The U.K.’s keenness to identify and prosecute online trolls and bullies is well-documented, but a Freedom of Information request by Sky News has given us some numbers. The channel found that British police deal with around 20 “social media abuse” cases a day. In the last 3 years, there have been 20,000 investigations involving adults and almost 2,000 targeting children – although, since around a third of police forces did not give up their data, the number must be higher. Over 1,200 children have been “charged with a criminal offence or given a caution, warning or fine,” including four 10-year-olds and one 9-year-old. All this points to both a serious bullying problem and increasing watchfulness over what happens online.
The city’s transport authority says it reckons the services of companies like Uber don’t qualify for regulation in the same way as traditional taxi services do, but it realizes the law is unclear on this point and wants senior judges to step in. Read more »
It’s a mystery that has the information security industry scratching its collective head: why did the anonymous developers of TrueCrypt, a tool recommended by the likes of Edward Snowden, suddenly kill the project and recommend a Microsoft encryption tool instead? Read more »
The configuration management specialist has taken on Justin Arbuckle, a long-time systems architect in the banking industry, as chief of its expanding European operations. Read more »
Facebook has asked the European Commission’s antitrust watchdog to review its $19 billion takeover of the messaging service WhatsApp, according to the Wall Street Journal and also my own sources. The move may seem counterintuitive, but it would save Facebook the hassle of seeking regulatory approval in each European member state. European carriers in particular are reportedly worried that the deal – already green-lit by U.S. regulators — would give Facebook too much leverage in the SMS-revenue-stealing mobile messaging market. Personally, I think that market is in too much flux for a dominant position to be a sure thing just now, at least in Europe, but the concern is understandable.
Witness the power of forward-thinking net neutrality law in action! This sort of thing could be hugely detrimental to the growth plans of Facebook in particular, but it’s ultimately very pro-consumer. Read more »
It’s been many years in the making and it may take a couple more before it’s widely available, but Microsoft’s research into real-time voice translation looks set to pay off. Read more »
The system is one of several options being weighed by Germany after this month’s seismic European ruling about the removal of unwelcome information from search results. It sounds ominous, but it beats automated takedown. Read more »
The personal details of hundreds of thousands of people were taken in an attack on the antivirus outfit’s web forum. Read more »
Yet another blow for U.S. technology companies selling into China: the government there is reviewing whether Chinese banks should stop using IBM servers due to security fears, Bloomberg reports. Looks like a fresh parry in the ongoing Sino-U.S. spat over Chinese hacking and American surveillance, though it would also boost local suppliers. Either way, it’s really bad news for IBM, which already saw Chinese sales fall 20 percent in the first quarter of this year, following Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations. Another recent tidbit from the dispute: the U.S. is considering blocking Chinese hackers from attending popular American security conferences, the Guardian reported on Saturday.
The reverse takeover saves Kakao, a challenger to the likes of Line and WhatsApp, the trouble of going through a tiresome stock market flotation. Read more »
The report, posted on Sunday as an analysis of public logs, suggests that the systems of failed bitcoin exchange MtGox played host to automated bots that artificially pushed the bitcoin price skywards during 2013. Read more »
MaidSafe’s project is absurdly ambitious — a serverless network system that offers free storage, repels surveillance and effectively constitutes a distributed supercomputer. But maybe, just maybe, it might work. Read more »
The German company has come up with a way to turn anything into a user interface, through a combination of existing augmented reality techniques and thermal imaging. Read more »
U.S. vendors are not explicitly called out, but there’s little doubt that China’s newly-announced vetting program is part of a trend that will hurt U.S. companies trying to sell into the country. Read more »
Russia’s new Kremlin-friendly search engine Sputnik – planned since last year — reportedly achieved lift-off on Thursday. As spotted by Tech.eu on Wednesday and confirmed to me today by local sources, Sputnik was launched on Thursday by state-controlled Rostelecom. Recent reports suggest the venture cost $42 million to develop and Sputnik, unavailable from outside the country, will be the default search engine for government departments and state-controlled companies. Russia is increasingly keen on censoring the internet there, and having an amenable search engine will prove useful to the authorities … if they can get significant numbers of people to switch from rivals such as Google and market leader Yandex. Sputnik’s name may harken back to past days of technological glory, but it’s also fitting for these days of Cold War revivalism.
It’s nice of Vodafone to give customers a free Netflix subscription, but the promotion highlights the absurdity of running a 3GB-per-hour service on a plan that only offers 3GB a month. Read more »
The online auction house says credit card data was not taken and the passwords stored in the hacked database were encrypted, but an awful lot of apparently unencrypted information was in that database. Read more »
Putting a surface transducer into a charging dock is quite smart, as is the functionality run through an accompanying app. Read more »
The investment bodes well for business models built around security and privacy, and for the chances of the soon-to-be-released Blackphone. Read more »
If you think SoundCloud you probably think of music first, but that’s not all the platform is about — maybe Twitter was thinking more Vine than Spotify when it looked into the Berlin-based audio outfit. Read more »
Australia’s Telstra has announced plans for a massive nationwide Wi-Fi network to take the load off its 4G network, and Fon’s Wi-Fi-sharing system will be part of it. Read more »
China has suspended a joint cybersecurity working group with the U.S. following the latter’s indictment of 5 Chinese army officials over hacking operations that allegedly sought to steal trade secrets and strategic information from U.S. corporations. In a Monday statement, China’s Foreign Ministry hit back at the U.S. for (of course) its aggressive hacking of the Middle Kingdom. It suggested that the U.S. also engaged in theft. The suspended Sino-U.S. network working group was intended to provide a forum for resolving key disputes, chief among them the intellectual property issue.
China has long been thought to be a prime source of hackery in the name of intellectual property theft, but the Snowden revelations mean many will see deep irony in the American accusations. Read more »
Cisco CEO John Chambers complained directly to President Barack Obama over the NSA’s alleged bugging of U.S. telecommunications equipment sent overseas, including Cisco’s own equipment. In a letter cited over the weekend by the Financial Times and Re/Code (and published by the latter), Chambers said the exposed surveillance tricks would undermine confidence in U.S. tech firms’ products, and begged Obama to set new “rules of the road”. Cisco has already complained about NSA “backdoor” revelations in recent months, and it continues to see orders drop off in emerging markets in the wake of the Snowden leaks.
Following lengthy negotiations, Vodafone’s African business will become a stronger player in South Africa by buying Neotel. Not only is Neotel the second-biggest player in fixed-line services, it also has some serious radio spectrum to hand. Read more »
The networking vendor is claiming an industry first with the encrypted version of its 100G Metro technology, which aims to handle large, fast-flowing amounts of data with as much security as it can muster. Read more »
Norway’s Consumer Council has taken issue with Apple’s terms and conditions for iCloud storage. Following a review of various providers’ terms (including those of Google and Dropbox), the council has referred the firm to the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman – it says Apple’s “convoluted and unclear” 8,600-word terms for the service give the company the right to change those terms without notifying customers, and this is unacceptable under consumer rights law. “Receiving notice when terms change should be a bare minimum requirement,” said Finn Myrstad, the council’s digital chief.
The buy gives cloud orchestration specialist Flexiant something to rival RightScale, and it wants to target a managed service provider market that it claims is underserved and in search of relevance. Read more »
It’s nice to see privacy rights upheld and Google’s attempts to evade European law firmly squashed, but even well-meaning rulings could turn sour when long-term enforcement remains impractical. Read more »
The big U.S. tech companies’ quest to connect more people in developing countries is stepping up, with Facebook now joining Microsoft in a West African white space broadband project. Read more »
The system, for which a Kickstarter campaign was launched on Monday, should work with 4 out of 5 existing AC units. Read more »
Networking giant Ericsson has just beefed up its broadcast services portfolio – on Monday it said its takeover of Red Bee Media, announced in July 2013 with an undisclosed price, was finalized following regulatory approval. Red Bee started off as the BBC’s commercial broadcast management arm (multi-platform distribution, marketing and so on), before being sold off to Australia’s Macquarie in 2005. Ericsson’s own broadcast services efforts began in 2007, but they now benefit from an extra 1,500 employees in Europe (mainly the UK) and Australia, along with a formidable client roster ranging from the BBC and BSkyB to carriers such as EE and brands such as Hyundai.
In this part of our special report on reinventing the internet, we look at the internet as a shared global resource — in a perfect world, that would mean international cooperation to keep it safe and secure. Read more »
Applause claims to have more testers for mobile apps than all its remaining rivals combined. Read more »
British carriers are gradually letting their customers go fully high-speed when they cross borders within the European Union. Users are well-advised to make sure they’re signed up to a roaming plan, though, at least for now. Read more »
CDNify has revamped its service, largely by setting up its own network instead of reselling OnApp’s federated CDN. It had a few choice criticisms to make as it moved on — but are they valid? Read more »
The U.K. telecommunications regulator Ofcom has just released an interactive “map” of the country’s radio spectrum, showing which frequencies are assigned to which use types – all the way from the 8.3-11.3 kHz band (weather stations) to the 250-275 GHz band (radio astronomy). For fans of such things, it’s a delightfully presented and highly useful resource, though it stops short of naming specific companies that own chunks of spectrum, like mobile carriers. For newbies, it’s at the least a great visual representation of the finite and invisible spectrum resources on which much of our technology relies. Ofcom’s U.S. equivalent, the FCC, also provides a spectrum dashboard with similar functionality.
The service looks better on mobile than it does on the web, and it’s coming to iOS soon as well. It would be nice to see it broaden out from its narrow product focus, though. Read more »
Regulators have put an end to certain Motorola and Samsung shenanigans in the companies’ long running anti-Apple campaigns, in decisions that spell good news for both consumers and patent lawyers. Read more »