14th > December > 2006 Archive
Al Shugart, co-founder of the hard disk maker Seagate, has died at the age of 76. His health deteriorated following open-heart surgery six weeks ago, according to reports.
Book reviewBook review Alistair Cockburn is one of the most prominent and influential of the Agile development gurus. As well as being one of the original authors of the Agile Manifesto, he is also the developer of the Crystal family of agile methodologies and a pivotal figure in the evolution of the Use Case. He is also an articulate and passionate advocate for Agile as a philosophy over and above a set of prescriptive development practices.
Industry moles have told Morgan Stanley analyst Rebecca Runkle enough to convince her that Apple will launch the eagerly awaited iPhone in the first half of 2007 after an announcement at Macworld Expo early next year.
The Information Commissioner will today name and shame the newspapers he says are breaking the law in their pursuit of stories. Richard Thomas has published a report to Parliament on information theft which contains a league table of alleged offenders. Six months ago Thomas signalled his intent to get tough on those who trade in illegally obtained personal information. His league table alleges that the Daily Mail has used a raided investigations agency more than any other paper. As well as tabloid papers, broadsheets and magazines were represented on the list. The list should not be taken as definitive, since it only represents the usage ratios relating to one agency, but it does show how widespread the purchase of information is. "People care about their personal privacy and have a right to expect that their personal details are and should remain confidential. Who they are, where they live, who their friends and family are, how they run their lives: these are all private matters," said Thomas in the introduction to the new report. "Individuals may choose to divulge such information to others, but information about them held confidentially by others should not be available to anyone prepared to pay the right price." The report, What Price Privacy Now?, is the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) update to his original report, What Price Privacy?, published in May. In that report he outlined the market for information and said he wanted sentences to increase and wanted individuals to face jail sentences of up to two years for buying or selling illegally obtained information. "Progress has been significant and encouraging. In particular I welcome the Government’s consultation on increased sentences," he said. "Overwhelmingly the responses indicate support for the proposals. Many organisations have taken steps of their own to raise awareness and tighten security as well as more generally condemning the illegal trade." Thomas's naming of newspapers is sure to be a controversial step in the battle against information theft. Newspapers have already accused him of seeking to stifle free speech in recommending stiff sentences for people such as the News of the World's Clive Goodman, who recently pleaded guilty to plotting to intercept personal information. "Explicitly targeting the press in his report is a high risk strategy," said Dr Chris Pounder, a specialist in privacy law at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW. "Many journalists still think the end justifies the means and see no wrong if they obtain information by deception when an overriding public interest can be claimed for story." "In order to comply with the ICO's orders newspapers will have to start training journalists to use legal techniques or they themselves could face action", said Pounder. "If a newspaper publishes a story which the journalist has written about an individual which has used personal data obtained by deception, then the newspaper could also be in breach of the Seventh Principle [of the Data Protection Act] which requires all appropriate steps to be taken to guard against unlawful processing. This means training journalists not to use such methods complained of in the Commissioner's new report." The Commissioner's report says that most investigations agency representative bodies and press representative groups have responded positively to his recommendations and communicated with their members about their obligations, and that he was disappointed with only a few of them. Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Samsung yesterday said it expects gadget makers to incorporate its newly announced 'fusion' memory chip, branded OneDRAM, into handsets, portable games consoles and media players by H2 2007. They'll do it because the technology "sharply increases" data throughput speeds, the company claimed.
Monster.com - the online recruitment site - has told the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it has been over-stating its profits since the late 90s. Since 1997 until 2005 the site exaggerated profits by a total of $272m. The company said its investigation into backdated share options was almost complete but it expects to make final recomendations in the first quarter of 2007. Several dozen Silicon Valley companies are accused of mis-stating results and backdating share options. Back in October the founder of Monster.com Andrew McKelvey resigned from the board and from the company because he refused to co-operate with the three-man committee set up to investigate the scandal. Since then he has paid the company back over half a million dollars. The statement given to the SEC said: "Mr. McKelvey has reimbursed the Company approximately $533,000 for certain expenses paid by the Company during the periods 1996 through 2006. The Company continues to seek reimbursement, plus interest, on certain other items." In November the company sacked its top lawyer over the scandal - general counsel Myron Olesnyckyji - who had been suspended since September. The company is still facing investigation by the SEC, the US Attorney General's office and a class action case from a former employee and former company officers. It is also facing claims for damages from other former employees who have been unable to excercise their share options because of the ongoing investigation. The whole SEC statement is available here.®
Christmas music in shops is "torture", the "forgotten pollutant" which shop workers must be able to silence for the sake of their sanity, according to activists, trade unions and a peer. The government is being asked to investigate the problem.
AMD has posted fresh versions of its Windows and Linux Catalyst graphics driver package. The update takes the code to release 6.12. The Windows incarnation introduces the ability to accelerate DirectX video playback across multiple GPUs in CrossFire configuration.
A Cork-based lost and found company, Yougetitback.com, is to open an office in San Francisco in the New Year as part of a significant expansion. Launched in July 2006, Yougetitback.com provides a signature tagging system for personal items such as iPods, mobile phones and digital cameras as well as spectacles and house keys. If an item is lost and subsequently found, the item can be traced back to its owner through the Yougetitback security tagging system. The company's website currently claims 100,000 users. Yougetitback presently employs eight people in Cork but says it plans to increase this number to 20 by the end of 2007 as well as employing five people in the new San Francisco office. The majority of the jobs will be in the technical and sales areas. The company is currently developing technology that will allow mobile phones and laptops to be tracked if they go missing. Tracking will begin as soon as the owner switches that function on in his or her account and will notify the company and the police as to its whereabouts. Commenting on the expansion, managing director Frank Hannigan told ENN it was an exciting time for the company. "It's a very exciting time for us. We have significant sales booked in for next year and it was imperative that we have an office on the ground in the US," he said. "By 2012 we will be protecting €100m in assets and making sales of not less than €50m," he predicted. Hannigan pointed to worldwide research which suggests that most people will try to reunite lost goods with their owners if it is made easy enough for them to do so. "People are not inclined to label items such as house and car keys in the likelihood of them being misused, which makes it hard for these to be traced. I think people are much more security conscious now and prefer to have somebody in the middle between them and the person who has found their assets," he added. Copyright © 2006, ENN
We always thought headphones only had two speakers on board, one for each ear, but accessory maker Terratec this week laughed at the conventional configuration with a pair of cans that contains six cones, three for each ear, to deliver "true 5.1 surround sound". It's also got a mic.
Sony's plan to ship 2m PlayStation 3 consoles worldwide by the end of the year and a further 4m PS3s by the end of March 2007 is still "within our reach", company President Ryoji Chubachi told reporters this week.
Small businesses can now roam from their Wi-Fi networks onto GSM and back again, thanks to BT Fusion Wi-Fi for Business which was announced this morning. Small-business customers can now get themselves a Nokia 6136, or a Motorola A910, and connect to their BT hub for cheap calls over Wi-Fi and fast internet connectivity. As soon as they leave the office they’re automatically back on the GSM network, with a 20Mb* GPRS allowance and slightly pricier calls, until they wander into a BT Openzone Hotspot where free, fast, connectivity and cheap calls return. When in a hotspot, or the office, those calls come in at 5p to a fixed line, 15p to a BT mobile, and 25p to any other mobile, for an hour-long call. On the GSM network calls are capped at 25p for up to 60 minutes. The only converged service right now is a combined voice-mail box, though hopefully some more interesting services are under development. The announcement should certainly be of interest to small businesses, particularly those who spend a lot of time hanging around airports and other places where BT Openzones are likely to be. It also marks a concerted attempt by BT to devalue the GSM network in which they have no share: every call routed over Wi-Fi stays within the BT network, while those carried over GSM don’t; so the more Wi-Fi the better. * While everyone else is still measuring data quantities in mega bytes (MB) it would appear that BT have changed to mega bits (Mb) for reasons of their own. While we seek clarification we will have to assume they really mean 2.5MB of free GPRS data.®
OGCbuying.solutions has provided a big increase in savings in the last two financial years, but could do even better according to a National Audit Office (NAO) report
ExclusiveExclusive Intel has quietly begun shipping a clock-unlocked version of its mobile Core 2 Duo T7600 processor, but tracking one down may prove tricky. Not all PC makers are likely to offer the part - and those that do may not let slip the chip can be overclocked.
AOL Europe CEO Carlo d'Asaro Biondo has resigned after less than two months in the job. His departure rounds off a year of bewildering personnel changes at the top of AOL Europe. It started the year with Philip Rowley in charge as president. That mantle was handed to Karen Thomson in March, who had been at the helm in the UK. In May, Europe chief operating officer Stan Laurent refused a newly-created European CEO position over a rumoured row over the direction of the business; AOL was being broken up and realigned as a content and advertising portal. Laurent apparently preferred to leave the firm to carrying out plan. AOL then gave Karen Thompson the executive responsibilities of the CEO role on top of her presidency. It transpired Laurent may have made a good call, as Karen Thompson quit eight months after taking the European presidency. At that point AOL France CEO Carlo d'Asaro Biondo was parachuted into the job, which was becoming the hottest potato in the industry. Now, 43 days after his appointment was announced, he's had enough. Understandably, AOL's staff are worried. One wrote to The Register: "Oh dear. What a shower, an absolute shower." Enter AOL International CEO Joe Redling stage left. He aimed to calm fears in an email last night: I am sorry to announce that Carlo D'Asaro Biondo informed us last week that he has accepted a position with another company, and will be leaving AOL Europe. I have asked Philip Rowley if he will step back into the position of CEO, and he has agreed. Philip will fulfil this role for an indefinite period, effective immediately. Carlo will report directly to Philip as we work through a transition over the next few months. I want to take this opportunity to say that I am very encouraged by the work that all of you in AOL Europe are doing in managing the company through this time of change. Yep, we've come full circle and Philip Rowley has been brought back from his plum role as AOL Europe Chairman to steady the ship. Rowley ran AOL Europe from 2002 with relatively little incident, so is entitled to be mildly annoyed his days of sitting in a big comfy chair and making speeches have been cruelly snatched away. Carlo weighed in with his own damage-limitation email: This was an extremely difficult decision for me to make, in light of my recent appointment, but I was offered an opportunity that I did not have the courage to refuse. This is entirely a personal decision and has nothing to do with AOL as a company. If anybody knows what kind of payday required too much "courage" for Carlo to refuse, let us know. As one of our correspondents inside AOL points out: "How long before the Americans impose a Yank CEO on AOL Europe." The turmoil at AOL is not limited to Europe though. High profile departures in the US followed a privacy screw-up. Yesterday restructuring Stateside saw 450 staff axed at its Virginia HQ. AOL announced in August that 5,000 were for the chop worldwide. At time of writing AOL Europe were unavailable for comment. ®
UK incidents of phishing scams have grown 8,000 per cent over the last two years, according to the government's financial watchdog authority. Although losses remain modest compared to other forms of financial fraud, banking security experts speaking before the House of Lords science and technology committee are concerned about the growing prevalence of scams designed to trick consumers into handing over online banking credentials. Rob Gruppetta, of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) financial crime team, told the parliamentary committee, "We are very concerned about the rate of increase. It has gone up by 8,000 per cent in the past two years. But in the grand scheme of total fraud it is still quite small," he added. Between January and June 2005, 312 phishing incidents were recorded, a figure that shot up to 5,059 for the first half of 2006, according to figures from UK banking payment organisation Apacs. Improved detection rates are partly behind the increase but even so the growing sophistication of scammers is leading to heavy losses from UK banks. Apacs security chief Philip Whitaker told peers that scammers had transformed phishing scams from a cottage industry into an industrial process. An estimated £23.2m was stolen from UK online bank accounts using email scams in the first half of 2006, with a slight decreases in losses to £22.5m for the second half of the year, the BBC reports. In the year prior to October 2004, Apacs estimated phishing cost UK banks £4.5m, which compares to a £45.7m estimated loss for 2006. Despite growing losses, security experts testified that online banking was essentially safe. Although conceding that was a case for banks to be more transparent about losses to fraud, Philip Robinson, the FSA's head of financial crime, rejected suggestions from peers that US-style information security breach disclosure laws would build consumer confidence. He said issuing alerts in cases where, for example, laptops containing sensitive information were stolen would only cause "undue alarm" to customers. The FSA is meeting with the Information Commissioner next week for talks on how banks might become more open about fraud while still maintaining confidence in the banking system, Robinson added. ®
Mobile Handset Analyst (PDF) is reporting that Motorola has decided not to compete in the GSMA-sponsored extension to the Emerging Market Handset: 3G for All. Last year Motorola won the Emerging Market Handset (EMH) competition with their C113; a GSM handset which could be manufactured for less than $40 a pop. They have since shaved that down to $30 with some impressive cost-reduction techniques. The 3G for All project is supposed to create a cheap 3G handset for use in developing markets, though the GSMA backed off setting a target price or feature-set in contrast with the original EMH competition. While 12 network operators have signed up to judge the competition, and promised to buy some handsets from the winner, it remains to be seen if anyone manages to create a 3G handset at a reasonable price and what features such a handset will have. Motorola couldn’t be reached for comment, but the decision is unsurprising given the tight profit margin on 3G handsets and the unknown potential sales of a really cheap one: to the peasant-farmer voice communications is a much more compelling application than downloading video clips. The results of the 3G for All competition will be announced at 3GSM in February.®
LG is to launch an "avant garde" Prada-branded mobile phone early next year, the company has revealed. LG's not saying much about the handset, beyond the fact it will incorporate an "advanced touch interface" to "eliminate the conventional keypad".
Symantec says it has fixed vulnerabilities in its NetBackup storage software identified by TippingPoint.
Joel Veitch, one of the geniuses behind B3ta.com, has made an animated special song and short film for Christmas and for charity. The song, seasonally chosen, is a twisted version of "12 days of Christmas" and Mr Veitch is raising money for baby charity Tommy's. The film includes the Hoffmeister holding a fish, Ricky Gervais's cat and a bath full of knees. The website has had over 15,000 hits in the first few days. Apart from donating directly to Tommy's campaign, which you can do from the site, you can also organise your own fundraising over Christmas and New Year. The video has spread far and wide and there are already fundraising activities planned in Canada and the US. Donations are already coming in but they are hoping to raise £30,000. In the UK 17 babies a day are either born stillborn or die in the first month of life. In 60 per cent of cases no cause is ever discovered. Tommy's works to provide mums and dads with information on a healthy pregnancy and birth as well as funding medical research. Go and have a singalong here, and don't forget to donate your leftover Christmas money.®
MoGo the slimline tail-less mouse that can scurry away into a notebook's PC Card slot when it's not needed will go on sale in the UK this month, creator Newton Peripherals said today.
Barclaycard plans to release a credit card that incorporates a London Transport Oyster card. Customers will also be able to pay for low-value transactions without having to sign or enter a PIN number, using so-called "wave and pay" technology and contactless readers in participating shops. The credit card itself is based on standard Chip and PIN technology, though Barclaycard reckons the development takes it one step further towards the release of truly contactless credit cards. Providing trials are successful, Barclaycard plans to roll out its next-generation credit cards to its customers in London next year. The idea of combining an Oyster card with Barclaycard and Barclays Connect Visa cards follows an exclusive contract between Barclaycard and TranSys, the consortium which runs Oyster card in partnership with Transport for London (TfL), due to run for at least three years. Antony Jenkins, Barclaycard’s chief executive, explained the rationale for combining an Oyster card and credit card. "London has seen huge success with the Oyster card from TranSys and TfL - in much the same way as cards have transformed many other consumer payments, it’s difficult to imagine how we managed beforehand. Putting Oyster and Barclaycard together makes life even easier for Londoners and takes our customers an important step closer to fully contactless card payments elsewhere," he said. Contactless credit cards have inspired security concerns, particularly in the US but Barclaycard said its system is built on different technology established by Visa, that was more secure. ®
CommentComment Content monopolies like the major US broadcasters, will always want to maintain their monopolistic control of a market, but in every round of content innovation they are pretty much doomed to fail. It’s hard, for instance, to sell advertising among videos on a web site, if your main ambition is to stop it interfering with your day job, which in the case of the broadcasters is making money from what may be an outdated business model. Which is why, when the Wall Street Journal brought to everyone’s attention this week that four of the major TV networks are planning a UGC site that also shows broadcast video as a direct competitor to Google’s YouTube, we thought “that won’t work.” It’s not just a case of the networks, Fox, Viacom, CBS and NBC Universal, doing their own thing, but doing it together, in a “design by committee” format that rang the death knell for such enterprises as Movielink. This is the absolute worst case scenario. Rivals that compete, but which collectively act as a legally approved cartel, carving up the market, in order to control the route to market. They will make lots of collective claims that YouTube is uncontrollable, that it allows pirated video, and that it doesn’t care enough about its intellectual property. But this is really code for “this is a channel that we don’t control, and that means other, smaller operations can use it, and that gives them a chance to be as popular as us.” And if you are a major US broadcaster, that’s bad. Even though these same studios have given YouTube some rights to their broadcast TV series, they ensure that they are taken down after a certain time, and anyway they are mainly promotions, this way they can protect their DVD revenues on these properties. Independent content owners, for instance, that cannot get the blessing of a rich TV network, will want their content up permanently at YouTube, giving it an advantage over broadcast material, an advantage that it sorely needs. But of course if the plan is to bring as many people to this combined web site as possible, and get all the search engines in the world pointing at it, and then NOT deliver the correct video content, it’s doomed to eventual failure. Instead of them figuring out the right business model in a committee, they need to see that the popular web sites like YouTube have already figured it out. Either they should copy YouTube individually, or work with companies like YouTube, as two of them, NBC and CBS, have already done. The talks are still secret, inconclusive and do not involve ABC and its parent Disney, which was the first to break the deadlock on online content, by licensing iTunes with some of its TV series, just over a year ago. Apparently Fox proposed the use of its MySpace social-networking site as a host of the video. While this was naturally turned down, it might not have been if Fox had allowed each of the broadcasters an opportunity to hold significant shares in MySpace. But of course, infighting and design by committee would have eventually killed MySpace, so it’s best that it wasn’t accepted. Our prediction is that by the time these broadcasters reach agreement, a whole new raft of online video services will have emerged, and new content companies with different priorities, will be providing content to sites like YouTube, content that is not tied to a broadcasting schedule. Copyright © 2006, Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.
BT Retail told the City today that it's making lots more cash than it expected. BT's Retail division is expected to make revenues of £8.5bn and Ebitda* of £738m for the year ending March 2007. This represents Ebitda growth at a rate "into the teens" - three times faster than previously expected. Shares in the telco are trading up slightly today on the news - at 306p - the highest they've been since the dizzy highs of 2001. The telco's business is split into:BT Business, BT Enterprise, BT Ireland and BT Retail. BT Business has 1.1 milion small business clients and annual revenues of £2.2bn and Ebitda of £225m. BT Ireland is expected to be a billion pound business within five years - it currently brings in £700m revenues and makes Ebitda of £145m. BT also announced a wireless service for small and medium businesses today. More here.® *Ebitda stands for Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation.
American scientists are offering a $50,000 prize to the person who designs a system for tagging and tracking the potentially Earth-threatening asteroid, Apophis. The asteroid is due to pass very close (astronomically speaking) to Earth in 2029. During this close encounter, its trajectory will be changed thanks to Earth's gravitational influence. There is a chance, albeit small, that it could be put on a path to collide with us in 2036. Naturally, astronomers would like to be able to confirm that this isn't going to happen, hence the competition. The Planetary Society is putting up the $50k prize money thanks to a donation from board member Dan Geraci. The competition is being run in conjunction with the European Space Agency, NASA, and a number of other space-related bodies. The Planetary Society argues that it is vital we find out if the asteroid is likely to be set on a collision course as soon as possible. This will give us time to make plans to intercept and divert the rock, which is thought to be between 300m and 400m, and save us all from a fate worse than the dinosaurs'. "While the odds are very slim that this particular asteroid will hit Earth in 30 years, they are not zero, and Apophis and other NEOs represent threats that need to be addressed," said Rusty Schweickart, Apollo astronaut and head of the Association for Space Explorers NEO (Near Earth Object) committee. The Society is inviting suggestions for ways to rendezvous with the asteroid and tag it so as to track its path as accurately as possible. There is an area of space several hundred metres wide which the scientists are referring to as the keyhole. If the astroid passes through this keyhole, it will be set on a collision course for 2036. The Society will present the winning entries to the world’s major space agencies, and the findings of the competition will be presented at relevant scientific and engineering conferences. Got an idea? Have a read of the rules and get cracking. ®
UpdatedUpdated By end of Friday, Hutchison Whampoa will have announced the sale of its European 3G franchises - both in the UK and in Italy - to China Mobile; thus confounding the hopes of European operators like TIM and Vodafone of picking up some cheap spectrum. The deal is being finalised today, as 3 UK sends out sample X Series products. Price? Ordinary commercial considerations, say sources, don't apply here. "You could say that the Chinese authorities gave Hutchison a simple choice of whether to sell to China Mobile, or alternatively, to sell to China Mobile," said one cynical-sounding insider. In the last month, since NewsWireless revealed that Hutchison was looking to sell its European operation, the parent company has been desperately trying to talk the price up by teasing observers with "official denials" that the company was for sale, thus inviting serious approaches. Vodafone's Arun Sarin, expected to be an ex-CEO in the short term, has said publicly that he would be interested in buying 3 UK, and the owners of TIM in Italy have also been talking, along with delegations from O2/Telefonica. "It all turns out to have been a smoke-screen, really," said an insider. "Hutchison will probably never disclose what they got paid for the European operation, but if you could find out, you would probably decide that free market economics were not involved." Speculation being all that is possible, few will put a cash value on the sale. Some will point out that 3 UK has been poorly managed, in the eyes of the Hong Kong bosses, with unacceptably high rates of user churn. They will put a low value on the company to China Mobile. Others will point to the importance China Mobile places on expansion outside China, and guess a higher purchase price. Nobody is likely to guess a figure higher than the £4.2bn originally paid by Hutchison for the UK 3G wireless spectrum, however. And several guesses will be that China Mobile is spending substantially below that. One insider, involved in one of the other bids, said that "the figure is not unrelated to the name of the company, but you can't quote me..." In a sense, the news, when it breaks, will justify those who have been writing down the official line from Hutchison CEO, Canning Fok - who has said that 3 is not for sale, despite the stories in NewsWireless. Even after Fok admitted that he was reducing staff in the UK, most publications and analysts have accepted that the rumours were unfounded. It turns out that - since the deal had already been done in principle and only details remained to pin down - it was true: inasmuch as the company was not "for sale" because it was actually already sold, in all but name. The sale is unlikely to affect the UK operation substantially in the short term. The rollout of the X Series will continue, say sources. Update 3 insists no sale is on the cards, saying Friday that "Hutchison Whampoa is 100% committed to 3 in the UK. It has categorically denied that it has plans to sell any of the 3 Group businesses. Beyond that we don't comment on rumour and speculation." Copyright © Newswireless.net
Microsoft's private deal with Universal Music to pay the record label a voluntary royalty of $1 for every Zune player it sells has raised eyebrows across both the technology and music industries. But it might not be the last payment Redmond owes from Zune, we've discovered.
Silicon JusticeSilicon Justice The most lackadaisical US Congress in modern history actually got off its keister and passed some legislation before it waddled off last week. No, it didn't fulfill its most important constitutional duty by passing a national budget. And no, it didn't threaten lawsuits like EFF v. ATT by retroactively approving the government's warrantless wiretapping program - although we can all agree that's a good thing. Instead, during an uncharacteristic last-minute flurry of doing the people's business, the laziest modern Congress chose to tackle a different hot-button issue: pretexting. Not surprisingly, the effort was half-assed. It was really only the Senate that took any action, and not much action at that by passing a pretexting bill. The House passed an identical bill in April - before the HP scandal broke and before Congressional inquiries dragged sweating HP executives and lawyers under the hot lights. After all the intense questions and finger-wagging of the inquiries, the Senate tacitly admitted that the hearings were merely expensive photo ops to make Congress look like it was actually doing something. Absolutely nothing of substance made its way from the hearings into the bill, since the text has been untouched since April. If we felt like giving the Senate the benefit of the doubt, we would attribute their rubber-stamping of the House bill to a desire to avoid eleventh-hour bicameral negotiations over the bill's provisions. All past indicators, however, point to the fact that it was simply the easiest thing to do. The bill imposes a statutory maximum prison term of 10 years and/or fines of $250,000 for individuals, or $500,000 for corporations, that fraudulently obtain telephone records or calling patterns. Now that it has cleared the Senate, it goes to President George "Vetoes Scare Me" Bush for approval. Telephone records are the only type of information covered by the new bill. Other types of information - except for personal financial data, which is covered by a different federal statute - remain up for pretextual grabs under federal law. The bill preempts similar legislation passed in California recently, and will actually offer consumers in that state a greater level of protection than they would have enjoyed under the new state law. The California bill had the MPAA'a fingerprints all over it, and was also restricted to telephone records in its scope. In California's bill, however, The MPAA successfully restricted penalties to a paltry year in the slammer and a maximum fine of $10,000. The federal version packs over ten times the punishment, giving it a little more strength as a deterrent. So the 109th Congress actually gave consumers a parting gift on its way out. Sure, it was a re-gift with almost no thought put into it . . . but with this bunch, we've learned to take the good whenever we can get it. ® Kevin Fayle is an attorney, web editor and writer in San Francisco. He keeps a close eye on IP and International Law issues.
Intel has confirmed plans to "tick" and "tock" AMD into submission. Beer in hand and in belly, we listened to Intel's latest AMD-hammering pitch during a session Wednesday with company executives in San Francisco.
A Kyoto district court has convicted and fined Isamu Kaneko, author of the Winny P2P file sharing program. The application, which had around half a million users earlier this year, was used for distributing copyrighted material, including movies and games. A researcher at Tokyo University, Kaneko was arrested in May 2004. This week a court found him guilty of enabling copyright infringement, and fined him ¥1.5m. (That's about £6,500, or two billion US dollars at today's exchange rate). "The ruling will stop the development of information technology in Japan. Programmers will no longer be willing to develop new technologies," the director of League for Software Engineers told the Daily Yomiuri newspaper The verdict has been appealed, and will move to a higher court. According to reader Nick, law enforcers took little notice of Winny until they found themselves implicated. "Exposing crap police computer security practices, albeit accidentally, is a sure way to have the Japanese authorities chase you into the ground. The Japanese authorities showed little real concern about Winny or WinMX until the scandals involving the police," he writes. Despite an ambiguous SCOTUS ruling that services who "induce" infringement may be found liable for infringement, US courts have yet to successfully prosecute software developers for the consequences of their actions. The most high-profile indictment to take place in a US court, that of Russian programmer Dmitri Skylarov, was fell apart when the prosecution, Adobe, declined to pursue the case. ®
Online casino impresario Avi Shaked, founder of gambling website 888.com, has confirmed today in a wide ranging interview with the Jerusalem Post that he has proposed a $1bn private equity fund for economic investment in the occupied Palestinian territories. Establishment of the fund would be conditioned on the Palestinian Authority reaching a peace agreement with Israel. So, we won't, er, hold our breath about this actually happening. The fund would be released to the authority incrementally, with an initial $100m released for industrial investment. Shaked explained: "Entrepreneurs will have to submit requests and proposals, as is done with any fund. At the final stage, when they actually sign a peace agreement, the rest of the money - $900,000,000 - will be invested." The gambling kingpin has been active in the Israeli Labor party since the 1970’s, and even ran for a seat in the Israeli Knesset in the last elections. Shaked, a self-described “socialist at heart”, expressed optimistically that the practical benefits of business development - as opposed to “capitalism”- can bridge the most intractable divide in all of international politics. In light of Israeli and American attempts to starve the Hamas-led Palestinaian government of hard currency, it’s not even clear if such an offer would be allowed to go through or not. The low key socialist cum businessman declined any comment concerning the nonstop rumors of an impending merger between 888 Plc and Ladbrokes, another major player in the online gaming industry. In an email to the Reg, Ladbrokes confirmed that it still has a strong interest in acquiring 888, primarily due to 888’s strength in the Asian market and in-house software development. The yet to be consummated deal is reported to be valued at about $960m. You can find the full interview here. ®
Microsoft and Hewlett Packard are spending $300m over three years to bring new software to the 20,000 enterprise customers they share.