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'Nobody can resist the charming of iPAD'

Plus 'The kids' app ecosystem needs to wake up'

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Quotw This was the week when Microsoft decided that its new Windows logo should actually look like a window, resulting in this streamlined and modernistic (or uncolourful and mundane depending on your viewpoint) effort:

Windows 8 logo

After a few rumours had circulated that Samsung was considering spinning off its loss-making LCD biz into a separate company, it dutifully went ahead and did just that, creating a new entity that might eventually also include its OLED-making unit as well.

And the incredible story of scientists at CERN that found neutrinos travelling at 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light probably actually is unbelievable because what really happened, according to an "insider", is that a cable was loose, mucking up the boffins' results.

Most of the week's headlines were generated by ongoing scandals surrounding online and mobile privacy.

After finding out earlier this month that mobile social networking apps like Path and Twitter were hoovering up people's contact books for their own (possibly) nefarious uses, the US Federal Trade Commission released a report raising concerns about kids' data getting slurped by mobile apps.

Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the commission, said:

Right now, it is almost impossible to figure out which apps collect data and what they do with it. The kids' app ecosystem needs to wake up, and we want to work collaboratively with industry to help ensure parents have the information they need.

And that was swiftly followed by California's attorney general getting major app vendors like Apple, Google, RIM and Amazon to agree to display app privacy policies clearly.

The AG, Kamala Harris, said:

This agreement strengthens the privacy protections of California consumers and of millions of people around the globe who use mobile apps. By ensuring that mobile apps have privacy policies, we create more transparency and give mobile users more informed control over who accesses their personal information and how it is used.

But it wasn't just mobile apps that were naughtily exposing privates this week, Google was also in trouble online.

First up, a Stanford researcher accused the Chocolate Factory of ignoring users' privacy settings on Apple-owned Safari so it could track their browsing habits, an accusation the web giant took exception to, claiming:

We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It's important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.

Then Microsoft jumped in, alleging that Google was doing the same thing on Internet Explorer:

When the IE team heard that Google had bypassed user privacy settings on Safari, we asked ourselves a simple question: is Google circumventing the privacy preferences of Internet Explorer users too?

We’ve discovered the answer is yes: Google is employing similar methods to get around the default privacy protections in IE and track IE users with cookies.

The situation got so out of hand that the White House had to get involved. The current administration issued a "Consumer Bill of Rights" as a blueprint for companies' voluntary agreement on what not to do online. And once they have voluntarily agreed, the FTC will be allowed to spank them for misbehaving.

President Obama himself had a few words to say on the issue:

American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online. As the internet evolves, consumer trust is essential for the continued growth of the digital economy. That’s why an online privacy Bill of Rights is so important. For businesses to succeed online, consumers must feel secure.

By following this blueprint, companies, consumer advocates and policymakers can help protect consumers and ensure the internet remains a platform for innovation and economic growth.

Meanwhile, Apple's issue with its cash-strapped yet surprisingly resilient adversary Proview rumbled on in China. Proview is refusing to back down on its claims that the trademark for the name IPAD belongs to it and even released images of the product it developed under that name to prove it.

The Proview iPAD, which looks more like a Mac than a fruity fondleslab, is apparently an Internet Personal Access Device, although to the impartial observer it would seem to be a computer.

Emblazoned on the pics is the company's marketing blumpf for the iPAD, which explains what the product really is:

The iPAD of development constructs on the dream of technology founded human spirit. To make use of advance serial products, people can explore the infinite imagination of virtual reality. It is the strong leading trend and nobody can resist the charming of iPAD. The effect on iPAD is overwhelming in the human history. The real internet PC life just started and already indispensable exist in our life.

Apple was busy making it clear that it wasn't taking all this lying down, when it reportedly sent a letter to Proview CEO Yang Rongshan threatening to sue for defamation if he didn't stop bad-mouthing the fruity firm.

The letter said:

It is inappropriate to release information contrary to the facts to the media, especially when such disclosures have the effect of wrongfully causing damage to Apple’s reputation. Making misrepresentations in the press to inflame the situation is adversely affecting the interests of the parties in seeking any resolution of the matter. On behalf of Apple, we formally reserve all rights to take further legal action against any individuals and entities for any damages that may result from defamatory statements and unlawful actions intended to wrongfully interfere with Apple’s business and business relationships.

And by the end of the week, it looked like the tide might be starting to turn in Apple's favour, as a Shanghai court rejected Proview's claims.

In the UK, a British computer science student Glenn Mangham was jailed for hacking into Facebook, despite his protests that he only broke in to help the social network to improve its security.

The judge was not persuaded:

You and others who are tempted to act as you did really must understand how serious this is.

The creation of that risk, the extent of that risk and the cost of putting it right mean at the end of it all, I'm afraid a prison sentence is inevitable.

Mangham was given an eight-month sentence. ®

Reducing security risks from open source software

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