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NSA-restraining US law edges closer to reality, leaves just 6.81 billion under mass surveillance

A law bill to mildly curb the NSA's blanket surveillance of innocent Americans has taken an important step toward being passed. On Thursday, the US House of Representatives' justice committee voted 25 to two in favor of a revised version of the USA Freedom Act – the original was killed last year in the Senate. Now it's looking …
Iain Thomson, 1 May 2015
Twitter for Mac New

Oi, Twitter! Sign this or we won't talk to you, growls EU

Twitter could soon find itself cold-shouldered by top European law-makers. The deadline for all companies and organisations wanting to lobby the EU to update their information on the so-called Transparency Register passed this week. The annual update was more important than usual this year since the Commission, under president …
Sharks by https://www.flickr.com/photos/enriquecespedes/ CC 2.0 attribution https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Grooveshark closes, blames 'serious mistake' of not paying for music

Music streaming service Grooveshark has closed its doors, after admitting hadn't acquired rights to the music it streamed. The company on Thursday (US time) replaced its website with the statement below. Grooveshark closure message The writing's been on the wall for Grooveshark for some time, as earlier this week it learned …
Facebook Beacon

Facebook bug gobbles pics in posts, web publishers scream

Facebook users are complaining that The Social NetworkTM is experiencing a problem that stops people posting pictures. A developer calling themselves “La Carmina” has filed a bug report stating that “every post I publish on my site does NOT show a featured image when I try to share the link in Facebook”, and there are numerous …
Simon Sharwood, 30 Apr 2015
Interim logo for Digital Transformation Office

Turnbull's Digital Transformation Office is actually working!

The pet project of Australia's communications minister Malcolm Turnbull, a Digital Transformation Office (DTO) modelled on the deeply flawed UK Government Digital Service (GDS), appears to be working. A couple of days ago, Australia's Department of Human Services let us know that it has created a new “Express Plus Child Support …
Simon Sharwood, 30 Apr 2015
Woman on phone. Pic: Carolyn Coles

AT&T fined for gouging Uncle Sam on phone plans for poor folk

AT&T has been fined $10.9m by US regulator the FCC for overcharging the government on phone plans for poor people. The watchdog said the telco over-billed the US government between 2012 and 2013 while providing the Lifeline service to hard-up citizens. Lifeline works like this: the cell networks offer discounted or free phone …
Shaun Nichols, 30 Apr 2015
Newspapers

Whither the PC? Mobes, slabs drive majority of traffic for top news sites

Most of the top news websites get more traffic from handheld gadgets than desktop computers – a not-so-shocking result that serves to underline the soaring sales of phones, and possibly the emergence of today's clickbaity 30-second-attention-span media. The figures come from Pew Research and ComScore, and apparently show that …
Shaun Nichols, 30 Apr 2015
Kim Kardashian. Pic: Eva Rinaldi

Bulging booty bird Kim Kardashian date game biz adds Britney Spears to bottom line

Chinese social network Tencent has agreed to buy 14.6 per cent of mobile game developer Glu Mobile for $126m. Glu is best known for its Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, where you get to “date and dump celebs at the best parties and hottest clubs! Flirt and become the next huge celebrity power-couple!”. Yesterday the company announced …
Simon Rockman, 30 Apr 2015

Instagram's HTTPS cert expires, millions of crap photographers panic

Instagram's SSL certificate has expired, showing the urine-filled-swimming-goggles-vision site's supposed commitment to security seems to have been a bit of a filter-job. Instagram first rolled out HTTPS in 2014 when a vulnerablity was reported by InfoSec specialist Mazin Ahmed. Ahmed used Wireshark to captured unencrypted data …

UK exam board wants kids to be able to Google answers

Poll The Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) exam board wants pupils to be allowed to use Google to search for answers in exams. The proposal has been put forward by Mark Dawe, the OCR exam board chief executive, who claims that using Google is akin to using a calculator in mathematics and that there should be Google and non-Google …
Simon Rockman, 30 Apr 2015
Grant Shapps, Conservative Party chairman. Pic: Sportsfile Web Summit

Is Grant Shapps being naughty on Wikipedia – or did a Lib Dem stitch him up?

The story of Grant Shapps and Wikipedia – which dominated news coverage of the General Election for a whole day last week – shows that new media can make a monkey out of respectable old media – even with a tale that falls far short of old media’s standards of proof. The purpose of what follows is not to defend Shapps, who is …
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Apr 2015
france

France wants to make les citoyens' health data available to world+dog

Plans to centralise the storage of health data in France are being considered by the French parliament. Draft legislation, which would see a new single national health database created, was backed by the National Assembly earlier this month and is now being considered by the Senate. Under the proposals, five sets of data would …
OUT-LAW.COM, 30 Apr 2015
Troll. Pic:  Anna Bialkowska

You can't keep a Secret and nor can anyone else: the app is closing

In an almost-unprecedented move, a silicon valley founder is exiting a company before it's burned all its money: anonymous chat app Secret is looking for a graceful exit. David Byttow says Secret's “significant amount of invested capital” (remaining from US$35 million of funding) will be returned to the investors, rather than …
Marc Benioff of Salesforce. Pic: Techcrunch

Someone is trying to buy Salesforce – but who could it be?

Salesforce.com is being eyed up for an acquisition – and has hired financial experts to guide it through the biz gobble, it's claimed. "Salesforce does not comment on rumors or speculation," the San Francisco-headquartered cloud giant told The Register this afternoon in response to whispers. There has been no formal offer for …
Shaun Nichols, 29 Apr 2015
Malcolm Turnbull

Exclusive interview: Malcolm Turnbull quizzes Malcolm Turnbull

In what we believe to be a world first, The Register has secured the services Australia's shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull, circa 2012, to interview himself as the nation's current government communications minister now, in 2015. Over to you, Malcolms ... Turnbull 2012: You've expressed “grave misgivings” over …
LG G4

LG glances at red-stained bank account, crosses fingers for G4

South Korean electronics giant LG is putting on its best face after its bottom line plunged by two thirds. LG said that the drop in currencies was the main reason its net income for the first quarter of 2015, ended March 31 [PDF], stood at 38bn Korean Won (US$35m) compared to 98bn (US$91.5m) from the year-ago period – a 61 per …
Shaun Nichols, 29 Apr 2015
Microsoft's Terry Myerson, speaking at Build 2015

Microsoft: It's TRUE, you'll get Android and iOS apps in WINDOWS

Build 2015 Microsoft will get Android code working with Windows 10, confirming the rumors are true, sort of. But what the software giant actually has planned is more nuanced than just borrowing apps from the Google Play store, and it involves courting iOS developers, too. At the Build developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, …
Neil McAllister, 29 Apr 2015

US Congress promises death to patent trolls in bipartisan law scribbling

A new bill that will bring about the end of patent trolls will be introduced to US Congress today (Wednesday). Its backers are confident it will be signed into law "in six months or less." At a press conference launching the Patent Act earlier today, senior leaders from both parties spoke strongly in favor of introducing new …
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Apr 2015
Bitcoin is the future of money CC 2.0 by Jonathan Waller https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitez/

The world's first proper Bitcoin exchange will be live in a month

Bitcoin will officially enter the mainstream financial world next month when New York State's Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) publishes a regulatory framework for the virtual currency, allowing virtual currency exchange itBit to become the first-ever legitimate Bitcoin bank. The NYDFS will publish its final "BitLicense …
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Apr 2015

Why the US government reckons it should keep phone network kill-switches a secret

Analysis The US government has argued that the rules around how and when it is allowed to shutdown phone networks must remain secret because the disclosure could endanger lives. In a court filing [PDF] this week, lawyers from the Department of Justice argued that public disclosure of Standard Operating Procedure 303 (SOP 303) "would …
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Apr 2015

Facebook policy wonk growls at Europe's mass of data laws

Facebook's Brussels lobbyist Richard Allan took to the pages of the Pink 'Un on Wednesday morning to have a good old moan about "multiple" EU nations digging around the free content ad network's data-slurping biz practices. He complained that the actions of national privacy watchdogs within the 28-member-state bloc posed a …
Kelly Fiveash, 29 Apr 2015
Google faces antitrust charges in the European Union

Google officially doubles EU lobbying – but true figure is surely higher

Google doubled its EU lobbying efforts last year – but the real figure is likely to be much higher than it has declared, as it doesn’t include money spent on ongoing disputes. The Californian data slurper and hoarder overtook [paywall] Goldman Sachs as the biggest lobbyist in the US last year and is the biggest Federal lobbying …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Apr 2015
Microsoft Build conference

'Android on Windows': Microsoft tightens noose around neck, climbs on chair

Build 2015 Microsoft’s annual developer conference Build kicks off later today, and rumours are swirling that Redmond has a bold plan to rescue Windows Phone from irrelevance. Aside from a modest 10 to 15 per cent share in some markets, the platform has gone nowhere, despite billions of dollars of support from Nokia and Microsoft. The plan …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Apr 2015
Old beardy man thinking. Pic: Henadz via Flickr

Jeez, AT&T. Billing a pensioner $24,000 for dialup is pretty low

An 83-year-old man in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles saw the bill for using his AOL dial-up service rise from a regular $51 per month to an unbelievable $8,596, eventually rising to $24,289, with threats of further increases if he failed to pay up. As a pensioner on Social Security, Ron Dorff receives a monthly income of just $1, …
The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution

New EU security strategy: Sod cyber terrorism, BAN ENCRYPTION

“It is unacceptable that a Kalashnikov can be bought easily on the internet,”* thundered European Commission number two Frans Timmermans yesterday, as he presented the Commission’s plans to combat terrorism. So what’s he going to do about it? That’s right, hold a consultation. The much-trumpeted new EU Security Strategy is …
Jennifer Baker, 29 Apr 2015
British Transport Police cop. Pic: Gordon Joly

Smile! Brit transport plods turn bodycams on travelling public

British Transport Police have agreed to test 250 Taser Axon body-worn cameras. The gizmos film alleged criminal activity witnessed by the cops, before uploading the footage to a data management system. Taser promised that the evidence gathered from the devices would be stored and managed securely on its platform. The BTP will …
Team Register, 29 Apr 2015
LIZARD WEARING A TOP HAT SITS ON A BRANCH.  Brett Weinstein pic - ALTERED BY JUDE KARABUS - licensed under  CC 3.0

E-voting and the UK election: Pick a lizard, any lizard

Feature On Thursday May 7, the UK goes to the polls for a General Election. For those from elsewhere, we use the First Past the Post voting system, with each MP representing a specific geographical constituency. So, a majority of one is enough to win a seat, and the party leader who can command a majority of votes in the House of …
Nigel Whitfield, 29 Apr 2015
crash test dummies

Your new car will dob you in to the cops if you crash, decrees EU

New cars sold in the EU from March 2018 will have to phone the authorities if they think they've been in a crash. A watered-down version of the eCall proposal has found favour with the EU Commission, meaning when a car or light van crashes, it will automatically summon the emergency services. It will use the emergency number of …
Simon Rockman, 29 Apr 2015

Stop the war between privacy and security – EU data watchdog

Security and privacy are not mutually exclusive says Europe’s privacy watchdog – and people should stop saying they are. The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Giovanni Buttarelli, told a Brussels conference he was concerned that “the objective of cyber-security may be misused to justify measures which weaken protection …
Jennifer Baker, 29 Apr 2015

Tax shouldn't be taxing – unless you're Barracuda Networks

Barracuda Networks reported a satisfyingly chunky revenue rise for its final 2015 quarter and full year, ended February 28, but losses dove unexpectedly deep due to taxation manipulations. Revenues for the fourth fiscal 2015 quarter were US$72.2m, up 19.7 per cent on the year-ago's $60.3m, and 2.6 per cent higher sequentially. …
Chris Mellor, 29 Apr 2015
Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung Electronics' sales go OVER A CLIFF

Samsung Electronics, the phones-and-chips-and-tellies arm of the Chaebol, has reported a nasty set of numbers for 2015's first quarter. Let's go straight to a slide from the earnings call to show you just how nasty it is. Samsung Q1 2015 sales and profits Samsung Electronics Q1 2015 results. Click here to embiggen Those …
Simon Sharwood, 29 Apr 2015
Twitter for Mac New

Twitter's share price crashed 18% thanks to ONE LONE TWEET

Financial analysts have reacted with comical dismay following less-than-forecast results from microblabber-content advertising website Twitter. The outfit's monthly active users, at 302 million, were up 18 per cent year-on-year and 4.86 per cent quarter-on-quarter, prompting Landcolt Capital's Todd Schoenberger to tell Reuters “ …

How do you sell fewer hard drives but make more profit? Let's ask ... Western Digital

Western Digital's third quarter of fiscal 2015, ended April 3, raked in sales of US$3.55bn – that's 4.1 per cent down on the year-ago quarter, and 8.7 per cent less than the previous quarter. It banked a profit of US$384m; that figure was US$375m a year ago, so that's a 2.4 per cent gain. WD recorded a profit of US$460m in the …
Chris Mellor, 29 Apr 2015
Lego Godzilla

Intel's wristjob envy sparks reorg

Intel has signalled a refocussing of its R&D in an effort to really, truly make a difference in the wearables market. Chipzilla has told The Wall Street Journal that what was formerly its former New Devices Group will be remade as the “New Technology Group” and put under the leadership of senior veep Joshua Waldon. Walden …
Interim logo for Digital Transformation Office

Turnbull's digital transformation team discovers user testing

Australia's Digital Transformation Office (DTO) has done something, again. After a couple of weeks in which its blog has gone largely silent and its Twitter feed has been reduced to retweets of other agencies news, a new post has appeared offering truly transformational advice: do stuff differently for different audiences. User …
Simon Sharwood, 29 Apr 2015
Man in an orange jumpsuit clutches prison bars. Image by Shutterstock

Judge denies retrial for 'Dread Pirate' Ulbricht in Silk Road drugs case

A US federal judge has rejected convicted Silk Road kingpin Ross Ulbricht's request for a new trial, despite his attorneys' claims of misdeeds on the part of government agents and prosecutors. "The evidence of Ulbricht's guilt was, in all respects, overwhelming," an unsympathetic District Judge Katherine Forrest wrote in a …
Neil McAllister, 28 Apr 2015

ICANN wants total control of DNS while breaking its own bylaws to block .africa probe

ICANN broke its own bylaws – and acted in a way "fundamentally inconsistent" with its role as the world's DNS overlord – while restricting efforts to make itself more accountable to netizens. That striking judgment [PDF] comes this month from an independent review team at the International Centre For Dispute Resolution (ICDR). …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Apr 2015
Panic button

Imation board and CEO get desperate ahead of May 20 AGM

Fearing the worst – that they might get booted off the board in a proxy vote war – Imation's CEO and board have written a second letter to shareholders, appealing for their support in a vote at the company's AGM on May 20. They criticised the Clinton Group and its ideas strongly, declaring: Clinton is seeking to remove three of …
Chris Mellor, 28 Apr 2015
Alan Rusbridger as Judas

FT and Guardian eagerly grab Google's 30 pieces of silver

Money can’t buy you love, they say, but Google hopes it can mollify Europe’s newspaper publishers. Faced with antitrust action in Europe, the Chocolate Factory is pouring €150m directly into the pockets of European newspaper publishers to use on “digital projects”, the FT reports. The cash will fund “joint work on product …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Apr 2015

The Government Digital Service: The Happiest Place on Earth

Special Report Last year, the UK's Cabinet Office asked an external management consultancy to examine staff morale and high turnover at the Government Digital Service. After interviewing more than 100 civil servants, its scathing confidential analysis described an organisation beset by low morale and run by a “cabal” management of old friends …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Apr 2015
Steve Jobs memorial in Russia

Apple BIGGER than the U.S. ECONOMY? Or Australia? Or ... Luxembourg?

Analysis Apple's results are out - and it's time for the traditional game of trying to work out how much richer than which country the company is. With sales at $58 billion for the quarter, profits of $13.7 billion and depending upon how absurd we want to make our method of measurement this makes it the same as the US economy, the size …
Tim Worstall, 28 Apr 2015
Looks like DNA

Sweden releases human genome under Creative Commons licence

What used to take years now takes months: after buying a bunch of sequencers in 2014, Sweden's Uppsala University has published a human genome sequence under the Creative Commons license. The data has been posted at Sweden's Uppsala University's Website here for bioinformatics boffins to play with. The university's SciLifeLab …