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MasterCard and VISA start blocking payment access to VPN providers

With all of the NSA PRISM scandal continuing to blow up while Obama enjoys July 4 in Africa, you would think that companies would be marketing toward security and privacy. Well, MasterCard and VISA sure aren't, with Torrent Freak reporting that the payment companies are now blocking payments to VPN providers.

 

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Payment providers like MasterCard, VISA and PayPal are taking action against sites and services that associate themselves with copyright infringement. Swedish payment service provider, Payson, received an e-mail stating that VPN services are no longer allowed to accept VISA and MasterCard due to recent policy change.

 

The e-mail states: "Payson has restrictions against anonymization (including VPN services). As a result Payson can unfortunately no longer give your customers the option to finance payments via their cards (VISA or MasterCard)." This new policy went into effect on Monday, which has left customers with a two-day solution to find an alternative.

Samsung acquires Boxee for around $30 million

Samsung have acquired Boxee, an Israel- and New York-based streaming media and entertainment startup. Boxee launched their latest product, the Boxee Cloud DVR, which was rebranded to Boxee TV in order to show it is made for streaming over-the-air broadcast HD channels.

 

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Samsung make TV's, so it would make perfect sense for them to scoop up someone with a great UI and traction in the market. The purchase is being reported by numerous Israeli outlets, with The Market reporting it cost Samsung $30 million. I would love to see Boxee become part of Samsung TV's, personally owning one, which would really help Samsung fight against the competitors - and Apple, who will release a TV in the near future.

 

The South Korean giant have confirmed the news to the New York Times, saying they have "acquired key talent and assets from Boxee."


AT&T amends privacy policy to allow selling of user data

AT&T has issued an update to its privacy policy that would allow the company to sell user data. The collected data would be in aggregate form. Marketers would love this data as it would help them target ads and gain a better understanding as to how users use their device. AT&T is allowing users to opt out of this data collection, which is better than some companies.

 

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This aggregate data is the same data that Facebook sells to advertisers to bring in their revenue. There isn't really any damage in AT&T selling this aggregate data, though concerned users can opt out. If you are worried that AT&T's data may not be completely anonymous or are concerned about your privacy, we recommend you take AT&T up on their offer to opt out.

 

You might be curious as to why AT&T didn't attempt this before. Part of the reason is that the older networking gear was proprietary and the data wasn't easily accessible. This same gear has caught the big data bug and its data is now much more accessible.

Yahoo picks up Xobni, looks to create smarter contact books

Yahoo continues its acquisition binge by acquiring Xobni in a deal estimated to be worth $30 to $40 million, though some have said the deal may be for some $60 million. Just yesterday, Yahoo acquired Qwiki. Before that, Yahoo acquired Tumblr. This latest acquisition could help Yahoo out in revamping its e-mail and social services, something it is currently in the process of doing.

 

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Xobni has stopped taking new paying customers. They've also pulled their Xobni app on BlackBerry and their Smartr Contacts app on Android. Most of Xobni's services are scheduled to be shut down on July 2, 2014, or a year from yesterday. Neither Yahoo or Xobni have stated what they are planning on creating together, but we assume Xobni's technology will be integrated into Yahoo Mail.

 

Which company do you think Yahoo will acquire next?

Huawei scoops up ex-Nokia sales head

Huawei have announced that they're hired ex-Nokia employee Colin Giles, who was with the Finnish company for over 20 years before making the jump to Huawei Technologies.

 

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He will become Huawei's new Executive Vice President for their Consumer Business Group and will be in charge of global marketing, retail and open channel development. Giles' biggest task will be changing the perception of Huawei in Western countries, such as the United States.

Research firm, Gartner, predicts global IT spending will rise 2% this year to $3.7 trillion

Research firm Gartner have pushed out some predictions on the future of global IT spending, where they predict it will reach $3.7 trillion by the end of the year. This would be a 2% year-over-year increase from 2012's total of $3.6 trillion.

 

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While this is a 2% increase, it's down from the 4.1% growth that Gartner estimated just three months ago now. Gartner do have several reasons as to why the predictions are lower, with the biggest factor that the US dollar has decreased in the last couple of months. Most IT hardware manufacturers have HQ's in the US, so spending will be done with the US dollar, hence the reduction.

 

Mobile devices are also continuing to hit into PC sales, which are expected to drop 10.9% this year. Gartner predicts the other side of the race, estimating a 38.9% increase in tablet sales, and cell phone sales increasing by 9.3%.

A petition to allow Telsa Motors to sell directly to the public passes 100,000 signatures, the White House has 30 days to respond

An online petition wants to see the White House allow Tesla Motors to sell their electric vehicles directly to the public, with the petition smashing through 100,000 signatures.

 

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It passes the 100,000 signature mark within 30 days of creation, meaning that the White House is forced to issue an official response. The petition was launched by a Tesla fan by the name of Ken, who believes that states shouldn't be restricting automotive companies from selling their vehicles directly to consumers.

 

Ken doesn't work for Tesla Motors, but does claim to hold stock in them. It will be interesting to see what the White House has to say about this petition.

Android leads the European market with 70%, leaves Apple with just 17.8%

Google have a huge lead over Apple in the European market, where Android takes a huge 70.4% of the mobile OS market. This leaves Apple with just 17.8% and Windows with 6.8%, these numbers are thanks to the latest OS barometer figures from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

 

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The big reason behind Android's dominance is thanks to Samsung's Galaxy range of smartphones, which makes up over half of all smartphones sold across Europe. Android should continue to keep this dominance going into the future, as I don't think Apple can do anything in the short term to swing things around. This is something that Google have on their side for once.

Yahoo acquires Qwiki for a rumored $50 million

Yahoo has been on an acquisition binge as of late. The latest company that Yahoo has acquired is the start-up Qwiki. Qwiki is an app that takes a user's pictures, music, and videos and turns them into short videos, hence the name Qwiki. The purchase price has not been disclosed, though it's rumored to have been around $50 million.

 

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Yahoo has gained a reputation as a company that often kills a start-up after acquiring it. However, this doesn't seem to be the case for Qwiki. Yahoo has said in a blog post that the team will join Yahoo in its New York offices. "We will continue to support the Qwiki app, and the team will join Yahoo in our New York city office to reimagine Yahoo's storytelling experience."

Apple to build a solar farm to power their Nevada-based data center as well as the surrounding community

Apple will be working with NV Energy, a Nevada-based utility company, where they'll build a solar array together. The new solar array will be built next to Apple's Reno, Nevada-based data center, and will power the data center once it's complete, as well as the surrounding community. Apple said in a statement:

 

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All of Apple's data centers use 100 percent renewable energy, and we are on track to meet that goal in our new Reno data center using the latest in high-efficiency concentrating solar panels. This project will not only supply renewable energy for our data center but also provide clean energy to the local power grid, through a first-of-its-kind partnership with NV Energy. When completed, the 137 acre solar array will generate approximately 43.5 million kilowatt hours of clean energy, equivalent to taking 6,400 passenger vehicles off the road per year.

 

The new facility will create around 1,000 jobs in and around Washoe Country, as well as "result in, over a 10-year period, a total of $24.1 million in direct and indirect revenues in Nevada" according to a survey by Applied Economics for the State of Nevada. Apple's goal is to eventually have all of their facilities powered by 100% renewable energy, and at this rate, they'll get there in no time.

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