Google Pockets Viewdle in Brewing Facial Recognition Face-off
Today in international tech news: Making like Facebook, Google's Motorola Mobility acquires a foreign facial recognition technology company. Also: Britain talks with China and Russia about cyberattack protocol, Sweden's Internet drama gets a little clearer, Amazon will open its Appstore in Japan, and Germany deems Internet Explorer safe.
Oct 4, 2012 9:08 AM PT
Google-owned Motorola Mobility is acquiring Viewdle, a Ukrainian firm that makes facial recognition technology.
According to Cnet, Motorola had been in talks with Viewdle before it was acquired by Google. The acquisition of Viewdle, a pioneer in technology that recognizes and tags people in photos, figures to be a boon for Google+, Android and other Google services.
Earlier this year, Facebook acquired Israeli-based Face.com, which also makes facial recognition software.
As with the Face.com acquisition, the total tab for the Viewdle purchase hasn't been confirmed. It could be in the US$30 million to $45 million range, Cnet speculates.
Britain Calls on China, Russia for Cyberattack Hotline
The United Kingdom has engaged in talks with China and Russia about establishing a hotline to prevent "cyber-emergencies," according to The Guardian.
The discussions are reportedly in their infancy, but The Guardian nonetheless says they are testament to the countries' shared angst over a potential "calamity in cyberspace." The goal of the collaboration is to have plans in place in the event of an attack or suspected attack.
The U.S. has reportedly been in talks with China to hash out a similar arrangement.
On Thursday, Hungary will host an international conference on cybersecurity with some 600 diplomats from 50 countries. The conference hopes to establish measures for behavior in the event of a cyberattack.
According to The Guardian, China and Russia have been pushing for tight, state-controlled cyber regulations, as well as "arms-control-type treaties" governing what countries are allowed to do on the Web. The U.S. and UK have pushed back, saying that such treaties would be unnecessary and would stifle economic growth and freedom of speech.
Sweden's Internet Drama
Long a bastion for unrestricted Internet freedom, Sweden has been in the news recently with a series of unfortunate events, Forbes reported.
First, Stockholm-based Web host PRQ -- which has been linked to sites like WikiLeaks and Pedophile.se -- was raided by police. This coincided with Sweden-based file-sharing site The Pirate Bay going offline for two days.
PRQ and The Pirate Bay are back online, but the story goes beyond them. Citing PRQ owner Mikael Viborg, Forbes writes that Swedish file-sharing site tankafetast.nu was a target of the recent police raid, as was Appbucket, a site that reportedly peddles pirated Android apps.
It is not clear from the Forbes article whether PRQ hosted those two sites, but several PRQ servers were taken during the raid.
Viborg told Forbes that the raid had nothing to do with WikiLeaks, which still uses PRQ as a server, or The Pirate Bay, which hasn't used PRQ in about two years.
In a related (and somewhat predictable) story, the hacker group Anonymous has vowed retaliation for the police raid.
Jungle in Japan
Amazon has unveiled plans to launch an Amazon Appstore in Japan later this year.
The Amazon Appstore launched in the U.S. in March and in several European countries, including the U.K., France, Germany and Spain, over the summer.
Amazon called the opening an "important milestone" in its ongoing global expansion.
Germany Deems IE Safe
After warning citizens to stay away from the bug-filled, hacker-friendly Internet Explorer, Germany's Federal Office for Information Security has given the green light to use the Web browser.
According to ZDNet, the IE flaw gave hackers access to "privileges of the currently logged-in user." Germany, ever wary of cybersecurity, responded by imploring people not to use it until Microsoft fixed the problem, which the company did last Friday.