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NSA whistleblower leaks information out about British equivalent of NSA, takes data directly from fiber optic cables

We all know the United States government and their various agencies such as the NSA, FBI and CIA have counterparts across the world - but NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has leaked more documents to The Guardian, which suggest British counterparts also intercept data.

 

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The British operation is codenamed "Tempora" by Britain's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and has been in operation for at least 18 months. This operation involves the use of "intercept probes" which are directly attached to transatlantic fiber-optic cables going onto British shores from telephone exchanges and Internet servers in the US. "Intercept partners", or commercial companies as the documents describe them, were secretly used to attach the intercepts on behalf of the GCHQ.

 

The companies weren't revealed in the documents, but were forced by law to help the GCHQ, and were even paid in some cases. This has allowed the GCHQ to take in countless amounts of data from citizens - with everything from phone calls, to e-mails and Facebook data. The Guardian notes: "For the 2 billion users of the world wide web, Tempora represents a window on to their everyday lives, sucking up every form of communication from the fiber-optic cables that ring the world."

Continue reading 'NSA whistleblower leaks information out about British equivalent of NSA, takes data directly from fiber optic cables' (full post)

Edward Snowden gets slapped with criminal charges by the US government - freedom, what's that?

We all know that you can't just talk about the secret programs the United States government and their multiple tentacles like the NSA run, such as PRISM, and if you do you face criminal charges and are branded with the word 'espionage'.

 

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Edward Snowden talked of NSA's top-secret PRISM program, and is now facing charges that include Theft of Government Property, Unauthorized Communications on National Defense Information and "Willful Communication of Classified Information to an Unauthorized Person." My question is, if he is being charged - is this the United States government's way of admitting the system is there? Is now the time for the United States citizens to stand up to the government?

 

We've seen Bradley Manning thrown away in a hole somewhere, Julian Assange hiding out in another country, Kim Dotcom with multiple hits against him and now Edward Snowden. It seems if you come forth with a nugget of information that they don't want the general public to see, they'll build a case against you with everything they've got. The papers say that the US government has asked Hong Kon to detain Snowden Let's all hope Snowden makes it out of this and the Chinese government don't get on their knees to the Obama administration.

ReportTT: FAA to relax in-flight electronics use policy

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the FAA is readying relaxed guidelines for in-flight electronics use. According to the report, the new policy could soon see the ban lifted on low-altitude use of personal-electronic devices. This means you will likely not have to turn off your devices during takeoff and landing.

 

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The news comes from a draft report that will be delivered to the FAA. The report didn't dive into cell phone usage during flight as that still remains quite controversial. It's expected that cell phone usage will remain off limits. However, the report does seem to be going with the times and taking new technologies into consideration as part of the update to rules that haven't really been changed since the 1960s.

 

For us technology users, this is good news. We will no longer have to fake turning off our iPods and other music players during takeoff and landing.

Microsoft's former Xbox designer will soon be the Chief Design Officer of Xbox Entertainment Studios

Microsoft has appointed a new Chief Designer to their Xbox Entertainment Studios, former Xbox designer Elan Lee. Lee left Microsoft for a while, where he formed two different companies working on different projects.

 

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Lee will report to Nancy Tellem, who is Microsoft's Entertainment and Digital Media President. Lee will help out with the Xbox One's dreams of becoming every homes entertainment hub. Microsoft are also working on getting other content firms to create exclusive material for their next-gen console, with a brief explanation of what they want to achieve quoted below:

 

The move by Microsoft to aggressively court Hollywood studios and the rest of the entertainment ilk underscores two facts: the future of the Xbox is a holistic entertainment device, and not a gaming console that has the mere ability to play Netflix. Secondly, Microsoft has real work ahead of it at the E3 event: it must prove to gamers that even though Xbox is growing up, the company hasn't forgotten about its core constituency.

RumorTT: Robert Downey Jr to be the face of HTC's smartphone range

HTC are hoping that getting the man who plays Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr, to be part of their new marketing plans. The news comes from Bloomberg who are reporting that "two people with knowledge of the plans" leaking the deal to the publication.

 

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Downey would receive $12 million for a two-year deal and it will feature himself, not Iron Man or Marvel, and he will also have final creative control over the campaign's elements. I think Downey would be good for HTC, but marketing isn't the only thing they need right now - they need more phones, tablets and more consumers to pay attention. Marketing with Iron Man himself will definitely have people looking, but will we see Downey tweeting from his iPhone like other stars have been busted in the past?

Pirate Bay founder receives two-year sentence for hacking Logica

Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, one of the Pirate Bay founders, was arrested last September on charges that he was part of the hacking against Logica. Logica is an IT company that manages tax documents and services for Swedish companies.

 

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The Pirate Bay founder was accused of hacking into the company, where he gained access to records of thousands of people and illegally transferred money. Prosecutors said Warg gained access to 24,200 Danish crowns (US$4281) online, and attempted to transfer a total of around US$904,000. The Pirate Bay founder has of course denied the charges, with the district court in Sweden stating: "The hacking has been very extensive and technically advanced. The attacker has affected very sensitive systems."

 

Warg was already serving a one-year sentence for his sharing of copyright-protected files through the Pirate Bay, after which he failed to show up for a hearing on the charge. Warg went into hiding and was found and arrested in Cambodia last September. These two years will now tack onto the end of his one-year sentence.

Microsoft investigated building an e-commerce site to take on Amazon, Ebay

According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft recently considered entering the e-commerce market. Rolling out an e-commerce site would have put Microsoft in direct competition with Amazon and Ebay, the two current market leaders in the e-commerce market.

 

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A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the program:

 

Project Brazil was an incubation to enable a more direct commerce model between customers and brands and merchants. We remain committed to finding new and differentiated ways to enable a richer, more task oriented approach to e-commerce and online advertising.

 

E-commerce is an important marketplace. The market continues to expand, with estimates saying it will reach $1.3 trillion this year, which is up 18 percent from last year. The e-commerce site would have been part of Windows and eventually other products such as Xbox and Windows Phone.

Continue reading 'Microsoft investigated building an e-commerce site to take on Amazon, Ebay' (full post)

ReportTT: Skype's Project Chess investigated legal and technical issues with making Skype calls readily available to government

More and more continues to surface regarding the NSA and its spying programs. Now the New York Times has reported that Skype worked on a secret project roughly five years ago and involved fewer than a dozen Skype employees. Project Chess, as it's called, was started to investigate the legal and technical issues with making Skype calls readily available to the government.

 

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Many believed that changes instituted by Microsoft were to make it easier to snoop on calls. Thanks to the leaked Prism documents, it's known that Skype had joined back on February 6, 2011. According to the report, Microsoft officials will no longer affirm that Skype calls cannot be wiretapped.

 

There's still a lot we don't know about NSA spying and Prism, though it's starting to become abundantly clear that all digital communications could be tapped by government agencies fairly easily.

Google takes a sip of Starbucks, offers Starbucks' free Wi-Fi users trial offer for Google Play Music All Access

Sitting at Starbucks sipping on a coffee while enjoying their free Wi-Fi? You'll now be shown a free trial offer which will give you access to Google Play Music All Access. The deal started this week, which saw the two companies partnering up to connect Starbucks' free Wi-Fi offer promotional deals to content on Google Play.

 

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Starbucks will now be displaying an advertisement for Google Play Music All Access, where they will be promoting features of Google's music service and offering a click-through for a free trial. Clicking through will offer up a full browser page where you'll see the full features of the service, offering a 30-day free trial. It also offers the same $7.99 discounted price when signing up before June 30, but doesn't offer this deal beyond Starbucks customers.

MakerBot acquired by Stratasys

MakerBot, one of the hobbyist 3D printer manufacturers, has been acquired by Stratasys, a major global player in the professional 3D printing market. Stratasys makes 3-D printers capable of printing objects as solid as plastic injection molded objects with incredible resolution.

 

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MakerBot, meanwhile, produces lower cost options for those who want 3D printing at home. MakerBot isn't going away and will likely benefit from this merger. According to the company's blog post, "MakerBot's mission remains the same and will continue to operate as a separate subsidiary within Stratasys, once the transaction is complete."

 

We're excited to see what will come of this merger. Hopefully we will see cheaper, better 3D printers that are easier to use.

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