Snowden in the Running for Nobel Peace Prize
Today in international tech news: Edward Snowden is nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize; Nintendo announced plans to enter the healthcare industry; Angry Birds' website is defaced after revelations of NSA and British data scooping; Microsoft tells Australia it didn't construct backdoors for the NSA; Google pawns its Motorola phone biz to China's Lenovo; and a Dutch court strikes down the nation's block against The Pirate Bay.
01/30/14 11:59 AM PT
A group of Norwegian lawmakers nominated former NSA contactor Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Saying that his bottomless pit of surveillance revelations contributes to stability and transparency, the lawmakers submitted the nomination to the Nobel Foundation.
President Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, meaning Obama and his secret-leaking foil could soon have at least one thing in common.
Snowden, currently holed up in Russia, is one of 259 nominees for this year's award.
Nintendo to Make Push Into... Healthcare?
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata has announced that the long-time videogame manufacturer would make a foray the healthcare industry.
Iwata was short on details about the company's so-called "quality of life" business plans, although he did say it won't come in the form of a wearable device. Whatever it is, The Wall Street Journal used the phrase "nongame product."
More details are expected later this year.
The vague healthcare announcement came during a press conference in which Iwata professed confidence about Nintendo's prospects -- this despite the company's disappointing performance of late. Upon announcing a recent 30 percent drop in profits, top execs took a pay cut. Iwata reportedly is punting on 50 percent of his pay.
[Source: The Associated Press]
Following Surveillance Revelations, Angry Birds Website Defaced
In the wake of news that the National Security Agency and its British snooping counterpart were sucking data out of smartphone apps, hackers defaced the website of game-app Angry Birds.
Rovio, which makes Angry Birds, insists that it has not collaborated with U.S. or British surveillance outfits, so this hack job could be a bit misguided.
At any rate, the shenanigans -- which included an Angry Birds character adorned with an NSA logo, as well as a mock banner that read "Spying Birds" -- were quickly undone by Rovio.
The Syrian Electronic Army, which has hacked and defaced more than its share of companies and media outlets, tweeted a link to a screengrab of the defaced Angry Birds page with a message saying that "a friend" executed the hack.
Google Packs Off Motorola Phone Biz to Lenovo
After just 22 months of making Motorola phones, Google has sold the handset business to China-based Lenovo.
The US$2.91 billion deal will allow Google to maintain ownership of numerous patents. That said, it is a noteworthy shift -- Google dropped $12.5 billion on Motorola Mobility in May 2012.
Finalizing the deal with Lenovo could be delayed by U.S. regulators, who, if history is any indication, figure to cast a wary eye at the Chinese tech giant.
[Source: The Wall Street Journal]
Microsoft to Aussies: No NSA Backdoors
Microsoft told Australia's Department of Parliamentary Services that its software does not contain "backdoors" through which the NSA can, you know, check up on the nation's parliament.
Concerns cropped up last year after Snowden leaks suggested that the NSA had "direct access" to systems of Google, Yahoo and, yes, Microsoft.
Dutch Court Reverses Pirate Block
A Dutch court ruled that the Netherlands' Internet service providers will no longer need to block The Pirate Bay.
The Netherlands was one of a handful of European countries -- along with Belgium, the UK and others -- that ordered its ISPs to block The Pirate Bay. However, the Court of The Hague, citing research, ruled that the blockade is disproportionate and ineffective, and that it impeded on entrepreneurial freedom.