The Cologne district court seems to have realised it messed up when it allowed a law firm to send thousands of cash-demanding letters to users of the porn platform RedTube. Read more »
Another day, another addition to our pool of knowledge regarding U.S. and British surveillance activities. According to the Guardian, Der Spiegel and the New York Times, targets of the intelligence agencies have included (deep breath): Unicef, Médecins du Monde, the UN development program, the UN food program, the UN Institute for Disarmament Research, Israel’s former prime minister and defense secretary, the head of the Economic Community of West African States, other African leaders and their families, French defense contractor Thales, French oil giant Total, and EU competition chief Joaquin Almunia — although he was in charge of the EU economy at the time. File under “Diplomatic Disasters.”
The Spanish handset maker Geeksphone has released some specifications for its Revolution phone, which will allow users to change operating systems without voiding the warranty — it will come with Android as standard, but users will also be able to install Mozilla’s Firefox OS (or Boot2Gecko, as it’s known in the case of non-Mozilla partners such as Geeksphone). Now we know the Revolution will be based on a 1.6GHz Intel Z2560 processor and will sport a 4.7-inch IPS qHD screen. It will have a 2,000mAh battery and an 8-megapixel camera with flash. It will also have expandable storage, although Geeksphone hasn’t specified the built-in storage yet.
The European Commission’s competition head has said Google’s latest proposals still don’t eliminate the Commission’s concerns — but the company still has a chance to tweak them. Read more »
Strong encryption may still work, despite the best efforts of the NSA, but a new research paper suggests that clever audio analysis can recover users’ private encryption keys. The exploit takes advantage of the fact that processors make noises that can sometimes betray what they’re doing — noises that even a mobile device’s microphone can pick up. Actually doing this would require a very, very specific set of circumstances, but the heavily paranoid might want to make sure they’re using the latest GnuPG RSA encryption software, namely version 2.x.
Apple shied away from an earlier plan to standardize on a common phone charger, but it won’t be able to dodge this new, environment-driven piece of legislation. Read more »
The newly-launched Jolla smartphone, made by a crew of mostly ex-Nokia employees, is now available for purchase by people in the EU, Norway and Switzerland through the firm’s new online shop. This will be the third batch of €399 ($546) Jolla handsets to go on sale, with the last one having been largely aimed at patriotic Finns. Jolla said on Thursday that already-ordered phones would be delivered in time for Christmas – there’s been a hold-up due to “some technical logistics issues” — while newly-ordered devices will ship from January.
The British government forced ISPs to turn on porn filters by default. Who could have guessed these filters would block things like sex education and domestic abuse support services? Read more »
The world of technology looks a whole lot different at the end of 2013 than it did at the start. Here’s to the year that changed everything by demonstrating the extent and power of state — and commercial — surveillance. Read more »
U.S. web firms may have to agree to a new set of rules for handling European citizens’ data, if draft recommendations issued on Wednesday become the real deal next year. Read more »
The messaging service is now tightly integrated with Microsoft’s PC-slash-tablet OS, although the recently-launched Viber Out feature doesn’t appear to be included. Read more »
Cloud storage outfit Tresorit still hasn’t been hacked, it would like the world to know. Having posted a $10,000 hacker bounty in April, the firm has now upped the stakes to $25,000 and invited researchers from the likes of MIT and Stanford to take up the challenge. Tresorit is trying to pitch itself to the security-conscious – it encrypts data before it leaves the device, and it recently moved its operations from Hungary to Switzerland, claiming Swiss neutrality laws would provide extra jurisdictional protection for its users.
The new version of the Norwegian software firm’s gesture-centric browser also claims speed and security enhancements. Read more »
Google revealed last week that it was getting into the robot-building game in a big way, in order to push into the manufacturing and logistics industries. Now it’s bought Boston Dynamics, probably the most high-profile maker of prototype robot soldiers both strong and speedy. The deal makes Google a defense contractor — for now at least, as the company says it will honor Boston Dynamics’ existing military contracts. We can only hope Google doesn’t have plans to raise an army of its own.
The deal will help ARM-based mobile devices to support increasingly photo-realistic gaming effects, and Geomerics will also continue development for consoles and other platforms. Read more »
The EU regulatory agency wants consumers who are considering jumping on the Bitcoin bandwagon to realize that there’s not much in the way of regulation to protect them. Read more »
IBM was one of the first big U.S. tech firms to pay the price for the NSA scandal. Although nobody has ever proven a link between the company and the agency, IBM joined Cisco in seeing a sudden collapse in Chinese sales after the Snowden leaks. China is also investigating the company, along with Oracle and EMC. Now an IBM shareholder is suing the company, alleging that it concealed its NSA ties and the attendant risk to its Chinese market position, and that it lobbied Congress to let it share Chinese customers’ data with the NSA. The company said the allegations are “ludicrous and irresponsible.”
Moped’s failed messaging service will shut down at the end of the month, but its features will probably prove a lot more useful as part of the more successful Wunderlist task management apps. Read more »
Microsoft and other complainants in the Google EU antitrust case have commissioned an eye-tracking study to demonstrate the alleged ineffectiveness of Google’s proposed concessions. All this proves is that it’s time to move on. Read more »
The EU Advocate General has urged legislators to fix the controversial Data Retention Directive by properly defining safeguards, but member states’ control over national security affairs could make that a tall order. Read more »
The deal tells Truecaller users if the person calling them has a Twitter account, and even allows limited Twitter functionality from within the Truecaller smartphone client. Read more »
The app search outfit has taken its Contextual App Advertising system out of private beta, promising the most accurate contextual placement for ads. Read more »
The EU’s General Court has dismissed Cisco’s challenge against the European Commission’s approval of Microsoft’s Skype takeover. But it did so mostly because Microsoft is no longer the market-dominating powerhouse it once was. Read more »
Nokia may be working on an Android device as a successor to its low-end Asha efforts, but for new owner Microsoft the project risks consumer confusion and further entrenchment of an Android-first mentality among developers. Read more »
Privacy advocates have always been down on cookies, but news that the NSA and GCHQ tap into their power highlights the dangers that are inherent to today’s online advertising systems. Read more »
The new version of the free operating system reduces the role of “random number generators” built into Intel and Via chips, most likely over fears that these mechanisms may have been compromised by intelligence agencies. Read more »
Chinese hackers targeted five European foreign ministries in the run-up to the Russia-hosted G20 summit in September, according to security firm FireEye. There is no evidence that it was state-sponsored snooping, though FireEye reckons they were after intelligence related to the then-possible invasion of Syria. This year’s G20 was quite the summit from a security standpoint – Russia subsequently had to deny issuing spyware-laden USB sticks and phone-charging cables to foreign leaders and other delegates.
Many users of the pornographic streaming-video service Redtube have received letters asking them to pay hundreds of euros per viewed clip. The illegality of viewing streams of copyright-infringing material is questionable, as are the methods used to identify the users. Read more »
The company has successfully completed a one-kilometer drone delivery of a packet of medicine from a Bonn pharmacy to its nearby headquarters. However, this was only a test, and DHL has no firm plans for commercial services as yet. Read more »
Are you a terrorist using virtual worlds and gaming networks to hide your communications? There’s no evidence you exist, but if you do, then be warned: according to fresh revelations in the Guardian, New York Times and ProPublica, the National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ have for years infiltrated World of Warcraft and the Xbox Live network. Hilariously, so many agents were knocking around Second Life at one point that the NSA identified a need to “deconflict” them, ensuring they weren’t wasting time by spying on one another or duplicating efforts.
Rene Obermann, who will end his seven-year spell as head of Germany’s big telecoms player at the end of the month, said in an interview that he doesn’t understand why everyone is “pussy-footing” around the U.S. on privacy issues. Read more »
The incident, which was probably a case of the French finance ministry going overboard in its efforts to monitor employee activities, provides a timely reminder of how certificates are the weak point in online security. Read more »
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo and AOL all want the U.S. government to take the lead on reining in suspicionless surveillance. It’s a significant step up in the companies’ demands, and with good reason. Read more »
The electronics firms, along with others, were the targets of unannounced inspections earlier this week. Details are scarce, but the nascent investigation relates to suspected restrictions placed on online sales. Read more »
Former Autonomy boss Mike Lynch has invested in a company called Neurence through his Invoke Capital fund. Based in Cambridge, the firm was itself formed by former employees of Autonomy’s Aurasma augmented-reality (AR) division after HP bought Autonomy. Neurence has a new iPhone AR app called Taggar, which lets users overlay their own photos, videos and stickers on top of real-world objects, for viewing by other users when they hold their phone up in front of the object. Invoke’s previous investment, in September, was a Cambridge security firm called Darktrace.
The Swedish firm’s EyeX developer kit, which will ship in March, comes with the latest tools for creating games and other apps that build on the human gaze as a means of interaction. Read more »
Sweden’s FRA intelligence agency has been spying on Russian politicians on behalf of the United States, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Swedish TV station Sveriges Television reported on Thursday that Sweden was a key regional partner for the U.S. National Security Agency because major telecommunications cables pass through it (suggesting bulk rather than targeted collection). Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell has previously warned of this situation, which dates back to the Cold War but was still apparently in play as recently as April this year. Diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks in 2011 also pointed to the arrangement.
People in China are free to trade in Bitcoin themselves, but their banks are now officially barred from touching the stuff. While not unexpected, the move had an immediate effect on the currency’s value. Read more »
The company will make it easier for governments in Europe, the Americas and Asia to inspect its source code for hidden backdoors. Microsoft will also apply encryption across its systems and, it says, step up legal challenges against gag orders. Read more »
Twitter has inked its first strategic partnership with a carrier that doesn’t involve subsidized data. It will surely be a boost for the microblogging platform in Germany, where it is weak, but the benefits for Deutsche Telekom are less clear. Read more »