China Doubles Down on Real-Name Web Registration
Today in international tech news: China doubles down on real-name Web registration, Netflix blames Amazon for its Christmas streaming outage, Internet giants are attracted to Ireland's crummy weather -- in addition to its low taxes, Steve Jobs' yacht gets impounded and Sina dismisses Alibaba rumors.
The Great Firewall of China might start requiring ID for admittance.
On Monday, China's National People's Congress began discussing a draft decision that would force Internet users to use their real names in order to register for services, according to state-run Xinhua.
The draft decision is, depending on your perspective, a way to "strengthen the protection of personal information online" or, conversely, "yet another move by the Chinese government to restrict freedom of information."
Information that could be used figure out users' identities will be safeguarded, and authorities will be empowered to "take necessary measures to supervise Internet activities," the draft decision reads -- whatever that means.
China toyed with real-name requirements earlier this year. The controversial move was never fully implemented by the nation's top social media site, Sina Weibo, which in April said that the proposed verification measures were tough to adhere to.
Last week, China, which recently introduced a new Party Congress, took steps to block foreign VPNs. In other words, the new leadership seems no less -- and possibly quite a bit more -- stringent on Internet censorship than its predecessors.
Netflix: Amazon Outage Caused Holiday Blackout
An outage at one of Amazon's Web service centers was responsible for a streaming outage that affected users on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Netflix said.
Reuters reports that the outage impacted Netflix users in the U.S., Canada and Latin America, and crippled devices -- including the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Blu-ray DVD players -- that are used to stream movies and television shows.
Netflix has 30 million streaming subscribers worldwide, and 27 million of them live in the region affected by the outage.
The issues stemmed from an outage at an Amazon Web Services cloud computing center in Virginia, an Amazon spokesperson said. This is but the latest in what Reuters describes as a "series of outages from Amazon Web Services."
Internet Giants Rejoice in Ireland's Crummy Weather
Ireland's "dank, damp, cold climate" is one of the reasons that Internet companies like Google -- which established a US$75 million data processing center there -- have flocked there.
The nation's consistently chilly weather helps drive down energy costs related to cooling servers, according to The Guardian. In addition to Google, companies such as Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Zynga, HP and Dropbox all operate in the capital of Dublin.
Steve Jobs' Yacht Impounded
Authorities in the Netherlands have impounded Steve Jobs' Dutch-built superyacht, according to AFP.
The yacht was impounded in Amsterdam because of a money dispute between Jobs' estate and the yacht designer, Philippe Starck. Two invoices issues by Starck's design company have not been paid, according to a lawyer for Starck.
Jobs' yacht, which is 230 feet long, reportedly costs more than $130 million. It was not unveiled until October, more than a year after Jobs had died.
Sina Corp. Dismisses Alibaba Rumors
Sina Corp., the Chinese Web portal operator which runs China's top mircoblogging site, Sina Weibo, dismissed rumors that e-commerce giant Alibaba would be buying a stake in it.
A rumor was spreading that Alibaba had planned to spend some $3 billion to buy a 15 to 20 percent stake in Sina Weibo, according to The China Daily. The rumor was credited with sending Sina's stock up 7.81 percent to $48.59. The stock had reached $142 in April of 2011, but an inability to generate revenue has since spooked investors.
Earlier this year, Alibaba spent several billion dollarsto buy back the 40 percent stake that Yahoo held in the company.