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Computer Pioneer, Subjected to Homophobic Prosecution, Pardoned by Queen

Computer Pioneer, Subjected to Homophobic Prosecution, Pardoned by Queen

Today in international tech news: A British man whose code-breaking prowess helped thwart the Nazis in World War II receives a pardon from the Queen for his "gross indecency" prosecution. Also: The UK disciplines police who were sending pornographic emails; a Slovenian is jailed for his malware creation; Edward Snowden says Merry Christmas as only Snowden can; and BlackBerry's cofounder trims his stake in the company.

Alan Turing, a British man whose code-breaking prowess helped thwart Nazi Germany in World War II, was pardoned this week by Queen Elizabeth for his decades-old "crime."

Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for "gross indecency" for having a sexual relationship with another man, a ruling that resulted in the loss of his security clearance and compulsory hormone treatment. Two years later, he died from cyanide poisoning in what was ruled a suicide.

In 1936, Turing described the "Turing Machine" -- a strip of tape with characters written on it -- which was a theoretical ancestor to the computer. Turing spent the War years working at Britain's code-breaking headquarters, Bletchley Park, where he helped decipher sophisticated Nazi codes.

[Source: BBC via The Washington Post]

UK Police Disciplined for Illicit Emails

In their battle against online pornography, British authorities have turned their gaze on... the authorities.

Almost 200 police officers and law enforcement staff were disciplined for emailing illicit materials -- including hardcore pornography -- from work. An investigation revealed that the employees have been shooting around inappropriate emails since 2008.

Only four Metropolitan police officers have been dismissed for misusing email, but nearly 450 have received verbal warnings.

The Guardian got its hands on this information, thanks to freedom of information requests.

[Source: The Guardian]

Slovenian Jailed for his Hacking Creation

A 27-year-old Slovenian man was sentence to five years in jail for masterminding an enormous botnet operation.

The man, Matjaz Skorjanc, was arrested in 2010 for his suspected role in helping to create and spread malware, dubbed "Mariposa," that was used to commandeer about 12.7 million computers in more than 190 countries.

Skorjanc, whose girlfriend received eight months of probation for money laundering, also will have to pay a fine of about US$5,000, and must forfeit his apartment and car -- allegedly bought with money he received from a criminal syndicate in Spain.

Both the defense lawyer and prosecutors plan to appeal, the latter because they were seeking a jail sentence of more than seven years.

Eastern Europe is something of a hotbed for cybercrime.

[Source: BBC]

Snowden Gives Christmas Address in UK

Edward Snowden gave a Christmas address on Britain's annual "Channel 4 Alternative Christmas Message," which airs simultaneously with the Queen's annual holiday address.

Snowden said predictably Snowden-y things, opining that "a child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all." Snowden also referenced George Orwell, British author of the prophetic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Snowden's address presumably was recorded in Moscow, where he is holed up thanks to temporary asylum granted by Russian authorities.

[Source: Channel4.com via The Register]

BlackBerry Cofounder Trims Stake

Michael Lazaridis, a BlackBerry cofounder, sold 3.5 million shares of the company's stock this week, trimming his stake to less than 5 percent.

BlackBerry last week announced a third-quarter loss of $4.4 billion, signal No. 4,796 that the company is in serious trouble.

Lazaridis, whose stake was previously at 5.7 percent, reportedly was mulling a bid for BlackBerry as recently as October.

[Source: The Associated Press]


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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