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Hipster dad explains facts of life to teen son. Photo by shutterstock

Intellectual Property Office drops, er, patently cool cartoon to teach kids about trademarks

How do you get seven-year-olds interested in intellectual property? Anyway, indeed, why would you want to? No matter, the UK's Intellectual Property Office has launched a cartoon answering the question no one has ever asked. By relaunching the cartoon Nancy and the Meerkats, the story of would-be pop star Nancy, a French …
Kat Hall, 18 Jan 2018
Illustration of a small person seated by giant feet

Broadcom confirms anti-trust probe, professes zero worries

Broadcom has confirmed it's under investigation by the United States' Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over antitrust issues, but doesn't believe that's going to affect its business. News of the investigation broke when the usual “people familiar with the matter” told the Wall Street Journal (probably paywalled) the FTC was …

Make Apple, er, America Great Again: iGiant to bring home profits, pay $38bn in repatriation tax

Apple announced today it will start to repatriate back to America some of the massive profits it accumulated outside the USA – and will use the cash to Make America Great Again. We’re using the Trump catchphrase because Apple’s action is only possible thanks to the new tax arrangements that the US president campaigned on, …
Simon Sharwood, 18 Jan 2018

Hey. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. Get in here... so we can shake your hands – US Senate cyber-terror panel

The US Senate's commerce committee basically gave executives from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube a back-rub at a hearing on Wednesday morning. The session was titled "Terrorism and Social Media: #IsBigTechDoingEnough?" and the answer from the majority of lawmakers was "yes." Unfortunately. Under intense pressure in Europe over …
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Jan 2018
Doctors run to save patient. Photo by Shutterstock

UK.gov slammed for NHS data-sharing deal with Home Office

The UK health service's NHS Digital has been accused of operating to a "lower standard of confidentiality" than rest of NHS, in a heated hearing about a deal that requires patient info to be handed over for immigration enforcement. The agreement means that patient record-keeper NHS Digital can be required to hand over non- …
Rebecca Hill, 17 Jan 2018

PPI-pusher makes 75 MEEELLION nuisance calls, lands £350k fine

A company that made 75 million nuisance calls in just four months has been handed a £350,000 fine from the UK's data protection watchdog. Mis-sold Products UK Ltd made the automated marketing calls between November 2015 and March 2016, eliciting 146 complaints to the Information Commissioner's Office. Andy Curry, ICO …
Rebecca Hill, 17 Jan 2018

Ofcom cracks on with spectrum auction rules, despite Three's legal challenge

UK comms regulator Ofcom is cracking ahead with plans for the forthcoming spectrum auction – despite further delays posed by Three's Court of Appeal challenge. The regulator had planned to hold the auction for the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands in autumn 2017, but it has been delayed by litigation brought by Three UK and BT/EE – the …
Kat Hall, 17 Jan 2018
WHite lab coated scientist looks sceptical in front of microscope. Photo by Shutterstock

National Audit Office report blasts UK.gov's 'muddled' STEM strategy

The UK government's "muddled" attempt to boost skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) risks wasting taxpayers' money, according to a report by the National Audit Office today. Since the early 2000s there has been growing concern about how to achieve higher productivity and economic growth in an era …
Richard Priday, 17 Jan 2018
NBN

Australia won't prescribe its national broadband network a high-fibre diet

Australia's federal government yesterday tabled its response to recommendations put by the parliamentary committee on the National Broadband Network, and has mostly rejected its recommendations. The response sees the government refuse to mandate that nbn™, the builder and operator of the NBN, increase the use of fibre to the …
FBI

US senators vow to filibuster FBI, er, NSA's domestic, errr, foreign mass spying program

Updated A number of US senators from both sides of the aisle have said they will filibuster an effort to approve the continuation of a controversial American government spying program. This mass snooping effort was authorized by section 702 of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Amendments Act, which expired at the end of …
Kieren McCarthy, 16 Jan 2018

Facebook, Schrems case cost Irish data watchdog €2m – reports

The Irish Data Protection Commissioner has forked out almost €2m in the long legal battle involving Facebook and privacy activist Max Schrems, according to reports. The battle began in 2013 when Schrems brought a complaint against Facebook’s mass data slurping to the commissioner in Ireland, where the company’s European HQ is …
Rebecca Hill, 16 Jan 2018
army

Capita's UK military recruiting system has 'glitches' admits minister

A defence minister has told Parliament that Capita’s pisspoor Defence Recruiting System (DRS) has “glitches”, following reports from The Register giving a glimpse inside the shambolic system. Signing up for the RAF? Don't bother – you've been Capita'd READ MORE During Defence Questions yesterday, Labour MP Nia Griffiths asked …
Gareth Corfield, 16 Jan 2018
HMRC photo via Shutterstock

UK taxman has domain typo-squatter stripped of HMRC web addresses

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has insisted on having a Panama company trading as the “Whois Foundation” formally stripped of a handful of dodgy web domains, even though the firm instantly offered to hand them over when challenged. The sites, hmrc-onlines.co.uk, hmrc-tax.co.uk, hdmrc.co.uk and hmrcsubmitareturn.co.uk, were …
Gareth Corfield, 15 Jan 2018

Childcare is a pain in the bum and so is HMRC's buggy subsidies site

More than 6,000 parents looking to access financial help with childcare have had difficulties with using HM Revenue and Customs' frequently broken Childcare Choices website. Applications, reconfirmations and the paying of fees for the government's tax-free and 30 hours' free childcare initiatives have all been affected, with …
Richard Priday, 15 Jan 2018
Sir Philip Rutnam, permanent secretary of the Home Office

Why did top Home Office civil servant lobby Ofcom for obscure kit ban?

Comment Questions have been raised over the UK Home Office's most senior civil servant's involvement in the banning of GSM gateways – following botched redactions to freedom-of-information responses by Ofcom. When Ofcom – Blighty's comms regulator – first banned GSM gateways in 2003 the man who is now the Permanent Secretary of the …
Gareth Corfield, 15 Jan 2018

German Bar Association says Nein to patent court block effort

The effort to create a single patent court system for Europe has been given a boost with a response from the German Bar Association arguing that a complaint against the Unitary Patent Court (UPC) should be thrown out. The association is one of more than a dozen organizations that have been asked by the German Constitutional …
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Jan 2018

France may protect citizens' liberté with ban on foreigners buying local big data firms

France is considering regulating foreign takeovers of businesses in the data protection and artificial intelligence sectors, minister for the economy Bruno Le Maire said on Friday. Le Maire made the comments while touring China with French president Emmanuel Macron. The investment restrictions would be added to the Montebourg …

Hawaiian fake nukes alert caused by fat-fingered fumble of garbage GUI

Bad user interface design has been blamed for Hawaii experiencing a brief spate of nuclear panic over the weekend. In case you missed the news, anyone with a smartphone in the island State on Saturday morning received an emergency message stating “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT …

EU court to rule whether Facebook should seek and destroy hate speech

The European Court of Justice has been asked to decide whether Facebook should actively search for hate speech posted by users. The referral was made by the Austrian Supreme Court as a result of a case brought by former Austrian Green party leader Eva Glawischnig. Glawischnig was subject to hate speech on the platform by a …
Rebecca Hill, 12 Jan 2018
HMRC photo, Gov.uk

UK taxman told to go easy on transformation with Brexit in headlights

The UK government's spending watchdog has warned HMRC is biting off more than it can chew by undergoing major transformational projects while simultaneously coping with the fallout of Brexit. HMRC's transformation programme is not as "deliverable" as planned due to unrealistic assumptions and increased pressure from the …
Kat Hall, 12 Jan 2018
Julian Assange in an Ecuador football shirt

Ecuador tried to make Julian Assange a diplomat

Ecuador granted citizenship to Julian Assange and tried to register him as a diplomat in order to secure his release from the nation’s London embassy. The first part of Ecuador’s plan worked: Assange won his citizenship and donned the Ecuadorian national football team’s shirt to prove it. pic.twitter.com/LB5jzQmJLb — Julian …
Simon Sharwood, 12 Jan 2018

US House reps green-light Fourth Amendment busting spy program

The US House of Representatives has passed a six-year extension to the controversial Section 702 spying program, rejecting an amendment that would have required the authorities to get a warrant before searching for information on US citizens. The 256-164 vote effectively retains the status quo and undermines a multi-year …
Kieren McCarthy, 11 Jan 2018
Sad man stares glumly over boxed contents of desk. Image via shutterstock (Baranq)

Worst-case Brexit could kill 92,000 science, tech jobs across UK – report

A no-deal Brexit scenario could scrap 92,000 science and technology jobs across the UK, a report has claimed. The analysis (PDF), carried out by Cambridge Econometrics and commissioned by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, aims to put numbers on the impact of a series of scenarios once the UK leaves the European Union. Overall, it …
Rebecca Hill, 11 Jan 2018

UK watchdog dishes out fines totaling £600k to four spam-spewers

The Information Commissioner's Office has fined four businesses £600,000 for spamming customers millions of times. The companies broke UK law by sending out unsolicited text messages, emails and phone calls between 2016 and 2017. Wales-based Barrington Claims made 15.2 million spam phone calls between May and June 2016, using …
Richard Priday, 11 Jan 2018

Apple hands Chinese iCloud to Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry

Apple has announced it will hand over iCloud operations in China to government-owned local partner Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry (GBCD) on February 28. Apple has made the move to comply with Chinese government policy, that demands domestic operators own foreign services' data centres so that data on Chinese citizens is …

'Repeal hate crime laws for free speech' petition passes 14k signatures

A petition calling for "an end to hate speech laws" has passed 10,000 signatures – requiring a formal response from the UK government. The petition, on Parliament's have-your-say site, had gathered just over 14,000 signatures at the time of writing. It calls for "current laws criminalising 'hate speech' to be rescinded", …
Gareth Corfield, 10 Jan 2018

Adrift on a sea of data: Architecting for GDPR

I’ve spent many hundreds of hours listening to sales pitches from technology vendors but it’s only during the last year I’ve started to find them rather depressing. That’s been thanks to the arrival in 2018 of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. For example, I was recently pitched to about one particular …
Dave Cartwright, 10 Jan 2018
Policeman number 10, photo by pcruciatti via Shutterstock

Cabinet reshuffle leaves UK digital policy and GDS rudderless. And now the news...

Responsibility for broadband delivery in the UK has been handed to Margot James following Matt Hancock's promotion to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in prime minister Theresa May's reshuffle of the top jobs this week. But amid the Cabinet shake-up, the matter of who controls digital policy remains …
Richard Priday, 10 Jan 2018

Carphone Warehouse cops £400k fine after hack exposed 3 MEEELLION folks’ data

Carphone Warehouse has been handed one of the largest ever fines – a whopping £400,000 – from the UK’s data protection watchdog after exposing the details of millions of its customers. An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office found a “striking” number of “distinct and significant inadequacies” in the phone …
Rebecca Hill, 10 Jan 2018
Max Schrems

Max Schrems: The privacy bubble needs to start 'getting sh*t done'

Interview "The problem we have in the privacy bubble is that we're great at saying how evil and bad everything is... but we're not that great at getting shit done." Max Schrems, the privacy activist known for reducing the Safe Harbor data-sharing deal to tatters, is making one final attempt to spur the community he's been at the heart …
Rebecca Hill, 10 Jan 2018
editorial only image of Whitehall. Pic Daniel Gale/Shutterstock

UK Data Protection Bill tweaked to protect security researchers

The United Kingdom has revealed amendments to its Data Protection Bill to de-criminalise research into whether anonymised data sets are sufficiently anonymous. The legislation, first floated in August 2017, gave rise to worries that researchers would commit a crime if they broke whatever measures were used to anonymise …
YouTube India logo - not official

Indian data leak looks to have been an inside job

The government authority in charge of India's billion-records-and-counting Aadhaar biometric identity database, the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI), has suspended 5,000 officials from accessing the system. As we reported yesterday, a journalist for the country's Tribune newspaper wrote of her ability to access …
Assange

WikiLeave? Assange tipped for Ecuadorian eviction

The Ecuadorian government has reportedly sought a plan to end Julian Assange's world's longest couch surfing stint record attempt at its London embassy. Ecuador's foreign minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa told the AFP news agency her country would look to bring in a mediator to help settle the legal dispute that has lead to …
Shaun Nichols, 10 Jan 2018

MPs sceptical of plan for IT to save the day after UK quits customs union

MPs have slammed government's approach of touting tech "as its magic solution to customs post Brexit" in a Parliamentary debate. Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury, was discussing the Cross Border Trade Bill, which will lay the groundwork for Blighty exiting the EU customs union. He said the government has …
Kat Hall, 09 Jan 2018
man peers at mobile/cell with bewildered expression

Sky customer dinged for livestreaming pay-per-view boxing to Facebook

A Sky subscriber who illegally streamed a pay-per-view boxing match to Facebook has copped a plea with the broadcaster. Craig Foster, of Scarborough, England, had paid the £19.95 fee to watch the fight live last April, and invited friends round to watch. One pointed his iPad at the TV and in the spirit of information wants to …
Andrew Orlowski, 09 Jan 2018
ganesha_648

India denies breach of its billion-strong 'Aadhaar' ID system

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has refuted claims the country's Aadhaar identification system was hacked as “clearly a case of misreporting being incorrect and misleading”, but has also filed a police complaint against the journalist who reported a breach. Last week, Indian Tribune journalist Rachna …

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