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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ofcom spectrum map long bar

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.

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Older people are increasingly going online, in part thanks to tablets, according to the U.K. telecommunications regulator. In one of its periodical media use reports, Ofcom noted on Tuesday that 42 percent of those aged over 65 accessed the web in 2013, up from 33 percent in 2012. The regulator linked this with an increase in tablet usage within the 65-74 demographic from 5 percent to 17 percent — I would assume that those older users who are less tech-friendly find tablets simpler to use and easier to maintain than full-blown PCs. More generally, the proportion of adults accessing the internet through a tablet jumped from 16 percent to 30 percent between 2012 and 2013.

In Brief

On Thursday Turkey lifted its ban on Twitter and on Friday the same looks set to happen regarding YouTube — sort of. According to reports, an Ankara court decided that blocking the whole of YouTube was overdoing it; the court said only 15 contentious videos should remain blocked. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reportedly said he would grudgingly comply. His social media crackdown followed multiple leaks of purported evidence showing corruption all the way to the top of the Turkish administration, though the YouTube ban may have been triggered by a leaked phonecall in which officials discussed possible military action in Syria.

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