5th > October > 2006 Archive

For Sale sign detail

HP's head swells as inkjet speed increases

HP is to launch a super-fast inkjet colour printer for the business market in the Spring. The company has also extended and upgraded its current product lines with six new printers. The planned super-fast printers use a technology HP calls Edgeline to push full-colour printouts through at the rate of 70 or more per minute, twice as fast as current business inkjets. This high throughput is made possible by widening the inkjet print head to match the maximum width of the paper. Vyomesh Joshi, executive vice president of HP's printing and imaging group, said that printing across the page in one blast speeds things up considerably. In traditional inkjets, the printer has to scan from side to side. Using Edgeline, time is saved by eliminating this lateral movement as the paper is fed through. Joshi added that the printer will also be a little quieter because of the reduction in mechanical movements. HP is already using the technology in its commercial digital photo printing kiosks, launched at the end of September, but claims it will be the first to introduce page-width inkjet printing to the business market. Other printer manufacturers are known to be working on similar technologies and Brother has been demonstrating a prototype for over a year. The indications are that Edgeline will cost more than the current business inkjet printer ranges. Joshi says he is unable to disclose pricing so far ahead of launch, but gave an indication by saying he does not foresee Edgeline being introduced to the company's consumer range of printers because the print heads are too expensive. Back in the present, the company is expanding its laser multifunction printer (MFP) ranges with the LaserJet M3035 and M4345. These upgrade its most popular models for departmental monochrome printing and copying. These will be complemented by the M5053, the desktop laser MFP capable of handling A3 paper. A lower priced, workgroup P3005 LaserJet completes the monochrome range. In the colour laser MFP camp, HP has the departmental LaserJet CP4005 and a small desktop colour model, the CM1015. ®
Eric Doyle, 05 Oct 2006

California AG shows five the HP way to felony charges

California's Attorney General has hit five people tied to HP's spy probe with felony charges. Leading the list of the accused is former HP Chairman Patricia Dunn, who resigned from her position as a director last month. Former HP counsel and ethics chief Kevin Hunsaker was also named in the lawsuit, as were Ron DeLia, director of investigative firm Security Outsourcing Solutions (SOS), Matthew Depante, manager of information broker Action Research Group (ARG) and Bryan Wagner, also of ARG. Beyond providing conveniently comical acronyms, SOS and ARG assisted HP in its now infamous spy probe. Attorney General Bill Lockyer's lawsuit, filed in the Santa Clara Country Superior Court, alleges that all of the accused used false pretenses to secure the phone records of people being investigated by HP. “One of our state’s most venerable corporate institutions lost its way as its board sought to find out who leaked confidential company information to the press,” said Lockyer. “In this misguided effort, people inside and outside HP violated privacy rights and broke state law." Those not hiding in a bunker for the last few weeks will be aware that HP relied on identity fraud to get the phone records of its own directors and employees and ten reporters. As the AG sees it, this practice violated statutes covering fraudulent wire communications, wrongful use of computer data, identity theft and conspiracy to commit such crimes. The AG declined at this time to file charges against HP's former lead counsel Ann Baskins or head of investigations Anthony Gentilucci. Both former HP employees had intimate knowledge of HP's mole hunt and took the fifth last week when they went before Congress. The four felony counts carry a top prison sentence of three years and fines ranging between $10,000 and $25,000. The AG has requested that the court issue warrants for the arrest of all five defendants and is looking to extradite DeLia, Depante and Wagner - who live out of state. Turning to Dunn, the AG's complaint alleges that "she gave DeLia the home, cell and office phone numbers for Hewlett-Packard board members in April 2005. Two months later, in a June 2005 briefing provided by DeLia to Dunn and Baskins, Dunn learned 'telephone records were obtained by ruse from telephone and cellular carriers.' Then, beginning in January 2006, with full knowledge of the methods used to obtain phone records, Dunn participated in renewing Hewlett-Packard’s leak investigation, subsequently received regular briefings on its progress and therefore knew DeLia was again part of the investigation team." Dunn's lawyer was quick to go on the offensive by saying, "These charges are being brought against the wrong person at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons. They are the culmination of a well-financed and highly orchestrated disinformation campaign." Meanwhile, DeLia told CBS, "I have been a professional private investigator for more than 30 years. I respect the law. I did not break the law in the H-P investigation." You can bet that this puppy will drag on for a long time, and we don't think the AG is, er, done just yet. The US Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating the situation by examining how HP handled the disclosure of former director Tom Perkins' resignation from the board. You can find a copy of the complaint in PDF format here. ®
Ashlee Vance, 05 Oct 2006

Vodafone's BlackBerry customers in a jam

Vodafone's BlackBerry customers have been forced to collect all their email on their BlackBerries after an upgrade last weekend (September 23/24) put the web email service out of action. The issue appears so far to be confined to the consumer, not business, service. The apparent glitch means that subscribers are no longer able to configure their mailboxes, and instead are forced to pick up all their messages, including ones they have already read, on their handheld thumb-exercisers. Vodafone's tech support has told customers that it is looking into the issue, and that they will be recompensed for the messages they have to pick up on their handsets. But a slightly confused sounding Vodafone spokeswoman told us that the loss of the web email is part of the upgrade. She said that the upgrade means customers no longer pay to download each individual email, but instead pay a flat rate to access all of them. Customers who sign up for this no longer need the web email service. We asked if this meant that the upgrade actually meant the loss of a service, and she added that Vodafone was trying to clarify the situation with RIM, BlackBerry's maker. Vodafone's customers told us that what they actually want is a functioning service. Register reader Bob says: "I've been without a workable service for eight days. Why is it taking so long to put this right? I’m beginning to see why Vodafone shareholders are so dissatisfied with the management." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Oct 2006
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DataCore plays a SANmelody for smaller SANs

DataCore says a new entry level version of its SANmelody iSCSI storage software can turn a basic x86 server into a virtualised IP-based SAN, with features such as automated thin-provisioning and reuse of spare disk capacity. The software, called SANmelody Virtual Infrastructure Foundation, costs just £500 and can be used with something as minimal as a single-processor server and half a dozen disks, DataCore's European director Nick Broadbent said. He added that it enables even small organisations to get into the world of virtualised infrastructures - schemes where the elements of an IT system are virtual, including the servers, the storage and the network, and can therefore be managed and reassigned more easily. "It gives you a very powerful centralised product that fits very nicely with an entry-level VMware suite, for example," he said. "VMware really needs a SAN, and version 3 of it supports iSCSI. "One of the problems with SANs is people assume it means they need £100,000 of Fibre Channel switches and so on. With iSCSI, it's opened that up and made it possible for small companies." SANmelody VIF's thin-provisioning allows a server or application to be given a virtual disk volume much larger than the physical disk space allocated to it. The volume can then be dynamically resized as needed. "It provides the very flexible infrastructure that you can't do with standard hardware, such as high-availability replication between two different storage vendors," Broadbent added. "Typically, it competes with somebody having to buy a Dell/EMC AX100, or similar unintelligent SATA array. The problem is those arrays are not fast, and things such as Exchange and Webservers do need performance. "SANmelody is caching and it does the read/write algorithms on the server, so it can make SATA disk as fast as SCSI. It does like memory, but 4GB isn't expensive nowadays." DataCore said SANmelody VIF can support up to 3TB of storage and serve it to many types of servers, including Windows, Linux, MacOS and Unix, over existing IP-based networks such as Ethernet. ®
Bryan Betts, 05 Oct 2006

The policy is...get some

Further indications that the coming upgrades of the major business applications such as SAP and Oracle could cause unsuspecting IT managers more problems than they have planned for, first noted here, have come from SOA Software.
Martin Banks, 05 Oct 2006
For Sale sign detail

Widespread growth likely in global ICT sector

Heady days of 20 and 30 per cent growth in the 1990s remains unlikely, but the worldwide ICT sector is expected to grow a vigorous six per cent in 2006, according to a new report. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's biennial Information Technology Outlook report predicts the highest growth areas will be in internet-related investments, Linux servers, digital storage, personal digital assistants, and new portable consumer products. Furthermore, the OECD expects that market growth will be more of a truly global phenomenon over the coming year, as opposed to 2004 when it was a surge in the United States' ICT industry that led the world's high-tech sector out of a slump following the dot-com boom. With the emergence of new growth economies - in particular China - ICT spending was up 5.6 per cent per year from 2000 to 2005 in US dollar terms. In the 30 countries making up the OECD including Ireland, ICT spending was up 4.2 per cent during the same period although market share dropped from 89 per cent in 2000 to 86 per cent in 2006. ICT spending is therefore increasing rapidly in non-OECD countries. China's ICT sector has experienced 22 per cent growth since 2000, and its spending in 2005 is estimated to be around the $118bn mark. Across the 30 OECD countries 14.5 million people - roughly one in 80 - work in the ICT sector and although the top technology firms' revenues are now 20 per cent more than in 2000, their employment levels have remained flat. In terms of international trade and services, increasing commodity prices and cheaper consumer equipment means the performance of ICT trade has been somewhat disguised. However, at 13.2 per cent the share of ICT goods in total trade is the same percentage as in 1996. Ireland is by far the leading exporter of ICT services and software goods in the OECD, with combined exports of over $20bn in 2004. In terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) the outlook is good for 2006, although the nature of investment flow has changed with manufacturing countries like China, India and Eastern European states joining countries such as Ireland and Korea as major ICT exporters. Mergers and acquisitions have driven foreign investment, and the value of cross-border deals in the ICT sector has increased 47 per cent. Indeed, ICT firms comprised 20 per cent of all mergers and acquisitions and although the medium-term outlook is good, there is concern that global interest rate rises could adversely affect company balance sheets. The OECD is made up of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Republic of Korea, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Britain, and the United States. Copyright © 2006, ENN
Maxim Kelly, 05 Oct 2006
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Mozilla flaws more joke than jeopardy

Two presenters razzed developers of the open source Mozilla browser this weekend at the ToorCon hacking convention in San Diego with claims that the browser's Javascript implementation is flawed, but the lecture appears to have been more stand-up comedy routine than substantiative research.
Robert Lemos, 05 Oct 2006

Mag names Mac Pro 'fastest PC in UK'

Apple's four-core Intel-based Mac Pro desktop has been named the UK's fastest PC after it was lined up against a top-of-the-line Windows machine by British magazine PC Pro.
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 2006

US rattles sabre at North Korea

The US has warned North Korea that it can have nuclear weapons or it can have a future - "but it cannot have them both", the BBC reports. The sabre-rattling comes after the Pyongyang regime announced earlier this week it would conduct a nuclear warhead test. North Korea's foreign ministry declared: "[North Korea] will in the future conduct a nuclear test under the condition where safety is firmly guaranteed. The US daily increasing threat of a nuclear war and its vicious sanctions and pressure have caused a grave situation on the Korean Peninsula." The US's response was swift and predictable. Negotiator Christopher Hill - the US's chief representative in the six-nation talks aimed at resolving the North Korea nuclear issue - said the country had arrived at "a very important fork in the road - it can have a future or it can have these weapons, but it cannot have them both". He further warned: "I am not prepared at this point to say what we are going to do but I am prepared to say we are not going to wait for a nuclear North Korea, we are not going to accept it." Down at the UN, meanwhile, US efforts to rally support for a test ban have not as yet yielded the desired result. Japan is pushing for "a strongly-worded UN statement", while China has asked North Korea to "exercise the necessary calm and restraint", and favours resumption of the six-nation talks. Russia and South Korea have both condemned North Korea's nuke test plans as "unacceptable", but there is no consensus as how best to proceed. US envoy to the UN, John Bolton, admitted: "At this stage, there's division." ®
Lester Haines, 05 Oct 2006
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BT + HP + PepsiCo = $$$

The alliance between BT and HP, which was fanfared earlier this year with a huge inhouse press seminar in Venice, was supposed (at the time) to be simply a way of selling IMS (IP multimedia subsystem) to desperate mobile telcos - so it's quite a surprise to find a big contract announced with Pepsico.
Guy Kewney, 05 Oct 2006

REALbasic 2006 gets Mac Universal binary support

REAL Software has begun shipping REALbasic 2006 Release 4, offering developers targetting the Mac platform the opportunity to create apps ready to run natively on both PowerPC- and Intel-based boxes by selecting a single checkbox.
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 2006
globalisation

Bill and Ballmer's bonuses shrink

Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer saw their salaries go up slightly, but watched their bonuses shrink by $50,000 in 2006. The top two at Microsoft got paid $616,667 in salary and received a $350,000 bonus - down from $400,000 in 2005. Ballmer also got some $9,482 for "all other compensation" - while Bill Gates got $2,112. A proxy statement, given to the Securities and Exchange Commission, says: "The compensation of Messrs Ballmer and Gates reflects their status as significant shareholders of the company. Their salaries and total compensation are significantly below competitive levels for the information technology industry and large market capitalisation US companies. The average CEO salary and bonus for the comparison group the company uses were $1.329m in base salary and $3.216m in bonus." The two should be able to survive on their below par salaries though - the Forbes Rich list estimates William Gates III is worth $50bn and Steve Ballmer's net worth is $13.6bn. The statement also said the board will consider several shareholder proposals. The first of these summarises Microsoft's actions in China, including shutting down dissident blogs. The proposal calls on Microsoft to stop doing business with any "foreign" government or agency that denies human or labour rights. The board recomends voting against this proposal. The second proposal is: "The shareholders request that Microsoft form a committee to explore ways to formulate an equal employment opportunity policy which complies with all federal, state and local regulations but does not make reference to any matters related to sexual interests, activities or orientation." The board again calls for a vote against this proposal. Microsoft is also reducing its board of directors to just nine people after the retirement of Ann McLaughlin Korologos on 14 November 2006. The statement is here. ®
John Oates, 05 Oct 2006

Nvidia stock jumps on Intel takeover rumour

If your arch-rival buys one of two highly competitive graphics chip companies, what else can you do but acquire the other GPU maker? That's exactly what it was yesterday claimed Intel would do: snap up Nvidia after AMD's move to acquire ATI.
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 2006

Vendor unveils USB Serial-ATA dongle

Japanese storage specialist Novac has figured out an easy way to connect eSATA drives to PCs without a suitable port: a USB-connected adaptor dongle.
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 2006

Dolphins, dinghies and underground water levels

Ionian BlogIonian Blog Inmarsat now working nicely, thank you. A little longer on deck, and I will be too, but right now I'm a little queasy...and no, it's not the dolphins that are to blame. I only wish the cook was being a little less smug! The good news: I won my argument with my crew, and got enough power to transmit this bulletin; and we're moored at a nice stable dock, and the Inmarsat BGAN modem is working beautifully. How I wish I hadn't won the argument. We're parked at a windsurfer paradise. It's the long beach at Vasiliki, where there are more dinghy schools and board-sailing schools than you could shake a stick at. There is plenty of fresh water for our boat (after being tied up in "sauvage" beaches for some time recently, we were getting low) and if the dockside electricity actually worked, we'd have mains power, too, on Summer Lightning. It was a bouncy journey from the coast of Cephalonia. Some careless clown went and organised a low pressure storm front somewhere west of here, and the swell is still surging in from the distant Italian shores. I'm not normally seasick on a small boat, and after nearly two weeks on board, I'm quite used to the motion of this boat - to the point that I wobble when I go ashore. What I wasn't counting on, was the state of the fridge. We pulled out of Fiskardo, and went north over my protests. I wanted badly to see the Mellisani Lake in some caves south of here where water pours out into the sea. Nothing strange about that, except for the fact that some inquisitive French scientist has proved that the water comes from the other side (Agostoli) of Cephalonia, where it pours into an underground cavern from the sea, driving a big water-wheel. And it drives another one this side. People always ask "Where does the water go?" and this guy poured blue dye into it. A couple of years later, the blue started emerging from the opposite side of the island, and everybody says: "How interesting.." and nobody ever seems to realise that the other side of the island is at sea level, same as this side - so how does it flow down hill from sea level to sea level? [I have a theory...] So we didn't go to the Mellisani underground lake. We turned the motor on, and chugged north, past Ithaca on our right, towards Levka again, and I was charging my PC and BGAN terminal. And the cook wanted to take the helm, so I went below to help the boat owner clean up after breakfast. I opened the fridge. OK, the cabbage was my fault. I bought it. I put it into the fridge. The milk was not my fault. It was spilt (in the fridge) by someone else. Both are biological substances, however, with normal decay patterns - biological processes which had, erm "proceeded" normally, since there was no refrigeration going on to inhibit it. It had proceeded for some time. It was ugly in both biological processes. Was it a crime? Yes, possibly it was a crime. But no crime was worth the fight I found going on in the cockpit as I staggered, pale-faced, into the light, swallowing hard. "You did it!" accused the Irish rugby player. "No I bloody didn't!" shouted the indignant cook. "You're always bloody doing it," bellowed the enraged Irish rugby player. "You say it's the beans, you say it's the beer, you say it's the wine..." I explained that the smell was, in fact due to the opening of the fridge, which was now warm enough to allow fermentation of everything in the drainage system. "It's all YOUR fault!" they accused. Yes, can't argue. Not until after the seasickness pill takes effect, anyway. I went and took the helm, because that helps. We were looking forward to a play on a fast sailing dinghy in Vasiliki. "You just go to one of the schools, and give them money," said the flotilla leader. Not so. We have arrived. We went to the schools. There is, probably, a dissertation to be written on "employee motivation" about these things: we were even prepared to pay a horrendous €35 for an hour of sailing, but they still wouldn't accept our money. Too much "work" involved, and the staff get none of the extra revenue. Never mind. We'll be able to get a dinghy, I'm told, at Sunsail's Vounaki base when we get home. Finally, dolphins! Nothing to do with any sort of technology. We ran into a rain shower; we got drenched. Fish started jumping. We thought: "It's the rain..." and then one of the grey, surging waves turned out to have fins, and a tail. And then there were more - and it was a pod of Greek dolphins, hunting a school of fish. I was spell-bound. I wish I could have thought of my camera... ®
Guy Kewney, 05 Oct 2006

Hubble spies more extra-solar planets

The Hubble Space Telescope has spied sixteen candidate extra-solar planets during a survey of 180,000 stars in the central bulge of the Milky Way galaxy. The findings suggest there could be as many as six billion Jupiter-sized planets in our galaxy. The candidates were all identified during the Sagittarius Window Eclipsing Extrasolar Planet Search (SWEEPS), using the transit technique - watching for a slight dimming of the star that would have been caused by a planet passing in front of it. Only two of the planets are bright enough to be confirmed as planets independently, and NASA says researchers worked hard to rule out any other possible causes of the dimming. The remainder will have to wait until the more powerful James Webb telescope is launched in 2011. Five of the newly spotted planets orbit their stars in less than a day - faster than any that have been identified before. NASA has dubbed these "ultra-short-period-planets". The fastest goes around its star in 10 hours, and orbits just 740,000 miles out. "This star-hugging planet must be at least 1.6 times the mass of Jupiter, otherwise the star's gravitational muscle would pull it apart," said SWEEPS team member Mario Livio. "The star's low temperature allows the planet to survive so near to the star." "Ultra-Short-Period Planets seem to occur preferentially around normal red dwarf stars that are smaller and cooler than our sun," team leader Kailash Sahu of the Space Telescope Science Institute explained. "The apparent absence of USPPs around sun-like stars in our local neighbourhood indicates that they might have evaporated away when they migrated too close to a hotter star." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Oct 2006

AMD to conjure a constellation of K8L desktop chips

AMD's stellar codename sequence for its upcoming K8L desktop processor family continues with 'Antares', 'Arcturus' and 'Spica', reports coming out of Taiwan allege. These chips will join 'Altair', which we reported on earlier this week, in AMD's constellation of next-generation 65nm processors.
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 2006
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MS builds tougher piracy protection into Vista

Microsoft has announced plans to tighten up anti-piracy features in its forthcoming operating systems Windows Vista and Windows Server "Longhorn". Redmond's upcoming Software Protection Platform is designed to make software piracy harder while making software licensing less of a chore. The technology, which is also designed to protect customers from software tampering, will debut with Vista and Longhorn but Redmond plans to incorporate the technology with more products over time. The platform will change how Microsoft software activates, is validated online, and behaves when tampering or hacking is detected. The Software Protection Platform works with validation programs such as Windows Genuine Advantage, Redmond's controversial "phone home" nagware. Customers using genuine and licensed copies of Windows Vista will have access to Windows Aero and Windows ReadyBoost features, as well as full functionality of Windows Defender security software and extra optional updates from Windows Update. Systems that fail validation will not have access to these features, although they will still have access to critical security updates. As with Windows XP, Vista systems need to be activated through Microsoft using a genuine product key within 30 days. Failure to validate Vista will result in the system operating in reduced functionality mode until a genuine product key is used to activate and a successful validation occurs. For the avoidance of doubt, users of non-genuine Windows Vista software will be treated to the appearance of a persistent statement in the lower right hand corner of their desktop space that reads, "This copy of Windows is not genuine". Vista product keys might be blocked for a number of reasons, including if the product key is abused, stolen, pirated or seized as a result of anti-piracy enforcement efforts. Microsoft cites figures by the Business Software Alliance to support its contention that 35 per cent of all software installed worldwide during 2005 was pirated or unlicensed (a $35bn a year problem, according to disputed BSA figures) in justifying the need for stronger anti-piracy technologies in its software. Redmond's efforts in combating software piracy focus on three areas: education, engineering and enforcement. The Software Protection Platform focuses on trying to frustrate piracy through improved product engineering. ®
John Leyden, 05 Oct 2006

Prof. Wendy Hall receives Borg award

Professor Wendy Hall, head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, will today receive the Anita Borg Award for Technical Leadership at a ceremony in San Diego. The award was established in 2004 in memory of Anita Borg, a computer scientist who spent much of her time working to encourage more women into science and technology. Professor Hall said she was thrilled to be receiving the award: "It is a tremendous honour and one I shall always be proud of." Hall is one of the UK's computer science big wigs. She is currently the vice president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, is a member of the Prime Minister's council for science and technology and was previously the head of the British Computer Society. Her work at Southampton University includes developing the Microcosm open hypermedia system. She has also recently begun work with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and colleagues at Southampton to develop "a new research initiative in the emerging field of web science". ®
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Oct 2006

Nvidia to make quantum leap with GeForce 8800?

Nvidia will initially launch two graphics boards based on its next-generation 'G80' GPU when the graphics chip maker brings the product to market in the middle of November, it has been claimed. The boards may also be the first to tout a new physics processing system.
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 2006

X Prize punts cash for medical breakthrough

A $10m carrot is being dangled at biotech firms to encourage them to redouble efforts to make genome sequencing available to individuals. The X Prize Foundation is behind the reward, which will be handed to the first to sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days. It's the next top priority for the millionaire-packed coterie after it helped kickstart commercial space exploration. The foundation's $10m space prize was claimed two years ago yesterday, when Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne to the first privately-built manned space flight. The company behind that venture, Mojave Aerospace Ventures, later claimed the contract to supply Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space tourism fleet. The X Prize Foundation hopes rapid genome sequencing will open new medical possibilities, enabling doctors to determine genetic susceptibility to a host of diseases and tailor therapies to an individual's genome. X Prize Foundation chairman Peter Diamandis said: "The Archon X PRIZE for Genomics will...[make] genome sequencing affordable and available in every hospital and medical care facility in the world." Archon is a minerals company which made a huge donation to the X Prize. An extra £1m is on offer if a firm can also sequence the genomes of 100 wealthy X-prize supporters, including Microsoft founder Paul Allen. The foundation said three firms have already registered for the competition. The X Prize board of trustees includes Google founder Larry Page and contoversial genome entrepreneur Craig Venter, who provided the private competition to the publicly-funded Human Genome Project which many credit with its speedy completion. A widely promised medical revolution arising from the original Human Genome Project is yet to materialise, however. The X Prize Foundation's claim that genome sequencing will "eventually help determine your genetic future", is still a pipedream. There are thousands of elements in the human genome whose function is still unclear, and their interactions even less so. Ethicists have voiced concerns that cheap genome sequencing could lead to a kind of "genetic apartheid", with insurance companies and employers discriminating on the basis of genetic inheritance. In the US the Genetic Non-Discrimination bill is currently stalled in the House of Representatives. Here all the insurance companies have signed up to a voluntary moratorium on using genetic testing while the two sides of the debate lobby government. It's expected an insurance company will apply for special dispensation to break the moratorium in the next 18 months or so, in the case of an inherited disease like Huntington's which only emerges in middle age and is always lethal. The widespread genome sequencing sought by the X Prize Foundation would force the issue to be tackled. ®
Christopher Williams, 05 Oct 2006

Nokia jazzes up 5500 Sport jogger phone

Nokia has announced its latest Music Edition handset - this time a version of the 5500 Sport the company launched in May this year. The new model features a revised colour scheme and bundles a 512MB Micro SD card for song storage. Nokia has also put "a fitness carrying strap, bicycle holder and sports headset" in the box. The phone can read out text messages. It'll do the same with pedometer and work-out progress information. The tri-band GSM/GPRS device has even got a liquid and dirt-resistant casing with rubber grips. Available now, the 5500 Sport Music Edition costs around €350 ($444/£236) unsubsidised. ®
Hard Reg, 05 Oct 2006
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Crystal balls with HP

Following on from the formal launch earlier this month of the latest version of its Integrity Servers equipped with dual-core Montecito processors, HP put on a users' bash in London to drum up business from both existing and new customers. This provided the chance to ponder future trends for the company with Don Jenkins, VP of marketing in the company's Business Critical Systems group.
Martin Banks, 05 Oct 2006
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Microsoft will police licenses through SMS

Microsoft is beefing up policing for Windows licensing after going back to the drawing board on its asset management strategy. Upcoming editions of Systems Management Server (SMS) will introduce metadata and workflow tools and capabilities for management of software licenses in a three-phase plan. Starting with an SMS 2003 R2 Service Pack (SP) 3 due in the first quarter of 2007 SMS will feature a database of 120,000 software assets purchased with Assetmetrix in April. Assetmetrix provided tools to discover and catalogue applications and map them to servers, and will help users group different licenses. Next, in 2007 and 2008, Microsoft will automate license management through integration of SMS with procurement systems and provide the ability to generate workflows for different licenses. The third phase will see Microsoft introduce tools for developers to describe products in metadata and to integrate them into reporting systems to track things like client access licenses (CALs). Microsoft's director of software asset management Juan Fernando Rivera told The Register: "Today it's an honor-based system [for CALs]. Users will be able to track usage and [the] connection base, and integrate that base into the business processes of the organization." The renewed SMS focus - part of Microsoft's broader Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) - comes after Microsoft last year ditched plans for an über Windows management system, System Center, due to consist of SMS and Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM). A new version of SMS is now due in the first half of 2007. Microsoft cited customer feedback for the change of heart. According to Fernando the SMS roadmap is a win/win for Microsoft and customers. Rivera said giving customers improved tools to manage Windows licenses meant they that could improve total cost of ownership (TCO) as they'd be able to track investments. For Microsoft, it's another step towards the bigger goal of stamping out Windows software piracy - in this case, where users inadvertently run illegal copies of Windows or exceed their the terms of their server, client or CAL, as opposed to knowingly buying or using illegal software. "A lot of business customers know what they did in the stock market, but they don't know what they did with their last software purchase. The idea is to help people maximize the software they bought," Rivera said. "For Microsoft, we get to know customers are running genuine [Windows] software. SAM [software asset management] is a way to move the piracy needle from reaction to prevention. Some customer are running pirated software without even knowing it," Rivera said.®
Gavin Clarke, 05 Oct 2006

Vonage calls up USB key phone

VoIP telephony company Vonage has launched its V-Phone USB calling kit in the UK. It's the size of a Flash drive - there's 250MB of free storage space on there - but also includes all you need to use your Vonage account on any PC, anywhere.
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 2006

'Bloggers do not have original thought between them'

Tech DigestTech Digest Oh how I love the Daily Mail. What a splendid newspaper. No, really. Its online offering is now very good to the point where a US-exiled liberal friend of mine confessed to me the other day that after the Gruniard, it is his first online stop for UK news. If the Fleet St gossip is right too, the Mail's site is really starting to take off and could well become one of the biggest UK online portals. So the paper does itself no favours when it lets its columnists write stuff like this. Yep, Keith Waterhouse, a man who is guaranteed a place in heaven for penning the wonderful Billy Liar, has had a pop at Googlers (whatever they might be) and Bloggers who he argues don't have an original thought between them. Mmm, odd that, when there is a great deal of talk in PR circles about how blogging is setting the news agenda and it is national newspapers who are pinching all the blogger's stories. Another priceless classic is: "They never acknowledge original authorship, believing as they do that googling has outmoded the law of copyright." Which paper do you write for Keith? Is it the Daily Mail which very rarely links to stories on other sites yet quite happily claims them as its own? Like the story it ran the other day on the Fembot for sale on eBay - a story which first appeared on our blog Bayraider and was the result of our journo spending hours trawling the site looking for goodies. Ultimately, with Keith it boils down to the fact that the number of people who are interested in his tablets delivered from on high, is dwindling. Personally, I prefer to read opinions that aren't just ill-informed rants (which ironically he says is true of bloggers). But Keith, everyone has a right to an opinion, even you. Ashley Norris is creative director of Shiny Media, and publisher of blogs like Brandish and Tech Digest.
Tech Digest, 05 Oct 2006

AMD said to have approved foundry's 65nm fab

Singapore's Chartered Semiconductor looks set to continue its foundry partnership with AMD into the 65nm era, if industry-insider claims that the chip maker has validated Chartered's 65nm production facility.
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 2006
channel

A compromise in European patenting debate?

A week ahead of the European Parliament's vote on the European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA), the three major groups of MEPs that had been opposing the EPLA have unexpectedly reached a compromise agreement that means they will instead vote for the proposal.
Lucy Sherriff, 05 Oct 2006
homeless man with sign

Tesco self-scan tills 'open to card fraud'

Security shortcomings involving Tesco self-service tills make it easier for crooks to pay for groceries using stolen credit or debit cards, according to UK consumer group Which?. At around 200 of the supermarket’s stores, shoppers can scan their shopping themselves before paying for groceries using cards. The problem is that Tesco doesn’t require customers to sign for purchases or enter a PIN code. Which? issued its warning after receiving complaints from angry punters who found themselves hundreds of pounds out of pocket through fraudulent purchases made at Tesco's tills. The people affected were able to claim refunds from their banks. Which? researchers were able to confirm that it was easy to buy goods using someone else's card at a Tesco superstore in London. No checks were made to confirm the identity of shoppers flashing the plastic. Neil Fowler, editor of Which? magazine, described the practice as "irresponsible". "As a shop that prides itself on caring about its customers, we can only hope they [Tesco] close this obvious loophole and introduce standard security procedures in the very near future," he said. Tesco's pay-at-pump scheme doesn't require a PIN or signature when motorists pay for petrol either, according to Reg reader Steve, who reports having "cash stolen from my debit account purely from someone knowing my card number" last month. Tesco said that fraud levels connected with its self-service tills and petrol pumps were low. Nonetheless it said it was introducing Chip and PIN validation technology to these tills, roll-out scheduled for completion by the end of the year. "While it is impossible to stamp out all credit card fraud, fraud levels at our self-service checkouts and petrol pumps are very low and no higher than at our main checkouts, which have full Chip and PIN," a Tesco spokesman told BBC News. "When we originally introduced the self-service tills over two years ago, Chip and PIN was not a proven technology. Now that it has become widely accepted we will be rolling it out into all our 320 current installations - this process has already begun and should be completed by December," he added. London Underground self-service tills and kiosks at railway stations used to allow travelers to purchase tickets without signing for purchases or entering a PIN code. Chip and PIN was introduced in the tube earlier this year. In neither instance are we aware of fraud reports but the potential for abuse was clearly there. We doubt whether Tesco's self-service tills remain the only UK outlet where you're still able to use plastic without authorisation. ®
John Leyden, 05 Oct 2006

AOpen touts 'speed-limit breaking' 18x DVD writer

AOpen today announced its first DVD burner capable of writing DVD±R media at 18x speed. It will also read and write DVD-RAMs at 12x. A sort of 18, 12 overture perhaps? Oh well. According to AOpen, it's "a new limit of optical disk drive".
Hard Reg, 05 Oct 2006

Researchers find link between teeth and memory loss

There may be more meaning to the word "wisdom teeth" then previously thought. Dentists, psychologists and neurologists in Stockholm and Umeå in Sweden and Tromsø have been trying to determine why there is a link between tooth loss and memory loss. Simply put: those who keep a full set of teeth have better powers of memory than those that don't. The researchers, who study age, memory, senility and health as part of the Betula Project, say they've observed the correlation in over 2,000 people. Researchers in Japan reached similar conclusions in tests with mice and monkeys, with mice learning to find food in labyrinths without difficulty, but losing this ability when their teeth were pulled. The explanation? Still not clear. Some experts believe chewing brings oxygen-rich blood to the brain and, of course, you can chew a lot harder with a full set of daggers. The researchers now hope to determine if the number of teeth is significant, or what kind of impact titanium implants have on memory. Maybe the tooth fairy knows. ®
Jan Libbenga, 05 Oct 2006

Big Brother voting ruled misleading

Premium rate regulator ICSTIS has ordered Big Brother's phone and text lines to pay for the cost of its investigation, which today found misled voters over the reentry of an evicted housemate. During this summer's series, the British public voted to give more oxygen to the TV career of mewling fat free fruitcake Nikki Grahame, by sticking her in the shed for another couple of weeks. This upset some, who'd hoped they'd gotten rid of her for good. ICSTIS noted the rules on the Channel 4 website stated: "Once a housemate leaves they forfeit any claim to the prize money," but accepted the broadcaster did not intend to mislead by failing to change the policy, because the published terms and conditions had not been amended. ICSTIS' code of practice was breached, however. The ruling goes against Channel 4's premium rate providers on Big Brother, Minick UK for SMS, and iTouch for 090 phone voting. They'll shoulder the cost of ICSTIS' investigation, launched in early August. The costs are drawn from ICSTIS' flat charge of £1,052 for each of the two companies, plus a £15 levy for each complaint received. A record 2,635 Big Brother viewers had grievances, including those referred to ICSTIS by Ofcom. The total of £41,629 (by our reckoning) will be divvied out between iTouch and Minick based on how many complaints the text and phone service each attracted. ICSTIS said because of the size of the costs and because Grahame did not win the show, a further punitive fine would not be applied. ®
Christopher Williams, 05 Oct 2006

Top Gear back on the road

Filming has resumed on Top Gear 15 days after presenter Richard Hammond pranged a 300mph jet-powered dragster, the BBC has confirmed. There were fears among the show's fans that it might be canned following the serious accident at Elvington airfield, near York, which hospitalised the 36-year-old speed merchant. However, a BBC spokeswoman said: "We are resuming filming parts of the next series that don't involve Richard." She added: "The next series will not be scheduled until we have further news of Richard's progress. We remain committed to the future of Top Gear." Hammond continues to make a steady recovery in a Bristol hospital, and is reported to be "happy with the news" that Top Gear is back on the road. ®
Lester Haines, 05 Oct 2006

German police hunt runaway breast implant patient

NSFWNSFW German police are hunting a quartet of surgically-enhanced women who legged it without paying for their treatment, Bild reports. To help them in their search, Cologne-based plastic surgeon Michael Koenig has provided law enforcement officials with post-operative pics of the four - including 26-year-old "Tanya's" splendid new €8,000, 30C Bulgarian airbags, taken before their proud owners "went out for fresh air" and never came back. Koenig explained: "The women registered under fake names. After the operations, which lasted about an hour, they just ran away." The other perps are listed as "Sabine" (boob job, €9,500); "Silke" (nose job, €7,000); and "Beate" (nose job, €7,000). Koening says he now intends to ask for payment in advance. ®
Lester Haines, 05 Oct 2006

UK consumers are Europe's top tech spenders

Brits spend more on consumer electronics than any nation in Europe, market watcher GfK has claimed. Together, we have spent £16.8bn ($31.7bn) on high-tech toys this year. Every UK household has spent, on average, £325 ($612) this year on gizmos, gadgets and assorted electronic equipment - £42 ($81) more than their nearest rivals, the Swiss.
Tony Smith, 05 Oct 2006
channel

Indian data theft 'exposed'

A man in India offered to sell the front man of a Channel 4 sting operation the credit card details of 200,000 people, the programme Dispatches will reveal tonight. The programme makers were inspired by a sting operation mounted on an Indian call centre last year by The Sun newspaper, in which a man allegedly sold the bank details of 1,000 British people to a journalist. The Sun story helped stoke a backlash against outsourcing to India. The Sun was subsequently accused of duping its quarry and fabricating the story about fraud in India. Dispatches will show that fraud and theft do indeed occur in India. It will demonstrate how doing business with India, like any other country, necessitates the exchange of information that can subsequently get into the wrong hands. The Channel 4 programme also claims to have found a man willing to sell the mobile phone details of 8,000 British people, and another willing to sell bank account details. There have been well publicised incidents of fraud involving Indians who had access to British bank accounts. But fraud is a bigger problem in UK institutions, a fact largely overlooked by the media. It is also more likely to occur in any other developed market we choose to do business with. We have noted this before, but to recap briefly, take the example of the Indian man who was arrested in June for selling information from an HSBC call centre that was used to defraud £233,000 from customer accounts. In the same month, however, and Edinburgh Donald McKenzie was prosecuted for defrauding £21m from the Royal Bank of Scotland. Incidents of reported fraud in the UK have tripled in since 2003, according to BDO Stoy Hayward. The British government is conducting a review of unreported fraud the UK, which is it describes as "chronic". Accountants Ernst & Young found in a survey of Western corporate managers that almost two thirds expected to encounter more fraud in emerging markets than at home. Yet 75 per cent of fraud occurred in developed markets, the firm said. Forrester Research found in 2005 that the UK and US suffered more computer security breaches than India. Such interest in Indian fraud in the face of such evidence warrants a reminder of the Conservative party's recent paper on India. It described euphemistically the "aversion" British people had to doing business with India. The British need to do business with India, it said, so they better learn to see the Indians as they are. ®
Mark Ballard, 05 Oct 2006

2006: journos' year of living dangerously

2006 has so far proved the "deadliest on record" for journalists worldwide, the Guardian reports. According to the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), 75 have so far cast off this mortal coil, as compared to 72 during the whole of 2004. The Iraq conflict accounts for a good percentage of the fatalities, having claimed 26. WAN chief executive Timothy Balding said: "Journalists in Iraq are not only facing the danger that comes with working in a war zone, they are being hunted down and assassinated simply because they are suspected of cooperating with western news agencies, because of their religious or political affiliation, or because their murderers believe that killing journalists will advance their aims." Other unhealthy environments for hacks include the Philippines, where "criminal gangs and corrupt politicians target investigative journalists without fear of prosecution", leaving eight dead; and Guyana, where six have died this year. Balding continued: "Journalism today is more dangerous than ever. More than 500 journalists have been killed in the past decade, often for simply doing their jobs. "These murders are a direct attack not only on individuals, but also on society as a whole. Yet few of the killers are ever brought to justice." ®
Lester Haines, 05 Oct 2006

Apple admits iPod Nano colours may 'change over time'

Just when you thought the new metal-made iPod Nano marked an end to screen scratches, there's another threat to the diminutive music player's colorful good looks - and this time Apple's admitted it up front.
The Hardware Widow, 05 Oct 2006
fingers pointing at man

Rigby sets stage for SCH dynasty

Specialist Computer Holdings (SCH) boss Sir Peter Rigby has put his eldest son James in charge of the British business, fueling speculation that he is being lined up for the top job when his dad retires.
John Oates, 05 Oct 2006
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Arnie terminates RFID bill

Legislative proposals to regulate government use of RFID technology in California have been vetoed by state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Identity Information Protection Act of 2006 (SB 768), which would have introduced privacy laws to safeguard personal data stored on radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in government-issued documents and identification cards, was one of 73 bills that Schwarzenegger declined to sign against 110 he signed onto the state's statute books late last month. The bill was designed to safeguard against either criminal or government abuse of RFID tags by mandating the use of privacy-protecting technologies such as encryption. The bill would also give Californians the right to decide who can access their personal information stored on RFID cards in documents such as driver's licences and library cards. Legislation on RFID is "premature", the film star turned Republican politician argues. He also said the bill might impede the introduction of contactless technologies by Californian state agencies that had the potential to streamline operations and cut expenses. "I am concerned that the bill's provisions are over-broad and may unduly burden the numerous beneficial new applications of contactless technology," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "SB 768, which would impose technology regulations on RFID-enabled ID cards and public documents, is premature. The federal government, under the REAL ID Act, has not yet released new technology standards to improve the security of government ID cards. SB 768 may impose requirements in California that would contradict the federal mandates soon to be issued." The rejection of the bill, passed by California's Senate in September, is a set-back for privacy activists such as the American Civil Liberties Union who hoped the bill might provide a framework for hoped-for federal legislation on the issue. California State Senator Joe Simitian, a Democrat from Palo Alto, who drafted the bill, has previously vowed to continue to push privacy legislation on RFID chip even if his initial legislative push failed. "If [Governor Schwarzenegger] vetoes, the bill is dead for this two-year session and I can come back in 2007-2008," said Senator Simitian. "I'm in the middle of my first four year term," Simitian told eWeek. ®
John Leyden, 05 Oct 2006

US judges rule on warrantless surveillance

A US appeals court has allowed the government to continue its controversial warrantless surveillance program pending a full review of a ruling by a lower court that the practice is unconstitutional. The unanimous ruling by three judges ruling sitting in the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals means the Bush Administration can continue to monitor the international email and telephone communications of Americans without interception warrants during a legal review, which might take months, AP reports. However the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit, is hopeful of a decision by the end of the year. The practice of so-called warrantless wiretapping came to light after the New York Times reported that the president had authorised the National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept communications. The Bush Administration argues that the program provides crucial helping in preventing terrorist attacks. Critics, such as the ACLU, describe it as "massive and illegal program" to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications that is an abuse of executive powers and in violation of constitutional protection for free speech and privacy. The ACLU argues that the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act gives government sufficient powers to monitor suspected terrorists. The government argues that the changing dynamics of terrorism mean waiting for a court to take action might hinder investigations. In August, US District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor sided with critics in declaring warrantless wiretapping as unconstitutional. She declined to postpone her order prohibiting warrantless wiretapping pending appeal, but gave the government the option of asking the appeal court to review this decision. In reaching their decision to allow warrantless surveillance to continue (at least temporarily), appeal court judges said they considered the likely success of an appeal balanced against the potential harm a decision would have on either side of the argument with the public interest. Other groups aside from the ACLU has mounted lawsuits challenging warrantless wiretapping. Judge Taylor, however, is only the only judge to rule them unconstitutional. The issue seems destined to eventually be decided by the US Supreme Court. ®
John Leyden, 05 Oct 2006
channel

HP's 'ethics' chief emerges as spy scandal star

On September 6 - Carly Fiorina's birthday - investigators involved in the HP spy scandal could hear the butcher's footsteps. Quite a few people would be sacrificed because of the public relations mess, and those closest to the probe would likely be cut across the neck first.
Ashlee Vance, 05 Oct 2006
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Play chess on your nearest e-voting machine

IT professionals in the Netherlands have demonstrated that the type of e-voting machines chosen by the Irish government for election counts can be secretly hacked. Using documentation obtained from the Irish Department of the Environment, Dutch IT experts from anti e-voting group, "Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet" (We don't trust voting computers), went on the "Een Vandaag" television programme on Wednesday to reveal that NEDAP e-voting machines could be made to record inaccurate voting preferences and even be reprogrammed to run a chess program. According to Colm MacCarthaigh, a representative from Irish Citizens for Trustworthy E-Voting (ICTE), the machines hacked by the IT professionals, were almost exact replicas of those selected by the Irish Government for use in elections here in Ireland. "The machines use the same construction and components, and differ only in relatively minor aspects such as the presence of extra LEDs to assist voters with the Irish voting system," said MacCarthaigh. "The machines are so similar that the Dutch group has been using only the technical reference manuals and materials relevant to the Irish machines as a guide, as those are the only materials publicly available," he added. The NEDAP e-voting machines were originally purchased by the Irish government for use in the local and European elections on 11 June 2004. However, the decision to introduce e-voting at that time had to be abandoned following the publication of an interim report from the Commission on Electronic Voting (CEV), which raised doubts over the accuracy of the software used in the system. Since that report was released a number of other studies have cast further doubt on the reliability of the NEDAP machines. Moreover, in its final report before it dissolved, CEV concluded that while the actual machines designed for citizens to cast their votes on are robust, reliable and well-suited to their purpose, the software intended for collating votes is "inadequate," and it recommended its complete replacement. Despite the fact that public confidence in e-voting has diminished following the release of such reports, the Irish government has consistently raised the possibility of using the machines in future elections, and even went so far as to issue a tender to assess and test the NEDAP system in June 2005. The total storage costs for the machines is around €700,000 per annum and it's estimated that the e-voting system itself has cost the taxpayer between €52m and €60m. Fergus O'Dowd, Environment spokesman for the Irish opposition party Fine Gael, has criticised the government over its e-voting strategy, claiming that it was a "debacle" that was getting worse by the month. "It is frightening to consider that, were it not for strong resistance by the opposition parties, this country would have had e-voting foisted upon us by Fianna Fail and the PDs and would be forced to use it in the upcoming General Election," said O'Dowd. At the time of writing, the Department of the Environment had not returned ENN's calls requesting a comment. Copyright © 2006, ENN
ElectricNews.net, 05 Oct 2006
For Sale sign detail

Microsoft blesses Datacenter users with limitless OS copies

Microsoft, of all companies, continues to lead the way with free and loose licensing terms around server virtualization software and multi-core processors. As of Oct 1, Windows Server Datacenter Edition operating system customers will have the right to run "an unlimted number of virtualized Windows Server instances." This policy applies to licenses covering new servers and previous licenses upgraded with new version rights. All told, it means that you pay to run Windows Server Datacenter Edition on a server with a set number of processors and can then divvy that box up with any combination of Windows Server Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition and/or Datacenter Edition without needing to count the number of virtual machines being created or pay for extra Windows Server licenses. Customers playing with server virtualization software have long complained about the licensing ambiguities that come with running multiple operating systems and applications on a single machine or "pool" of servers. The one-to-one relationships that once existed between servers and applications has started to erode. In truly virtualized data centers, applications can be moved from server to server depending on demand or failures, and software is spread across all systems in a much more fluid manner. Some companies such as Cassatt offer tracking services to see how often a customer, for example, uses their Java application server software, what kinds of systems the software runs on and how many users are being served. With such data, customers can then hypothetically go to BEA or IBM and claim they should only pay for X number of application server licenses. Microsoft's new model could make this simpler on the operating system front by not forcing customers to keep track of any server slicing minutiae. Redmond has made similar moves on the multi-core processor front, saying customers need only count the number of "chips" they have in a system rather than individual cores for per processor licensing schemes. These liberal policies have proved shocking to some who associate Microsoft with licensing shenanigans and vice-like software purchasing plans. Microsoft, however, is the underdog in the server virtualization game at the moment. It's far behind leader VMware in terms of market share and behind all major rivals from a pure technology perspective. So it needs to play nice. In addition, Microsoft's moves could help it gain traction against the IBM/Oracle/Unix (IOU) crowd that have proved more reticent to adjust their software pricing models. Hence the focus on the Datacenter Edition. You can find Microsoft's official announcement of the licensing change here and some kudos from virtualization player SWsoft here. ®
Ashlee Vance, 05 Oct 2006
hands waving dollar bills in the air
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SOA software guy from Sun walks up to The Reg and says ...

Rich Green, Sun Microsystems' new software chief, thinks his rivals are "hung up" on service oriented architectures (SOA), and are failing to grasp the bigger picture.
Gavin Clarke, 05 Oct 2006

Bugging offices is not a crime (in UK)

Bugging offices in the UK is not a criminal offence, according to surveillance and legal experts speaking to OUT-LAW radio. While recording a phone conversation is a criminal offence, someone could place a recording device in an office legally, they said. In an investigation into corporate surveillance techniques, the weekly technology law podcast OUT-LAW discovered that no offence is committed by placing a bug in a workplace to secretly record conversations. "There's nothing in any piece of legislation that stops you from putting a physical bug in a room, an office or something like that provided you are there lawfully and you haven't committed any criminal offence to get access to it," said Victoria Southern, a lawyer at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW. "There is no UK law that says thou shalt not bug by means of transmission device," said Justin King of counter-surveillance consultancy C2i. "You wouldn't go down on criminal law, you're not actually committing a criminal offence." In the wake of the bugging scandal which has engulfed Hewlett Packard, OUT-LAW investigated whether it was possible to conduct legal surveillance in the UK, and what common practices were. It soon emerged that placing a bug is legal. Companies attempting this will almost certainly fall foul of data protection legislation once they begin using the data they have collected, said Southern. "If the bug is recording the goings on in a particular room that could take you into the realms of data protection. It requires that data is processed fairly and lawfully and when you are looking at whether data is processed fairly you look at what data subjects have been told," she said. "If the bug's just been planted there and no-one's been told it's recording the particular goings on in a room then there's a good argument that the processing could be considered to be unfair," said Southern. That, though, will only lead to a warning from the Data Protection Commissioner's office, which is unlikely to be a significant deterrent for private investigators. It could become more serious than that, though. "The Information Commissioner (ICO) could issue an enforcement order which could say to the private organisation that they must cease processing," said Southern. "If they continue to [break it] then that could become criminal liability under the Data Protection Act." King has another suggestion. "If you connect your microphone to the ring mains and use 240 volts to power it you could probably be done for theft of electricity," he said. The rules are clearer on telephone conversations, said Southern. "If you are recording a telephone conversation then there is a specific criminal offence provided for in those circumstances," she said. Hewlett Packard is still embroiled in its bugging scandal. Californian Attorney General Bill Lockyer has filed four felony counts against each of five people, one of whom is ex-chairwoman Patricia Dunn. "One of our state's most venerable corporate institutions lost its way as its board sought to find out who leaked confidential company information to the press," said Lockyer. Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 05 Oct 2006

Micro pretexter makes micro payment to FTC

A tiny business that sold consumers phone records and records of credit card accounts over the Internet is very sorry and promises not to do it again. And no more pretexting, either. The willfully misnamed Integrity Security & Investigation Services ISIS and its owner, Edmund Edmister, will cough up all ill-gotten gains - a whopping $2,700 - to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Last May, the FTC filed charges against ISIS and four more web-based data brokers, accusing them of illegally obtaining and selling confidential cell phone and credit account records. With today's settlement, ISIS is now out of the legal loop. Litigation continues against the other four. The charges follow an undercover investigation by the FTC, with a little help from US cellcos Cingular, Sprint, and Verizon. FTC staffers surfed the net to identify American firms selling consumers' phone records. Then they posed as clients [hey - is this White Hat pretexting? - Ed] to complete undercover purchases of the phone records. The FTC followed this up with warning letters to operators of 29 websites that continued to advertise the sale of phone records to the public. FTC announcement here. ®
Drew Cullen, 05 Oct 2006

RIM boss buys Pittsburgh Penguins

Jim Balsillie, head of Research in Motion, the Canadian BlackBerry maker, has bought an NHL ice hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is shelling out $175m for the privilege - or so says the Canadian press. But chill-out, he's a billionaire, and what's the point of being a billionaire if you can't have a trophy asset, or two? According to the Pittsburgh Penguins, their new owner is "an amateur hockey player and a noted philanthropist". Which is always a nice combination in life, we find. Bailsillie, 45, is chairman and co-CEO of RIM. ®
Drew Cullen, 05 Oct 2006