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German Media Mogul Rips Google in Open Letter
April 18, 2014
The head of one of Germany's biggest media companies penned an open letter criticizing Google, saying that his company is afraid of Google and its ever-swelling power. The letter, written by Mathias Dopfner, the chief executive of media giant Axel Springer, opines that Google's technology platforms spread more quickly and more efficiently than anything in the world -- save "biological viruses."
Chinese Company Creates 3D-Printed Houses
April 17, 2014
Shanghai WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, a Shanghai-based company, has created 10 3D-printed houses. Each house reportedly cost less than $5,000 and took less than 24 hours to construct. The printer used to create the homes was about 100 feet long, 33 feet wide and more than 20 feet tall. The "ink" was made from high-grade cement and glass fiber.
Samsung Strikes Deal With Fellow Apple Patent Foe
April 16, 2014
Samsung, longtime patent foe of Apple, will partner with Swiss Federal Railways, another -- unlikely -- Apple patent foe. While the deal itself may not be groundbreaking -- Samsung will supply the state-owned rail company with 30,000 mobile devices -- it is interesting given both parties' litigious background with Apple. Samsung's court battles with Apple have been documented ad nauseum.
Twitter Tries to Defuse Turkey Controversy
April 15, 2014
Twitter has agreed to close some accounts in Turkey, but the two sides are still at loggerheads over allegations of tax evasion and whether or not Twitter must maintain a physical presence in the country. Twitter Vice President of Global Public Policy Colin Crowell led a delegation of sorts to address the country's multifaceted grievances with the social media site.
Microsoft Touts Privacy Bona Fides to European Customers
April 11, 2014
Having become the first company to formally meet the European Union's data protection rules, Microsoft is trying to turn its trustworthiness into business in privacy-wary Europe. "For customers who care about privacy and compliance, there is no more committed partner than Microsoft," wrote Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith in a Thursday blog post.
France Bans Mobile Phones During Cabinet Sessions
April 10, 2014
French President Francois Hollande has imposed a ban on mobile phones during cabinet sessions, forcing ministers to leave their devices at the door. The move is designed to help "focus on what we must do," a spokesperson said, and will ensure that government folk "talk and listen to what is said and will no longer be able to tap away at this magnificent tool."
Agency: 'Cuban Twitter' Meant to Help, Not Incite
April 09, 2014
Rajiv Shah, the administrator of AID, defended a Twitter-esque social media site created by the agency, saying it was an attempt to nurture communication on the island -- not, as has been claimed, a way to collect data and incite a revolt. Appearing before the Senate and House appropriations subcommittees, Shah said the "programs are part of our mission to promote open communications."
Courtroom Drama: Hollywood Sues Megaupload
April 08, 2014
Six Hollywood studios have banded together in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Megaupload, the wildly popular though now shuttered site that, in its heyday, was ground zero for file-sharing. The suit doesn't specify an amount of damages, but does say that the studios should be entitled to $150,000 per copyright infringement, as well as profits earned by Megaupload.
April Schools' Day: School Canceled Thanks to IT System Hack
April 01, 2014
Well, an A for creativity. In Australia, someone penetrated a high school's IT system and penned text messages and emails to parents saying that the school had been badly damaged by a fire and was not fit for students. There was no truth to the message, however -- just a bit of April Fools' Day shenanigans. An unknown person apparently wiggled into the school's IT systems Tuesday morning.
Japan to Fire Off Emails in Event of Incoming Missile
March 31, 2014
Starting April 1, Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency will send email alerts to residents' phones should North Korea start lobbing missiles. The messages would be sent using the nation's already-functional J-Alert, a free system designed to notify people about earthquakes and tsunamis. The missile-warning service is aimed specifically at those who use NTT Docomo, KDDI au and Softbank Mobile devices.
US Judge: Free Speech Protects Baidu's Beijing-OK'd Results
March 28, 2014
A Manhattan judge ruled that a Chinese search engine's practice of restricting free speech is, wouldn't you know it, protected by free speech. Chinese Internet company Baidu won the dismissal of a U.S. lawsuit filed by activists who objected to its, shall we say, selective search results, which adhere to the government's notoriously limited view of what is and isn't acceptable.
Microsoft Launches Public Cloud in China
March 27, 2014
Microsoft is now offering general availability of its Azure cloud service in China, becoming the first multinational company to provide public cloud services in the Middle Kingdom. Microsoft is partnering with 21Vianet, a Chinese data center services provider, a marriage that likely helped appease Beijing officials. Until now, all major cloud providers in China have been Chinese.
Rocket the Vote! NASA Asks People to Vote on New Space Threads
March 26, 2014
NASA is asking people to vote on their favorite design for the outer shell of the new Z-2 spacesuit. While the Z-2 models may descend from their Apollo 13-style ancestors, there are some decidedly 21st Century twists. The "Biomimicry" design, for example, has a reptilian flare; "Trends in Society" has a more everyday look -- at least, as far as spacesuits go.
China Seeks Answers About NSA/Huawei Report
March 25, 2014
China's government is asking the U.S. to explain itself -- and to knock it off with all the cyberespionage -- following reports that the National Security Agency has had its way with Chinese telecom giant Huawei. The NSA reportedly penetrated Huawei servers to monitor communications among company executives, and to gain access to the dealings of Huawei customers.
NSA Lifts Middle Finger to Middle Kingdom
March 24, 2014
Oh, there have been some good National Security Agency revelations. Like the one about the NSA tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone. Or the one about the NSA planting agents inside World of Warcraft, or impersonating Facebook in a global quest to spread malware. Delicious as all those stories are, however, last weekend's NSA bombshell may take the cake.
Chinese State Media Prompts Amazon to Close Store
March 21, 2014
China's state media seems to have the ear of U.S. tech companies. Amazon's China unit closed down a third-party store after state media criticized Amazon for selling fake cosmetics. Amazon's China unit took the accusations seriously, it said, promising to "strengthen the process of scrutiny." The fake-product accusations were floated on China Central Television.
Earth Narrowly Missed Solar Blasts in 2012
March 20, 2014
Enormous solar blasts, which possessed the potential to wreak havoc on electrical grids and satellites, barely missed Earth in 2012. The near-misses, revealed by researchers Wednesday, would have been akin to the 1859 Carrington Event, the largest solar storm ever recorded. While there were no satellites to cripple back then, the storm knocked out telegraph systems across the U.S.
Report: NSA Listens to International Calls From the Past
March 19, 2014
The National Security Agency reportedly possesses a system that enables it to record telephone calls -- all telephone calls -- in a foreign country, and review conversations for up to a month after they took place. The system is said to be akin to a time machine, allowing for retroactive snooping on foreign targets. Billions of calls are stored in a 30-day rolling buffer.
All Hacks on Deck: Japan Invites Hackers to Go At Government
March 18, 2014
Japan invited hackers -- nice ones, that is -- to go to town on the nation's government departments Tuesday. The move is designed to expose weaknesses in cyberdefenses and bolster national security ahead of the 2020 Olympics. Japan enlisted 50 cyberdefense specialists to gather at an emergency response center in Tokyo; an additional 100-plus were stationed offsite.
Chinese E-Commerce Giant Plans Stateside IPO
March 17, 2014
Gargantuan Chinese e-commerce outfit Alibaba soon will begin the process of launching an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. Early forecasts suggest that the IPO could raise $15 billion. The announcement seemingly ends speculation about whether Alibaba would be listed on the NYSE or in Hong Kong. Alibaba apparently found some of the SEHK's rules particularly unpalatable.

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