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Are Foxconn Factory Workers in for a Raise?

Are Foxconn Factory Workers in for a Raise?

Today in international tech news: Foxconn, the company that manufactures iPods, iPads and other gear, is rumored to be doubling its employees' wages in China. Also, an investigation in Italy could lead to a nationwide block of one of the Web's biggest BitTorrent sites, and the EU is abuzz about the cookie regulations to take effect in the UK this Saturday.

By David Vranicar
05/25/12 8:49 AM PT

The word "rumor" is firmly attached to this item, so some skepticism is called for. But if you have at least two grains of salt on hand, feel free to proceed.

Foxconn, a manufacturer of various Apple products, among other electronic gear, is rumored to be considering steep pay increases for its Chinese employees, according to Tech In Asia.

In an article headlined "Rumor: Foxconn to Double Its China Wages By 2013," Tech in Asia cites company Chairman Terry Gou, who reportedly discussed the wage hikes with the Taiwan Business Weekly.

The supposed raises are the latest chapter in a years-long saga between Foxconn and its workers in China. In 2010, nine employees committed suicide by jumping off of buildings. In 2011, an explosion and fire killed three people in Chengdu, China, and earlier this year, an estimated 150 employees threatened to commit suicide as a protest for better working conditions.

Foxconn was also the centerpiece of a ballyhooed episode (and subsequent retraction) of the radio show "This American Life."

The supposed wage hike, according to Tech In Asia, would send the monthly earnings from 2,200 RMB to 4,400 RMB, which equals about US$690.

KickAssTorrents Could Have Tables Turned

Popular BitTorrent site KickAssTorrents could be blocked by all Italian Internet service providers, according to an article from Torrent Freak.

An ISP blocking order has been issued following an investigation that charges the site is run by criminals, according to the article.

The investigation estimates that the site generates $8.5 million per year from advertisements and other revenue.

Italy has been among Europe's most proactive blockers of illicit file-sharing sites. The country in 2008 blocked The Pirate Bay and earlier this year blocked BTJunkie.

Europe has heightened its efforts to thwart copyright-infringing file-sharing sites. The UK and the Netherlands each ordered its ISPs to block The Pirate Bay a few weeks ago. Indeed, the Netherlands went so far as to order the removal of sites that gave tips on how to access The Pirate Bay.

Pricey Patents

Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications equipment maker, has filed a complaint with European regulators against U.S.-based tech developer InterDigital, according to the BBC.

Huawei has accused InterDigital of leveraging its position and charging too much money for its patented technologies.

"Interdigital is seeking to leverage its declared 3G standard essential patents to force Huawei to conclude a discriminatory, unfair and exploitative license," Huawei charged.

The company went on to say that InterDigital, which owns some 19,500 mobile communications patents, is in breach of EU patent licensing regulations.

InterDigital countered that it has been following international regulations.

Cookie Plan Coming Out of the Oven

The UK is set to begin enforcement on a European-wide cookie law Saturday, prompting discussion about the myriad variations across the continent when it comes to enforcing the policy.

The law holds that all EU countries must offer consumers the right to refuse cookies that would otherwise automatically be downloaded onto their computers. Countries are also supposed to give "clear and comprehensive information" about the function of cookies.

Different countries are interpreting the law in different ways, a Giga Om article pointed out Friday. In Finland, for instance, users don't have to opt in, but instead merely have to be given the right to opt out. Not so in Latvia, which abides by a strict opt-in principle.

How exactly the UK handles the law come Saturday is a bit of a mystery.

Soccer, E-Books and Africa

Worldreader, a non-profit group, has teamed with Spanish football club FC Barcelona in hope of giving 1 million e-books to children in Africa, according to Mashable.

Worldreader CEO David Risher told Mashable that putting messages and images from Barcelona players -- including Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernadez and others -- in the e-books will make them more appealing to soccer-loving African children.

The project, as well as ways to contribute, is described in further here.


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. You can email him at david.vranicar@newsroom.ectnews.com



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