Terrorist's Penalty Stiffened for Zipped Lips
Today in international tech news: A convicted terrorist's sentence is extended after he refuses to divulge the password for an encrypted USB stick. Also: Google's bid to move a lawsuit from Britain to California is shot down; Edward Snowden joins a free press association; and mini-satellites are becoming a reality for more businesses.
01/17/14 10:24 AM PT
Syed Farhan Hussain, a 22-year-old from Luton, UK, was hit with additional jail time for refusing to divulge the password for a memory stick that police were eager to take a peek at.
Police were unable to crack the password themselves and therefore sought Hussain's help; Hussain declined, prompting a guilty verdict under Britain's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.
The four months Hussain received for the USB dustup will be tacked on to his existing five-plus-year sentence, which stems from conspiring to attack an army based in Luton.
Hussain originally had told investigators that he could not remember the USB's password, citing stress. Police later informed him that they had launched a new investigation into alleged credit card fraud, at which time Hussain revealed the password.
Police then were able to access the information on the stick -- but not before Hussain had breached the law by stalling on the original request.
Google Loses Bid to Stop Privacy Suit in Britain
Britain's High Court shot down Google's attempt to thwart a privacy suit there.
The group filing suit includes people who claim that Google bypassed security settings on Apple's Safari Web browser and then tracked their online activity to target ads at them.
Google contended that the case should be heard in California, where it is based, but the High Court had none of that argument: "This jurisdiction is the appropriate one," the judge said.
Google will appeal the ruling, but given its history with British lawmakers, the company shouldn't expect much leeway: Parliament has lashed out against Google for not doing enough to prevent piracy; doing too much to avoid taxes; and generally disregarding privacy laws. It's not an amicable relationship.
[Source: The Associated Press]
Snowden Joins Free Press Group
Edward Snowden has accepted an invitation to join the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes journalism dedicated to "exposing mismanagement, corruption and law-breaking in government."
In other Snowden news, India said it plans to dig into visa records to determine if Snowden's 2010 visit to the country was as a good old-fashioned tourist or as a National Security Agency contractor. If Snowden was there on official assignment, India will likely raise a stink with the U.S. government.
India reportedly sought snooping tips from the U.S. in its own data collection quest.
Micro-Satellites Taking to the Skies
Private startups increasingly are launching microwave-sized satellites.
Japan's Axelspace is among those shooting the so-called micro-satellites into space. One such satellite, launched last November from Russia, is designed to help vessels navigate icebergs in the Arctic.
Stateside, California-based Skybox Imaging is planning to blast 24 orbitals that will offer high-def video of -- well, tons of stuff: coastlines, traffic, you name it.
Basically, getting to space is not as hard as it used to be, morphing from a hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars endeavor into something that can be achieved "from off-the-shelf parts."
Trying to tap into this potential, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to capitalize on space development.