Microsoft Touts Privacy Bona Fides to European Customers
Today in international tech news: Microsoft tries to use its privacy bona fides as a selling point to NSA-wary Europeans. Also: Somali netizens enjoy unprecedented Web speed; BlackBerry mulls punting on handsets; and South Korean card users have reason to worry after massive hack.
04/11/14 12:36 PM PT
Having become the first company to formally meet the European Union's data protection rules, Microsoft is trying to turn its trustworthiness into business in privacy-wary Europe.
"For customers who care about privacy and compliance, there is no more committed partner than Microsoft," wrote Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith in a Thursday blog post.
More so than in the U.S., data protection is a hot-button topic in Europe, especially in the wake of Edward Snowden's leaks. Europe's highest court earlier this week discarded a 2006 ruling that required telecommunications companies to store phone calls or online communications.
Also, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has championed the idea of having Europe-based data networks -- which would, at least in theory, protect Europeans from NSA shenanigans.
German telecommunications companies also have seen marketing opportunities in privacy fears, announcing plans for snoop-proof communications.
[Source: The New York Times http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/microsoft-touts-data-protection-approval-in-europe-eager-for-new-customers/?ref=technology" target="_blank">Microsoft]
Enhanced Web Leads to 'Culture Shock' in Somalia
Some Internet users in Somalia are experiencing culture shock in the wake of a fiber optic services launch over the last week, according to an Internet provider quoted by the BBC.
The country previously had relied on dial-up or satellite links, which obviously can leave one wanting. Things got even worse earlier this year, however, when Internet services were cut off at the behest of al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants.
Said militants declared that Internet services should be stopped, and that violators would face Islamic law -- or at least whatever violent interpretation of Islamic law the al-Shabab militant group purports to follow.
Thus, the recent fiber optic evolution has, according to Somalia Wireless' Liban Egal, been a revelation. People are heading to hotels and Internet cafes to experience the new Internet speeds; the difference, Egal said, is "day and night."
The fiber optic connections are, at present, only available in the capital of Mogadishu.
BlackBerry Floats Idea of Nixing Handsets
BlackBerry may stop selling handsets if it can't make money doing so, according to company CEO John Chen.
The timeframe for the decision of potentially discontinuing the handset business is "short," he said.
However, after discussing the matter with Reuters, Chen penned a blog post assuring customers that BlackBerry has "no intention" of punting on handsets. At least not yet.
Hackers Do Hacky Things in South Korea
Hackers reportedly nabbed personal information of roughly 200,000 South Korean credit card users, turning the info into fake cards and racking up more than US$100,000 in bunk charges, according to the country's financial regulator.
Late last year, several suspects hacked into a server of a firm managing card payment processing terminals, the Financial Supervisory Services said. The hackers plucked card numbers, expiration dates and passwords.
South Korean police have ID'd 268 separate cases of fraudulent charges, according to an official.