British Retailer Takes Site Offline to Clear Out Disgusting E-Books
Today in international tech news: A British retailer takes its UK site offline because of unwitting sales of nasty e-books. Also: An Australian police recruitment ad ends up on the home page of an illegal biker gang; BlackBerry insists it is fine in open letter; Edward Snowden's former email service files suit; and Norway's new coalition vows broadband for all.
Oct 15, 2013 12:39 PM PT
British retailer WH Smith has shuttered its UK site and will keep it offline until all particularly objectionable sexual content is removed from its offerings.
Last week, technology news site The Kernel reported that WH Smith -- along with Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers -- was selling pornographic e-books, including titles that featured rape, incest and bestiality.
WH Smith takes e-book content from Kobo.com, a Toronto-based e-reading company. Kobo.com reacted by conceding that some authors and publishers had violated its self-publishing policies, but added that it still strived "not to negatively impact the freedom of expression" found at Kobo.com.
Not long after issuing that statement, Kobo removed all self-published e-books from its shelves.
Amazon, too, has been cleansing itself of such content.
Aussie Police Recruitment Ad Lands on Criminal Website
Online banner advertisements for Australia's Victoria Police appeared on the website of a motorcycle gang, the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club.
Police Minister Kim Wells accused Google of not adhering to ad placement guidelines set out by Victoria Police.
The twist is that Victoria law enforcement has launched a campaign against bike gangs, and even established an investigation team -- "Echo Taskforce" -- assigned with stamping out the gangs.
The ads reportedly garnered about 200 clicks, meaning the police would theoretically be on the hook for paying Google about US$2.00. Google, however, reportedly will refund the dough.
BlackBerry: It's All Good!
BlackBerry penned an open letter -- ostensibly for customers and partners, but republished in dozens of outlets in numerous countries -- to declare that the company is "here to stay" despite red ink-soaked books and massive layoffs.
BlackBerry Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben told Reuters that the letter was inspired in part by the "noise and confusion" created by news stories about BlackBerry. He was talking, presumably, about stories like BlackBerry laying off dozens of U.S. workers, or Blackberry laying off 40 percent of its workforce, or BlackBerry being in even worse shape than experts had initially thought.
Boulben stressed that the company has cash on hand, and that it has no debt.
Fairfax Financial Holding has made a $9-a-share offer for BlackBerry, but Google, Cisco and SAP have all reportedly been in talks with BlackBerry about acquiring some or even all of the smartphone maker.
Snowden's Email Service Files Suit
Attorneys representing Lavabit, the Texas-based email service used by Edward Snowden, have filed their opening brief in a case that is reportedly linked to the Justice Department's handling of the Snowden investigation.
Lavabit founder Ladar Levison this summer declined federal requests to fork over encryption information to gain access to data stored on the company's servers. Instead, he simply shut down the service. He was found in contempt of court, but now is fighting in the hope of proving that requests to access Lavabit information were unlawful.
Snowden, the man at the center of all this, is still in Russia. He recently received a visit from his father.
New Norwegian Coalition Vows Better Broadband
The coalition government elected in Norway's recent parliamentary elections put better nationwide broadband on its agenda.
The government said that all citizens should have access to a 100 Mbps connection, a significant increase over the previous target. The government also said that it will take on more responsibility to ensure nationwide broadband access, while the previous administration had a more free market approach.