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Tobacco Firm Burned for Running Ad in Kids' App

Tobacco Firm Burned for Running Ad in Kids' App

Today in international tech news: A UK-based tobacco company apologizes after one of its ads ends up in a children's iPad app. Also: Google's competitors don't seem all that impressed with its most recent round of European antitrust remedies; a Brit is arrested for hacking into U.S. government computers; Obama's Twitter account gets hacked; and Apple had a good (relatively speaking) quarter in China.

By David Vranicar
10/29/13 11:00 AM PT

British American Tobacco issued an apology after an ad for its e-cigarette brand, Vype, popped up in an iPad app for children.

The Vype banner appeared inside the "My Dog My Style HD" game and was spotted by author and educator Graham Brown-Martin, who took to Twitter with a screenshot of the kiddy cig advertisement.

British American Tobacco, based in the UK, pulled its online advertising for Vype and issued an apology: "It's unacceptable and we're taking the issue seriously," it said.

The snafu was likely caused not by British American Tobacco targeting kids, but rather by a mixup (or downright negligence) with an advertising network tasked with placing the company's ads.

[Source: The Guardian]

Google Competitors Unswayed by Company's EU Concessions

A group of Google's competitors say that the company's most recent attempt to appease European Union antitrust complaints is insufficient.

The EU's antitrust investigation into Google has spanned three years. The saga has included:

  • Android being added to Europe's list of grievances;
  • Google's competitors pleading with the European Commission to hurry up;
  • Europe's competitors rejecting Google's first go-around at concessions earlier this year.

Google has reportedly offered to let competitors display their logos on Google result pages as part of its new strategy. However, FairSearch, a group of companies led by Microsoft, has said that such concessions are too similar to the ones that have already been rejected.

Google currently controls more than 90 percent of the search market in Europe -- it's about 70 percent in the U.S. -- which is probably part of the reason other companies are so prickly about this.

Joaquín Almunia, the European Union's Competition Commissioner, said he wants a final settlement reached by the spring. Then again, the EU gave Google a January 2013 deadline last year, and look what good that's done.

[Sources: The Associated Press; The New York Times]

Brit Arrested on US Hacking Suspicions

A British man was arrested for hacking into U.S. military and government computer systems, including NASA, the EPA and more.

U.S. authorities say the man, 28, placed so-called "back doors" in hacked networks, thereby enabling him to thieve data.

The FBI reportedly teamed with the UK's National Crime Agency to execute the arrest. Three more people are believed to be involved.

[Source: BBC]

Obama's Twitter Account Hacked

The pro-Assad Syrian Electronic Army hacker group claims to have wormed its way into President Obama's official Twitter and Facebook accounts.

That claim jells with what happened to Obama's Twitter account, which on Monday linked to a YouTube video from the Electronic Army. Obama's reelection site, donate.barackobama.com, was also infiltrated, as users were redirected to the Syrian Electronic Army site.

The Syrian Electronic Army has also taken credit for hacks carried out against CNN, Time and other media outlets.

[Source: The Hacker News via The Register]

Apple's China Numbers Rebound

After a slow summer, Apple sales in China have rebounded somewhat, spiking 24 percent over the past three months from the previous quarter (but just 6 percent from a year earlier).

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple has generated almost US$27 billion in revenue from China in the 2013 fiscal year, a 14 percent increase from the year before.

Earlier this year, Apple had to contend with state-run media reports decrying the company's products and service in China, but an apology to Chinese consumers may have helped smooth things over.

[Source: Tech in Asia]


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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