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In Brief

The weekend brought a spate of updates in the ongoing NSA saga. German media reported that Barack Obama had known about the tapping of Angela Merkel’s phone for years despite claiming he hadn’t, prompting fresh denials from Washington. Der Spiegel also published a detailed look at the American agency’s Berlin spying tactics.

Meanwhile El Mundo reported that the NSA had recorded phone call details of millions of Spaniards, and the Kyodo news agency said Japan had rebuffed U.S. requests in 2011 to tap fiberoptic cables going through Japan to China.

Big Brother is watching you
photo: Flickr / Candida.Performa (on vacation)

Germany and Brazil are pushing forward with proposals for a global right to online privacy. It would have been nice if this action had begun in earnest when it was citizens being spied upon, and not only after Angela Merkel and Dilma Rousseff were revealed as targets. Read more »

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In Brief

Make of it what you will, given that Huawei was founded by an ex-Chinese-military engineer and has had lots of mud thrown at it from the West, but the telecoms equipment firm maintains it’s never been leaned on by any government or agency anywhere, ever.

In the foreword to a security white paper released on Friday, Huawei deputy chairman Ken Hu said the firm had never been asked to change hardware or software, provide access to its technology, or offer up people’s data. That’s certainly a poke in the eye for companies operating in the U.S., which have to abide by the CALEA backdoor rules and cooperate with surveillance programs.

On The Web

Edward Snowden has given a rare interview to The New York Times, saying he never retained a copy of his leaked NSA material after passing it on to journalists in Hong Kong. This is crucial, as some have claimed the Chinese and/or Russians must have access to this material, as they have had access to Snowden.

Similarly, the UK government claimed journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda had been detained in transit with not only encrypted material but the password, written on a piece of paper. Greenwald has said this was a lie.

On The Web

One of Russia’s top web companies,, said it has been fined around $15,000 for not handing over customer data to the country’s financial regulator. The regulator wanted to know who certain customers had been contacting during a set time period, but the web provider pointed to the Russian constitution, which protects private correspondence. said it will contest the fine in court.

In Brief

The chairman of the GSM Association (GSMA), the body that represents the mobile operator industry, has resigned. Franco Bernabè had been GSMA chairman since January 2011, and the body’s erstwhile deputy chairman, Telenor Group CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas, has stepped up to be acting chairman ahead of an election next month. Bernabè’s departure was to be expected — he resigned as Telecom Italia chief at the end of September, after a strategy dispute with shareholders.

On The Web

The European Space Agency (ESA) is to start using 3D printing methods to create metal parts for rockets, jets and potentially even nuclear fusion reactors. According to the ESA, the parts will be able to withstand heat of up to 3,000° Celsius (5,432° Fahrenheit) and will cut down on materials waste. “Our ultimate aim is to print a satellite in a single piece,” said ESA new materials and energy research chief David Jarvis.

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