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Japan Sizes Up Social Media as an Emergency Response Tool

Japan Sizes Up Social Media as an Emergency Response Tool

Today in international tech news: Japan's government engages in talks about devising an official social media emergency response system. Also: Sony unveils some nifty new gadgets in Berlin, including a water-resistant tablet; a journalist is arrested for hacking a blogger's email account; and Assange supporters go on strike.

By David Vranicar
08/30/12 9:23 AM PT

Japan's government engaged in talks Wednesday about incorporating social media into the nation's emergency response system, according to PC World.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency held an event in Tokyo -- the first of three such events to be held between now and March -- to discuss using Twitter, as well as Japan-based social media, as communications tool during natural disasters. The thinking is that large-scale disasters could knock out voice-based systems, making social networks the best option to communicate.

Topics Wednesday included protocol should Twitter become a lifeline -- affixing tweets with "#survived," for example.

Nationwide standardization of social media relief capabilities might be new, but the use of Twitter during disasters is not.

Japan, one of the world' most social media-savvy nations, relayed information on Twitter after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

And this summer, people in the Philippines took to Twitter to coordinate relief efforts after flooding, while people in Turkey used Twitter in the wake of an earthquake.

Sony Touts Tablet in Berlin

Sony unveiled a handful of gadgets, including a new 20-inch, Android-powered tablet, at an electronics show in Berlin, according to the BBC.

The company also launched a Windows 8-based computer that can transform from a laptop to a tablet.

The tablet, the Xperia Tablet S, is water-protected and can withstand "casual water spillages," which apparently means it is safe for the kitchen but not necessarily for deep-sea diving.

In addition, Sony announced a trio of new smartphones and its first-ever 84-inch TV, which will offer four times greater resolution than 1080p Hi-Def displays.

Journo Busted for Hacking

A former journalist for The Times was arrested for his roll in hacking into the email account of a blogger in 2009, according to Naked Security.

The arrested journalist, Patrick Foster, is the 11th person to be arrested as part of UK authorities' "Operation Tuleta," which is designed to unearth instances of computer hacking by journalists.

The blogger in question is detective Richard Horton, who was anonymously authoring a blog called "NightJack." The Times revealed that Horton was the author in 2009 after winning an injunction to prevent it from divulging his identity.

That might not be the case. Foster reportedly hacked into Horton's email and, what's more, is believed to have informed The Times of the hack job. The Times argued previously that it had obtained the blogger's identity though legal means.

Horton has filed a "civil action" against The Times.

Hacktivists Strike to Support Assange

NullCrew, a group with ties to the Anonymous hacker network, claims to have hacked into the Cambridge University computers system, according to The Guardian.

Authorities have launched an investigation into the NullCrew hack. The group, which published usernames and passwords apparently culled from the Cambridge site, said it was hacking in support of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder currently holed up in the Ecuador embassy in London.

It's not clear what the information published by NullCrew has to do with Assange.


Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here. You can email him at david.vranicar@newsroom.ectnews.com.



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