UK Detains Partner of Leak-Publishing Journalist
Today in international tech news: The partner of The Guardian's go-to NSA journalist is detained for nine hours by British authorities. Also: Australian porn lovers are targeted in "ransomware" attacks; Yahoo China pulls the plug on email; and the Chinese court overseeing the Bo Xilai trial launches a particularly supportive microblog.
08/19/13 9:53 AM PT
The partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist with The Guardian who has published a slew of articles detailing National Security Agency surveillance programs, was detained for nearly nine hours Sunday at London's Heathrow Airport.
Greenwald's partner, David Miranda, was en route from Berlin to his home in Rio de Janeiro when he was stopped by officers at just after 8:00 a.m. Authorities told him he would be questioned under "Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000," which is a law that gives more leeway to law enforcement authorities and applies only to airports, ports and borders areas.
While Edward Snowden has leaked NSA documents to numerous international media outlets, including China's South China Morning Post and Germany's Der Spiegel, Greenwald has been perhaps the single most recognizable journalist linked to the story.
Miranda, 28, was held for nine hours -- the maximum allowed by law -- before being released. Officials also confiscated electronic equipment, including memory sticks, a mobile phone, a camera and more.
Only one out of every 2,000 people stopped under Schedule 7 are held for more than six hours, according to government statistics, and 97 percent are released in under an hour. So, this was no typical detainment.
Miranda was reportedly in Berlin to visit U.S. filmmaker Laura Poitras, who has been working with Greenwald and The Guardian on the Snowden story. The Guardian -- which was the first to report Snowden's leaks -- paid for Miranda's trip.
Greenwald wrote an irked and defiant column in The Guardian, saying that detaining Miranda was an act of intimidation, and adding that "it will only embolden us to continue to report aggressively."
[Source: The Guardian]
In Australia, Adult-Website Visitors Get Unwelcome Surprise
Cybercriminals are targeting Australians who visit pornography sites by snapping incriminating photos with webcams and posing as the Australian Federal Police.
The criminals are able to activate the webcams on users' computers with a virus known as "ransomware." Users' computers are then locked and adorned with an image of the computer owner -- a photo taken while the owner was looking at porn, so it's likely not... flattering -- along with a warning that they have broken child pornography and copyright laws.
Users are then instructed to pay a fine of between A$100 and $200 via credit card or money transfer. This leads to a true catch-22: If the person hands over credit card details, further frauds can be executed; if they don't, the virus can encrypt and/or delete data from the computer.
[Source: The Age]
Yahoo Pulls Plug on Email in China
Yahoo China has shuttered its email service in the country, finalizing an announcement it first made in April.
Yahoo China is run by e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is seemingly trying to funnel local Yahoo users to its own email service, Aliyun. To ease the transition, Alibaba is offering email forwarding from Yahoo accounts until the end of 2013.
Yahoo China's search engine, meanwhile, is still operational.
China's two biggest email services are Tencent's QQ Mail and Netease's 163 Mail.
[Source: Tech In Asia ]
Chinese Court Sets Up Rose-Tinted Microblog
With the trial of fallen Communist Party bigwig Bo Xilai looming, the court overseeing the trial has launched a microblog -- a decidedly pro-China microblog -- for people to comment on the trial.
The Jinan Intermediary People's Court announced Bo's trial date, this Thursday, via Sina Weibo, the nation's most popular microblogging platform. The ensuing comments, however, have been decidedly one-way.
Those wishing to post messages are greeted with a note that says, "Server data synchronization has been delayed, please wait 1-2 minutes." During these one to two minutes, negative comments evaporate, while pro-China sentiments are posted.
Following Bo's indictment last month, Chinese social media were awash with comments lauding the justice system and the government's fight against corruption. Many of the accounts posting such messages have but a few followers, which suggests that a "water army" -- a term for anonymous posters who support Beijing -- was going to town.
[Source: South China Morning Post]