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The latest twist in that very long-running rumor about AT&T buying Vodafone? AT&T said in a statement on Monday that it “does not intend to make an offer for Vodafone.” The statement came at the request of the U.K. Takeover Panel, and it means the U.S. carrier can’t launch a takeover bid or try to buy 30 percent or more of Vodafone stock for the next 6 months. However, according to Bloomberg, AT&T chief Randall Stephenson did discuss potential European takeovers with EU commissioner Neelie Kroes at Davos last week.

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The U.S. uses its digital surveillance capabilities to commit industrial espionage, Edward Snowden has claimed in an interview with German network NDR, broadcast on Sunday night. The NSA whistleblower suggested German industrial giant Siemens was a target, with information being taken by the intelligence agency even when it had nothing to do with national security. When the agency was previously shown to have spied on Brazil’s Petrobras, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper insisted it never used that information to give U.S. firms an unfair advantage. Australia’s intelligence agency, an NSA partner, has reportedly spied on Japanese firms for the benefit of Australian companies, and France is generally seen as a world leader in that regard.

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The Princeton research that used a disease model to suggest Facebook would lose 80 percent of its users in 3 years deserved the hammering it got – it’s simply a bad analogy for the subject. But now a bunch of data scientists from Facebook itself have stepped up to the plate, dryly using the researchers’ own methodology to prove that Princeton enrollment will have depleted entirely by 2021, and the air around us by 2060. Luckily I’m done with my studies, but I’m pretty annoyed about the breathing thing. Damn you, badly-chosen search data and your extrapolations!

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In Brief

The German information security ministry has warned the country’s citizens that many of them have been caught up in a massive botnet. Around 16 million people’s information – email addresses and passwords, mostly – was found to have been pilfered by the botnet, which presumably monitored the activities of its victims, and more than half of those email addresses ended in “.de”, denoting German users. The ministry has set up a website where concerned citizens can enter their email addresses; if the address is on the list, they will be sent a PGP-signed email with a special code in the subject line.

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When France’s privacy regulator fined Google €150,000 ($204,000) over its unified privacy policy, it was the biggest fine the national watchdog could muster. According to EU justice chief Viviane Reding, however, it was “pocket money” that would be vastly outweighed by the amount Google could be fined under upcoming EU-wide data protection legislation. “Europe needs to get serious,” she said in a speech, noting that the new law would allow fines of up to 2 percent of global turnover — $1 billion in Google’s case – and maybe actually lead the targets to change their ways. Guess she’s still mad at Google’s global privacy counsel calling the first, much-lobbied draft of her legislation “dead”.

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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has gone into the mobile carrier business, buying a stake in and becoming co-chair of The People’s Operator. TPO, which is little more than a year old, is a community-oriented UK operator that passes 10 percent of customers’ bills and 25 percent of TPO profits to “good causes” (Wired UK has a good interview with Wales that goes into cause selection). The virtual network operator also said said on Monday that it would launch in the U.S. next. “TPO has huge potential for viral growth and the more it grows, the more money will pass to the people and communities that need it,” said Wales.

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Mobile carrier Vodafone and British broadcasting and broadband firm BSkyB are in talks to create some sort of partnership, according to a report (subscription required) in The Sunday Times. The report suggests that while the companies are loath to build a new fiber network – Sky Broadbrand mostly uses national giant BT’s infrastructure – they “have discussed striking deals on Sky’s sports and movie channels and collaborating on a high-speed broadband service.” BSkyB, which offers broadband, telephony and TV but not mobile, is currently looking to get back at BT for winning crucial football broadcasting rights in November, an event which hit BSkyB’s share price hard.

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Facebook takes mobile very seriously — that’s where its growth lies — so it’s no surprise that Mark Zuckerberg has just been announced as headline keynote speaker on day one of next month’s Mobile World Congress. According to the GSMA, which runs the Barcelona shindig, Zuck will opine on “the importance of extending the benefits of ubiquitous internet access to the unconnected world.” Expect updates on the internet.org initiative and perhaps news on Facebook’s own efforts to extend its advertising humanitarian reach to the world’s needy.

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In the first big European funding news of the year, Berlin-based food-ordering service Delivery Hero said on Monday that it has raised $88 million. The Insight Venture Partners-led Series E round – one of the largest ever in the German startup scene – brings Delivery Hero‘s overall funding to almost $200 million, and should help it in its ongoing battle with London-based rival Just Eat, which has more than 40,000 restaurants signed up across 13 countries. Team Europe portfolio company Delivery Hero has 55,000 restaurants across 14 countries.

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Reviews community Trustpilot has picked up $25 million in Series C funding, the Danish company announced on Monday. The money will be used for continued expansion, a spokeswoman for the company told me. Trustpilot now has more than 5 million reviewers feeding paid-for “TrustScores” for over 70,000 ecommerce sites — this data is also syndicated to Google for its Seller Rating program — and recently opened offices in London and New York. Participants in the round included DFJ, DFJ Esprit, and existing investors Index Ventures, Northzone and Seed Capital.

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Uber has annoyed many traditional taxi drivers, but none more so than in Paris, it seems. As spotted by Rude Baguette, on Monday morning a protest by taxi drivers on the freeway near the airport turned ugly when several people – not confirmed as cabbies — smashed a window and slashed the tires of an Uber car containing Eventbrite CTO Renaud Visage and Five by Five co-founder Kat Borlangan, who tweeted that she had “bleeding hands” after the incident. This happened less than two weeks after a new French law came into effect to protect traditional taxis, forcing cars from chauffeur app services such as Uber to wait 15 minutes before picking up clients.

In Brief

Google is working on a major upgrade for its Flight Search service — in Europe at least — judging by a Sunday interview with Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary in the Irish Independent. According to O’Leary, Google is developing a price-comparison service that will “blow comparison sites like Skyscanner out of the water” when it goes live in late March. Google Flight Search has been around since the firm bought ITA in 2011, but has failed to make much of a dent. It launched in Europe last March, but with limited functionality and missing major low-cost airlines such as Ryanair. Google said a few months ago that it was content with the overall product, but maybe it’s not — or maybe this is just catch-up time for Europe.

In Brief

Norway’s Aftenposten has published an interesting account of the decisions taken by those who were formulating GSM – the world’s most widely deployed mobile telephony standard – in Europe in the early 80s. Sources told the paper that the British (and possibly others) put pressure on standards-setters to ensure a relatively weak level of encryption was used, in order to make surveillance possible. An unspecified Asian country was the main target, but the negotiations were colored by the Cold War. In the wake of the Snowden revelations, carriers such as Deutsche Telekom have been upgrading their network encryption so people’s conversations can’t be so easily tapped.

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