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Vivaldi boss: It'd be cool if Google went back to the 'not evil' schtick

The founder of the web browser Opera has accused Google of "anti-competitive" practices. "A monopoly both in search and advertising, Google, unfortunately shows that they are not able to resist the misuse of power," wrote Jon von Tetzchner, now CEO of Vivaldi, in a blog post on Monday. He also intimated there may have been a …
Andrew Silver, 05 Sep 2017

China crackdown: VPN vendor gets prison

A Chinese man has been sentenced to nine months in prison for helping his fellow citizens drill through the Great Firewall with virtual private networks. Guangdong province-dwelling 26-year-old Deng Jiewei started offering the VPN software on his Website in October 2015, according to a judgement posted by the Supreme People's …

Australia reviews defence export controls, perhaps easing cryptography research

Australia's Department of Defence wants input on proposed changes to “controlled technology” export controls – and the deadline is this coming Friday. Those controls are described in The Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 and are unloved by Australia's tech sector because their requirements to seek approval before sharing code …

China bans crypto-currency fundraising schemes

Digital currencies Bitcoin and Ethereum have slipped after the Chinese government banned Initial Coin Offerings, a tool that sees equities offerings bid in cryptocurrencies instead of fiat currencies, a share funding mechanism. The Peoples' Bank of China's joint announcement with six other agencies doesn't translate smoothly, …

Google, propaganda, and the new New Man

Comment Google has begun to infuse American TV and movies shows with propaganda – "good propaganda", the company insists. However, it's unlikely to please two groups who rarely agree on anything: those who think Google isn't diverse enough, and conservatives who fear its political and media power. So far, Google's "interventions" have …
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Sep 2017
Burning a £20 note. Pic: Shutterstock

Smart meters: 'Dog's breakfast' that'll only save you 'a tenner' – report

Smart meters will cost each British household £420 and save people just “a tenner a year”, according to reports. Cost-benefit estimates for the British smart meter programme vary hugely, with figures ranging from modest savings of around £26 a year (as we reported last year) to the Mail on Sunday’s latest guess coming from …
Gareth Corfield, 04 Sep 2017
HMRC photo via Shutterstock

80% of IT projects in public sector delayed due to IR35 – report

The vast majority of UK government IT projects are suffering delays due to freelancers quitting over the IR35 tax clampdown, according to a survey of contractors. Of 405 IT freelancers surveyed by Contractor Calculator, 79 per cent said the projects they have been working on were delayed as a result of contractors leaving. In …
Kat Hall, 04 Sep 2017

Big Tech slams Trump on plan to deport kids

More than 300 business leaders including the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google have signed a letter slamming Donald Trump for his plan to remove legal protections from immigrant children born in the United States. "As entrepreneurs and business leaders, we are concerned about new developments in immigration policy …
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Sep 2017

Deputy AG Rosenstein calls for law to require encryption backdoors

The deputy US Attorney General said he wants legislators to force technology companies to decrypt people's private conversations. Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday told a crowd of over 600 police officers that software developers should be required by law to unscrambled end-to-end encrypted chatter on demand – and if the engineers …
Shaun Nichols, 31 Aug 2017
Paul Winchell and dummy

Net neutrality comments close: Let the BS begin!

The latest comment period on the effort to kill off America's net neutrality rules has closed – and the circus has officially reopened for business. A staggering 21.8 million missives have been sent to FCC on the subject – a number so large that it has pretty much allowed anyone and everyone to claim that their point of view …
Kieren McCarthy, 31 Aug 2017

NSA enters stage two of its spying revival plan: Getting Trump onboard

Uncle Sam's intelligence agencies have embarked on the next stage of their plan to retain spying powers over US citizens: getting Donald Trump onboard. Knowing what we do about Donald's approach to policy issues, it seems unlikely that the American president is aware of what is going on. But somehow he has been persuaded to …
Kieren McCarthy, 31 Aug 2017
Metropolitan police image via Shutterstock

Police deny Notting Hill Carnival face recog tech led to wrongful arrest

The Metropolitan Police has denied that use of its dubious facial recognition technology at the Notting Hill Carnival in London led to someone being wrongfully arrested. The Brit force's denial contradicts an observer who spoke to constables operating the facial recognition system on the day. News reports suggested that …
Gareth Corfield, 31 Aug 2017
Robot spider

Korea extends factory automation tax break, is accused of levying 'robot taxes' anyway

It's not quite a “robot tax”, but South Korea appears to be sufficiently worried about the impact of automation on its workforce to consider withdrawing tax breaks for manufacturers that buy “robots”. As one of the world's major factory nations, South Korea country is concerned that a too-rapid expansion of automation in heavy …

Criticize Google, get fired: Spotlight spins on ad giant's use of soft money

The firing of a high-profile academic has spun a spotlight onto one of the public policy world's best-known dirty secrets: Google's use of donations to stymie criticism of its business. Barry Lynn has been a persistent critic of the ad giant, particularly its growing monopoly over much of our digital lives. "It's becoming …
Kieren McCarthy, 30 Aug 2017

NYPD head of IT doubles down on Windows smartphone idiocy

The woman responsible for a catastrophic decision to equip New York police officers with Windows smartphones, all of which are now being dumped, has doubled-down on her idiocy. "We assessed that the Windows platform would be most effective at achieving our goal of securing 36,000 devices that would be used for sensitive law …
Kieren McCarthy, 30 Aug 2017

Northern Ireland cops hired cybersecurity biz to ID critics on Twitter

The Police Service of Northern Ireland reportedly hired a private cybersecurity firm to unmask anonymous Twitter accounts of officers and staff allegedly involved in online racist abuse. The accounts also appeared to publish information about ongoing police operations, according to the Press Association. The force confirmed …
Kat Hall, 30 Aug 2017
Google, photo by lightpoet via Shutterstock

Google has some sort of plan for not favouring its own shopping service

About three hours before the deadline on a 60-day compliance period, Google has submitted its plans for meeting a European Union antitrust order. Regulators slapped Google with a €2.42bn fine in June for putting its shopping service ahead of others in search results, and ordered it to stop within 90 days. The search giant had …
Andrew Silver, 30 Aug 2017
Nissan Juke RS

We're not the 'world leader' in electric cars, Nissan insists

"World leaders in 100 per cent electric since 2010," Nissan boasted about itself in a recent advert. But does that mean the world leader (as in number one) or a world leader (nowhere near number one)? According to Nissan, it's the latter. Someone far more devoted to pedantry thought it necessary to complain to the Advertising …
Gareth Corfield, 30 Aug 2017

Sweden may extend data retention, splat NAT and register VPNs

Sweden may be about to adopt increased surveillance of the internet, with new proposals about data retention and network rules leaked to local ISP Bahnhof. The proposals are contained in submissions to a parliamentary inquiry into Sweden's data retention regime, which came into force in 2010. The company says it's been passed …
Australian money at a crime scene

Turnbull's Transformers lash government IT mavens over spend

A taskforce led by Australia's Digital Transformation Agency hopes to rein in the Australian government's galloping IT spend. The Agency's (DTA's) analysis, posted to its site late last week, says government IT procurement has blown out under the Turnbull government, from AU$5.9 billion in 2012-2013 to almost $9.6 billion. The …
Smartphone showing Chinese flag

China to identify commentards with real‑name policy

China's Internet administration has issued an edict that any platform that allows users to post comments must register their real-world identities first. The South China Morning Post spotted this note (in Chinese*) from the Cyberspace Administration of China, which imposes the requirement that users post comments under their …

Minnesota Senator calls out US watchdogs: Why so cozy with Amazon?

A ranking member of the Senate's Antitrust Subcommittee wants a top US regulator to explain why it was so quick to approve Amazon's purchase of high-end grocery chain Whole Foods. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) says she is "concerned" over the speed with which Amazon completed its $13.7bn acquisition of the kombucha-slinging organic …
Shaun Nichols, 25 Aug 2017

Judge orders handover of Trump protest website records – DreamHost claims victory

A US judge has ordered that all user details of a Trump protest website be handed over to the US Department of Justice following several weeks of argument over the demand. Hosting company DreamHost went public with its concerns over the DoJ's original search warrant, which demanded all information related to the disruptj20.org …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 Aug 2017

London Mayor hires former PR man as Chief Digi Officer

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has slotted former PR man and public sector tech policy specialist Theo Blackwell into the chief digital officer slot that opened up months ago. Back in May, El Reg reported the role was advertised with a tidy salary of £107,000 a year - enough to keep ten of our journalists in booze and ciggies for a …
Paul Kunert, 25 Aug 2017

UK.gov wants quick Brexit deal with EU over private data protections

The UK government has said it wants an early agreement on a post-Brexit data-sharing deal with the European Union, as well as a continued seat at the table for Blighty's data protection watchdog. In the latest of its position papers for how the UK will extricate itself from decades of EU policy, the government set out what it …
Rebecca Hill, 25 Aug 2017
YouTube India logo - not official

India's Aadhaar national biometric ID scheme at risk after Supreme Court rules privacy is a right

India's Supreme Court has ruled that the nation's constitution gives its citizens a right to privacy, a decision that clouds the future of the country's Aadhaar biometric identification scheme. Aadhaar will see every Indian citizen identified by a 12-digit number after a process that sees their faces photographed, along with a …
Simon Sharwood, 25 Aug 2017

Vital fair use copyright defense lands – thanks to warring YouTubers

Analysis The fair use of copyrighted video content has been upheld in an important legal battle in America between two YouTubers. Ethan and Hila Klein were sued last year by Matt Hosseinzadeh over a video in which they mocked his "Bold Guy" persona and his "Cringe-tube" videos where he wins over attractive one-dimensional women by …
Kieren McCarthy, 24 Aug 2017

Fewer than half GCSE computing students got a B or higher this year

The UK government has been told to tackle teacher shortages in Blighty – and offer more support for those now teaching tougher syllabuses – as GCSE computing results showed little improvement on last year. Today's results show a marginal improvement on the 2016 figures – this year, 41 per cent gained a B or higher, compared …
Rebecca Hill, 24 Aug 2017

Google's $8.5m class-action privacy payout goes to: Lawyers' alma maters, web giant's pals

The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has narrowly approved an $8.5m Google payout for privacy violations following a lengthy argument over who should receive the money. Despite the class-action lawsuit being brought on behalf of roughly 129 million folks in the US who Googled between 2006 and 2014, none of the money will …
Kieren McCarthy, 23 Aug 2017

Spotify cleared of exposing kids to self-love innuendo in TV spot

Spotify has been cleared of exposing children to sexual and masturbatory innuendos because the Advertising Standards Authority thinks Britain's Got Talent is unlikely to be watched by kids. The regulator ruled that the ads, containing mildly explicit references to procreation and teenage self-love, were OK to be broadcast …
Gareth Corfield, 23 Aug 2017

UK taxman forks out to parents after glitch smacks child benefits site

The UK government has resorted to manually issuing childcare payments, and has paid out £45,000 in compensation, after technical glitches meant parents couldn’t access their accounts on a new childcare benefits website. The government’s Childcare Service website - which allows parents to apply for two new benefits: tax-free …
Rebecca Hill, 23 Aug 2017

Microsoft, Apple cough up MEEELLIONS after Australian tax audits

Nice work if you can get it: Microsoft has told Australia's Senate committee into Corporate Tax Avoidance that it's negotiated how much of its hard-earned cash it'll fork over to the Australian Taxation Office. However, the company has declined to say just how much of a hole the Office's (ATO's) investigation is burning in its …
NBN Logo

Australian telcos promise to be better NBN helpers

Faced with an escalating crisis of consumer dissatisfaction over the National Broadband Network rollout, the federal government called an all-hands meeting in Canberra at which everybody promised to do better. No, really. In an environment so toxic the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is reiterating its decade- …

German court reveals reason for Europe-wide patent system freeze

The German federal court has finally revealed why it ordered a halt to the ratification of the Europe-wide Unitary Patent Court. The Federal Constitutional Court (FCC) unexpectedly slammed the brakes on the UPC back in June, sparking speculation in the intellectual property world as to why – was it a procedural matter? Was it …
Kieren McCarthy, 22 Aug 2017
Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. If you haven't seen it, it's about a man forced to endure reliving the same day over and over. Pic: Columbia Pictures

Groundhog Day! ACCC again calls for truth in broadband advertising

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has fired off its latest salvo in its decades-long argument with the telco industry about internet speed claims in Australia, telling them to advertise typical speeds rather than theoretical maxima. Ever since people complained the 56 Kbps modems of the 1990s didn't …

China's cyber court opens for business; a gavel-free zone?

China has just opened a new court that will solely deal with internet-related cases. Based in Hangzhou – where many large Chinese internet companies are located – the Net Court (Hangzhou Internet Court) will hear cases covering everything from domain names to ecommerce disputes to online defamation. The court accepts …
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Aug 2017

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