26 Years Later, Google Earth Helps Lost Indian Boy Go Home
Today in international tech news: Google tells the story of an Indian man who used Google Earth to track down his family 26 years after an ill-fated train ride. Also: Huawei enlists a former EU diplomat; the "Snooper Charter" doesn't pass in the UK; Ireland aims to close a tax loophole; an Aussie startup plans drone-delivered textbooks.
Indian Saroo Munshi Khan used Google Earth to track down his long-lost family 26 years after accidentally falling asleep on a train.
In a tale that's almost too Hollywood to believe, then 5-year-old Saroo reportedly took a break from searching for change with his brother in Berhanpur, India, and hopped onto a stationary train where he fell asleep. Hours later, he woke up in Calcutta, alone and more than 900 miles away from home. He was taken to an orphanage and adopted by an Australian family.
A few years ago, Saroo used Google Earth's "ruler" feature to take a stab at figuring out how far he had traveled on that fateful day. After hours upon hours of scouring, he spotted a neighborhood that looked right.
Confident -- or at least as confident as he could be -- he made the trek home in 2012, talked to locals, and eventually found his mother, brother and sister.
Huawei Enlists Former European Ambassador as Consultant
Chinese telelcommunications firm Huawei has hired Serge Abou, the European Union's former top diplomat to China, as a consultant.
Abou was Europe's go-to man in China from 2005 to 2011.
Nonetheless, Huawei is rapidly expanding in Europe, where it plans to add more than 5,000 jobs over the next half-decade.
[Source: South China Morning Post]
'Snoopers' Charter' Fails to Pass in UK
A former Labour party cabinet minister has warned Britain's intelligence community that it appears to be conducting mass surveillance without Parliamentary consent.
The warning comes after the coalition government failed to pass a communications data bill, dubbed the "Snoopers' Charter" by detractors, that would have given Britain's data cops greater power to collect and hoard information.
The bill was knocked down by Liberal Democrats, however, who feared it was a violation of privacy.
[Source: The Guardian]
Ireland to Close Apple Tax Loophole
Ireland plans to pull the plug on an arrangement used by Apple that allowed the company to shelter some US$40 billion from being taxed.
With its low corporate tax rates, Ireland is among the most popular European locales for U.S. technology firms to set up shop.
Google, Facebook and Apple are among those who have Irish subsidiaries that are used to legally record huge revenues originating in other European countries with less favorable tax rates.
Now, however, the Irish government apparently is cracking down.
"Ireland wants to be part of the solution to this global tax challenge," Finance Minister Michael Noonan said, "not part of the problem."
Aussie Company Launches Book-Delivering Drone
Australian education startup Zookal has teamed with unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturer Flirtey to create a service that delivers textbooks via drone.
The whole thing is contingent upon regulatory approval, but should plans go through, students would be able to have textbooks delivered by drone within minutes of placing an online order.
The students would be able to track the delivery on the Web; the drone would lower the book after being signaled to do so via an app.
The technology is designed so that the drone is at least 10 feet high during delivery.