My Face Privacy, made by the Israeli software developer CallingID, gives users a way to keep on top of the privacy settings of services like Facebook and LinkedIn, and now Google+ too. There really shouldn’t be a market for this, but there is. Read more »
Yandex.Kit, for which there are already two takers, includes rivals to Google Maps, Play Store, Chrome and more. Read more »
The company, which sells Google Apps-rivalling software to telcos and hosting outfits (and offers it all free to the open source crowd), has unveiled OX Drive and a new communications app based on WebRTC technology. Read more »
The data-wranglers’ seed funding should help the U.K.’s SplashMaps, which makes fabric maps for outdoor enthusiasts using OpenStreetMap and other open data, go international. Read more »
The British signals intelligence agency GCHQ used its tapping of the internet’s backbone to monitor visitors to a WikiLeaks site, including Americans, according to a document leaked by Edward Snowden and published in The Intercept. The program, codenamed ANTICRISIS GIRL, was not the first in which GCHQ targeted activists online – it also allegedly waged war on Anonymous using criminal-style denial-of-service attacks. Other documents showed how NSA officials contemplated designating WikiLeaks as a “malicious foreign actor”, which would have permitted the surveillance of U.S. citizens connected with the whistleblower group, and also spying on The Pirate Bay.
It’s not just overbearing web giants and mighty broadband mergers that threaten to destroy competition — there’s also a case for seeing the surveillance state as a potential monopolistic blocker in the marketplace of ideas. Read more »
The outfit has apologized for freezing withdrawals and says it now has a workaround to avoid the “malleability issue” that makes certain implementations of Bitcoin services open to fraud. Read more »
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has for the first time thrown her weight behind plans, initially suggested by telcos, for a “communication network inside Europe” that can keep data safe from prying U.S. eyes. Read more »
Microsoft will continue to allow PC manufacturers to make and sell Windows 7 business machines beyond the original 31 October cut-off date. The change of plan, spotted by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, suggests Microsoft hasn’t seen sufficient enthusiasm from the business sector for its Windows 8 operating system (although a Microsoft exec denied this interpretation, telling Foley the company just wants to continue catering to businesses that are still deploying Windows 7). However, it should still be impossible to find a new Windows 7 consumer PC soon after the end of October.
The Berlin startup is trying to offer small businesses low-cost analytics for keeping their online customers coming back. Read more »
The Dutch tech giant has come up with a way to use connected lighting as the basis for in-store location-based services, such as finding items and offering highly targeted coupons. Read more »
The latest Snowden revelation suggests that Australia’s spies are committing economic espionage on Americans, for the benefit of the American government. Read more »
The company has made public the full text of proposals it hopes will settle its European antitrust case — which, contrary to what many people seem to think, has not already been settled. Read more »
Remember that wave of fraudulent attacks sweeping the Bitcoin exchanges? It’s still going on, and this time the attackers pilfered an estimated $2.6 million worth of bitcoins from Silk Road 2, the second incarnation of the venerable online drugs-and-hitmen marketplace. In a “I am sweating as I write this” message to the platform’s denizens, Silk Road admin Defcon conceded that everyone’s cash was gone. “I should have taken MtGox and Bitstamp’s lead and disabled withdrawals as soon as the malleability issue was reported,” he sweated. So much for escrow.
Viber users can look forward to welcoming Rakuten’s “Shopping is Entertainment” philosophy into their lives, as the Japanese e-commerce outfit intends to use the messaging platform as a tool for breaking into new markets. Read more »
The app, which will soon be joined by some mysterious hardware, has a solid team behind it that now includes Heroku co-founder Adam Wiggins. Read more »
Dropbox is fighting hard to win the enterprise cloud storage market, and Dennis Woodside may have the experience it needs to head up that effort. Read more »
The European Commission has announced a set of standards for connected car systems, but privacy enthusiasts will be glad to hear such systems won’t be mandated by law, unlike in the U.S. However, practically speaking, connected cars will become the norm. Read more »
The European Parliament is finalizing its report on the NSA surveillance program, and the parliament’s Green faction had proposed an amendment that would give leaker Edward Snowden a guarantee of safety from rendition to the U.S. or prosecution by EU member states, should he choose to leave Russia and come to the EU. However, on Wednesday the parliament’s civil liberties committee will reportedly ditch the amendment, following opposition from both the conservative and socialist blocs. Indeed, the report will apparently not include any demands relating specifically to Snowden’s protection, though it will call for generalized whistleblower protection.
Global debates about internet governance are set to heat up in the coming years, so the European Union has set out its standpoint, with true globalization and human rights being non-negotiable principles. Read more »
If you’re jonesing for a phone that can run either Android or Firefox OS without voiding the guarantee, you don’t have to wait much longer. The plucky Spanish manufacturer Geeksphone said on Tuesday that it will start selling its Intel Atom-based Revolution handset through its online store from 20 February at a cost of €239 ($326) excluding tax, though it’s offering the device at a slightly discounted €222 for a limited period of time. We now also know the built-in storage capacity: 4GB (thankfully there’s also a microSD slot). One reminder: branding issues mean Geeksphone has to call Firefox OS “Boot2Gecko”, which is Mozilla’s old codename for the operating system.
According to Kaspersky Lab, a malware bundle dubbed “The Mask” was used to spy on government institutions, activists and energy companies across 31 countries for years. Here’s what it did, and where it might have come from. Read more »
Israel’s Calcalist says bootstrapped Viber is negotiating a sale worth somewhere between $300 and 400 million — but who’s the mystery suitor? Read more »
The Finnish handset maker Jolla has open-sourced the browser that comes with its Sailfish operating system. The Sailfish browser is built on Mozilla’s Gecko engine and embedded in the Qt application framework using the EmbedLite API. Its open-sourcing means the community can now contribute to its improvement. “Our objective with the project is to make this the first step to get official support from Mozilla Corp. to a mobile browser based on Gecko and embedded in Qt,” Jolla co-founder Stefano Mosconi said in a statement.
The attack, which appears to have been felt particularly hard in Europe, apparently exploited the protocol that maintains the accuracy of computers’ clocks. Read more »
The government of the United Arab Emirates hopes to deliver official documents such as ID cards and driving licenses via drone, Reuters reported on Monday. The quadcopters will apparently carry fingerprint and retina recognition systems in order to ensure the cargo ends up in the right hands. A 6-month trial will be used to assess how the small unmanned vehicles cope with Gulf heat and sand, and if all goes well the system could start rolling out within a year. This is the first case of a government revealing plans to use drones for logistics, as companies such as DHL and Amazon also hope to do.
As part of its ongoing quest to beef up its central and eastern European operations, Deutsche Telekom has bought up the 39.23 percent of shares in T-Mobile Czech Republic that it did not already own. The shares, purchased from a private equity–led consortium, cost the carrier group €800 million (USD $1.1 billion). Deutsche Telekom bought GTS Central Europe in November last year, partly for its fixed-line infrastructure in the Czech Republic, and now that plan is coming together. “T-Mobile Czech Republic is on a clear strategic path to enhance its fixed-line capabilities and foster its market position in B2B,” a Monday statement read.
The first story from Pierre Omidyar-funded The Intercept describes a shift toward relying on signals rather than human intelligence for targeting drone victims, and claims this tactic kills more innocent people. Read more »
The Finnish infrastructure-as-a-service provider is moving into the U.S. with a slightly secretive new model that, it claims, will protect customers’ personal data from U.S. authorities. Read more »
IBM is considering a sale of its chip business, according to a report in the Financial Times. The article suggested that IBM may also look for a new partner with which it could spin off a joint venture, but either way it’s appointed Goldman Sachs to see if anyone’s interested. IBM’s semiconductor business is very cutting-edge, experimenting with new materials and technologies such as photonics, graphene and carbon nanotubes. Its Power architecture is also used in some IBM servers and supercomputers such as Watson. IBM said last month that it was selling its x86-architecture server business to Lenovo, the same company that took on its PC business in 2004.
The caller ID and reverse phone directory app, which is only now seriously turning its sights on Western markets, is also touting major growth, having jumped from 10 million users in January 2013 to 45 million today. Read more »
KnCMiner, a Swedish company that makes hardcore hardware for the Bitcoin mining crowd, is constructing a data center for that very purpose. As reported by Data Center Knowledge, the 10-megawatt facility is being built in Boden, in a former army hangar nearby Facebook’s Lulea data center — northern Sweden is cold with great renewable energy facilities, and is as such an ideal data center location. According to KnCMiner co-founder Sam Cole, it will go live in the coming months as the first of many planned “mega data centers” for Bitcoin mining, a larger one of which may be situated nearby if talks with local authorities pan out.
Due to ongoing financial struggles, Sony is to sell off its venerable Vaio PC business in order to focus on smartphones and tablets. The company will also try to realign its TV efforts with an eye on the 4K market. Read more »
Russian web giant Yandex may focus on customers in Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, but its research efforts are widespread — speech recognition R&D takes place in Zurich, and on Thursday the company said it’s coming to Berlin for mapping work. Yandex’s mapping partner is Navteq or, as it is known these days, Nokia Here, and Berlin has long been a hub for that team. Yandex said it will hire 30-40 people for its Berlin office during 2014 to work on its global Yandex.Maps service and, while the company still has no intention of pushing into the German market, a spokesman told me it would look into partnership opportunities with local startups.
The deal should make it easier for shops to accept contactless payments from the handsets of Vodafone, EE and O2 customers. Read more »
Roger Levy says SkySQL will move into a relational database innovation phase now, rather than just trying to provide an alternative to Oracle’s MySQL. Read more »
The European Commission is happy with Google’s latest antitrust settlement proposals, but the Microsoft-funded complainants say they must be given a chance to market-test what Google is proposing. Read more »
The Czech security firm Avast, which provides popular consumer antivirus software, has taken an investment from European private equity outfit CVC. The amount has not been disclosed, but Avast says it puts a billion-dollar valuation on the company (perhaps it’s preparing to shop itself around). The company says it will use the cash to beef up its mobile security products and push further into the U.S. and Asian markets in particular. Globally speaking, Avast’s 200 million users give it an antivirus market share just above 15 percent, putting it in second place behind Microsoft.
A GCHQ presentation shows how the agency infiltrated and launched distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on chatrooms used by internet activists and hackers. Until now, no western state has been shown to use DDoS tactics. Read more »
Kenya’s Ushahidi is best known for its pioneering crowdmapping efforts, but right now the company is busy finishing off its BRCK router, a fascinating device that’s designed for rough use in sub-Saharan Africa. As posts on Vice and TechRepublic explain, the $199 router has its own battery for coping with blackouts or bush use, it can automatically hop between Ethernet, Wi-Fi and mobile broadband as its source, and it’s set up to act as a hub for “internet of things” sensors. BRCK got crowdfunded last year and a recent blog post from the team explains some of the challenges of engineering such a device in Kenya.