Kieren McCarthy

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FCC swivels to online privacy, gets bitten in the ass by net neutrality

Analysis When America's comms watchdog the FCC passed its net neutrality rules despite an onslaught of criticism from telcos, the world rejoiced. But, as many of us noted at the time, the Open Internet Order was achieved through an imperfect approach: equating internet providers with phone companies by deciding they are Title II …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 May 2016

Feinstein-Burr's bonkers backdoor crypto law is dead in the water

A proposed piece of US legislation that would have required American tech companies to cripple the encryption in their products is dead in the water. The daft bill was championed by Senators Richard Burr (R‑NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D‑CA) in February following an increasingly rancorous debate over encryption, and at one point …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 May 2016

Google up on Oracle win

Google's shares have gone up just over one per cent following its win against Oracle in a critical lawsuit yesterday. The jury in the case decided that Google's use of Oracle's Java APIs was "fair use," taking Google/Alphabet off the hook for what could have been a $10bn settlement. Oracle will appeal the case but most …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 May 2016

Snapchat valued at $18bn

Messaging app Snapchat has been valued at an extraordinary $18bn in the latest round of funding, revealed in an SEC filing. The company raised $1.8bn over the course of a year, with most of it coming in the last few months. The company is still privately held, but unlike other Silicon Valley "unicorns," venture capitalists are …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 May 2016

Are EU having a laugh? Europe passes hopeless cyber-commerce rules

Analysis The European Commission (EC) has approved a series of ecommerce rules designed to make Europe more competitive online. In true European fashion however, the proposals contain a lengthy series of inconsistent compromises and avoid altogether the most complex policy issues, making them largely worthless. Vice-President for the …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 May 2016
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Two more Twitter execs quit

Another two senior executives at Twitter are heading off. Nathan Hubbard and Jana Messerschmidt, who were in charge of the San Francisco-headquartered company's media and commerce and business development teams respectively, are both jumping ship, the biz has confirmed. That makes six of the ten top execs at the upstart that …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 May 2016
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Pas de problème ... Quebec just passed a website blocking law

Canada's second largest province, Quebec, has passed a law that obliges ISPs to block gambling websites. Bill 74 has passed almost without notice (the casino industry being the notable exception) and will see the government agency in charge of lotteries in the province, Loto-Québec, draw up a list of online gambling sites that …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 May 2016

Twilio (ask your dev) to IPO

One of Silicon Valley's so-called unicorns is going public. Comms company Twilio has filed IPO paperwork with US financial watchdog the SEC and is looking for $100m. It hasn't released the number of shares it intends to sell however, making it impossible to see how much the San Francisco-based upstart it seeking to value …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 May 2016

Euro Patent Office prez's brake line cut – aka how to tell you're not popular

Exclusive Every CEO knows it's impossible to be universally liked. But when staff start cutting your brakes, maybe it's time to consider moving on. The president of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoit Battistelli, has already been on the receiving end of an official censure from his board, a series of strikes, several highly …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 May 2016

Iraq kills t'internet again

Iraq has turned off its internet yet again to coincide with student exams. As we reported earlier this month, the Iraqi government considers the risks of 11-year-olds cheating on their exams – and so being allowed to continue with their education – such a priority that for the second year it has instructed all ISPs to shut off …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 May 2016

Hulk Hogan's sex tape, a Silicon Valley billionaire, and a $10m revenge plot to destroy Gawker

Analysis It's long been feared that satire may be dead. But the proof seems to have arrived in reports that Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel is secretly funding a Hulk Hogan sex-tape legal case against media outlet Gawker as part of a 10-year revenge fantasy for outing him as gay. The Hogan case was already a weird one: he was …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 May 2016
Poster for the movie Cable Guy. Copyright:  Columbia Pictures Corporation,

Big Cable uses critics' own arguments to slam set-top box shake-up

Analysis Amid a battle to end Big Cable's $20bn annual windfall from rented set-top boxes, the industry has hit on a novel strategy: use its opponents' own arguments against them. In a filing on the last day of public comment to the FCC's plan to open up the market, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) in the US …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 May 2016
Internet email sign. Pic: @mattw1lson, Twitter

Apple et al demand email law

Apple, Facebook, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others have sent a letter to the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley (R‑IA), urging him to pass the Email Privacy Act. The legislation will update the antiquated 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act and close an important privacy loophole where …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 May 2016
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US watchdog probes Alibaba

The monster Chinese ecommerce site Alibaba is under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In a filing – with the SEC – the company disclosed the financial regulator was looking into its accounting practices. That investigation includes Alibaba's biggest PR effort: the huge revenue generated on China …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 May 2016

Stone me! Pebble bags $7m

Pebble has raised $7m to develop two new versions of its smartwatch and a fitness tracker. The biz that created a mass market for smartwatches back in 2013 with a Kickstarter appeal has returned to the site to create the Pebble 2, Time 2 and Pebble Core – and found immediate backing. The biggest change in the new watches will …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 May 2016

SWIFT CEO promises security improvements

The head of the SWIFT financial network has put forward a five-part plan to improve security after its systems were the focus of several cyberattacks. Gottfried Leibbrandt gave a keynote on Tuesday at a financial services conference in Brussels and promised the organization would work harder to ensure that incidents like last …
Kieren McCarthy, 24 May 2016

Facebook claims no bias

Facebook has sent a 12-page letter to Congress denying that there was any political bias in its "trending topics" services, while at the same time promising to make improvements. The letter [PDF] from Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch to chair of the Senate Commerce Committee John Thune follows an explosive report that …
Kieren McCarthy, 24 May 2016

Twitter expands beyond 140 characters

Twitter has announced another tweak to its text-message system that will give users greater space to send messages alongside pictures. The change, which will be rolled out over the next few months according to a blog post by the company, will retain the company's 140-character text limit but not count links to photos or people …
Kieren McCarthy, 24 May 2016

Ego and CEO are 66 per cent the same

RECAP While Game of Thrones obsessives reveled in that series' fifth episode The Door (hold the door; poor guy), the true nerds were instead staring at a chair. Not just any chair – the chair. The chair of Pied Piper's CEO and in it sat ... no one. Because Jack Barker had been jettisoned and now the boys at Silicon Valley were ready …
Kieren McCarthy, 23 May 2016
Internet email sign. Pic: @mattw1lson, Twitter

Germany says yes to DANE

The German government has mandated the use of the DANE protocol for future use in secure email. It's a big boost for the security protocol. In a technical directive aimed at ISPs, the guidelines include DANE (DNS-based authentication of named entities) alongside DNSSEC as part of the "secure email transport" standard. …
Kieren McCarthy, 23 May 2016
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US Telecom beats up FCC over investment

Analysis Telco lobbying group US Telecom has fired another broadside at their erstwhile friendly regulator, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), saying the billions telcos make each month isn't enough. This time, in a blog post from its vice president of law and policy, Diane Holland, Big Telco is complaining that the FCC – and …
Kieren McCarthy, 23 May 2016

Modular phone Ara to finally launch

A modular phone that will let you snap on and pull off different components as you wish will finally launch this fall, Google has announced. The Ara project was originally announced in October 2013 and was part of the acquired Motorola Mobility business. Since then it has become part of Google's Advanced Technology and …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 May 2016
Professional carbon drone with GPS. Pic via Shutterstock

US government publishes drone best practices

You can't use drones to check whether your employee really is sick, or to take pictures of your neighbors, unless you're a news organization in which case the sky is the limit - or more accurately not the limit. That's according to advice published by the US government over how best to use drones – or unmanned aircraft systems …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 May 2016
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Oculus backtracks on open software promise

VR headset company Oculus has backtracked on a promise not to lock down its software to its hardware. In an update put out this week, the company's digital rights management (DRM) system now checks whether the Oculus Rift headset is attached to the computer when playing a game. If it isn't, the game won't play, effectively …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 May 2016
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Symphony enters messaging app market

Entering an already crowded market, Symphony has announced it will produce an iOS app for its cloud-based messaging service. The Google-backed company's service is used largely by financial institutions due to its high-level security, but is currently only available through a browser. The iPhone app will be released next week …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 May 2016