Today's Top Technology Headlines
- Web founder Berners-Lee calls for online 'Magna Carta' to protect users
The inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, called on Wednesday for bill of rights to protect freedom of speech on the Internet and users' rights after leaks about government surveillance of online activity. Exactly 25 years since the London-born computer scientist invented the web, Berners-Lee said there was a need for a charter like England's historic Magna Carta to help guarantee fundamental principles online. Web privacy and freedom have come under scrutiny since former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden last year leaked a raft of secret documents revealing a vast U.S. government system for monitoring phone and Internet data.
- Vivendi hunts for the right telecom exit
When Vivendi's board meets on Friday to choose between two bids for its French telecom unit SFR, "seller beware" may be more appropriate. Both offers - from conglomerate Bouygues and local cable operator Numericable - leave Vivendi with a significant minority stake in the newly-created operator and continued exposure to the French telecom market, which has been in the throes of a price war since 2012. Complicating matters further, Bouygues' bid has garnered support from an outspoken industry minister who says it better serves France's interests, as well as the backing of the other telecom companies - leader Orange and low-cost challenger Iliad - which would benefit from taking the mobile market back down to three from four players. So will Vivendi's board members - led by veteran chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou and his chosen successor, tycoon Vincent Bollore - be able to drown out the noise and decide what is best for the group and its shareholders?
- Alibaba buys ChinaVision stake for $804 million; gains TV, movie content
China's largest e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding has agreed to buy a controlling stake in ChinaVision Media Group Ltd for $804 million, giving it access to TV and movie content as competition in the world's biggest Internet market becomes increasingly cutthroat. The pact, which sent ChinaVision's stock surging, comes amid a flurry of deals as Alibaba, social media giant Tencent Holdings Ltd and search engine Baidu Inc seek to expand into each other's turf. This week Tencent said it was taking a stake in China's No. 2 online retailer JD.com, with the new partnership gunning for Alibaba's Achilles heel - its weakness in mobile. ChinaVision and Alibaba said they will establish a strategic committee to explore future opportunities in online entertainment and media-related areas.
- Facebook's San Francisco-area HQ secured after threat made: police
(Reuters) - Police searched and secured the headquarters of social media giant Facebook Inc on Tuesday evening after receiving a threat against the company, which San Francisco-area authorities said turned out to be "totally not credible". Facebook personnel held employees at the campus until officers were on scene, Menlo Park Police Department spokesman Dave Bertini said. Police officers allowed Facebook staff to leave at about 8:30 p.m. (0330 GMT). "I am not even sure that it was specifically to the Menlo Park campus of Facebook." Facebook declined to comment on the incident.
- U.S. judge freezes assets of Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange boss
By Tom Hals (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday temporarily froze the U.S. assets of Mt. Gox chief Mark Karpeles and allowed alleged victims of the shuttered bitcoin exchange to demand evidence of what they claim is a massive fraud. The market for the digital currency was rocked last month when Mt. Gox, once the world's largest bitcoin exchange, ceased operations, and soon after filed for bankruptcy. Mt. Gox said it may have lost 750,000 bitcoins, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, in a hacking attack. ...
- 'The Walking Dead' game maker raises $6 million in funding round
Finnish start-up Next Games has raised $6 million in funding in the latest of several venture capital investments in the Nordic country's booming mobile games industry, the company said on Wednesday. Founded in 2013 by former employees of Rovio and Supercell, which are known for their hit games "Angry Birds" and "Clash of Clans" respectively, Next Games said it was working on a mobile game based on the U.S. TV series "The Walking Dead." The company added in a statement it also had a second game in the making. Entrepreneur Jari Ovaskainen, an early investor in Supercell which last year sold a 51 percent stake to Japanese mobile operator SoftBank for $1.5 billion, also took part.
- Cell phone bills continue to rise despite illusion of a price war
It seems like there’s a different headline every week covering new cell phone service plans that offer subscribers more value for less money. AT&T and T-Mobile have been particularly aggressive in this regard, with each carrier having recently lowered the cost of various service plans several times in the past few months. But are subscribers actually benefiting from all these price cuts? According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, wireless subscribers in the U.S. pay more for cell phone service each month now than ever before. A study conducted by New Street Research found that average monthly billings per user are actually continuing to climb despite the illusion of a “price war.” The firm’s research suggests that average revenue
- Here's how the NSA can collect data from millions of PCs
We know that the NSA has been ramping up its efforts to collect data from computers, but it's now clear that the intelligence agency has the tools to compromise those computers on a grand scale. Information leaked by Edward ...
- You Won't Believe What's in Your Cell Phone
- This '90s Guy's Prediction About The Internet Went Horribly Wrong
On the World Wide Web's 25th anniversary, it's only right to look back at just how naive we were about it when it launched. Just look at Katie Couric and the rest of the "Today" hosts discussing it in 1994. But John Allen, a playwright and "Internet enthusiast," made one prediction in a 1993 "Prime Time News" clip on CBC that got the Internet culture that would develop over the next two decades really, truly terribly wrong.
- How one device can fix your most pressing smartphone issues
Signal loss, poor battery life and inflated monthly bills may be some of the most annoying smartphone-related issues users complain about. But one device the size of a Wi-Fi router may offer a fix in the coming years. Called pCell – short for “personal cell” – and conceived by Artemis, the new technology may solve connectivity issues, reduce battery strain and decrease costs for carriers. All the while, the device could provide data speeds that are 1,000 times faster than 4G, Business Insider says. Artemis aims to replace big, power-hungry and expensive cell towers with smaller devices (the pWaves) that could be mounted virtually anywhere inside an area to significantly improve carrier signal reception. Unlike cell towers that need to
- Yes, the maker of Candy Crush Saga could really be worth $8 billion
There was much excited or dismissive chatter about British mobile game titan King on Wednesday after the Candy Crush Saga maker announced its initial public offering and implied it was seeking a valuation at nearly $8 billion. Isn’t this crazy? Are we not in the middle of another nutty tulip mania? Well, no. King is generating nearly $2 billion in annual sales. The IPO values the company at roughly four times annual sales. That is roughly Coca-Cola’s valuation. Coca-Cola sells mostly sugary drinks during a time when there is a strong and growing backlash against sugar. Coca-Cola’s sales are declining by about 4% year over year. Why would it be nutty to value a highly profitable mobile game company that just
- Google Wallet's new 'Orders' feature lets you track online shipments
Nice to see Google is keeping the regular Google Wallet updates coming. A few weeks after introducing loyalty card scans, the company is adding a feature called "Orders," which lets you track your online shipments using Google Wallet's iOS or Android app. In particular, you can view receipts for purchases you made online, as well as check the shipping status (Google says it's made arrangements with "primary package carriers in the US").
- FTC investigating Herbalife amid claims of questionable business practices
The US Federal Trade Commission has launched an investigation into nutritional supplement company Herbalife following more than a year of scrutiny over its business practices. Making health supplements or a pyramid scheme? Responding to the investigation, which was first reported by the Financial Times' Alphaville blog, Herbalife maintained that its business was within the confines of the law. "Herbalife welcomes the inquiry given the tremendous amount of misinformation in the marketplace, and will cooperate fully with the FTC," the company said in a statement.
- Microsoft's OneNote may come to the Mac this month
Microsoft's OneNote app has been available on mobile, Windows and the web for quite some time, but Mac support for the note-taking software has proven elusive... at least, until now. Both The Verge and ZDNet hear that OneNote will be available for free on OS X later this month. Microsoft would also release a free desktop Windows app (the Windows 8-native app is already gratis) to better support its own platform.