Crowdfunders Send Jamaican Bobsled Team to Sochi
Today in international tech news: Crowdfunding helps send the Jamaican bobsled team to Sochi; South Korea experiences a massive cyberheist; China mandates real-name registration for video uploads; developers create a Google Glass sex-filming app; Vietnam seems to be upping its hacking prowess; and Spotify will enable merchandise sales for the first time.
01/21/14 6:00 PM PT
The Jamaican bobsled team, which qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 2002, is heading to the Sochi Olympics, thanks in large part to a group of supporters who raised more than US$25,000 worth of "Dogecoins," an Internet currency.
The team needed about $40,000 total, and after the Internet came through with $25K, Jamaica's Olympic committee picked up the difference.
The Jamaican team only recently qualified -- a great feat, no doubt, but problematic given that the team didn't have funding to get to Russia.
Fans, including the man who runs the Dogecoin foundation, thus helped launch "Dogesled," designed to raise the money necessary to get the Jamaican team to Russia. Within hours, the fund had collected more than 26 million Dogecoins. Indeed, there was so much action that the price of the currency itself went up: The Dogecoin to Bitcoin exchange rate rose by 50 percent.
[Source: The Guardian]
Grand Data Theft in South Korea
An enormous data theft in South Korea may have affected 20 million people -- nearly half the country's population.
The heist, which prompted a handful of executives at credit card companies in South Korea to offer to resign, reportedly was orchestrated by a man who was hired by the Korea Credit Bureau, a rating firm hired by credit card companies to help improve their data protection. Whoops.
The man stole personal details on more than 100 million credit cards issued by a trio of banks. The compromised data included credit ratings, addresses, salaries, monthly card use, social security numbers and more.
[Source: The New York Times]
China Takes Real-Name Registration to Next Level
Having already forced citizens to use their real names when registering with access providers or posting information, China's Communist Party has decreed that Web users also must use their real names to upload videos to Chinese video sites.
The new rules are ostensibly designed to prevent "vulgar content, base art forms, exaggerated violence and sexual content" -- you know, the usual. There was no mention of preventing dissent or anti-Beijing sentiment, but one could imagine that such considerations played a role.
Online video sites in China have more than 400 million users.
Developers Create Google Glass Sex-Filming App
An app created at a "Wearable Tech Hackathon" in London will enable Google Glass owners to film real-time sexual encounters using their headgear.
The "Sex With Glass" app lets partners share their viewpoints with one another while in the act. It stores footage on a cloud for five hours; after that, it vanishes (in theory, at least).
The app also can connect to a phone, allowing for a new angle on love-making -- if that's what it's called.
[Source: The Register]
Vietnam Reportedly Getting Its Hack On
Activists and analysts believe that a pro-government cohort of hackers is spying on Vietnamese activists around the world, trying to cripple the country's democracy movement.
The purported hackers targeted a handful of victims, including an AP reporter based in Hanoi, a France-based Vietnamese professor and activist, and a member of the U.S.-based Electronic Frontier Foundation.
There are suspicions of state involvement, given that the attackers are utilizing pricey servers from around the globe to launch attacks. Hanoi suspicions are bolstered by Vietnam's 2013 conviction of dozens of bloggers and nonviolent democracy activists, according to Human Rights Watch.
[Source: The Associated Press]
Spotify Adapts in Prep for Competition
Sweden-born music-streaming service Spotify will for the first time allow merchandise sales, a move announced just ahead of the launch of Dr. Dre's Spotify-esque "Beat Music."
The decision to allow merchandise sales may be an olive branch designed to court artists and record labels. Spotify -- which has been criticized for offering musicians an unreasonably small amount of compensation -- will not take any cut of the profits realized through such sales.
Beats Music will not be a Spotify clone. The new venture will call upon musicians and DJs to create playlists, as opposed to using the algorithm approach employed by Spotify.
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, who is currently in New Zealand facing extradition to the U.S., recently launched his own music-streaming service.