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Vatican Hints at Heavenly Rewards for Pope's Twitter Followers

Vatican Hints at Heavenly Rewards for Pope's Twitter Followers

Today in international tech news: The Vatican plans to grant indulgences for people following Pope Francis on Twitter; China will launch an anti-porn campaign to protect children during their summer break; Google Street View heads up the Eiffel Tower; the president of Estonia wants Europe to ditch U.S.-based clouds; and South Korea formally blames North Korea for a June cyberattack.

By David Vranicar
07/17/13 8:48 AM PT

Devout followers pay heed: The Catholic Church is offering indulgences for those who take the righteous step of following Pope Francis on Twitter.

The granting of indulgences, a centuries-old practice, is believed to reduce the time that one must spend in purgatory. Traditional means of obtaining indulgences include, among other things, making confession or visiting one of the patriarchal basilicas in Rome.

To be fair, the Vatican has not out and said, "following Francis on Twitter is good for indulgences." However, a June decree stated that "anyone attending the Rio World Youth Day [in Brazil] would obtain a plenary indulgence." That nugget is followed by a passage that says, "the faithful who are legitimately impeded [from going to Brazil] can obtain the plenary indulgence if ... they follow these same rites and pious exercises ... by the new means of social communication."

This, according to a source cited in The Guardian, includes following the Pope on Twitter and tracking the events live.

For anyone looking for a free pass to the pearly gates, there are some churchy asterisks to this deal: Confessing is a prerequisite, as is being "truly penitent and contrite."

[Sources: The Guardian; Corriere Della Sera]

China to Launch Anti-Smut Web Campaign

China's State Internet Information Office, or "SIIO," will launch a campaign to combat pornographic and vulgar material on the Web.

Described as a way to foster a "benign Internet environment," the initiative is specifically designed to make sure children, who are on summer holiday in July and August, aren't exposed to anything too raunchy while away from school. No less than nine government agencies are reportedly teaming up for the campaign, which will target porn sites, online games, online advertising, forums, blogs and social networks.

Websites and games peddling "pornographic information" will be shut down, according to authorities.

China's Internet police have long blocked pornographic sites, but this campaign apparently marks an uptick in that effort.

[Source: Xinhua]

Street View Heads Up Eiffel Tower

Having already catalogued views from Antarctica, post-tsunami Japan and some of the world's highest peaks, Google Street View cameras have for the first time graced the top floor of Paris' 1,000-plus-foot Eiffel Tower, recording awesome 360-degree shots of the Parisian skyline.

The world's preeminent monument, the Eiffel Tower attracts an estimated 7 million visitors each year.

Google has also snagged Street View shots from the tallest man-made structure in the world, Dubai's Burj Khalifa.

[Source: The Next Web]

Citing Privacy, Estonian Prez Wants EU Clouds

Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves said that Europe should create its own cloud storage services to avoid National Security Agency-inspired intrusions.

Pointing out that 95 percent of the cloud services used in Europe are provided by American companies, Ilves said that "recent months have proven" that Europe needs EU cloud services that abide by EU privacy laws. He specifically called out Apple and Google while discussing the untrustworthiness of U.S. companies.

[Source: ZDNet]

South Korea Officially Blames North for Cyberattacks

Initial suspicions have turned into formal accusations: South Korea publicly blamed North Korea for disruptive June cyberattacks that targeted media companies as well as offices of the president and prime minister.

The accusation comes after South Korea's ministry of science analyzed codes, Internet addresses and computers used to launch the attacks. Local media reported that personal information of millions of people was thieved.

South Korea also blamed North Korea for a March cyberattack that shut down tens of thousands of computers at South Korean broadcasters and banks. Codes from the June attacks reportedly matched those from the March attacks.

U.S.-based McAfee Labs issued a report last week detailing long-term hacking operations carried out against South Korea.

[Source: 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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