Kieren McCarthy

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Coding is more important than Shakespeare, says VC living in self-contained universe

Close on the heels of Marc Andreessen's anti-colonialism comments about India, a second billionaire Silicon Valley VC has exploded his ego all over the internet. But whereas Andreessen's offensive comments were restricted to a 140-character tweet, Vinod Khosla has written over 5,000 words to explain why kids should learn …
Kieren McCarthy, 13 Feb 2016

Free science journal library gains notoriety, lands injunctions

A repository of 47 million research papers is playing a game of internet cat-and-mouse with publisher Elsevier. Last month, Sci-Hub was forced to relocate to the sci-hub.io domain after its previous home at sci-hub.org was shut down when Elsevier won a preliminary injunction against it. Likewise the addresses libgen.org, …
Kieren McCarthy, 12 Feb 2016
Reliance free internet from Internet.org

Facebook-squishing Indian regulator's next move: Open source code

Fresh from squashing Facebook's effort to grab the enormous India market, the sub-continent's regulator has another goal in mind: open source software. Speaking at the India Digital Summit this week, chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Ram Sewak Sharma, told attendees: "No service can be hostage to a …
Kieren McCarthy, 11 Feb 2016

Uber, Taskrabbit, other Silicon Valley darlings urge Europe not to screw their business

Uber, AirBnB, Taskrabbit and another 44 online businesses built around the "sharing economy" have written to the European Union urging politicians not to limit their development through new laws. In a letter [PDF] addressed to Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, currently president of the EU, the companies argue that they are " …
Kieren McCarthy, 11 Feb 2016

Sick and tired of modern Windows? Upgrade to Windows 3.1 today – in your web browser

The Internet Archive is taking us back to 1992 with the release of over 1,000 programs and games that run on what was arguably the first mass-market graphical interface: Windows 3.1. It's hard to imagine the enormous leap that was Windows 3.1 now that even our smart phones run an operating system that is an order of magnitude …
Kieren McCarthy, 11 Feb 2016

TTIP: A locked room, no internet access, two hours, 300 pages and lots of typos

A German MP has given an insight into the surreal restrictions imposed around the upcoming US-EU trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Katja Kipping has written a personal account of her visit to a special reading room at the German Ministry of Economics that was set up after Parliamentarians …
Kieren McCarthy, 10 Feb 2016

US Congress locks and loads three anti-encryption bullets

US Congress is preparing no fewer than three new bills over the ongoing encryption debate: one banning end-to-end encryption, one setting up a commission to review the issue, and a third to make sure that it is Congress that gets to decide what happens next. Leading member of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein …
Kieren McCarthy, 10 Feb 2016

Let Europeans sue America for slurping their data – US Senate

European citizens will soon win the right to sue the US government for snatching their personal and private data. On Tuesday, the US Senate passed the Judicial Redress Act, which is a critical jigsaw piece for the new Privacy Shield agreement that governs the exchange of people's personal information over the Atlantic. The …
Kieren McCarthy, 10 Feb 2016

San Francisco prepares to open source its voting system software

San Francisco, home of the tech startup, is trying to show its tech credentials by becoming the first city to use open source software for elections. The proposal to adopt a solution in time for the end of the current contract on January 1, 2017 reappeared at the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday when Supervisor Scott Wiener …
Kieren McCarthy, 10 Feb 2016
You're fired dialog box

2016 tech shakeout starts with CxO exodus

Analysis The rumblings of over-priced tech stocks, made real last month in above-market share falls, have started hitting home with a series of high-profile exits this week. Gone are Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad, Imagination Technologies CEO Hossein Yassaie, Yelp CFO Rob Krolik and Paypal CTO James Barrese. All resigned, although it has …
Kieren McCarthy, 09 Feb 2016

We're going to use your toothbrush to snoop on you, says US spy boss

The Internet of Things is a godsend for the US intelligence services, according to Director of National Intelligence and professional splitter-of-hairs James Clapper. In prepared testimony [PDF] for the Senate Armed Services Committee, Clapper highlighted that "widespread vulnerabilities" in new devices represent "new …
Kieren McCarthy, 09 Feb 2016
Man with head in the cloud

Europe makes it rain for cloud biz: £30m of gold showered on BT, IBM etc

The European Commission has announced what companies will supply the organization with its new cloud services. Contracts were broken out into three "lots," covering a private cloud setup, public cloud setup, and platform-as-a-service, for which it will pay a total of €34.6m (US$38.5m, £26.6m). Despite having received 20 …
Kieren McCarthy, 08 Feb 2016

LinkedIn sinkin': $10bn gone in one day as shares plummet 40%

A rough start of the year for tech stocks was amplified Friday when job-based social media company LinkedIn saw its shares plummet over 40 per cent, wiping $10bn off its value thanks to weak earnings. The company announced that sales for the current quarter would be six per cent lower than expected ($820m on expectations of $ …
Kieren McCarthy, 05 Feb 2016

Ducks, Lord of the Rings, movies and maths: The GCHQ Xmas puzzle solutions revealed

GCHQ has posted the answers to its Xmas puzzle, a five-part crypto extravaganza that saw 600,000 people start but just three win – and even they didn't get it all right. The lucky winners, one from Scotland, one from Belgium and another unnamed, will be given a GCHQ paperweight (presumably with a bug implanted), a biography of …
Kieren McCarthy, 05 Feb 2016

Sir Michael Lyons tells .uk registry Nominet: Time to grow up

A long-awaited review into the future of .uk registry operator Nominet by former chairman of the BBC Trust has told the company it's time to grow up. Sir Michael Lyons' review [PDF] was completed and sent to Nominet's Board in October, but was only published Thursday along with the Board's response [PDF] to his 19 …
Kieren McCarthy, 05 Feb 2016
Ted Cruz

Cruz missile slams into DNS overlord ICANN over Chinese censorship

US Senator Ted Cruz has accused the head of domain name overseer ICANN of being complicit in Chinese online censorship. In a letter [PDF] sent from the Republican presidential frontrunner to Fadi Chehade, Cruz and two other senators demanded that Chehade explain his decision to co-chair a Chinese internet governance initiative …
Kieren McCarthy, 04 Feb 2016

It killed Safe Harbor. Will Europe's highest court now kill off hyperlinks?

The European Court of Justice heard arguments in a case Wednesday that may have internet-wide consequences, since it considers the legal nature of hyperlinks. The continent's highest court, which recently annulled the Safe Harbor agreement that covered transatlantic data flows, is now considering whether people should have to …
Kieren McCarthy, 04 Feb 2016

T-Mobile US's BingeOn does break net neutrality, says law prof

The T-Mobile US Binge On video service does in fact break network neutrality and so is illegal. That's according to Stanford law professor Barbara van Schewick, who has gone to the trouble of writing 51 pages of analysis [PDF] over the controversial throttled service to reach her conclusion. "Binge On undermines the core …
Kieren McCarthy, 04 Feb 2016

Girls! Girls! Girls! Intel brags about diversity push, Silicon Valley tells itself it's doing great

One year on from a public promise, Intel has the rare distinction of actually coming good on its gender equality issues. On Wednesday, the chip giant announced it had surpassed its goal of 40 per cent of new hires being female, taking on 43.1 per cent women in 2015: a near doubling of its previous year's tally. The company …
Kieren McCarthy, 03 Feb 2016

Sure, encrypt your email – while your shiny IoT toothbrush spies on you

Analysis The increasingly noisy debate over encryption is nothing to worry about, eggheads at Harvard have announced today: it's your toothbrush you need to worry about. In a 37-page paper titled Don't Panic: Making Progress on the 'Going Dark' Debate [PDF], a team from the Berkman Center has summarized discussions between themselves, …
Kieren McCarthy, 02 Feb 2016

US government's $6bn super firewall doesn't even monitor web traffic

The US government's firewall, named Einstein, is not as smart as its name would suggest. A report [PDF] by the General Accounting Office (GAO) into the National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS) has concluded that it is only "partially meeting its stated system objectives." Which is a polite way of saying it sucks. Among …
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Feb 2016
networking plugs

Safe Harbor crunch time: Today's the day to hammer out privacy deal

US and EC (European Commission) officials have until the end of the day today to reach a new Safe Harbor agreement or risk a breakdown of transatlantic e-commerce. Despite furious efforts over three months and, for the past few weeks, daily meetings between officials, the two sides are still reportedly at loggerheads over two …
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Feb 2016
Cookie Monster

Facebook tells Belgian government its use of English invalidates privacy case

As legal arguments go, this may not be the strongest. Facebook has told the Belgian government that it cannot proceed with its privacy case against the social media giant because of its use of English terms like "cookie", "browser" and "server". The company was told back in November to stop tracking people without Facebook …
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Jan 2016

US police contracts and private forum posts dumped online

A data dump covering hundreds of police contracts and thousands of private forum posts by US law enforcement officers has been posted online. The 273MB zip file contains a large number of Word documents and two database backups of the forum and main website of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), American's largest police …
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Jan 2016
US Broadband Map

US still lagging on broadband but FCC promises change is coming

The United States is still lagging the world in the rollout of broadband, but things are looking up as federal telecom regulator the FCC formally gave itself the power to act Thursday. As signposted at the beginning of the year, the FCC's annual broadband report has concluded that fast internet access is not being deployed to …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Jan 2016
Chains image via Shutterstock

Open source plugin aims to defeat link rot

A new open source plugin designed to prevent the creation of dead content links online – so called "link rot" – has launched. Amber has been designed by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and it provides what it calls a "persistent route" to information on the internet by automatically taking and retaining a …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Jan 2016

Senate marks Data Privacy Day with passage of critical bill for Safe Harbor

The US Senate has celebrated Data Privacy Day by passing a critical piece of legislation that will extend US privacy rights to Europeans. The Judicial Redress Act passed the Senate's Judiciary Committee on Thursday, putting it in front of the full Senate and making it a virtual certainty to become law. The Act will extend the …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Jan 2016

Billion-dollar blood-test unicorn biz Theranos 'putting lives at risk'

Controversial blood-testing upstart Theranos has been told to take immediate action at one of its testing facilities – or lose its certification. A letter [PDF] sent from federal health inspectors the company said the company's California testing facility presented "immediate jeopardy to patient safety". Its hematology lab, …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Jan 2016

Death to clunky, creaky rip-off cable boxes – here's how it will happen

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is trying to kill off one of life's most frustrating rip-offs: the clunky, outdated cable box that you are pressured to "rent" from your cable provider. Under a new "notice of proposed rulemaking" put forward by the regulator's chairman Tom Wheeler, all cable companies will be …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Jan 2016

Ban internet anonymity – says US Homeland Security official

Internet anonymity should be banned and everyone required to carry the equivalent of a license plate when driving around online. That's according to Erik Barnett, the US Department of Homeland Security's attaché to the European Union. Writing in French policy magazine FIC Observatoire, Barnett somewhat predictably relies on …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Jan 2016

In this Facebook and Google-owned world, it's time to rethink privacy

Analysis It's a seemingly endless topic of conversation: what do we do about the fact that Google and Facebook have built vast databases on us as individuals? The discussion ranges from rallying cries (If it's free, you are the product!) to privacy fears (How much of this information does the government have?) to anecdotal evidence of …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 Jan 2016

If you're one of millions using Magento – stop whatever you're doing and patch now

A huge security hole has been found in popular ecommerce platform Magento, requiring an immediate update. Critical cross-site scripting vulnerabilities have been found in both versions 1 and 2 of the platform. They can be exploited just by registering with a spiked username or email address – making it an obvious target for …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Jan 2016

Show us the code! You should be able to peek inside the gadgets you buy – FTC commish

FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny supports the idea of giving people access to the source code to stuff to ensure better security and privacy in the era of the internet of things. The idea is that obvious bad bugs and poor security mechanisms can be quickly spotted and either fixed or the item stays on the store shelf. …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Jan 2016
Doomsday clock

Safe Harbor 2.0: US-Europe talks on privacy go down to the wire

United States and European Commission officials have promised they are doing everything possible to reach agreement over transatlantic data-sharing before a critical deadline at the end of this week. After the Safe Harbor agreement – put in place in 2000 – was struck down by Europe's highest court back in October due to NSA …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Jan 2016

Davos 2016: It's now all about technology, but what actually happened?

Sketch It used to be that the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss ski resort of Davos was all about finance and politics. But since it turned out that the bankers were almost exactly as corrupt and incompetent as the small cadre of protesters that stood in the snow every year insisted they were, finance has …
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Jan 2016

Japanese chief TPP negotiator accused of taking $100,000 bribe

Japan's chief negotiator in the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal has been accused of taking bribes worth $100,000 from a construction company. Economy minister Akira Amari and his staff accepted 12 million yen ($101,000) in payments from an unnamed company from the Chiba province just outside Tokyo, …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Jan 2016
Banned

Net neutrality-lovin' Sweden mulls law to censor the internet

The Swedish government is considering overturning its long-held opposition to internet filtering – so says one of the country's most high-profile ISPs. According to Bahnhof and its CEO Jon Karlung, the ISP received an email from an investigator who said he had been appointed by the government to look into regulating the …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Jan 2016

GCHQ spies quashed this phone encryption because it was too good against snoopers

The researcher who discovered that the UK government's phone encryption standard has a huge backdoor installed has made another discovery: GCHQ's rejection of a better encryption standard because it didn't allow for undetectable spying. Dr Steven Murdoch has updated his original post on the MIKEY-SAKKE standard, developed by …
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Jan 2016
Samsung Galaxy Alpha

Samsung sued over 'lackadaisical' Android security updates

Samsung is being sued by a Dutch consumer group for its alleged lackadaisical approach to security updates for its Android phones. The Dutch Consumers’ Association (DCA) claims that an incredible 82 per cent of Samsung phones do not have the latest version of Android installed. It blames the Korean giant for failing to prod …
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Jan 2016

Which tech stocks are suffering and – crucially – why?

Analysis With the stock markets on a slide since the start of the year, the usual game of over-hyping companies that are doing well has flipped and now the game is to give companies – particularly tech stocks – a good kicking on the way down. Much of the current frenzy appears built around Twitter, which is having a bad year, and the …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Jan 2016

New open-source ad-blocking web browser emerges from brain of ex-Mozilla boss Eich

A new open-source browser that blocks ads and tracking code and so promises to "fix the Web" by offering a faster, privacy-respecting experience has been released. The Brave browser is the brainchild of former Mozilla (Firefox) CEO and JavaScript inventor Brendan Eich, and version 0.7 is now available to developers on GitHub …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Jan 2016
spy_eye_648

European human rights court rules mass surveillance illegal

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that mass surveillance is illegal, in a little-noticed case in Hungary. In a judgment last week, the court ruled that the Hungarian government had violated article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to privacy) due to its failure to include "sufficiently …
Kieren McCarthy, 20 Jan 2016
GCHQ as seen on Google Earth

For fsck's SAKKE: GCHQ-built phone voice encryption has massive backdoor – researcher

The UK government's official voice encryption protocol, around which it is hoping to build an ecosystem of products, has a massive backdoor that would enable the security services to intercept and listen to all past and present calls, a researcher has discovered. Dr Steven Murdoch of University College London has posted an …
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Jan 2016
Birthday Cake

Happy 30th birthday, IETF: The engineers who made the 'net happen

Special report Thirty years ago today, 16 January 1986, the Internet Engineering Task Force – IETF – was born at a meeting in San Diego. It was humble beginnings and the organization that is more responsible than any other for turning a research project into a viable global communications network boasted an initial attendance of just 21 …
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Jan 2016

What do Angolan rebels, ISIS widows, Metallica and a photographer have in common?

It's an unfair stereotype that America is the home of crazy lawsuits. Which is why we proudly present to you four lawsuits – all of which have emerged in the past few days – that put the stereotype proudly back on the map. You remember that lovely Angolan rebel chief Jonas Savimbi? You know, the one who was a Marxist and …
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Jan 2016
 Putting text-reading robots to work. Arthur_Caranta, CC BY-SA

China's Google clone Baidu also open-sources its AI blueprints

Chinese search-and-everything-else web giant Baidu has joined Google and Facebook in open-sourcing its artificial intelligence (AI) code in a bid to become a standard in an increasingly important market. The company's Warp-CTC C library has been published on GitHub through its Silicon Valley lab, with an accompanying blog post …
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Jan 2016
Tommy Lee Jones delivers implied facepalm. From No Country for Old Men  Copyright Miramax Pictures. 2007.

FTC apologizes for leaking attendee details … to privacy conference

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has put in a strong bid for the 2016 Ironic Idiocy Award when they sent the details of every attendee to one of its conferences to every other attendee. The conference? Privacy CON. The conference, taking place today in Washington DC, is heavy on university research and covers topics like " …
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Jan 2016
Reliance free internet from Internet.org

Facebook tries to defend its troubling masterplan to own India's internet

Facebook has provided a passionate defense of its controversial Free Basics program and its approach of "zero rating." In the 19-page response [PDF] to a public consultation on the practice of "differential pricing for data usage" run by India's telco regulator TRAI, the social media giant argues that programs like Free Basics …
Kieren McCarthy, 13 Jan 2016

Council of Europe gets tough on net neutrality

The Council of Europe has approved and published strong net neutrality guidelines following a meeting in Strasbourg Wednesday. The guidelines are not legally binding but will almost certainly result in legislation that follows its lead being passed across Europe. The council is separate from the European Union, but it is …
Kieren McCarthy, 13 Jan 2016

Skype finally catches Google with group video chat

Skype will finally provide group video chat for mobile phones, nearly three years after Google offered it with Hangouts. The VoIP pioneer that was bought by Microsoft for $8.5bn back in 2011 has been decidedly slow in getting the service to market, but that didn't prevent it from comparing itself to NASA. "Ten years ago, NASA …
Kieren McCarthy, 12 Jan 2016