, CEO of reputation.com, said, “This is the first time that Internet law has accorded human dignity the same respect and legal standing as copyright protection.” Fertik emphasizes that search results are often misleading, inaccurate, outdated and even wrong. “That exposure can violate people’s privacy, affect their personal and romantic lives, and become an absolute disaster professionally. All it takes is a vindictive person with a Wi-Fi connection and a free blogging tool to ruin someone’s life,” he said.

Kim Walker, partner and technology specialist at law firm Thomas Eggar LLP, says that the “right to be forgotten” should not be a license to airbrush history. “The focus of the European Court of Justice ruling, and perhaps one of the reasons the Government is challenging it, is Google. It is in a monopoly position, so there is no standard that can be applied to its response to the ruling,” Walker said.

The ruling has raised some interesting debates. Walker stresses that removing the link to the data is not the same as deleting the information itself. “Even if it is something an individual would prefer was not available, the limitation period for defamation claims is one year under English law so there must be a presumption that stories that are older than this have not been challenged,” Walker added.

According to Walker, the length that a link should be maintained should be debated, but at present the decision and process is entirely governed by Google. An assessment of the age of a link’s subject data should from part of the process. “This is because the Data Protection Directive requires data controllers to keep data only for such time as it is necessary to do so. What it should not mean is that anyone who does not like something written about them but which is otherwise factually correct and current can demand that search results are edited,” Walker said.

Google began taking requests through its website in May and ZDNet reported that thus far it has received over 70,000. As the search engine with the largest market share, Google is expected to bear the brunt of the ruling in terms of number of requests.


Original article: http://www.technologr.com/2014/07/microsoft-publishes-right-to-be-forgotten-request-form/

Financial Times: Entrepreneurial Nous Rediscovered


In its Victorian heyday Liverpool claimed to be second city of the British Empire, generating enough wealth through entrepreneurship and trade to build the world’s first overhead metropolitan railway and one of the largest cathedrals on the planet. At times its riches exceeded those of London. This made the economic collapse in the 20th century all the more painful. Now Liverpool says it is rediscovering its entrepreneurial nous.

The case for: You get the buzz of a cosmopolitan city – it boasts the oldest Chinatown in Europe and a rich history built on maritime trade – with some of the UK’s best university research departments, but at a fraction of the cost of London. Important infrastructure investment is under way in terms of the port expansion and high-tech manufacturing.

Liverpool is also building a reputation as a venue for start-up events, having persuaded the Kauffman Foundation in the US to hold its Global Entrepreneurship Congress on the dockside in 2012, for instance, while this summer the city is hosting the International Festival of Business.

Liverpool boasts some of the best survival and growth rates in the UK for new businesses. One in 20 start-ups formed in 2009 had a turnover of more than £1m three years later.

The case against: Liverpool is still a long way from its prime and is behind other regional UK cities in start-up numbers. After a long period of decline, population numbers have recovered slightly to more than 470,000 last year, but many neighbourhoods in the city centre still feel under-developed. And while the streets running up from the dockside have a similar feel to east London’s vibrant tech cluster, the level of angel funding and business support locally is a fraction of that available in the capital.

Local heroes: Adaptis Solutions is a transport and travel software business. Founded in 2005 by Manni Marway, the company’s technology enables cashless payment for parking, passenger transport and taxis, as well as online permits and licensing.

Briggs Automotive Company, manufacturer of the £95,000 single-seater sports car Mono, relocated to the district of Speke from Cheshire late last year, and expects to create up to 60 high-tech jobs. It exports to a dozen countries across four continents.

Show me the money: Spark Up, backed by a mix of private and public sector bodies, is an accelerator programme with a task of generating 500 growth businesses in Liverpool by 2019. Last year, the programme helped 139 start-ups with a combined turnover of £3.5m to raise a total of £2.5m in funding and create 196 jobs.

The North West Fund for Digital and Creative writes cheques for between £50,000 and £1.5m to support start-up, early-stage development and expansion in return for an equity share.

How easy is it to get to? Liverpool John Lennon Airport provides flights across Europe. For further afield, you must travel to nearby Manchester airport or connect in London. Virgin Trains takes just over two hours to get to London.

What do other people say about Liverpool? Michael Fertik, founder and chief executive of ReputationDefender of the US, which bought Reputation 24/7 of Liverpool in January 2013: “The great thing about Liverpool is that Liverpool people want to stay in Liverpool. That gives us a stable workforce, and that’s a terrific resource for a company like ours.”


Original article: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/6bfa6cc6-05b7-11e4-8b94-00144feab7de.html#ixzz37q6Y51kg

CEO Michael Fertik weighs in on prostitute’s arrest following Google exec’s death

How do you bring a vision to life?  Michael Fertik talks innovation and entrepreneurship at the 2012 Blouin Leadership Summit.

Financial Times: Google Removes Search Results Under ‘Right to be Forgotten’ Rules


Google, which was founded with the aim of indexing “all the world’s information”, took a grudging step back from its principles on Thursday as it started removing search results in Europe to comply with new rules on the “right to be forgotten”.

Europe’s highest court last month ruled that individuals had the right to request the removal of links to personal information under certain conditions.

“This is a cosmically big deal,” said Michael Fertik, founder of ReputationDefender, which helps people control their online profiles. “For the first time under the law, privacy and dignity are getting the same treatment” as other areas such as copyright.

The European ruling has divided opinion. Many welcome the prospect of gaining greater control over their personal information. But others fear that the new rules may be open to abuse and result in important information disappearing from the internet.

The move has met with fierce opposition in Silicon Valley, despite an admission by Google chief executive Larry Page in a recent interview with the FT that private individuals sometimes have a valid argument for suppressing links to information about them online.

“Attitudes in Silicon Valley haven’t softened at all about the requirement to scrub search results,” said Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University. “It’s like watching people working through the five stages of grief. At the end, you get acceptance, but it doesn’t mean anyone likes it.”

But some privacy campaigners called on Google on Thursday to extend the new right-to-be-forgotten system around the world, arguing that its smooth introduction in Europe showed the regime could operate in other regions as well.

“Many in the US said that it would be impossible for Google to comply, as if it would somehow violate the law of gravity,” said Marc Rotenberg, president of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center. “Now that Google has rolled out a new privacy service in Europe, it should make the feature available to all internet users.”

As of Thursday, Google has started to include a new statement in search results: “Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe”. This statement (see below) appears for any name apart from those of celebrities.

Google said it is considering removal requests one at a time and “working as quickly as possible to get through the queue”.

The company plans to start the takedown process slowly, before accelerating once it is confident its systems are working properly.

Google has also started to notify individuals whose requests it will not honour and those whose are incomplete, as well as the owners of websites affected by the information removal.

The European Court of Justice last month ruled that individuals had the right to request the removal of search results linking to “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” personal data – even if the information had been published legally.

Google responded on May 30 by introducing an online form that gave Europeans a formal route to make removal requests. In the first four days after uploading the form, Google received more than 41,000 requests – averaging about seven every minute. The company on Thursday declined to provide a more up-to-date figure.

Google is not planning to remove links to personal information from the US version of its search engine, meaning that Europeans can visit Google.com to search for information that has been removed from their local version.

Howard Bragman says World Cup is “biggest social media event in the history of the Internet” on MSNBC

How do you bring a vision to life?  Michael Fertik talks innovation and entrepreneurship at the 2012 Blouin Leadership Summit.

Howard Bragman says Hope Solo’s arrest could do serious damage to soccer star’s reputation

How do you bring a vision to life?  Michael Fertik talks innovation and entrepreneurship at the 2012 Blouin Leadership Summit.

Howard Bragman looks at social media reaction to government’s action against Washington Redskins

How do you bring a vision to life?  Michael Fertik talks innovation and entrepreneurship at the 2012 Blouin Leadership Summit.