Articles about Consumer

'Hey, Homeland Security. Don't you dare demand Twitter, Facebook passwords at the border'

Over 50 human rights and civil liberties groups, nearly 100 law professors and security experts, and lawmakers have launched a campaign against digital searches at the US border. An open letter condemns recent comments by Homeland Security secretary John Kelly in which he proposed requiring selected non-citizens entering the …
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Feb 2017
Paul Berg, at the Open Source Leadership Summit

Meet the chap open-sourcing US govt code – Paul, an ex-Microsoft anti-piracy engineer

Interview In the months ahead, Idaho National Laboratory aims to open-source software for analyzing the quality of cow manure. "It runs a whole bunch of scenarios and numbers and determines what is the most profitable use of the manure that comes out of cows," explained Paul Berg, senior research and development software licensing …
Thomas Claburn, 21 Feb 2017
NEW YORK - OCT 15, 2016: Beyonce Knowles attends the TIDAL X: 1015 concert at the Barclays Center on October 15, 2016, in New York. Editorial credit: JStone / Shutterstock, Inc. (editorial use only)

NZ firm tucks into $27m on the back of VR 'hologram' promise

Analysis 8i, a New Zealand based company, last week landed a large B funding round that reads like a who’s who in the Virtual reality world. Its aim is to bring holograms to the masses. This doesn’t actually mean what it says, but it’s still pretty cool. To most of us, a hologram is something that stands in front of us, created in the …
Faultline, 20 Feb 2017
NBN

Competition and wholesale costs, not lack of fibre, crimp broadband in Australia

Like the sun rising, the release of a new Akamai State of the Internet report inevitably leads to opinion columns bemoaning Australia's slide on global league tables for broadband speed, most attributing it to the much-hated “multi-technology model” NBN. We're going to swim against the tide and suggest otherwise: the problem …
My Friend Cayla and i-Que robot

Smash up your kid's Bluetooth-connected Cayla 'surveillance' doll, Germany urges parents

Germany's Federal Network Agency, or Bundesnetzagentur, has banned Genesis Toys' Cayla doll as an illegal surveillance device. "Items that conceal cameras or microphones and that are capable of transmitting a signal, and therefore can transmit data without detection, compromise people's privacy," said agency president Jochen …
Thomas Claburn, 17 Feb 2017
Big cloud photo via Shutterstock

Brit watchdog spanks Microsoft, Amazon, Apple into promising fairer cloud contracts

Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have committed to providing cloud storage users with fairer contracts after a crackdown by the UK's Competition Markets Authority (CMA). The companies are the latest cloud storage providers to improve their terms and conditions following the CMA's review of compliance with consumer law in the sector …
Kat Hall, 17 Feb 2017
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft ups Surface slab prices for Brits. Darn weak pound, eh?

Microsoft has increased hardware prices in the UK for a second time this year, citing the decreased value of the weaker sterling currency when repatriated as dollars. Its top-of-the-line Surface Book will today set users back a whopping £3,049, £400 more than it would have cost if purchased yesterday. Price increases across …

OK, it's time to talk mass spying again: America's Section 702 powers are up for renewal

Analysis While the entire US political machinery has been caught up with one Trump-based scandal after another over the past three weeks, larger underlying issues are starting to re-emerge. And top of the list is mass surveillance. Section 702 of America's Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) expires at the end of the year – …
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Feb 2017
Surpised man mobile phone photo by Shutterstock

Hold the phone! Crap customer service cost telcos £2.9 BEEEELLION in 2016

Shoddy customer service is costing telcos £2.9bn per year, making the sector the second most moaned about, according to the Ombudsman Services. Annual research by the complaints mediation service found that the total number of grievances registered by consumers in 2016 was 55 million, up 3 million from 2015. Of those, 13 per …
Kat Hall, 15 Feb 2017
Yahoo

Explain! yourself! US! senators! yell! at! Yahoo!

A couple of US senators have accused Yahoo! of not cooperating with their attempts to investigate its now-notorious database security breaches. Republicans John Thune (chair of the US Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation) and Jerry Moran (chair of its sub-committee for Consumer Protection, Product Safety …

Oz consumer watchdog: 'up to' speeds shouldn't be in broadband ads

Australia's consumer watchdog is trying to ensure advertising offers comprehensible and accurate broadband performance information. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants to regulate ads that spruik speeds “up to 100 Mbps” because consumers almost never experience the headline speeds advertised. …

Nokia wheels out a complete MVNO package. Makes a change from WinPho

Nokia has wheeled out a worldwide IoT network grid (WING) that sounds remarkably like an all-in-one mobile virtual network operators offering. The WING will, according to a Nokia announcement, “manage the IoT connectivity and services needs of a client's assets – such as connected cars or connected freight containers – as they …
Gareth Corfield, 10 Feb 2017
ISIS fighters

ISIS videos, adtech, and the 'smartest guys in the room' (Google)

Special Report Google's ad blacklists, intended to stop big brand advertisements running over YouTube terror videos, aren’t working. In 2014, Newsnight reported that the taxpayer was paying for ads to run alongside beheadings. Three years on, The Times notes that after promising advertisers their ads wouldn't run against certain content, …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Feb 2017

World to spend US$2.4 TRILLION on tech in 2017

Analyst outfit IDC reckons the world will spend US$2.4 trillion (€2.25tn, £1.91tn) on technology products in 2017, with just under half of the cheques to be written by very large companies. IDC counts software, hardware and services when it tots up its spending sums and says the majority of cash is splashed by business. The …
Simon Sharwood, 10 Feb 2017
Cloud moving at a snail's pace

Comcast lied and now it must STFU: Its cable broadband is not 'the fastest' in the US

Lying Comcast will no longer be able to advertise its cable internet service as the "fastest" following a decision from the US National Advertising Review Board. The ads watchdog issued a "recommendation" that the alternate-fact-spreading cable giant stop telling Americans that its cable and Wi‑Fi internet services offer the …
Shaun Nichols, 09 Feb 2017

Euro bloc blocks streaming vid geoblocks

European Union citizens will soon be able to carry their streaming video subscriptions across borders, without virtual private networks but not necessarily for free. Negotiators of the European Parliament, member states and the European Commission have agreed to lift geoblocks within the EU, as part of copyright modernisation …
man in suit clutches briefcase full of cash. Photo by Shutterstock

Jawbone leans over, whispers: Psst, guess who's in a criminal probe? Yes, it's Fitbit

The bitter battle between Fitbit and Jawbone has picked up again, with Jawbone claiming in its latest court filing that its rival is under criminal investigation. Despite both companies seeing falling interest in their lines of wearables, they appear determined to drag each other down, with several contiguous lawsuits and wild …
Kieren McCarthy, 09 Feb 2017

ITU-T wants video sizes to halve again by 2020

The International Telecommunications Union wants researchers to get busy on new video compression codecs, setting an ambitious target to double their squeezing compression power by 2020. H.264 is probably today's most-used video codec, but the ITU-T's asking for experts to submit proposals to double-down on H.265 codec, also …
Openio_CEO_Laurent_Denel

Small but perfectly formed: Dailymotion's object storage odyssey

Case study Paris-based Dailymotion is the world's second largest video sharing website after YouTube and its three-stage storage history has transitioned from a reliable scale-out filer, to a maturing object storage startup, to an even smaller firm in pursuit of scale and performance. The story starts with Isilon, progresses through …
Chris Mellor, 08 Feb 2017
AMD underwater

AMD's daring new money-making strategy: Sue everyone! Mwahaha

Advanced Micro Devices has accused a handful of companies of infringing patents it holds on graphics processor technology. The beleaguered designer of CPUs and GPUs claims that LG, Vizio, MediaTek and Sigma Designs have ripped off three rather generic-looking patents it has owned since it acquired ATI in 2006. AMD wants the …
Shaun Nichols, 07 Feb 2017
Man with a vaper apparatus - face obscured by smoke/vapour. Photo by Shutterstock

Vapists rejoice! E-cigs lower cancer risk (if you stop smoking, duh)

The first long-term, real-world study on carcinogens in e-cigarettes has found that they are significantly safer than smoking. The study by UCL's tobacco research group found that smokers who switched to e-cigarettes had significantly lower levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) …
Andrew Orlowski, 07 Feb 2017
Android TV updating

Google gets smooth early Android releases. OEMs are struggling

The rollout of Android 7.0 on some Samsung devices has smacked them right in the battery. Meanwhile in the background, further competition issues around the Google mobile OS are brewing. Testing by GSMArena reveals a dramatic loss of battery life on the Samsung S7 Edge (Exynos 8890 version) using the platform update. Battery …
Andrew Orlowski, 07 Feb 2017

Vizio coughs up $2.2m after its smart TVs spied on millions of families

California electronics maker Vizio will cough up $2.2m after its smart TVs spied on millions of people. America's trade watchdog, the FTC, said today the payment will settle a complaint filed by the state of New Jersey accusing Vizio of violating privacy regulations: the biz had collected the viewing habits of 11 million …
Shaun Nichols, 06 Feb 2017
woman answers phone in the middle of the night. photo by SHutterstock

BT's ball-juggling routine can only go on so long

Analysis Former state monopoly BT is juggling so many regulatory, financial and operational balls it’s a wonder it has a free hand to get on with the day-to-day business. Just some issues facing the telco include: uncertainty over Openreach’s future; continuous declines in business with the public sector; a £9bn ballooning pensions …
Kat Hall, 06 Feb 2017

New US Net Neutrality law coming 'within three months' – advisor

Interview US Congress could be discussing net neutrality legislation within three months, replacing controversial FCC-created regulations, according to an academic with the ear of the administration. And new FCC chief Ajit Pai could well favour the kind of neutrality protection Americans enjoyed in 2005 and 2010, before Obama pushed the …
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Feb 2017
Crocodile Dundee, 20th Century Fox.

'Completely offended' Sheila calls cops over price-gouging ganja dealer

Aussie coppers have got into the consumer rights business after a distraught stoner turned to them to complain about profiteering by her local pot dealer. The Northern Territory's Police, Fire and Emergency Services social media team took to Facebook on Sunday to ask followers: "Is your drug dealer ripping you off?" The …
Clodagh Doyle, 02 Feb 2017
shutterstock_300234617-signal

MNOs will lose 5G rewards to new entrants if they will not share networks

Analysis The advantages of network sharing seem glaringly obvious in a world where the mismatch between mobile data demand and mobile data ARPU is rushing MNOs’ profits. The need to reduce the cost of delivering those rising tides of data is urgent, but many operators are ready to discuss almost any tactic – Wi-Fi offload, automation, …
Wireless Watch, 02 Feb 2017
Tired football kid. Photo by Matt Ragen/Shutterstock

In China, Apple's gegenpress doesn't scare the locals

Analysis Apple’s main job in earnings conferences is to remind us that there’s more to the world’s most valuable company than the iPhone – while persuading us that the iPhone is doing really jolly well. The iPhone generates almost two-thirds of Apple’s wealth. The latter task was easily accomplished yesterday, as this was the first …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Feb 2017
A Ransom Note

We see you, ransomware flingers, testing out your baddest stuff on... Germany?

A security firm has floated the theory that malware authors are using German firms as a testing ground for their wares prior to wider distribution. Four in five (81 per cent) of ransomware detected in corporate environments occurred in North America. Germany is the second-most impacted country by ransomware, leading …
John Leyden, 31 Jan 2017
Man relaxes, stretches out, outs his feet up on a cloud.... Fun but hammy stock pic. Photo by Shutterstock

We're building a wall and the over-30TB market is going to pay for it

Interview After our relatively crude attempt to segment the backup market, ExaGrid CEO Bill Andrews got in touch wanting to talk about their way of divvying up the market. What he described seemed a neat enough way of doing it, and far better than our three-group attempt. Bill is a say-it-as-he-sees-it guy who deals with …
Chris Mellor, 31 Jan 2017
Old man's hands typing on laptop

'Grey technology' should be the new black

My dad seems to have a propensity for breaking the all of the kit we’ve given him to allow us to have a trans-oceanic video chat pretty much any time either of us wants. Apple’s Facetime came along just around the time I moved to Australia. Skype wasn’t far behind. Between these two we’ve been able to keep our relationship going …
Mark Pesce, 31 Jan 2017
Axe Cutting Wood

With net neutrality pretty much dead in the US, your privacy is next

Full of confidence in Ajit Pai – the new boss at the FCC, America's communications watchdog – groups representing US telcos are seeking a repeal of the regulator's privacy rules. Citing the appointment of Pai and the imminent decision to roll back the previous administration's net neutrality protections, industry groups now …
Shaun Nichols, 31 Jan 2017

Please come back! TalkTalk woos customers with broadband offers

TalkTalk has spotted an opportunity to win back customers following its mega data breach in October 2015 with a flash sale broadband promotion. Most broadband providers are hiking prices this year, with BT the latest to announce an inflation-busting increase. Virgin Media's broadband and TV packages also went up by up to £3.49 …
Kat Hall, 30 Jan 2017
Woman looks bored wearing birthday hat. Photo by Shutterstock

Facebook ‘Happy Birthday’ lawsuit rolls on

Facebook has failed to dismiss moves to file a class action lawsuit over its practice of sending "unsolicited" text messages when your friend has a birthday. Plaintiff Colin R. Brickman alleges that this violates telemarketing laws in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The law was originally intended to give protection …
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Jan 2017

WD Corp picks teeth after SanDisk dinner, seems pleased with fuller figure

+Comment Western Digital Corp, still digesting SanDisk, is selling more disk drives than arch-rival Seagate and appears to be doing a booming flash business as well, for now. Second quarter revenues totalled $4.9bn, 48 per cent up on a year ago - but then WDC did buy SanDisk and its flash business in between, and 4 per cent up …
Chris Mellor, 26 Jan 2017

US Congress asks FCC to snuff out Google's TV landgrab

Americans will be stuck with the antiquated 1990s CableCARD access standard for a little longer. Republicans in US Congress yesterday urged the FCC to snuff out its radical (and secret) set top box proposal, which has been in limbo since November. The proposal, advanced by former FCC chief Tom Wheeler in his frantic final …
Andrew Orlowski, 26 Jan 2017
robot smart home assistant illustration

Huawei could rescue Amazon's Alexa from the smart home

Analysis Huawei’s upcoming launch of a smartphone incorporating Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant will mark a new phase in one of the most important battles for the modern internet experience. Voice-activated assistants - which use powerful AI engines to deliver detailed, context-aware and personalized answers to users’ questions – are …
Wireless Watch, 26 Jan 2017
burning laptop

HP Inc recalls 101,000 laptop batteries before they halt and catch fire

HP Inc is warning that over 101,000 laptop batteries sold in the US, Canada, and Mexico are at risk of catching fire, and it would like them back please. The new recall is an extension of an earlier announcement in June, which covered more than 40,000 batteries. The US Consumer Product Safety Division advisory states that the …
Iain Thomson, 25 Jan 2017

Revenue is vanity and profit is sanity. Right, Seagate?

In its second fiscal 2017 quarter, Seagate's profits rose even as it shipped fewer disk drives, through manufacturing cost reductions and increased component counts in high-capacity drives. Second quarter revenues were $2.9bn, 2.9 per cent lower than the $2.98bn reported a year ago, and 3.5 per cent more than the prior quarter …
Chris Mellor, 25 Jan 2017
Skin printing

Gimme some skin: Boffins perfect 3D bioprinter that emits slabs of human flesh

Vid 3D printing for most users is limited to polymer printing, or in some cases metal – but now a team from Spain has built hardware that can print actual human skin. The scientists, from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, the Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research, and the Hospital General Universitario …
Iain Thomson, 25 Jan 2017
Verizon corporate building

Verizon waves its IoT credentials, boasts of adopting US-centric one

American telco Verizon reckons it's got a shot at being the next big Internet of Things player and might be eyeing up the NHS, the company's pet evangelist told IoT Tech Expo in London this morning. "We are already deploying Cat M1 LTE," David Vasquez announced. Explaining how Verizon's preferred alternative to Sigfox, LoRa …
Gareth Corfield, 24 Jan 2017

Nuclear power station sensors are literally shouting their readings at each other

Audio-based networking may seem an unusual choice for the Internet of Things, especially when used for machines to bellow information at each other inside a nuclear power station. The Register spoke to Chirp at yesterday's IoT Tech Expo conference in London, where the firm's Daniel Jones, chief science officer, explained how …
Gareth Corfield, 24 Jan 2017

How Lexmark's patent fight to crush an ink reseller will affect us all

If printer maker Lexmark International prevails against ink cartridge reseller Impression Products, tech giants and other American companies will gain the ability to control products through patent claims after they have been sold. The Federal Circuit Court in Washington, DC, last year supported this idea by siding with …
Thomas Claburn, 24 Jan 2017
Breathometer Breeze

2014: El Reg booze lab proves Bluetooth breathalyzers are crap. 2017: US govt agrees

If you’re trusting a personal breathalyzer to protect you from a drunk driving conviction, think again, since the devices might not work as advertised. In the past few years, various companies have begun marketing personal breathalyzers that fit in your pocket and can report blood alcohol content (BAC) levels to a smartphone. …
Iain Thomson, 24 Jan 2017
Samsung president of mobile communications DJ Koh

Samsung set a fire under battery-makers to make the Galaxy Note 7 flaming brilliant

Samsung has blamed two un-named battery-makers for setting fire to its reputation by sending Galaxy Note 7 phablets up in flames, but has also admitted it may have pushed those suppliers too hard. The company today staged a press conference, witnessed online by The Register, during which it detailed how two battery …
Simon Sharwood, 23 Jan 2017
A broken phone

All the cool kids are doing it – BT hikes broadband and TV bills

BT is to hike its broadband and TV prices in an inflation-busting increase that will come into force this April. All basic broadband packages will increase by £2 per month, while BT Infinity fibre customers will be stung by a rise of £2.50 per month. The basic broadband package starts at £9.95 per month, while Infinity starts …
Kat Hall, 20 Jan 2017

Uber coughs up $20m after 'lying about how much its drivers make'

Cab app Uber has agreed to pay $20m to settle charges that it exaggerated how much drivers using its software can earn and downplayed the cost of financing cars through the company. "Many consumers sign up to drive for Uber, but they shouldn't be taken for a ride about their earnings potential or the cost of financing a car …
Thomas Claburn, 20 Jan 2017
zombie_648

Linux is part of the IoT security problem, dev tells Linux conference

The Mirai botnet? Just the “tip of the iceberg” is how security bods at this week's linux.conf.au see the Internet of Things. Presenting to the Security and Privacy miniconf at linux.conf.au, embedded systems developer and consultant Christopher Biggs pointed out that Mirai's focus on building a big DDoS cannon drew attention …

Is Qualcomm price gouging phone makers? Not everyone thinks so

Analysis America’s competition commissioners didn’t want to prosecute Google, which operates a monopoly in over a dozen markets, so why are they complaining about Qualcomm? Yesterday, the FTC filed a complaint against the San Diego chip giant following a South Korean indictment, and two EU probes into Qualcomm’s practices. Qualcomm …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Jan 2017

LTE-Broadcast has broad deployment models. What it doesn't have is the iPhone

Analysis LTE-Broadcast is poised for mass adoption at last, claims the Alliance which was set up last April to promote it. The Alliance aims to make a splash at next month’s Mobile World Congress, to boost operator confidence in the mobile TV standard and outline some of its use cases beyond the consumer TV sector. For instance, the UK …
Wireless Watch, 18 Jan 2017