In the two months since Overstock started accepting Bitcoin payment, the e-commerce giant has accepted $1 million worth of sales in the cryptocurrency. What’s more, the firm, which partnered with Coinbase to handle the payments, said late Tuesday it now expects Bitcoin-based sales of between $10 to $15 million this year, which is twice or three times what it originally estimated. It’s still a small proportion of Overstock’s revenue, but it comes as validation for Bitcoin during troubled times, particularly as Overstock and Coinbase noted how low Bitcoin transaction fees improve net profitability for the retailer.
Even if your data plans are as noble and necessary as they come, a failure to earn buy-in will leave you facing significant opposition. Read more »
A Belgian magistrate has mulled blocking Apple’s websites there, according to local reports on Tuesday, as spotted by Tech.eu. This was as a result of the still-ongoing kerfuffle over Apple and warranties – although EU law says consumer goods should automatically come with a two-year warranty, and although Apple acknowledges as much on a webpage, the firm still advertises its gadgets as being covered by a one-year warranty and tries to upsell customers to a two-year AppleCare plan. The reports suggest the magistrate may have realized blocking Apple’s sites would mess with iTunes and other services, so is still considering his next move.
Ask.fm now has 100 million registered users, the Latvia-based social network said on Monday. The service is apparently used in 150 countries and questions posted there – Ask.fm is kind of like Quora, only skewed more towards the teen demographic – now generate a billion answers a month. Bearing in mind that you don’t have to be registered to use it, Ask.fm also said it gets 190 million unique visitors each month. The 4-year-old service has unfortunately been associated with a number of teen suicides (though not always accurately) and the firm also used Monday’s announcement to promote its Safety Centre advice hub, stressing that it has recently improved cyber-bullying reporting mechanisms and boosted its moderator numbers.
DueDil, a rather clever London-based outfit that uses open (and purchased) datasets to provide due diligence services, has raised another $17 million in a Series B round. The cash came from existing investors Notion Capital, Passion Capital and round leader Oak Investment Partners, and it comes on top of the $5m I reported on in April last year. In those 10 months, the “real-time decision intelligence” firm said, it has gained traction among most of the FTSE 100 companies. Customers can currently use the DueDil API to find out information about companies and directors in 22 countries, and the fresh capital injection should help spread that coverage.
The service, previously known as “iOS in the car”, will bring Siricentric infotainment functionality to the dashboards of a wide variety of cars. Read more »
Just how accountable is the U.K.’s GCHQ spy agency, which has tapped the world’s communications infrastructure, hacked activists and snooped on webcam chats? Every time it’s challenged, GCHQ says it submits to “rigorous oversight” from the intelligence services commissioner and Parliament, but on Thursday Parliament’s home affairs select committee had to take the unusual step of ordering that commissioner to show up for questioning about the Snowden leaks. Sir Mark Waller, who is supposed to be a watchdog, refused to respond to the customary polite request for an appearance, and this is the first time during this government’s rule that the committee has had to order someone to show up.
The embattled exchange appears to be done for, leaving around $63.6 million in debts. Meanwhile, regulators around the world are still scratching their heads as to how to handle Bitcoin. Read more »
The latest Snowden revelation shows Yahoo being heavily targeted yet again — and this time it was bulk collection of images from users’ webcams, apparently for facial recognition purposes. Read more »
The deal should make life easier for some of CloudSigma’s customers, while for the freshly-launched, open-source CompatibleOne it represents early validation. Read more »
Good news: there are tools out there that can make you much safer online and give you more control over your data. Bad news: most of them are really hard to use. A new generation of the open-source movement is trying to fix that, and here’s how. Read more »
How does the Bitcoin ecosystem handle a hacking crisis? The Manhattan U.S. attorney wants to know. Meanwhile, everyone wants to know what went down at MtGox, which has reportedly failed to find a buyer for some strange reason. Read more »
Google and Yandex, its main rival in Russia, have formed a partnership around real-time bidding for display advertising. The deal gives Google access to Yandex’s substantial ad inventory for the former Soviet states in which it operates, while Yandex’s ad clients can now bid for ads in the inventory of Google’s DoubleClick AdExchange partners. According to a blog post from the Russian firm, the two companies’ advertising pools in the region “don’t overlap much,” so both ad outfits will see a boost in inventory. Yandex reckons this “gives a new kick to competition,” as real-time bidding works better when there are more bidders and sellers.
The tie-in gives Parallels the ability to offer a fully hypervisor-agnostic package for service providers looking to provide infrastructure-as-a-service, and it gives Flexiant a huge boost to its reach. Read more »
Orange, which has the largest stake in French online video portal Dailymotion, is reportedly in talks with Microsoft over a potential partnership. Regulators in France nixed a previous attempt to sell the service to Yahoo, but this doesn’t appear to be a sale attempt – according to the Wall Street Journal, Orange wants an “industrial” partnership with Microsoft that would leave the telco in charge while expanding Dailymotion further into the U.S. market. Orange CEO Stephane Richard told the publication that talks are ongoing, but a deal is no certainty.
The two-week delay is apparently down to technicalities over translations, but those opposed to anti-neutrality amendments made by some in the committee say it will give everyone a chance to better examine the details of the text. Read more »
Good news for privacy fans: the Blackphone is pretty decently-priced if you take into account the extensive bundled security services, and Deutsche Telekom is making a real effort to put privacy-enhancing tools in its users’ hands. Read more »
China’s Sina, proprietor of the highly popular Weibo, is reportedly preparing to float the microblogging platform as a spinoff on the New York Stock Exchange. According to a Financial Times piece on Monday, Weibo may be worth over $4 billion at the moment, and Sina has hired Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse to manage the flotation. Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant that has an 18 percent stake in Weibo, is apparently also planning an IPO, and the country’s Tencent, which produces the WeChat app that rivals both WhatsApp and Weibo, is also doing well for itself at the moment.
Whether it jumped or was pushed, the wounded exchange has not been the best advertisement for Bitcoin of late. Read more »
Meet Zero Site, a new concept for street lighting that includes a tiny mobile base station. Launched along with an innovative financing scheme, there are huge benefits to be had for municipalities, carriers and mobile users alike — but possible risks, too. Read more »
Google has bought London security startup spider.io, which deals in detecting ad fraud. Founder Douglas de Jager and his small team specialize in combating scams like hidden display ad inventory and click fraud botnets — swarms of computers that have been quietly co-opted by hackers to generate masses of click-throughs on website ads, driving revenue to the website owner without driving customers to the advertiser. Google said it will put the spider.io technology to use in its video and display ad products to give advertisers and publishers “a clearer, cleaner picture of what campaigns and media are truly delivering strong results.”
The operating system will run on some devices in the Nexus, Samsung Galaxy and Sony Xperia lines, and before that comes out a Sailfish launcher will be made available so users can get used to the UI. Read more »
The carrier group is being unusually smart about taking on the threat of rivals like WhatsApp and Viber, offering one major thing they don’t: the ability to communicate outside the walled garden. Read more »
While discussing plans for the mobile flavor of Ubuntu, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth made a very interesting aside remark about Apple in a conference call on Wednesday. Read more »
Meizu and BQ, which you will be forgiven for not recognizing, will be the first manufacturers to release Ubuntu mobile devices, and Canonical claims bigger names will follow in 2015. Read more »
The strategic partnership is important for Silent Circle, as it promises to make the encrypted Skype rival much more usable by widening its pool of users. Read more »
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.