Israel: We Didn't Start the Fire
Today in international tech news: Israel says it is not responsible for the Flame malware that has spread throughout the Middle East. Also: Germany is in trouble with the EU for its failure to implement data collection laws, and PayPal continues its experiments as the company introduces a barcode payment system for mobile devices in the UK.
05/31/12 8:59 AM PT
Israel has disavowed itself of the cyberattacks recently discovered in Middle East, according to the BBC.
Israel's announcement comes after the revelation that highly sophisticated malware known as "Flame" has infiltrated computers in numerous Middle-Eastern countries. The fact that the malware has apparently neither stolen money nor performed typical hacker functions has given rise to speculation that it originated from a national government.
Several media outlets have linked Israel to the malware, according to the BBC.
The U.S. has also been tied to the malware, but it too has denied responsibility.
The BBC cites a Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab, which said it could take months or even years to determine the origin of the malware.
The United Nations' International Telecommunications Union recently weighed in on Flame, issuing what it called its most serious cyber-security warning ever.
In UK, PayPal Launches Barcode Payments
PayPal has rolled out barcode-based payments at four major retail stores in the UK, according to Giga OM http://gigaom.com/2012/05/30/paypal-rolls-out-barcode-payments-in-the-uk/.
The feature, available for both iOS and Android, generates a barcode on a customer's mobile device. The barcode is then scanned by a store employees, and money is deducted directly from a customer's PayPal account. A receipt is sent via email.
This is just one of the new features being tried out by PayPal. The company has launched so-called quick response code payment systems in France, Australia and Singapore and has experimented with NFC -- near field communications -- payments in Sweden.
Giga OM quotes a PayPal spokesman who says the company is not going all-in on any one technology, but is instead testing various methods to see what works best.
Germany Drags Feet on Data Collection
Germany will likely be referred to the European Union's highest court because of the country's failure to implement data collection laws, according to Reuters.
The EU issued a directive in 2006 which required all EU member states to introduce laws that would force telecommunications companies to store phone and email records for at least six months.
Germany indeed introduced legislation that would have forced telecom companies to do just that, but the country's top court rejected it.
Germany, which has long had an allergy to various forms of data retention, could face a fine over its failure to comply with the directive.
Telefonica to Raise Cash by Selling Shares
Hammered by Spain's financial crisis and a massive plummet in value, Spanish telecommunications company Telefonica will sell shares in its German and Latin American phone units to raise cash, according to Bloomberg.
The company's market value has slumped by US$60 billion in the past 18 months, according to the report, prompting the move to sell shares. The company's stock had declined 34 percent this year through Wednesday. That was the single worst performance by any of the 19 companies in the Bloomberg Europe Telecommunications Services Index.
Standard & Poor's last week slashed the company's rating to the lowest level since its began ranking the debt 16 years ago, according to Bloomberg.
Intel-Powered Smartphone Set for UK Debut
A new smartphone from American chipmaker Intel and British mobile company Orange will be released in the UK on June 6, according to The Verge.
It will be Europe's first Intel-powered smartphone.
The phone, which runs Android, is equipped with an eight-megapixel camera, a four-inch display screen and 16 GB of storage.
The phone will be released in France not long after its UK debut.