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Twitter Stews Over 'Untenable' UK Surveillance Plans

Twitter Stews Over 'Untenable' UK Surveillance Plans

Today in international tech news: Twitter claims Britain's data surveillance plans could expose it and other companies to foreign lawsuits. Also: A Netflix executive doubles down on gripes about Canada's "third-world" Internet, Apple might have a China problem, and a Taiwanese tech company says pressure from Google caused its aborted smartphone launch.

By David Vranicar
09/14/12 8:27 AM PT

Twitter said that Britain's plans to bolster Internet and phone surveillance could expose it and other communications companies to privacy lawsuits from abroad, according to The Guardian.

The report from Twitter asserts that the UK's security push, which gives security services access to online communications such as email and social networking activity, would "unwittingly" collect data of non-UK residents. This, Twitter says, could spur legal action in other countries that disallow such invasive data collection.

Twitter warns that it could be "in a legally untenable position" in the event of "cross-jurisdictional challenges" over UK surveillance.

The surveillance proposals in question force Internet service providers to store information such as website visits and email exchanges for a year. While there has been criticism of the plan, proponents assert that current monitoring practices are ill-equipped to deal with modern-day communication.

Netflix Chief Rips Canada's Internet

Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, has taken to mocking Canada's Internet access.

As GigaOm reports, Sarandos on Wednesday likened Canadian Internet prices to "a human rights violation." He didn't back off the statement, saying Thursday that Canada has "almost third-world" Internet access.

Sarandos was referring to the broadband caps imposed by Canadian ISPs like Bell and Shaw. Those caps force customers to cough up more money if they exceed the monthly limit of 15 GB.

This cap of course doesn't bode well for Netflix, whose business is increasingly predicated on online sales and, ergo, sizeable data transfers. Netflix has tried to adjust by lowering the quality of its streams in Canada, but GigaOm hypothesizes that the lack of HD options is impacting the company's growth.

Apple's China Problem

Apple is still the top seller of high-end phones in China, but the company is struggling to maintain its edge in what will soon be the world's No. 1 smartphone market, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal points to two main problems for Apple in China. First, the company's recent versions of the iPhone have failed to wow customers like the early models. Second -- and maybe more important -- is the competition.

Apple is getting squeezed on one end by competition from South Korea's Samsung and Taiwan-based HTC, each of which are now offering comparable products to the iPhone. On the other end -- the low end, as it were -- Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE Corp. are producing cheap phones that cost a fraction of what the iPhone does.

One potential ace up Apple's sleeve is China Mobile Ltd., the nation's largest mobile carrier. China Mobile doesn't currently carry Apple phones, but the two companies are reportedly in talks about releasing the iPhone on China Mobile's 4G network, which, according to The Journal, is expected to be up and running in the second half of 2013.

Still, there is plenty of pessimism about Apple's short-term outlook in China.

Google Brings the Pressure

The planned launch of a smartphone by a partnership between Acer, a Taiwanese electronics company, and Alibaba Group, China's top e-commerce firm, was canceled Thursday because of what Alibaba claims was pressure from Google.

According to Reuters, Alibaba said that Google pressured Acer to pull out of the launch, which was scheduled for Thursday. The Alibaba statement said that Google threatened to "terminate Android product cooperation" with Acer.

Spokespersons from Google and Acer declined to comment Thursday.


Tech Trek is a blog that looks at tech news from around the world. David Vranicar is a freelance journalist. His ECT News Network archive, with links to articles and podcasts, is available here. You can email him at david.vranicar@newsroom.ectnews.com.



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