EU Commish: Don't Act on ACTA
Today in international tech news: The EC addresses ACTA, China gets hacked twice, a Russian company reports that 600,000 Macs are infected with malware, Sweden tops a global technology report, and more.
The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, asked the European Parliament not to vote on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA.
ACTA, which is designed to harmonize international copyright regulations and enforcement, is scheduled for a June vote. But on Wednesday, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said that there was too much ambiguity and discontent surrounding ACTA to go through with the vote.
Considering that tens of thousands of people have voiced their concerns about ACTA, it is appropriate to give our highest independent judicial body the time to deliver its legal opinion on this agreement ...
This is an important input to European public and democratic debate. I therefore hope that the European Parliament will respect the European Court of Justice and await its opinion before determining its own position on ACTA.
President Obama signed off on ACTA in January, but it has yet to be ratified in the U.S. or anywhere else.
Hackers Eye China
A pair of stories came out Thursday regarding malicious hacking China.
The first incident, reported here by The Register (UK), details how famed hacker group Anonymous is claiming to have "defaced more than 480 websites over the past few days, including government sites, whilst urging Chinese hackers to join its cause."
Anonymous is also claiming to have leaked user names, passwords, email addresses and phone numbers from various government websites.
According to The Wall Street Journal, this message was left on a handful of Chinese government sites:
"Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall," the message read in English. "So expect us because we do not forgive, never. What you are doing today to your Great People, tomorrow will be inflicted to you. With no mercy."
The Register points out that despite Anonymous' chest-puffing, the hacking will go largely unnoticed in China: The Chinese government censors the nation's social media platforms, and Twitter, which Anonymous has been using to tout itself, is blocked in China.
Staying in China, The Guardian reported Thursday that a hacker known as "Hardcore Charlie" had posted thousands of internal documents that he claims were obtained by from China National Import & Export Corporation, a Chinese company with defense contracts.
From The Guardian:
He posted documents ranging from purported U.S. military transport information to internal reports about business matters on several file-sharing sites, but the authenticity of the documents could not be independently confirmed.
Epide-Mac of Malware
Russian antivirus company Dr. Web reported Wednesday that some 600,000 Macs are infected with Flashback Trojan, a malware package designed to steal personal data.
In Australia, where an estimated 30,000 Macs are infected, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Mac has issued "an urgent patch that will fix" the security hole that allowed the virus to spread.
It is estimated that about 57 percent of the infected Macs, or roughly 340,000, are in the U.S.
The malware was initially found in September 2011 masquerading as a fake Adobe Flash Player plug-in installer, but in the past few months it has evolved to exploiting Java vulnerabilities to target Mac systems. A new variant that surfaced over the weekend appears to be taking advantage of Java vulnerability for which Apple released a patch yesterday.
Sweden No. 1
Sweden topped the 2012 Global Information Technology Report, released Wednesday by the World Economic Forum.
Singapore, Finland, Denmark and Switzerland were ranked two through five; the United State was eighth, the United Kingdom 10th. China, the top-ranking BRIC country, was No. 51.
The report judged countries based on their ability to "master and leverage transformations to maximize the positive impacts and increase resilience against the risks" introduced by information and communications technology.
Vevo Booming in UK
Music video website Vevo, a joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Abu Dhabi Media, is gaining a foothold in the United Kingdom.
The company, which offers an estimated 45,000 music videos, released a report Thursday claiming that unique visitors at Vevo UK increased to 12 million in January 2012, a 23 percent increase since it became available last year. The report also said that Vevo UK video streams hit 177 million in January.
Vevo is only available in the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada. It has a licensing agreement with EMI, a multinational music company based in England. EMI recently terminated an agreement with U.S.-based music website Grooveshark.com, claiming that Grooveshark was not adhering to contract terms.