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Vodafone brings African tech to Europe

Vodafone is to launch mobile-money-for-the-masses service M-Pesa in Romania, which introduces and interesting challenge for the European telcos and banks who have spent a decade wrangling over mobile money and got nowhere. M-Pesa was launched in Kenya under the stewardship of Nick Hughes of Vodafone, initially as a corporate …
Simon Rockman, 1 Apr 2014
Google 'Glass' patent application illustration

Australia proposes privacy tort

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has released a discussion paper that canvasses the idea of a tort of privacy invasion for Australians. Available here, the discussion paper is seeking comment on whether or not Australia's privacy law needs to be changed to deal with invasions of privacy “committed intentionally or …

US to strengthen privacy rights for Euro bods' personal data transfers

The US will take steps before the summer to comprehensively strengthen the "Safe Harbour" framework that helps facilitate some transfers of personal data to the US from the EU. The commitment to improve privacy protections (10-page/445KB PDF) was contained in a joint statement issued on behalf of senior officials from the EU and …
OUT-LAW.COM, 31 Mar 2014
Great Wall of China

China's CERT blames US for a THIRD of all attacks on Middle Kingdom PCs

China’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CNCERT) has claimed in a new report that backdoor attacks on systems jumped by over 50 per cent over the past year, and once again fingered the US as the main culprit in 2013. The CERT announced the findings of its latest annual report on its website. It claimed that 15,000 "hosts" …
Phil Muncaster, 31 Mar 2014
Mushroom cloud schematic

Tokyo to TXT warning of incoming Norks nukes

The Japanese government will launch a new service on Tuesday designed to notify users of the country’s three major phone networks if they are facing an imminent inbound missile strike. The new alert system will be co-ordinated by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency and is most likely a response to the threat of attack by …
Phil Muncaster, 31 Mar 2014

Google confirms Turkish ISPs 'intercepted' its DNS service

Google confirmed over the weekend that its Domain Name System (DNS) service has been “intercepted” by Turkish ISPs after government orders to block Twitter. Software engineer Steve Carstensen revealed in a brief blog post that the web giant had confirmed with its own research previous reports about the Twitter ban which began on …
Phil Muncaster, 31 Mar 2014
Julian Assange, photo by Espen Moe

Assange not running in new Australian election

Julian Assange will not, as previously indicated, run for Australia Senate again. The part-time Ecuadorian ran as a candidate for The Wikileaks Party at Australia's general election last year, hoping to win a Senate seat in the State of Victoria. Doing so probably would not have allowed him safe passage from Ecuador’s London …
Simon Sharwood, 31 Mar 2014

Australia's opposition backs warrantless metadata collection

Australia's opposition Labor Party has signalled that it intends to link arms with the intelligence community. In a television interview with Sky News, the party's deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said she wants to give “agencies the maximum ability to do their job well, within the bounds that people would expect.” According to …

No, Minister. You CAN'T de-Kindle your eBooks!

The government has bungled proposed changes to UK copyright law by claiming the format of eBooks can be legally changed - for example, from the Amazon kindle format to a PDF. The changes were published yesterday as the last debris of the Hargreaves Review to wash up on the statute book. (The rest has either been implemented or …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Mar 2014
Percentage of responses to government requests for Google data

Google 'Transparency Report' shows rise in government groping

Google has released the latest update to its data detailing how often it is asked by law enforcement agencies around the world to cough up data about its users, and says company's “we’re … seeing more and more governments start to exercise their authority to make requests.” That quote comes from an post by Richard Salgado, the …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Mar 2014

YouTube follows Twitter onto Turkey's block list

YouTube appears to be the latest site added to Turkey’s blacklist after reports emerged that the government has blocked it in response to a “villainous” audio file uploaded to the platform this week. The authorities said on Thursday they had taken an “administrative measure” to block the popular video sharing site. The clip in …
Phil Muncaster, 28 Mar 2014
The Opal-card-ready 'flip' cover for Samsung's Galaxy S3

NSW government gets into the smartphone case business

Today's Sydney Morning Herald reports that the right-leaning government in the Australian state of New South Wales has decided to outsource lots of public service jobs because it believes there's a limit to what governments should do. Why, then, is the same government entering the business of selling mobile phone cases? The …
Simon Sharwood, 28 Mar 2014
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul

Rule of law: Turkish court nixes government Twitter ban ... for now

A court in Turkey's capital has ordered the lifting of the government ban on Twitter in the restless nation. The administrative court in Ankara overturned the week-long ban on Wednesday in response to complaints by journalists’ unions and the country's Bar Association, representing its lawyers, that blocking Twitter contravened …
John Leyden, 27 Mar 2014

Life support turned off: NHS Direct dies silent, undignified death

NHS Direct is dead and England's health service was hoping few people would notice that it had moved the kill date forward five days for its "financially unsustainable" advice website. The 15-year-old service was supposed to limp on until the end of this month, but the NHS pulled the plug early. As of Wednesday morning, anyone …
Kelly Fiveash, 27 Mar 2014
Spam

Chinese cops cuff 1,500 in fake base station spam raid

China’s police have arrested over 1,500 people on suspicion of using fake base stations to send out mobile SMS spam. The current crackdown, began in February, according to Reuters. Citing a Ministry of Public Security missive, the newswire says a group operating in north-east Liaoning province, bordering North Korea, is …
Phil Muncaster, 26 Mar 2014

Revealed: What the US taxman really thinks of crypto-cash Bitcoin

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has laid out a formal set of policies for how it will handle Bitcoin and other virtual currencies for tax purposes. In a guide (PDF) released Tuesday, the IRS said that it would be considering cryptocurrencies to be property, and as such would be subject to US laws regarding the transfer and …
Shaun Nichols, 26 Mar 2014

BOYCOTT FIREFOX, rage gay devs as Mozilla appoints JavaScript daddy as CEO

Updated A pair of gay developers have launched a boycott of Firefox in protest against the Mozilla Foundation's decision to appoint a CEO who appears to be an opponent of same sex marriage. Mozilla co-founder and Javascript creator Brendan Eich was awarded the top job yesterday. Hampton Catlin, creator of Wikipedia Mobile and CSS …
Jasper Hamill, 25 Mar 2014

Apple hires ex-SENATE staffer for added WASHINGTON POWER

Apple has hired a veteran Washington lobbyist in an apparent attempt to boost its influence in the seat of American power. Amber Cottle will now be the fruity firm's top lobbyist after leaving her post as democratic staff director for the Senate Finance Committee. Apple has spent a lot of time in Washington recently, with Tim …
Jasper Hamill, 25 Mar 2014
Photo by Thore Siebrands Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Improbable: YOU gave model Lily Cole £200k for her Impossible.com whimsy-site

Special Report Why is the UK taxpayer funding a millionaire supermodel and actress to build a website that replicates the "Help Needed" pages of Craigslist and Freecycle? Using information gleaned from Freedom of Information requests, we’ve attempted to find out. The model and actress Lily Luahana Cole, a Cambridge University art history …
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Mar 2014
MP Margaret Hodge in the Commons

MPs blast HMRC for using anti-terrorism laws against whistleblower

The chair of the Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge has said she was "shocked to her bone" that the tax authority used laws put in place to combat terrorism to investigate an employee after he blew the whistle on a deal to let Goldman Sachs cut £8m to £20m from its tax bill. The MP challenged the chief exec of HMRC, Lin …
Huawei campus Shenzhen

China demands answers from US after 'I spy on one little Huawei' report

China has demanded an explanation from the US government in the wake of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's latest leak, which claims that the agency was spying on telecoms firm Huawei. The US has repeatedly accused Huawei of being a risky bet for network contracts outside of China as it claims that the company is involved in …
Parliament House Canberra by Flickr user OzMark17 used under CC Share and Share alike licence

Brace for extra patches, Oracle tells Australian users

Oracle has warned its Australian customers to brace for extra patches. Before you imagine some exclusively antipodean security SNAFU is behind the bulletin advising Australian users of their fate, consider that the nation offers software-makers one federal and eight State and Territory jurisdictions. Each of those nine …
Simon Sharwood, 24 Mar 2014
A fake tattoo on the leg of Canberra Raiders footballer Sandor Earl, sent by Huawei as an April Fool

US saves self from Huawei spying by spying on Huawei spying

Maybe this is why the US government is so certain Huawei is bad news: Snowdenistas at The New York Times and Der Spiegel have reported another communiqué from their source-in-exile – this time to the effect that the United States National Security Agency penetrated Chinese networking equipment vendor Huawei and monitored its …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Mar 2014
Photo of the White House at dusk

White House may ditch BlackBerry, adopt LG or Samsung, ignore Apple

Updated What BlackBerry and new CEO John Chen definitely don't need right now is bad publicity, but that's exactly what The Wall Street Journal has provided them, with a report that one of its remaining high-profile customers, the White House, is mulling over a switch from the formerly high-flying Canuckphone to devices from Samsung or …
Rik Myslewski, 21 Mar 2014
Yahoo! buss

UK.gov! frets! over! Yahoo! exodus! to! RIPA-free! Dublin!

Yahoo! was reportedly called into the Home Office on Thursday where Teresa May expressed UK government security concerns about its plans to move its main base in Europe to Ireland. The internet giant has harboured privacy concerns for some time, according to The Guardian. These concerns can only have been exacerbated by recent …
John Leyden, 21 Mar 2014
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 9M-MRO

5 Eyes in the Sky: The TRUTH about Flight MH370 and SPOOKSATS

Comment That the US and other nations operate spy satellites capable of taking very detailed photographs of Earth is not in doubt. But the idea that those satellites have been pressed into service to find downed Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, and that it is therefore possible to infer some of the satellites' capabilities, is very …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Mar 2014
Charlie Rose (L) and Larry Page (R) at TED 2014 in Vancouver

'It is disappointing that the government secretly did this stuff'

Quotw This was the week when legendary security mailing list Full Disclosure closed down after 12 years when admin John Cartwright threw in the towel in utter exasperation. The service where security researchers could post details of exploits and vulnerabilities is closing after Cartwright reached the end of his tether with running …
Turnbull with Switkowski in Blacktown

Telstra, not Turnbull, at fault in Twitfight

Australia's communications minister Malcolm Turnbull stands accused of telling small business owner Julia Keady to move to another home if she wants better broadband, but that interpretation of the exchange between Turnbull and Keady is not correct and ignores the golden rule of any transaction: buyer beware. Here's the pair of …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Mar 2014
Old Hotmail

Microsoft alters Hotmail policy amid blogger inbox probe outcry

Microsoft has moved to address concerns caused by news it rummaged through a blogger's Hotmail inbox as part of an investigation into an employee's conduct. As we've reported, even though this is a tremendous PR cock-up, Microsoft was well within its rights to dive into a blogging hack's private Hotmail account to root out an …
Simon Sharwood, 21 Mar 2014
Sergy Brin meets Snowden

'Arrogant' Snowden putting lives at risk, says NSA's deputy spyboss

TED 2014 Two days after NSA leaker Edward Snowden addressed the latest TED technology jamboree in robot form, the US intelligence agency has also made an appearance – with deputy director Richard Ledgett dialing in by video link. Ledgett said the NSA's core problem was that it was lousy at PR, rather than that it was invading innocent …
Iain Thomson, 20 Mar 2014
Gordo: EPIC FAIL

Oxfam, you're full of FAIL. Leave economics to sensible bods

As I become ever more viciously right wing with age, I become ever more disappointed with Oxfam. It's not just because I have left behind the views of Genghis and am galloping up close behind Attila. It's rather that the organisation itself has changed from being that well-meaning, thoroughly humanitarian organisation that doled …
Tim Worstall, 20 Mar 2014

FORCE gov.uk suppliers to stick to 'open data principles' – MPs

UK government suppliers should be required to adhere to the same "open data principles" as government departments, a committee of MPs has proposed. The House of Commons' Public Administration Select Committee backed calls from UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham, among others, for greater transparency in the …
OUT-LAW.COM, 20 Mar 2014
Great Wall of China

Bing accused of out-censoring the Great Firewall

Microsoft is facing another PR battle after a rights group accused Bing of more heavy-handed censorship in China than even homegrown search engine Baidu shackles its users with. Despite claiming to remove results as “narrowly as possible” in order to comply with Chinese censorship laws, Microsoft is actually blocking a “vast …
Phil Muncaster, 20 Mar 2014

Tech giants KNEW about PRISM, web snooping, claims top NSA lawyer

Analysis The NSA's general counsel Rajesh De says technology firms were fully aware of both America's web surveillance program PRISM and the mass monitoring of upstream internet traffic. On Wednesday, De told a meeting in Washington, organized by the US government's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), that data …
Iain Thomson, 20 Mar 2014

Turnbull to add speed test app to MyBroadband web site

Australia's communications minister Malcolm Turnbull today delivered a speech at The Australian Information Industry Association's (AIIA's) Navigating Analytics Summit. Your correspondent tuned in to the live stream, but was confronted by extreme jitter: video often cut out for seconds at a time, usually after just a few seconds …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Mar 2014
The 2010 baseline map of Australia’s soil organic carbon stocks showing the national and state and territory estimates and their uncertainty range.

CSIRO breaks Australia into 90m x 90m grid to map soil carbon

CSIRO has published what probably amounts to one of the largest datasets ever assembled in Australia: an assessment of organic soil carbon on a 90 metre x 90 metre grid, nationwide. It'll hardly surprise anyone that it's taken four years to get the data ready for release. The 2010 organic soil carbon map includes around two …
Tim Berners-Lee and Edward Snowden

ROBO-SNOWDEN: Iraq, the internet – two places the US govt invaded that weren't a threat

Pics Whistleblower Edward Snowden has appeared on stage at a TED conference in Canada via a remote-controlled robotic screen – and was hailed as a hero by the Web's founding father Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Tim Berners-Lee and Edward Snowden Father of the web meets one of its sons ... Berners-Lee, far left, and right, the Robo-Snowden …
Iain Thomson, 19 Mar 2014

Osbo's booze, bingo, biz and big data Budget

Budget Day 2014 Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne presented what he described as a Budget for "the makers the doers and the savers" - and let's not forget the bingo players - in today's economy statement to Parliament. There was very little news for the tech world, with one notable exception: the announcement of the Alan Turing …
Kelly Fiveash, 19 Mar 2014

MPs urge UK.gov to use 1950s obscenity law to stifle online stiffies

MPs want Britain's network-level filters to do a better job of censoring access to pornography sites to keep the content away from the prying eyes of children. But, to do that, perfectly legal online smut peddlers need to cooperate. That was the conclusion in a report (PDF) published today by Parliament's Culture, Media and …
Kelly Fiveash, 19 Mar 2014

Blighty goes retro with 12-sided pound coin

In agreeable news for those readers who can remember when it was all trees round here and you could get an enormous paper bagful of gobstoppers for thruppence, The Royal Mint has unveiled a decidedly retro 12-sided design for Blighty's £1 coin. The proposed 12-sided pound coin. Pic: The Royal Mint The mint reckons that a …
Lester Haines, 19 Mar 2014
Lyons Tea Shop Oxford Street, London

PAF! MPs go postal over postal location data sell-off by Coalition.gov

MPs have accused the government of short-sightedness, after it agreed to offload the Postcode Address File (PAF) as part of the sale of Royal Mail. The PAF contains location data for tens of millions of postal addresses across the nation. The parliamentary public administration committee said in a report, which scrutinised the …
Kelly Fiveash, 18 Mar 2014
The new Twitter logo. Pic: Twitter

Sorry Dick: 3 reasons why Twitter will NEVER be unblocked in China

Comment Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is in China this week visiting the country but rumours of the microblogging platform’s resurrection there have been greatly exaggerated. Twitter and Facebook have been blocked in the Middle Kingdom since 2009, when the government claimed they had been used by protesters to organise ahead of deadly anti- …
Phil Muncaster, 18 Mar 2014