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In Brief

What’s the sensible reaction to the NSA spying on European countries (with, ahem, some cooperation of those countries’ own intelligence agencies)? According to European Commissioner Viviane Reding, who is in charge of justice, the answer is… more spying!

Reding apparently told a Greek newspaper on Monday that the EU should have a proper counterpart to the NSA — “so we can level the playing field with our U.S. partners” — by 2020. She may have been speaking “off the cuff” and it’s very unlikely to happen (member states handle their own national security), but it’s still an odd suggestion when spying victims such as Germany are trying to rein in the global espionage frenzy, not ramp it up.

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In Brief

Finally! Now that the FAA over in the U.S. has greenlit the use of electronic devices during all flight stages, the same may soon happen in Europe.

According to a report in The Guardian on Friday, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is set to take the matter to European regulators, with the hope of a decision being made within months. As in the U.S., each airline would need to seek permission individually, proving that its aircraft won’t be affected by the use of phones (with the cellular component turned off), tablets, e-readers and so forth.

In Brief

Berlin’s 6Wunderkinder has reportedly raised a $30 million Series B round, with heavyweight Sequoia Capital joining existing investors such as Earlybird and Atomico. 6Wunderkinder makes the popular Wunderlist and Wunderlist Pro task management apps, which Techcrunch says have 6 million users. The company will apparently use its fresh funding to push further into the U.S. market.

In Brief

NSA leaker Edward Snowden will start a job in tech support in November, his lawyer reportedly said. The employer is a “large Russian website”, but we don’t know who, because of security concerns. A representative for web giant Yandex told me on Thursday that it wasn’t them.

We do know that social network VK invited Snowden to join its security team earlier this year, at least partly as a publicity stunt. Snowden is stuck in Russia for now under one-year temporary asylum, since the U.S. cancelled his passport in June.

In Brief

The weekend brought a spate of updates in the ongoing NSA saga. German media reported that Barack Obama had known about the tapping of Angela Merkel’s phone for years despite claiming he hadn’t, prompting fresh denials from Washington. Der Spiegel also published a detailed look at the American agency’s Berlin spying tactics.

Meanwhile El Mundo reported that the NSA had recorded phone call details of millions of Spaniards, and the Kyodo news agency said Japan had rebuffed U.S. requests in 2011 to tap fiberoptic cables going through Japan to China.

Big Brother is watching you
photo: Flickr / Candida.Performa (on vacation)

Germany and Brazil are pushing forward with proposals for a global right to online privacy. It would have been nice if this action had begun in earnest when it was citizens being spied upon, and not only after Angela Merkel and Dilma Rousseff were revealed as targets. Read more »

In Brief

Make of it what you will, given that Huawei was founded by an ex-Chinese-military engineer and has had lots of mud thrown at it from the West, but the telecoms equipment firm maintains it’s never been leaned on by any government or agency anywhere, ever.

In the foreword to a security white paper released on Friday, Huawei deputy chairman Ken Hu said the firm had never been asked to change hardware or software, provide access to its technology, or offer up people’s data. That’s certainly a poke in the eye for companies operating in the U.S., which have to abide by the CALEA backdoor rules and cooperate with surveillance programs.

On The Web

Edward Snowden has given a rare interview to The New York Times, saying he never retained a copy of his leaked NSA material after passing it on to journalists in Hong Kong. This is crucial, as some have claimed the Chinese and/or Russians must have access to this material, as they have had access to Snowden.

Similarly, the UK government claimed journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda had been detained in transit with not only encrypted material but the password, written on a piece of paper. Greenwald has said this was a lie.

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