Report: The Internet Is a Language Killer
Today in international tech news: A report suggests that a handful of European languages could face Internet extinction. Also: Foxconn brings in armed guards after last weekend's violence, Kenya prepares for a massive counterfeit phone crackdown, and a credit card fraud operation is busted up in Australia.
09/27/12 9:22 AM PT
A number of European languages could eventually vanish from the Internet, suggests a new study conducted by European nonprofit META-NET.
As Mashable reports, languages such as Icelandic, Latvian and Lithuanian don't have enough speakers to gain traction as popular languages on the Web. The report goes so far as to say that German, Italian, Spanish and French could be at risk, too, because of a dearth of resources to power translation tools, speech-to-text technology and voice-controlled devices.
The META-NET study assessed language technology software such as spell-check and grammar-check; virtual personal assistants such as Siri; navigation systems; and online translators like Google Translate. The report concludes that because some languages have so few speakers -- not a lot of people other than Iceland's 300,000 residents speak Icelandic -- the gap between big and small languages on the Web is widening all the time.
In a related story, the UN Broadband Commission issued a report saying the number of people accessing the Internet in China will overtake English language users by 2015.
Riot Police Descend on Foxconn Factory
Donning riot helmets and toting plastic shields, security forces descended upon the Foxconn electronics factory that was the site of recent violence.
Bloomberg reports that despite Foxconn's recent emphasis on improving working conditions and increasing salaries, some of the changes have not yet reached factories like the one in Tiayuan, which employs some 79,000 people.
Foxconn, based in Taiwan, reportedly isn't hiring additional security but has nonetheless asked Chinese government officials to assist in monitoring the situation.
Kenya Targets Counterfeit Mobiles
Kenya will take sweeping actions at the end of September to disable counterfeit mobile phones, according to the BBC.
Quoting Kenyan officials, the BBC says that the anti-counterfeit measures -- which include prohibiting networks from activating fake devices -- are designed to safeguard mobile payment systems and protect users from hazardous materials that could emit not-so-safe levels of radiation.
The counterfeit crackdown is reportedly also designed to limit violence ahead of next March's general election by helping authorities track users. Violence resulting from the disputed 2007 election resulted in an estimated 1,300 deaths and forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
These steps were originally planned for late 2011 but were delayed, twice, to give people a chance to switch devices. The Ministry of Information and Communications said that there will be no more delays, meaning the estimated 3 million people using counterfeit phones will be cut off within days.
"Carding" Scheme Shut Down in Australia
Australian authorities have -- at long last -- shut down the largest known "carding" operation in the nation's history, according to ZDNet.
The Sydney-based "identity fraud syndicate" could have netted the perpetrators some $35 million, according to the Australian Federal Police.
Using information obtained over the Internet and through illegal card-skimming devices -- and with the aid of illegally obtained equipment -- the syndicate was reportedly producing fraudulent credit cards that were worth millions.
Authorities had been trying to thwart the scheme since 2011. In November, they seized 12,000 cards but were apparently unable to weed out the operation entirely. According to the Australian Federal Police, however, recent arrests have "cemented" the disruption of the fraud ring.