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Christopher Williams

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Ace Reg reporter in career suicide shock

After almost five years, I'm rejoining the massed ranks of the Reg readership. Assuming my crippling hangover has subsided by then, I'll be reading from Monday in my new post as technology correspondent of the Daily Telegraph. It's been an absolute pleasure to serve this unique and esteemed organ, which has some of the most …
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Sarko to use G8 presidency to promote net regulation

Nicolas Sarkozy plans to use France's presidency of the G8 this year to promote international cooperation on greater regulation of the internet, according to reports. "How do you respond to the problem of terrorism, of paedophilia, to subjects such as the right to be forgotten?" an unnamed source in Sarkozy's entourage was …
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ISPs battle EU child pornography filter laws

ISPs are battling proposals by officials in Brussels that would force them to block access to child pornography, arguing that such systems only hide the problem. The European Commission has drafted new laws that will be voted on by the European Parliament next month. The technical solutions envisaged are broadly based on …
DVD it in many colours

Fire safety gaffe knocks out Webfusion data centre

A bungling fire safety contractor caused a complete shutdown at hosting firm Webfusion's data centre today, crippling thousands of websites. The firm's domain name arm, 123-Reg, was also temporarily offline. "An external third party was carrying out routine maintenance in our data centre, and testing our systems for fire …
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Space boffins save BT's satellite station for Mars missions

Space scientists will redevelop BT's historic Goonhilly satellite station in Cornwall to allow communication with missions to Mars, it is revealed today. The mothballed site will also become a centre of cutting-edge astronomical research as part of a network of huge radio telescopes. Arthur, the world's first parabolic satellite …
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Assange bailed again

Julian Assange has been bailed again by a London magistrate ahead of a full extradition hearing next month. The WikiLeaks founder walked free from Belmarsh Magistrates' Court this morning following a brief hearing, in which only minor changes were made to his bail conditions. Assange, who is wanted by Swedish authorities over …
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Anonymous activists to hit the streets

Protestors associated with the online activism group Anonymous will hit the streets of London twice this week, in criticism of Scientology and in support of Julian Assange. Buoyed by its current high profile, a result of interest in its recent DDoS attacks on Visa, Mastercard and Amazon, the group has issued a call for global …
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'Methanotroph' bacteria feasted on blown BP rig's methane belch

Scientists believe they have solved the mystery over what happened to the hundreds of thousands of tons of methane that belched into the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion last April. According to a study published in Science Xpress, the gas served as a feast for methanotrophs: bacteria able to use …
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Google battles Derby cops over access to Street View data

Google has turned the boys in blue red with rage by refusing to hand over private data except by court order. Police want to trace a vehicle snapped by Google's Street View cameras next to a caravan that was stolen shortly afterwards. The thief struck in June 2009, while the Soanes family, from Linton, Derbyshire, were out. …
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Assange 'threatened to sue' Grauniad over leak of WikiLeak

Julian Assange threatened to sue The Guardian last year when he learned it planned to publish stories based on leaked US diplomatic cables without his permission, it's claimed today. The Wikileaks founder's gripe: That the paper had obtained the documents it intended to use not via him, but from a leaker within his organisation …
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US gov funds censorship-busting tech alternatives to Wikileaks

The US State Department, still reeling from its own battle with the online activists of Wikileaks, is nevertheless offering cash grants for technology to circumvent internet censorship by the Chinese and Iranian governments. The call for applications follows a high-profile speech by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a year ago …
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BT confirms broadband upgrades for rotten boroughs

Six communities where an online poll claimed every single BT customer voted for the local exchange to be upgraded will get faster broadband, the firm has confirmed. The "Race to Infinity" called on small towns and villages – about 25 per cent of its national network – to petition BT to be included in its ongoing fibre optic …
hands waving dollar bills in the air

BT fibre-up-your-exchange poll in 6-way Mugabe style pileup

Today is the last day of BT's "Race to Infinity" broadband upgrade competition, and the result already looks improbable. BT launched the competition in early October, offering small towns and villages nationwide the chance to win a fibre upgrade for their local exchange. Any community overlooked by the firm's commercial …
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Labour moots using speed cameras to reward law-abiding drivers

The new shadow transport minister has suggested that the country's network of average speed cameras could be used to monitor and reward careful drivers with prizes, cheaper car tax, or by deducting penalty points from their licence. Conscious that her party was perceived as anti-motorist when in government, Angela Eagle …
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Standard smartphone charger to dominate in two years

A new generation of smartphones capable of using the same charger - from manufacturers including Apple, Nokia and RIM - will begin appearing in the new year, following the release of European technical standards. The standards, based on Micro-USB, have been welcomed today by the European Commission, which says they will be a …
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Masked Santas disarm Swedish royal guard

Two masked men dressed in Santa hats robbed a royal guard of his automatic weapon in Stockholm last night. The pair mounted a successful surprise attack on the guard, The Local reports. "This is serious. I have a hard time believing it is a prank. It might be premeditated," said appropriately-named local police commander Anders …
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Santander mixes up 35,000 bank statements

The High Street bank Santander has blamed printers for a blunder that saw it send 35,000 bank statements to the wrong addresses. It has written to customers to warn them, but played down potential security problems. "Due to a technical error at our printers, a number of current account statements dated December 18 have printed …
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School caretaker harassed after Islamists hack EDL

A school received hatemail targeting its caretaker after he was wrongly identified as a fascist by opponents of the English Defence League, based on data stolen by an Islamist hacking group. The headmaster of the comprehensive school in Dorset, which The Register has agreed not to name, summoned the caretaker to his office early …
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Christmas shoppers hit by BT fire

A flood and fire in one of BT's major exchanges in London's west end has left stores on Oxford Street and Regent Street unable to process card payments in the last few shopping days before Christmas. The small blaze overnight at the Gerrard Street facility in Soho has left thousands of businesses without broadband and telephone …
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Senior Guardian hacks turn on Assange

An intriguing mini-drama has emerged from backstage at the WikiLeaks theatre. Julian Assange has fallen out with the two senior Guardian journalists who have been central figures in the global publishing of classified US military and diplomatic documents this year. Arguably, he's not a man who can afford to lose friends at the …
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'Porn lock' heralds death of WikiLeaks, internet, democracy, universe

Analysis The British government wants to gag WikiLeaks, and is drawing up Orwellian plans to exploit fears over the effect of online smut on children to achieve that aim. That was the snap conclusion drawn yesterday in fruitcake-friendly corners of the web in response to a Sunday Times front page splash, which reported that the …
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English Defence League membership list stolen

The personal details of English Defence League supporters have been stolen in a hacking attack on its website, it was reported today. The far-right group's leadership emailed members in recent days to warn them of the breach, the Daily Telegraph reports. "As you may have become aware the English Defence League clothing site was …
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Prosecutors kick Phorm case upstairs

Prosecutors have further delayed a decision on whether anyone will be prosecuted over BT's secret trials of Phorm's web monitoring system. The case is now under consideration "at a senior level", the Crown Prosecution Service said in a letter to Alex Hanff, the privacy campaigner who complained after police refused to …
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Assange to be released

A High Court judge has rejected a call to keep Julian Assange in jail while the courts consider Sweden's extradition request. The Wikileaks founder, wanted in Sweden for questioning in relation to alleged sex crimes, was granted bail on Tuesday, but was held in prison pending today's appeal by the Crown Prosecution Service. He …
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Police probe British Anonymous activists

The Metropolitan Police has confirmed it is investigating the activities of Anonymous, the online activism movement recently under the spotlight for its DDoS attacks in support of WikiLeaks. The probe was launched several months ago, apparently following complaints about Anonymous' attacks on the website of ACS:Law, a London …
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Brussels quizzes UK on school kiddyprinting

The European Commission has raised "significant concerns" with Britain over schools that collect and store children's fingerprints. Officials in Brussels have written to the government after a father in Scotland, who objected to such a policy at his daughter's school, complained. Chris Halliday, whose case was first covered by …
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Zuckerberg beats Assange to claim Person of the Year™

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has defied WikiLeaks supporters to claim Time magazine's Person of the Year™ crown. Julian Assange came in third, behind the Tea Party, the chaotic but influential agglomeration of US right wingers. WikiLeaks had openly campaigned for him to win, issuing fanciful claims it would protect him from …
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WikiLeaks urged to stop hosting on Russian blackhat ISP

Security watchers have urged Wikileaks to stop hosting its material with a "bulletproof" Russian ISP believed to primarily cater to, or be controlled by, Russian cyber criminals. Wikileaks.org now points to a mirror of the site, mirror.wikileaks.info, hosted by Webalta, a blackhat ISP linked to a company called Heihachi Ltd, …
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ASSANGE GRANTED BAIL

WikiLeaks supremo Julian Assange was granted bail on appeal by a London court this afternoon. After six days in jail he will be released with conditions, including a £240,000 surety. The next hearing in Sweden's attempt to extradite him in relation to alleged sex crimes against two women was scheduled for 11 January. However, …
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BT accidentally chokes bandwidth to 'superfast' customers

BT has said sorry to subscribers to its "Infinity" packages, who have seen their "superfast" broadband connections slowed to a relative crawl in the evening recently. It blamed the problems on a "technical fault", but did not provide any further details. Hundreds of postings on BT's customer forums in the last week report a …
For Sale sign detail

Beeb ordered to release TV licensing contract sweeteners

The BBC is to be forced to reveal secret sweeteners contained in its licence fee collection deal with Capita within five weeks. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) today gave the corporation a 35-day deadline to disclose the incentives written into the contract. BBC bosses had previously refused requests for the detail …
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BT tests 1Gbit/s broadband

BT hopes to show off the potential of its fibre-to-the-premises technology in the new year, with a trial in Suffolk that will push downstream speeds up to 1Gbit/s. The purely technical exercise in Kesgrave, involving engineers from BT's nearby Martlesham Heath labs, will aim for a downstream speed ten times the 100Mbit/s offered …
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Brits now spend more on debit cards than rustle or jingle money

British shoppers are for the first time spending more on their debit cards than in cash, according to banks. The 1.7 billion debit card transactions in the first eight months of this year were worth £272bn, compared to £269bn for cash, the Payments Council said today. Spending on plastic during the August bank holiday relegated …
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THE TRUTH on the Californian NASA POISON ALIENS

The discovery of a previously unknown lifeform in California that lives on arsenic is prompting astrobiologists to broaden their hunt for alien life. The new bacterium - GFAJ-1, part of the class Gammaproteobacteria, which also includes E.coli - was discovered in samples taken from Mono Lake. The lake is naturally high in …
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Renta-spook: GCHQ commercialisation 'is a live issue'

GCHQ could be turned into a technology incubator under plans being discussed by the government, it's been revealed. The security minister Baroness Neville-Jones told MPs that commercialisation of the Cheltenham spy agency's technology and services is a "live issue". She appeared yesterday before the Science and Technology …
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97% of INTERNET NOW FULL UP, warn IPv4 shepherd boys

Less than three per cent of IPv4 address space is still to be allocated, after two huge chunks were given to American and European ISPs. ARIN and RIPE, which administer IP addresses on either side of the Atlantic, each received two /8 address blocks in November. A fifth block went to their African equivalent. The moves leave …
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Chinese telecoms giant furiously scrubs links to Phorm

Huawei, the giant Chinese telecoms manufacturer, has deleted claims on its own website and by its staff that it is involved in a partnership with Phorm. Nonetheless, the pair are working together, and Phorm is also integrating its behavioural advertising technology with Cisco routing gear as it courts ISPs outside the UK. On …
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Iran admits cyberattack hit nuke programme

The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today seemed to confirm speculation that the Stuxnet worm obstructed his regime's nuclear ambitions. "Several" uranium enrichment centrifuges were damaged by the virus, he told a press conference. "They were able to create problems on a limited basis for some of our centrifuges by …
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Wikileaks exposes Clinton's cyberspy wish-list

Hillary Clinton asked US diplomats to gather the passwords and encryption keys of top United Nations officials, as well as details of the private networks they use to communicate. In one of the most controversial of the first batch of embassy cables released by Wikileaks, she sought information that would be useful for cyber- …
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ISPs under pressure to control online porn

Campaigners will meet with the internet minister, Ed Vaizey, to lobby for ISPs to be forced to control access to pornography. Vaizey issued the invitation to Tory backbencher Claire Perry, who said the availability of sexual material online is "a fire is burning out of control". The minister offered to act as an "honest broker …
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Police to get greater web censorship powers

Police will effectively get more powers to censor websites under proposals being developed by Nominet, the company that controls the .uk domain registry. Following lobbying by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Nominet wants to change the terms and conditions under which domain names are owned so that it can revoke …
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Pentagon braces for Wikileaks' diplomatic dump

The Pentagon expects Wikileaks to expose a huge cache of classified diplomatic communications by as soon as Friday, it has warned politicians. An official told the Senate and House Armed Services Committees the whistleblowing site is working with its regular press partners, The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel on the …
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Sex abuse fax leak costs council £100k

A council that accidentally faxed details of a child sex abuse case to a member of the public was fined £100,000 by the Information Commissioner today, in the first use of his new powers to punish data breaches. Hertfordshire County Council intended to send the fax to barristers in June this year. Once officials realised their …
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Scottish botnet master jailed for 18 months

A Scottish botnet master was this morning jailed for 18 months and ordered to pay £5,000 costs for hijacking many thousands of computers from his mum's front room. Matthew Anderson, 33, from Drummuir, used the global network of compromised machines to send tens of millions of spam emails. The father of five, whose own home was …
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Foreign cyber spies target British defence official

Foreign spies targeted a senior British defence official in a sophisticated spear phishing operation that aimed to steal military secrets. The plan was foiled last year when the official became suspicious of an email she received from a contact she had met at a conference. The official showed the highly personalised message to …
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Anti-piracy lawyers 'knowingly targeted the innocent', says law body

A major law firm knew it sometimes had no reliable evidence of unlawful filesharing when it demanded hundreds of pounds damages from internet users, according to the solicitors' watchdog. London-based Davenport Lyons threatened thousands of people with legal action for alleged copyright infringement between 2006 and 2009. They …
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Sweden to issue international arrest warrant for Assange

Swedish prosecuters plan to issue an international arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, after a court today approved their request to detain him over rape and molestation allegations. Director of Public Prosecution Marianne Ny said she will seek his arrest via Interpol, AP reports. Assange again denied the …
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Easynet blames network collapse on dodgy router update

Early investigations of a nationwide collapse of the Easynet network have pointed the finger at a software update to a Cisco router. The outage began at 8.32am on Wednesday, and for some customers lasted most of the working day. "An Easynet edge router crashed due to a software bug condition triggered by an invalid update from …
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Swedish prosecutors seek Assange arrest

Updated The Swedish prosecutor leading an investigation of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is today seeking a court order for his arrest, so she can interrogate him on allegations of rape and molestation. Marianne Ny indicated that efforts to question Assange on a voluntary basis have been unsuccessful. "The reason for my request is …
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UK.gov ignores 'net neutrality' campaigners

ISPs will be allowed to charge content providers to prioritise their traffic, the government indicated today. A speech by the communications minister Ed Vaizey confirmed that the concept of "net neutrality" remains irrelevant in the UK under the coalition. As long as providers are open about their policies, he said, the …