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This headline will, in part, cost pepper-spraying University of California, Davis $175k

The University of California, Davis has spent $175,000 on search engine optimization (SEO) and online reputation management – to hide an embarrassing incident in which students were pepper-sprayed on campus. The massive bill has come to light this week after the Sacramento Bee filed information requests on the university's …
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Apr 2016
Snow White waves goodbye. Photo copyright Disney

Ad slinger Phorm ceases trading

Controversial ad targeting firm Phorm has ceased trading. Phorm’s decision follows a failure to secure enough funding to run its business, as explained in a statement to the London Stock Exchange here. Phorm an advertising-technology company and first party data platform provider, announces that, further to its announcement …
John Leyden, 14 Apr 2016

Music's value gap? Follow the money trail back to Google

Analysis If you want to understand the economics of the music industry, imagine that you make wellies: Prestige Boots. They’re excellent wellies, well reviewed and loved by customers. You deserve to crack the big time, so you arrange a meeting with Hypothetical Hypermarkets. In his swanky office, the Hypermarket buyer tells you how …
Andrew Orlowski, 14 Apr 2016
Reliance free internet from Internet.org

Half of Facebook's Free Basics users ditch the freebie web-lite service for the paid-for real deal

Internet.org aka Free Basics – Facebook's slice of the web for the developing world – has been controversial, but that isn't stopping the social network. The internet service requires a SIM card from a participating mobile operator, and grants free access to Facebook, BBC News, Dictionary.com, er, ESPN and a few other sites. …
Iain Thomson, 13 Apr 2016
Marissa Meyer

Daily! Mail! eyes! up! Yahoo!'s news! arm!

The Daily Mail Group Trust (DMGT) confirmed on 11 April that is discussing a bid for Yahoo, one of a number of suitors to be eyeing up the troubled biz. In a statement the DMGT said: "Discussions are at a very early stage and that there is no certainty that any transaction will take place. We have no further comment at this …
Kat Hall, 11 Apr 2016

Twitter spends $10m on rights to cover Thursday-night NFL games

Twitter has paid a reported $10m for the streaming rights to ten NFL games later this year, surprising many and leaving some scratching their head. The one-million-dollars-a-game deal allows the social media company to rebroadcast the stream from network giants CBS and NBC who have paid $450m for the rights to broadcast the …
Oculus Rift

Waiting for your Oculus to arrive? Yeah, it's going to be some time

Early purchasers of the new Oculus are going to have wait to get their hands on it thanks to an unexplained delivery delay. The product's launch last week was timed to coincide with its shipment to customers who have paid $599 for the virtual reality headset. But when a few days later nothing arrived in the mail, users started …
Iain Thomson, 4 Apr 2016
Don Draper is Sad

UK.gov watchdog growls at firms that pass off advertorials as real opinions

The UK.gov's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is tackling undisclosed advertising in online articles and blogs through a new investigation into murky marketing practices in the world of sponsored content. A CMA’s investigation found two marketing companies, Starcom Mediavest and TAN Media, arranged for endorsements in …
John Leyden, 4 Apr 2016
Doctor Who in Listen

Google-funded study concludes: Make DMCA even more Google-friendly

Comment The DMCA must have been a good idea in its day – almost every other country copied it. Today, the DMCA's takedown process is broken, but Silicon Valley's billionaire plantation owners have successfully convinced many that it's broken for completely different reasons. Instead of empowering the little guy to give them more …
reddit wanted poster by Russia's telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor

Reddit's warrant canary shuffles off this mortal coil

It appears that Reddit has been the recipient of a National Security Letter, after the warrant canary it has published in its annual transparency reports has disappeared. A warrant canary is a technique whereby companies can get around the restrictions involved with National Security Letters, which typically bar the recipient …
Iain Thomson, 31 Mar 2016

Adblock wins in court again – this time against German newspaper

Adblock Plus has won another legal challenge in Germany against a daily newspaper which claimed its “acceptable ads” policy broke the law. The Süddeutsche Zeitung argued that Adblock Plus's German owner Eyeo GmbH should not be allowed to block ads while also offering a “whitelisting” service to advertisers. Adblock Plus …
Kat Hall, 30 Mar 2016

Samsung unblocks ad-block plugins from its Android browser

Creating its own ad-blockable browser for Android is a step too far for Samsung, but it has decided to let third-party blockers into the tent. It's part of an update posted to its Samsung Developer site on March 21, that's mostly flown under the radar until it was spotted by Android Authority among others. As the developer …

Pandora punch-up sees CEO exit, shares drop

A row over the future of music streaming service Pandora has led to the departure of its CEO and the return of the company's founder to the position. Shares in the company have dropped 10 per cent on the news that Brian McAndrews will leave as the company's chief exec, effective immediately, and be replaced by Tim Westergren, …
Kieren McCarthy, 28 Mar 2016

Ever wondered what the worst TV show in the world would be? Apple just commissioned it

Remember when soccer's governing body FIFA spent $30m making a film about itself starring Tim Roth and Gérard Depardieu? Well, the tech world's most egomaniacal company is going to bring its version to the small screen. That's right, Apple has decided to join Netflix and Amazon and get in on the content commissioning game by …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Mar 2016

Calm down, dear: Woman claims sexism in tech journalism

In yet another baseless attack on tech journalism, a woman has complained about supposed sexism in the field. Holly Brockwell – editor of Gadgette, a virulently pro-woman and so therefore anti-man tech website – has written a blog post claiming to give insights into "what it's really like to be a female tech journalist." She …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Mar 2016
depression

Glum, depressed ... and addicted to Facebook, Twitter? There's a link, say medical eggheads

The largest study yet into the mental health of social media users has shown there's a correlation between its use and depression. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine research, published in the next issue of the medical journal Depression and Anxiety, found that people who checked social media the most frequently …
Iain Thomson, 25 Mar 2016

Net neut naught: Netflix throttles its own video

Streaming video titan and net neutrality champion Netflix says it will be complicit in throttling content for wireless carriers. The entertainment giant said on Thursday that it will compromise the quality of its streams at the behest of wireless carriers who place caps on user data intake. "We believe restrictive data caps …
Shaun Nichols, 25 Mar 2016
apple music

Streaming now outsells downloads – Recording Industry Ass. of America

Last year, revenues from streaming music topped those of paid downloads for the first time ever. This according to a fresh report [PDF] from the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA), tracking revenues reported by US record labels. The RIAA says that during the year, streaming music revenues accounted for just over one- …
Shaun Nichols, 23 Mar 2016

French publishers join Swedish 'Block Party' to pester ad refuseniks

French publishers are joining the “block party” - by taking aggressive collective action to thwart ad-blockers. In August, around 80 to 90 per cent of Swedish publishers will participate in a co-ordinated campaign to nag readers using ad blocking software that they really shouldn’t use ad blocking software. Le Figaro suggests …
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Mar 2016

Pornography, violence and JG Ballard: High Rise, the 1970s' internet

The film High Rise is set in the 1970s and based on JG Ballard’s 1975 book. That’s roughly two decades before Tim Berners-Lee would “create” the web. Heck, you were lucky then to have a colour TV, never mind a phone in your house. Yet, High Rise provides a vision of what was to come: the internet community. That is, an …
Woman angrily hangs up phone. Photo via Shutterstock

Web ads are reading my keystrokes and I can’t even spel propperlie

Something for the Weekend, Sir? A friend has the willies. He even went on Facebook to tell us about his willies. He’s not normally the kind to get the willies, but willies is what he has. American readers of this column may be disappointed to learn that my friend is neither a fellow of loose morals nor is he, as far as I am aware, multitudinally …
Alistair Dabbs, 18 Mar 2016

T-Mobile US finally lets websites escape Binge On's web vid crusher

T‑Mobile US will let video-streaming websites opt out of being included in Binge On. This is the service that lets people watch stuff online without the downloads counting against their monthly limits, although the video quality is deliberately reduced to 480p. Subscribers using Binge On can stream as much as they like all …
Shaun Nichols, 17 Mar 2016
Apple Watch Sport

Woz: World-changers to Apple Watches, why pay for an overpriced band?

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has slammed Cupertino's decision to charge hundreds of dollars for Apple Watch models that offer users little more than an overpriced band. Wozniak made the remarks during a Reddit AMA post in response to a reader's question. "I worry a little bit about - I mean I love my Apple Watch - but it's …
Darren Pauli, 17 Mar 2016

Swedish publishers plan summer ‘Block Party’ to thwart ad blockers

Swedish publishers will mount an aggressive counter-offensive against ad blocking software later this year. “80 to 90 per cent” of publishers will simultaneously block the ad blockers for the month of August. It’s the first nationwide action of its kind. “Yes, we know this could be naïve, and we know this will be complicated …
Andrew Orlowski, 15 Mar 2016
Sorry we're closed

Big-screen Skype gets small farewell note

One of the big splashes of CES 2010, Skype for televisions, will start going gently into that good night in June. Via Skype's support FAQs comes the announcement that the talk-to-your-friends-on-the-telly app is getting sunsetted. "Starting in June 2016, the Skype for TV application will no longer be supported; there will be …

With Facebook shafted, India now belongs to Google

With Facebook’s Free Basics out of the way, Google has a free hand at capturing personal data from Indians who aren’t on the internet. Google is reportedly in talks with two Indian telecom operators to provide backhaul for its Google Loon pilot in India. The all-seeing solar powered balloons float around 20km above the Earth' …

Californian tycoons stole my sharing economy, says Lily Cole

Big Money has poisoned the utopia of the sharing economy, says the millionaire supermodel and “social entrepreneur” Lily Cole. Once upon a time, unicorns grazed innocently over websites like Cole’s own Impossible.com, the “gift economy” website that was powered only by love (and a gift from taxpayers). Contributors were happy …
Steve Jobs with OS X interface designers in 2001 shortly before the beta release

Dead Steve Jobs is still a crook – and Apple must cough up $450m for over-pricing ebooks

Apple's long and stubborn efforts to avoid the sting of ebook price-fixing probe and an accompanying $450m fine have finally ended: the US Supreme Court has decided not to hear the iTunes giant's appeal. The Cupertino titan lost its case back in 2013 after it was found guilty of conspiring with publishers Macmillan, Hachette, …

You're fired! No – you're acquired! Reality TV hits Silicon Valley startups

First comes satire then something that makes satire impossible. To be fair, it's been a long time coming, but Silicon Valley is about to gets its own reality TV show and it's going to star Jason Calacanis. Who? You know, Jason Calacanis, the poor man's Marc Cuban. And it's a good choice, since Jason embodies everything that …
Viewmaster Old Advert

We’re not holding biz to ransom, says pay to play ad-blocking outfit

Far from killing the advertising industry, ad blockers are saving it from itself, says the company behind AdBlock Plus. Eyeo was responding to headline-grabbing remarks by Culture Minister John Whittingdale earlier this week. Whittingdale didn’t name names, but compared ad blocking software companies who whitelist advertisers …
Black hole - spaghetti visualisation. Artist's impression.  NASA/JPL-Caltech, CC BY-SA

Mechanical black hole: Microsoft settles music royalties sueball

Microsoft has quietly settled a lawsuit over unpaid music royalties with a drummer and his band’s music publisher. It’s a small but significant settlement: the pair are also suing Google, Deezer and Jay Z’s Tidal for the same reason, and the issue is also at the heart of two class action lawsuits against Spotify. All the …
Zuckerberg photo Facebook

Facebook paid £4k in tax. HMRC then paid Facebook £27k – for ads

Facebook is to pay millions more in taxes in the UK, a day after it was revealed that HMRC paid Facebook six times more to advertise on the site than the ad platform paid HMRC in taxes during 2014, according to reports. Facebook is, it says, undergoing a major overhaul of its tax structure. A spokesman for the free content ad …
Kat Hall, 4 Mar 2016
Sorry we're closed

No more Nookie for Blighty as Barnes & Noble pulls out

Barnes & Noble's Nook business in the US is faltering, but that's nothing compared to the UK, where it's exiting and handing operations to Sainsbury's. The company has posted this announcement on its UK site. Effective from March 15, 2016, NOOK will no longer sell digital content in the United Kingdom. The NOOK Store on NOOK …
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Facebook can block folks using pseudonyms in Germany – court

Facebook has landed a win in Germany: the Hamburg Administrative Court says the website's real-names-only policy is governed by the laws of Ireland – and not Germany. That means Facebook's policy does not fall under German privacy laws, and thus the social network doesn't have to change a thing despite concerns over the policy …

Surprise! That blood-pressure app doesn't measure blood pressure

Quantified self types not only fill Twitter feeds with reports from every walking, running, breathing and bonking app around – but the spewed data isn't always particularly accurate. In a letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a bunch of US medical academics decided to test AuraLife's …

Ad-blockers are a Mafia-style 'protection racket' – UK's Minister of Fun

UK Culture Minister John Whittingdale compared ad-blocking software to “a modern day protection racket” in his Oxford Media Convention keynote yesterday. But a study of the full text shows he would prefer to bang some sense into the ad industry, rather than shake down individuals using content filters in their web browsers. …

BBC telly tax drops onto telly-free households. Cough up, iPlayer fans

The UK's Minister for Fun will rush through legislation to allow the BBC to impose a compulsory subscription on people using iPlayer to watch catchup TV. The BBC wants to plug a “loophole” that allows households that do not watch live transmissions, and do not need a TV licence, to watch BBC content. The licence costs £145.50 …

Ofcom should be the BBC's ultimate overlord, UK.gov told

Telcomms regulator Ofcom should also regulate the BBC, a review for the Ministry of Fun has found. An independent review into the governance and regulation of BBC governance by Sir David Clementi, commissioned by DCMS, reported back yesterday. Astonishingly, Clementi came up with the result that the government had wanted in …
Snakes on a Plane, kind of

More and more Brits are using ad-blockers, says survey

22 per cent of British adults now use ad blocking software, up from 15 per cent last July – and by four per cent over three months. The survey was compiled for trade group the Internet Advertising Bureau by YouGov. The IAB wants more consumer-friendly and “lighter” ads to fend off an “Adpocalypse”. Two weeks ago mobile …
Port of Tyne sign. Google Maps

Photographer hassled by Port of Tyne for filming a sign on a wall

Video A photographer in a public place was called a “lunatic”, "detained" by private security guards and had the police called on him after he videoed a wall outside the Port of Tyne. Footage posted to YouTube by 24-year-old media production graduate Alan Noble shows two security guards employed by the Port of Tyne remonstrating …

Wikimedia’s executive director quits after less than 2 years in post

The Wikimedia Foundation’s executive director, Leila Tretikov, has resigned after less than two years in the post. A decade ago the foundation employed just three people and operated on a budget of $3m – which is the operating cost of the site today. But aggressive funding drives initiated by a previous executive director saw …
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Feb 2016
Zuckerberg photo Facebook

Zuck: Facebook won't retry Free Basics in India

MWC16 Mark Zuckerberg says he'll find other ways to deliver connectivity to rural Indians, after his Free Basics program was rebuffed in India. But the program will press on in the other 37 countries. Free Basics was just one of Facebook's Internet.org initiatives, he stressed, which intended to bring the 4.1 billion unconnected …
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Feb 2016