Posts Tagged ‘Corporate

11
Aug
10

Google Street View throws light on web privacy

NEWS
Google Street View throws light on web privacy

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Google’s online map feature has become a flash point for people worried about the erosion of privacy in the Internet Age.

Street View images at Google Maps sparked controversy from the outset of the project three years ago.

Google dispatched cars and tricycles rigged with cameras and satellite positioning gear to take pictures of what one might see on streets around the world and synched the images to its free online mapping service.

Some people complained that faces could be recognised in pictures, raising the potential that people caught in compromising situations, perhaps stepping out of an adult video store, would have such moments memorialised online.

Others expressed fears that numbers from licence plates could be used to figure out who parks or lives on certain streets.

People were soon accusing Street View vehicles of straying onto private roads or yards to snap pictures in violation of the California-based internet giant’s policies.

Google adapted to ameliorate concerns. It began blurring faces and car licence plate numbers in images.

This year the Street View controversy rocketed to a new level with the revelation by Google that electronics in its picture-taking vehicles captured data from wireless internet systems not secured by passwords.

Google basically had access to unencrypted email, video downloads, web browsing or other digital information passing through wireless routers in homes or businesses as its Street View vans went by, said John Verdi, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Centre.

Google has apologised repeatedly for what it called an accidental data grab, but authorities in more than a dozen countries are investigating whether the company broke privacy laws.

South Korean police on Tuesday searched the offices of Google Korea as part of its probe, an officer said.

Police seized computer hard discs and other material. After analysing the material they plan to summon the company’s staff for questioning.

Efforts by governments to get the Street View data threaten to multiply damage to people’s privacy even if Google is true to its word that it has done nothing with the information.

‘Simply handing over the data to governments can be a very bad idea,’ said Electronic Frontier Foundation international rights director Katitza Rodriguez.

‘In some cases, the remedy can be worse than the disease.’

Countries could use the pretext of investigating Street View to mine Google data in ways that ‘might create risky situations for human rights activists, dissidents, or bloggers fighting for their rights,’ she added.

Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle theorised that Google might have intended to map locations of open wireless ‘hot spots’ as a potential service to users.

‘Telling people where they can get on the internet for free while they are out and about sounds to me like a typical Google thing to do,’ Enderle said. ‘It wouldn’t surprise me.’

Identity thieves might view a roster of open wireless zones the way burglars might look at a list of homes left unlocked, according to the analyst.

Google said it would allow Germans to block out their homes on Street View ahead of its launch in the country this year but privacy watchdogs were still not happy.

‘Google Street View is a great tool, for instance, for tourists to scope out the location that he or she wants to visit,’ Rodriguez said.

‘However, Google’s technology is too invasive, and goes too far. We expect some degree of anonymity while we are walking on the streets.’
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22
Jun
10

U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

NEWS
U.K. police probing alleged Google privacy breach

U.K. Police Investigating Alleged Google Privacy Breach Through Public Wi-Fi Networks

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Britain has become the latest country to open an investigation into whether Google violated communication and privacy laws by mistakenly gathering data over public Wi-Fi networks.

London’s Metropolitan Police says it is looking into complaints that the search engine’s ‘Street View’ project picked up people’s online activities through unprotected networks.

It says it is determining what offences, if any, were committed.

Privacy International, a London-based privacy watchdog that filed the case with police, says it had received complaints from members of the public who feared their personal data could be at risk.

The French independent privacy watchdog CNIL said last week that Google, following a complaint, had handed over personal data sucked up by its technicians.

The attorney general of the U.S. state of Connecticut is also looking into whether Google broke the law.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multi-state probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy.”

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.
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22
Jun
10

U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

NEWS
U.S. States step up ante against Google over wireless data

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• The attorney general of a U.S. state is looking into whether Google broke the law by capturing people’s personal data from wireless networks.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced on Monday that his office will lead a multistate probe of “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy,” which has drawn ire and scrutiny in an array of countries.

“Street View cannot mean Complete View – invading home and business computer networks and vacuuming up personal information and communications,” Blumenthal said.

Similar probes have begun in U.K., Germany, Australia and New Zealand, where police are investigating Google and some of the internet giant’s employees for collecting private information while they photographed streets for the Google Maps website.

Blumenthal said people had a right to know what information Google gleaned, how it was done and why.

He also wanted the internet giant to detail what safeguards are in place to fix the situation.

“While we hope Google will continue to cooperate, its response so far raises as many questions as it answers,” Blumenthal said.

“Our investigation will consider whether laws may have been broken and whether changes to state and federal statutes may be necessary.”

Blumenthal has asked Google to explain how and when it learned its Street View bicycles and cars were capturing data from unencrypted wireless networks and why they recorded the quality of wireless networks they passed.
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05
Jun
10

Sky buys Virgin Media TV channels for $231 million

NEWS
Sky buys Virgin Media TV channels for $231 million

Saturday, June 5, 2010

British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) has bought Virgin Media Television, the current owner of seven TV channels including Living and Bravo.

Sky, the owner of Sky News, is paying $231 million (£160 million) in cash under the deal, which also sees it acquire the channels Challenge, Challenge Jackpot and Virgin1, the latter of which will be rebranded.

The purchase expands Sky’s portfolio of basic pay TV channels and means it does not have to pay carriage fees to offer the Virgin Media Television (VMtv) channels to its customers.

Meanwhile, Virgin Media will be given the option of carrying any of Sky’s basic HD channels, Sky Sports HD 1 and Sky Sports HD 2, and all Sky Movies HD channels for an incremental wholesale fee.

It will also make Sky’s basic and premium channels available to subscribers through its on-demand TV service.

VMtv said its seven channels – which span pay and free-to-air television – reach more than 24 million adult viewers every month.
Living is the third most popular pay TV channel in the U.K., and is the self-styled home of ‘guilty pleasures and trashy glamour’.

It offers a variety of popular programmes including Four Weddings and America’s Next Top Model in its schedules.

Virgin Media said the sale of VMtv would allow it to focus on providing subscribers with ‘super-fast’ cable TV and broadband provision.

Meanwhile BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch described the acquisition as ‘an attractive investment opportunity’ that offered strategic and financial benefits.

‘We are pleased that, through commercial negotiation, we have been able to ensure wide distribution of our channels to a growing pay TV universe,’ he said.

Virgin launched Virgin1 in October 2007 although channels such as Living and Bravo came from the former ntl/Telewest business.

This in turn merged with Virgin Mobile in 2007 and was then rebranded as Virgin Media.
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• Source(s): British Sky Broadcasting / News Corporation
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04
Jun
10

Job creation is still Photo ‘Bleak’

NEWS
Job creation is still Photo ‘Bleak’

Friday, June 4, 2010

U.S. job creation by private companies grew at the slowest pace of the year in May, even while the hiring of temporary census workers drove overall payrolls up 431,000.

The unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent as many people gave up searching for work.

The Labor Department’s new employment snapshot released on Friday suggested that outside of the burst of hiring of temporary census workers by the federal government many private employers are wary of bulking up their work forces.

That indicates the economic recovery may not bring relief fast enough for millions of Americans who are unemployed.

Virtually all the job creation in May came from the hiring of 411,000 census workers.

Such hiring peaked in May and will begin tailing off in June.

By contrast, hiring by private employers, the backbone of the economy, slowed sharply.

They added just 41,000 jobs, down from 218,000 in April and the fewest since January.

‘Although the economic outlook is improving, the recovery is still pretty tepid,’ said Paul Ashworth, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

President Barack Obama acknowledged that temporary census jobs drove the overall payroll gain. But he said private sector hiring is growing.

He noted five straight months of job gains after devastating losses from the recession.

He said the recovery is still in its early stages, and that it will be uneven in the months ahead.

‘Things never go completely in a smooth line,’ Obama said during a speech on Friday.

‘This report is a sign that our economy is getting stronger by the day.’

However, Wall Street took the report as a disappointing setback.

Many investors had grown optimistic in recent days that the economy was gaining strength and that would be reflected in the May employment data.

They hoped a strong U.S. jobs report would put aside some concerns that Europe’s debt crisis could upset the U.S. recovery.

The weak private-hiring data sent a reminder that economic obstacles at home and abroad remain.

The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled about 180 points, or 1.8 percent, in mid-morning trading.

As stock prices sink, consumers may become more reluctant to spend more.

And if consumer spending falters, employers could become even more reluctant to ramp up hiring.

The unemployment rate, which is derived from a separate survey than the payroll figures, fell to 9.7 percent from 9.9 percent.

The dip partly reflected 322,000 people leaving the labour force for a variety of reasons.

All told, 15 million people were unemployed in May.

Counting people who have given up looking for work and part-timers who would rather be working full time, the ‘underemployment’ rate fell to 16.6 percent in May from 17.1 percent in April.

That reflected fewer people forced into part-time work.

Still, the high underemployment figure shows how difficult it is for jobseekers to find work.

The number of people out of work six months or longer reached 6.76 million in May, a new high.

They made up 46 percent of all unemployed people, also a record high.

Employers across a range of industries last month added jobs at a slower pace – or cut them.

Factories, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality companies, and education and health care firms all slowed hiring.

Financial services, construction companies and retailers all pared jobs.

Government, however, led the way in hiring, adding a whopping 390,000 positions last month.

Job gains in April were the same as first reported, while payrolls in March were slightly less – 208,000 versus 230,000.
» Related: President Obama on the May Jobs Numbers
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29
May
10

Shell Buys U.S. Gas Assets From East Resources for $4.7 Billion

NEWS
Shell Buys U.S. Gas Assets From East Resources for $4.7 Billion
Saturday, May 29, 2010

••• Royal Dutch Shell, the energy major, has almost doubled its reserves of shale gas with the $4.7 Billion in cash acquisition of East Resources.

East Resources owns and operates more than 2,500 producing oil and gas wells in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Colorado and is actively exploring drilling programs in Wyoming, according to its website. It has been operating in the Marcellus Shale Area for 25 years.

Companies from India’s Reliance Industries Ltd to Japan’s Mitsui & Co are spending billions of dollars on drilling to dislodge natural gas from shale – sedimentary rock composed of mud, quartz and calcite. Shell expects its share of gas in total output to rise to 52 percent in 2012.
“They’ve seen others take material positions in U.S. gas, and this is one way they can also play a part in that business,” said Jason Kenney, head of oil and gas research at ING Commercial Banking in Edinburgh.

The acquisition is the second-biggest oil and gas deal this year, after BP Plc’s acquisition of deepwater assets from Devon Energy Corp for $7 billion in March, according to Bloomberg data.

“We are enhancing our world-wide upstream portfolio for profitable growth, through exploration and focused acquisitions, and through divestment of non-core positions,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser said in a statement today.

Exxon Mobil Corp, the biggest U.S. oil company, agreed in December to buy XTO Energy Inc, the country’s largest natural gas producer, for $31 billion to gain control of shale-gas assets.
• Source(s): Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Bloomberg L.P.
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25
May
10

AT&T Launches Wi-Fi Zone in NYC’s Time Square

NEWS
AT&T Launches Wi-Fi Zone in NYC’s Time Square

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

••• AT&T today announced the launch of an AT&T Wi-Fi “hotzone” in New York City’s Times Square. The pilot comes as AT&T looks for offload strategies in major markets like Manhattan and San Francisco, where the carrier has admitted its network performance has suffered.

AT&T has installed Wi-Fi service in the north central part of Times Square, near 7th Avenue between 45th and 47th Street. The effect is a large outdoor hotspot zone that AT&T users can access using any Wi-Fi enabled device. The ATT Wi-Fi hotzone at Times Square is available at no additional charge.

“With this pilot AT&T Wi-Fi hotzone, we’re examining new ways to combine our Wi-Fi and 3G networks to help ensure that AT&T customers in Times Square always have a fast mobile broadband connection to do what matters most to them,” said John Donovan, AT&T chief technology officer, in a statement.

AT&T claims that it has seen mobile data traffic growth of 5,000 percent over the past three years. As a result, the company has been experimenting with technologies like 3G MicroCell devices for homes, distributed Antenna System networks to extend 3G coverage in stadiums, convention halls and other areas where people congregate; and temporary network enhancements to support one-time events and emergency situations.

Pressed to find a solution to the 5,000% growth in its mobile data traffic, AT&T said Tuesday it is exploring establishing public Wi-Fi “hotzones” to relieve pressure on its mobile phone network, most of it caused by iPhone users.

AT&T said it has launched a “pilot deployment” in New York City’s Times Square, the nation’s symbolic public crossroads.

Wi-Fi hotspots have been proliferating in New York City, but most of them are for use by customers already paying for other services. For instance, Cablevision, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable currently offer Wi-Fi service across a vast New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region, but users must already be a paid customer of one of the providers.

AT&T itself has some 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots that can be utilized by users who have an AT&T service. The Times Square service is free to AT&T customers with certain smartphones, laptops, and AT&T Internet plans.

With the Federal Communications Commission already sounding the alarm of an approaching “spectrum crisis” due largely to the rapid proliferation of smartphones and their insatiable thirst for data, carriers are seeking ways to encourage subscribers to use non-carrier spectrum. The FCC has suggested that Wi-Fi and femtocells be utilized to ease the spectrum crunch. AT&T recently began marketing its 3G MicroCell femtocell devices to its customers.

AT&T, which has an exclusive contract to market Apple’s popular – and data-guzzling – iPhone, has seen its mobile traffic grow 5,000% in three years and the New York City area has been particularly affected.

“With this pilot AT&T Wi-Fi hotzone, we’re examining new ways to combine our Wi-Fi and 3G networks to help ensure that AT&T customers in Times Square always have a fast mobile broadband connection,” said John Donovan, AT&T chief technology officer, in a statement. “It’s another example of how AT&T is exploring the ideal blend of technologies to maximize the mobile experience for our customers in New York City.”

Verizon Wireless offers a public area Wi-Fi service to many of its customers through a partnership with Boingo. If Verizon eventually markets an iPhone, as is rumored, the development would take at least some of the spectrum pressure off AT&T.
• Source(s): AT&T

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