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Can the Olympics Muzzle Social Media?

Can the Olympics Muzzle Social Media?

Today in international tech news: Social media complicates sponsor rights at the 2012 Olympics, Europe's economic woes drag down Intel and IBM, Toshiba drops nearly $1 billion on an IBM unit, and more.

By David Vranicar
04/18/12 8:52 AM PT

The 2012 Olympics in London -- which have been dubbed the "first social media Olympics" -- will be subjected to a dizzying number of social media restrictions, according to a Tuesday Mashable report.

According to the article:

Athletes will not be allowed to tweet photos of themselves with products that aren't official Olympics sponsors or share photos or videos from inside the athletes' village.

Fans, too, could be barred from sharing on Facebook and YouTube photos and videos of themselves enjoying the action.

The Mashable article was a follow-up to this recent report from The Guardian, which details the bevy of sponsor interests that must be protected.

Is Europe Cramping Intel's and IBM's Style?

Sluggish sales growth for Intel and IBM is directly linked to the European slowdown and debt crisis, according to a Wednesday article from Bloomberg.

IBM's and Intel's quarterly revenue climbed just 0.3 and 0.5 percent, respectively, making it the worst quarter since 2009, when U.S. was mired in its own economic slump.

The article points to general European malaise, but it singles out potential debt-defaulters Greece and Spain as particularly troublesome.

European revenues have also been hit by fluctuations in the value of the euro, which averaged just 1.31 against the U.S. dollar, a drop of more than 4 percent from last year.

Toshiba Throws $850M IBM's Way

Toshiba will spend $850 million to buy IBM's point-of-sale business, according to a Wednesday article from BBC.

According to the article,

POS systems are used by retailers to process transactions, manage inventories and analyze sales and consumer data.

The demand for these has been rising as firms look for better ways to retain customers amid growing competition.

Toshiba's purchase will make it the world's largest point-of-sale system provider.

BBC quotes Norio Sasaki, Toshiba's president and CEO, who said the move will promote expansion in Europe, North America and emerging economies.

Ikea Takes a Stab at Tech

Swedish company Ikea, famous for its low-cost, sleekly designed, assemble-it-yourself furniture, will partner with Chinese manufacturer TCL to produce furniture that doubles as entertainment.

According to the Associated Press:

The new furniture range, named "Uppleva," the Swedish word for experience, integrates an LED TV, a sound system with wireless bass speakers, an Internet connection and CD, DVD and Blu-ray players -- all in one self-assembly piece.

Although the TV and the other electronics are made by Chinese manufacturer TCL, Ikea has built everything around them, hiding the masses of cables that can be a nuisance and make a living room look shabby.

Other specs of the furniture: The controls have been melded into a lone remote, and the surface of the furniture is designed to allow for the remote's signals to penetrate, meaning the devices can be kept hidden.

The TV screens will be available in four sizes, ranging from 24 inches to 46 inches. The furniture will also be equipped with outlets to plug in MP3 players.

UK Cookie Rules

Online privacy service provider Truste has released a report detailing the pervasiveness of tracking tools on some of the UK's most popular sites.

The findings, detailed by the BBC, suggest that a Web user might be subject to nearly 150 cookies and other tracking tools while searching a single website.

There are on average 14 tracking tools per Web page on the UK's most popular sites, according to a study.

From the article:

"The high level of third-party tracking that is taking place is certainly an area of question and scrutiny," Dave Deasy, Truste's vice president of marketing, told the BBC.

"It's not illegal to do the tracking -- the question is whether you are giving consumers enough awareness that it is happening and what you are doing with the data."

The report is gaining extra attention as the UK prepares for a May 26 launch of stricter rules governing the use of Web-tracking cookies. The new measures stipulate that sites must give Web users "clear and comprehensive" information about the use of cookies.


Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist currently living in the Netherlands. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here.



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