Social & Web

Flocking to features

The new Vivaldi browser, unveiled a week ago by Opera founder Jon von Tetzchner, is off to a roaring start. Its first technical preview – the thing isn’t even in beta yet – has already had 400,000 downloads. As von Tetzchner said in a Wednesday update to supporters, this is more people than live in his native Iceland. His Vivaldi team is trying to provide a feature-rich power browser for people who don’t like the current trend for pared-back browsers that disappear into the background, a group that these days includes Opera (von Tetzchner quit the company a few years back). He also said in the message that the team will deliver new builds of the browser on a weekly basis.

The CTO was the first hire

Employee number one at Foursquare, Chief Technology Officer Harry Heymann, has left the company according to The Verge. His departure comes soon after Foursquare’s long-standing spokesman Brendan Lewis quit, as well as COO Evan Cohen and head of business development Holger Luedorf. Things are looking rocky for the location check-in company turned Yelp competitor. Perhaps my 2015 prediction of Foursquare’s finale will happen sooner rather than later.

Please make it stop

Having tried to insert the wording of the rejected Communications Data Bill into new U.K. anti-terror legislation, then having withdrawn the amendment before reintroducing it days later, securocrat members of the House of Lords have again withdrawn it due to a lack of government support. The “Snooper’s Charter” is therefore back off the table, though it may well return after the May general election, depending on who wins. Monday’s two-hour debate on the matter was tediously similar to last week’s, and appears to have been mainly intended as an opportunity for the peers to complain about not being shown the revised draft of the Communications Data Bill, which the government is keeping under wraps for now. (High point: Lord King blaming WhatsApp for ISIS’s advance in Syria and Iraq.)

Seeks damages and changes

The Indian woman whose alleged rape by an Uber driver led to the service being shut down in New Delhi has now sued the car-hailing platform in San Francisco, according to Reuters. The woman, who asked the federal court to protect her identity, said Uber’s service was the “modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking”. Uber, which recently reopened its Delhi services after applying for a taxi license, has repeatedly promised to improve its driver-vetting procedures in India. The woman wants unspecified damages from Uber, as well as the installation of in-car cameras and the creation of local customer support centers. The driver, who denies the attack, is currently on trial for rape and kidnapping.

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