Wires Crossed #36 – May 13

Murdoch Will Be Smiling At Google Result
Something sure to bring a smile to News Corp head Rupert Murdoch, but a screaming headache to search engine owners. Not so long ago Murdoch was touting that Google and other search engines were ripping of his copyright and demanded that they stop indexing his newspapers’ articiles. Now a Belgian court has agreed after watchdog group Copiepresse took the search engine company to court and won. If Google continues to index German and French speaking newspapers (Flemish papers were not included in the suit), they could face up to daily fines of up to $35,000! Mon Dieu!

Apple Defensive Over Phone Tracking
Facebook and Google are usually the targets of our barbs when talking privacy issues and technology, now it’s Apple’s turn. Seems the House of Jobs is set to appear in front of a US Senate subcommittee and explain why the company is sending back information from consumers’ iPhones about users’ locations. The company claims it is doing so to collect data to make certain aspects of the mobile phone more efficient. That’s fine, but I wonder if they put a disclaimer when selling the phone – something along the lines of “Apple will be collecting data off your phone whether you like it or not” – it it would affect sales? Just sayin’.

Syria Tortures For Facebook Access
Syria has been making the news for all the wrong reasons lately. The fact that the repressive Assad regime has come down hard on political opponents is not unusual, but now they are ramping up pressure by torturing people for passwords and names to Facebook pages that have backed the unrest. Back in the day telephone calls and letters were the subtle ammunition by which uprisings were won and lost. These days it is technology, and repressive regimes know this. Iran has even lent a helping hand by providing technology that blocks mobile phone towers. A case of how technology can both be a help and a hindrance.

US Technology Assists Terror
Speaking of technology and dictatorships/terrorist organisations, an interesting little story out of the US tells how corrupt regimes and all sorts of other miscreants use US made technology to help their causes.  From vBulletin boards being used in discussion groups for terrorists through to web-filtering technology that stops certain web pages being available, all these US developed technologies are being employed to interfere with basic human rights or plan terror campaigns – and there’s nothing they can do about it, yet. One solution being touted is to have geo-location disabling software embedded into the code, but that brings up privacy and terms of use issues for us more enlightened beings in the Western World. It will be interesting if they can come up with a solution that will be acceptable to those of us in the west who like our freedoms, and those elsewhere trying to get theirs.