Microsoft calls “injuste” on French privacy “accuse”

Degradation_alfred_dreyfusSoftware giant Microsoft has claimed that the French are being rather nasty when it comes to the privacy levels on its Windows 10 operating system.

Yesterday France’s National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) slapped a formal order on Microsoft to comply with data protection laws after it found Windows 10 was collecting “excessive data” about users and ate roast beef. The company has been given three months to meet the demands, and improve its cooking, or it will face fines.

Vole has officially responded and said that it is  happy to work with the CNIL to work towards an acceptable solution. It has not actually denied the allegations set against it, the company does nothing to defend the amount of data collected by Windows 10, and also fails to address the privacy concerns it raises.

Microsoft does address concerns about the transfer of data between Europe and the US, saying that while the Safe Harbor agreement is no longer valid, the company still complied with it up until the adoption of Privacy Shield.

David Heiner, vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft said:

“We built strong privacy protections into Windows 10, and we welcome feedback as we continually work to enhance those protections. We will work closely with the CNIL over the next few months to understand the agency’s concerns fully and to work toward solutions that it will find acceptable.”

He added that Vole had continued to live up to all of its commitments under the Safe Harbor Framework, even as the European and U.S. representatives worked toward the new Privacy Shield. As we state in our privacy statement, in addition to the Safe Harbor Framework we rely on a variety of legal mechanisms as the basis for transferring data from Europe, including standard contractual clauses, a data transfer mechanism established by the European Commission and approved by European data protection authorities, to cover data flows from the European Union to the United States.

“Microsoft will release an updated privacy statement next month, and that will say Microsoft intends to adopt the Privacy Shield. We are working now toward meeting the requirements of the Privacy Shield,” he said

Surface Hub was a hit after all

surprised-newspaper-readerWhen the software king of the world, Microsoft, announced its Surface Hub, how the pundets mocked.

They claimed that it cost too much and would never sell, even to the enterprise which often pays too much for this sort of thing. However it turns out that they were not quite, but completely and utterly wrong.

Despite the fact that the Surface Hub was delayed twice and the company jacked the price of the device,  companies have rushed to buy it faster than lemmings to a cliff face. The device, which starts at $8,999 for the 55in and $21,999 for the 84in, has been purchased by more than 500 customers worldwide and Microsoft is ramping up production to meet the high level of demand.

Vole siad that demand for Surface Hubs is very strong and exceeded initial forecasts.

“To date, we’ve shipped to over 500 customers worldwide and that number continues to grow. We are ramping up production to meet this strong demand via our partner reseller channel as soon as possible. Customers are encouraged to speak with their sales representative if interested in ordering Surface Hubs.”

The Surface Hub is designed to be a collaborative device that lives in communal spaces like open office environments and conference rooms. It might be pricy but it has shedloads of technology and is a doddle for IT administrators  to plumb in. Now it looks like there is a waiting list.

Samsung counter-sues Huawei

fef78e0cc21705723179c3a85d917f2bSamsung has sued Huawei for patent infringements across China as the handbags at dawn row escalates between the pair.

Samsung sued Huawei in a Beijing court about two weeks ago for allegedly infringing six of its patents, a spokeswoman said. She did not elaborate on the types of patents or the other Chinese courts involved.

“Despite our best efforts to resolve this matter amicably, it has regrettably become necessary to take legal action in order to defend our intellectual property,” Samsung sang

Huawei  said in a statement it had not received a “formal complaint” but would defend itself as necessary.

“In the absence of a negotiated settlement, litigation is often an efficient way to resolve” intellectual property rights disputes, it said.

Huawei sued Samsung in the United States and China in May, accusing its rival of infringement on patents for fourth-generation (4G) cellular communications technology, operating systems and user interface software.

Analysts say that neither side will end up winning on the basis of money. Huawei could be angling to boost its reputation by taking on the top smartphone player, he said, while Samsung’s suit might be a maneuver to force Huawei to settle its claims as soon as possible.

Some have suggested that Huawei might also be trying to create some noise marketing for itself and the two firms will eventually reach a deal such as a cross-licensing agreement.

 

French Windows privacy slammed

c3f9850de05b9d4e64c50e5353a17117The French government is furious that Windows 10 appears to collect rather too much user data.

France’s National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) has order Microsoft to comply with the French Data Protection Act within three months. and “stop collecting excessive data and tracking browsing by users without their consent.”

In addition to this, the chair of CNIL has notified Microsoft that it needs to take “satisfactory measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of user data”. The notice comes after numerous complaints about Windows 10, and a series of investigations by French authorities which revealed a number of failings on Microsoft’s part.

Microsoft is accused of not only gathering excessive data about users, but also irrelevant data. The CNIL points to Windows 10’s telemetry service which gathers information about the apps users have installed and how long each is used for. The complaint is that “these data are not necessary for the operation of the service”.

The company is also criticised for its lack of sufficient security — such as the four-digit PIN used to protect payment information which does not have a limit on the number of guesses that can be made. The CNIL’s list of complaints does not end there. It also took exception to the activation of an advertising ID for tailored advertising without user consent, the lack of cookie blocking options, and the fact that data is being transferred out of Europe to the US.

In a statement, the CNIL said:

Given the above, the Chair of the CNIL has decided to issue a formal notice to Microsoft Corporation to comply with the Act within three months. This proceedings only commits French Data protection authority. The other data protection authorities belonging to the WP29 Contact group are continuing their investigations within their respective national procedures.

The purpose of the notice is not to prohibit any advertising on the company’s services but, rather, to enable users to make their choice freely, having been properly informed of their rights.

It has been decided to make the formal notice public due to, among other reasons, the seriousness of the breaches and the number of individuals concerned (more than ten million Windows users on French territory).

Vole is probably not too concerned. It fully expects the cheese munching surrender monkeys to back down when the three month deadline it is up, but if France’s objection is heard by the Germans, who are a lot more earnest about privacy then it might have a fight on its hands.

Equinix puts hand up for huge BT outage

equinix-se3The outfit behind the Telecity data centre has admitted that it was its fault that 10 per cent of BT internet subscribers were without a service yesterday.

Equinix confirmed that the outage started at its LD8 site in London’s Docklands where it has nine server warehouses which look after more than 600 businesses.

The company said it experienced a power problem “with one of its UPS system at 8/9 Harbour Exchange (LD8)”. It said it was carrying out a full investigation into the incident to identify the root cause of the fault.

This is not the first time that Telecity has experienced power problems. It had a major problem at its Sovereign House data centre last year which took two days to fix.

A spokesman from the company said: “Equinix can confirm that we experienced a brief outage at the former Telecity LD8 site in London earlier this morning. This impacted a limited number of customers, however service was restored within minutes. Equinix engineers are on site and actively working with customers to minimise the impact.”

A BT spokeswoman said the power problem affected around 10 percent of internet usage. But the  problem has now been fixed and services have been restored.

Kickass torrent “mastermind” arrested

arrestUS coppers claim to have arrested the “mastermind” of KickassTorrents (KAT) which is one of the largest BitTorrent distribution sites.

When we looked this morning the site was still up so we are not sure if  Artem Vaulin, 30, of Ukraine’s alleged mastermind status was incorrect or if the site is being run by his minions.

Vaulin has been charged   with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement.

Vaulin was arrested in Poland and the DOJ will shortly seek his extradition to the United States.

Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said that Vaulin was charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials.

“In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”

What appears to have miffed Hollywood was that Vaulin did actually have method of dealing with DMCA violations. Hollywood studios would send their complaint and demand that the content be removed from the site and they would get a note back which said the following:

Greetings,
Your request has been reviewed, but cannot be processed due to one (or
more) of the following reasons:
1) The Claim wasn’t written in English language;
2) You provided no evidence showing that you are the copyright holder
or that you are acting on behalf of the copyright holder;
3) You provided no evidence showing that the content is legally
copyrighted;
4) There were more then [sic] 30 torrents mentioned in the Claim email;
5) Your content is hosted on a different website.
Please, make sure to fulfill all the conditions mentioned above before
sending a claim.
You can find more detailed information regarding the DMCA email
layout via the following article – https://kat.cr/dmca/
Respectfully,
KAT team
Keeping mum

It has been estimated that the sites annual advertising revenue as being more than $16 million per year as of 2016 although those figures are nearly always presented to the media hyped beyond belief. In this case they are based on the fact that an  undercover IRS agent purchased an ad on KAT in March 2016 at the rate of $300 per day.

The KAT representative provided details for a Latvian bank but warned the American buyer to “make sure that you don’t mention KAT anywhere.”

HSI and IRS looked into the historical hosting records of KAT and found that for about 3.5 years, ending in January 2016, the operation was hosted out of Chicago, Illinois, which explains why the case is now being prosecuted out of the Northern District of Illinois. The site also used a Canadian hosting service—the two American agencies also used MLAT to get an image of the Canadian server.

More interesting was that the fruity cargo cult Apple, which normally does not turn over data on terrorists  provided a copy of Vaulin’s e-mail account (tirm@me.com), which included other incriminating information that establishes probable cause of a criminal conspiracy. So it looks like Apple’s privacy morals stop when it comes to crimes against its chums in Hollywood.

Intel’s data centre business slows

snail-8296a552f7bd1064368205306ff8a3c7c7bdc7c4-s900-c85 Chipzilla produced a better than expected quarterly profit, however analysts are a bit worried about a slower than normal revenue growth for its data centre business.

If the outfit’s cunning plan to be less dependent on PCs succeeds then data centres should be front and centre but it seems that Chipzilla’s data centre business is shrinking.

It seems that there was generally weak demand from enterprises, causing revenue at the highly-profitable unit to rise five percent to $4 billion. Part of the problem was that Chipzilla did so well inthe  last quarter and increased business in this area by nine percent and this makes its growth this quarter look a bit sad.

Intel’s finance chief Stacy Smith said that as Intel enters the second half, he expect the enterprise segment of the business to stabilise and the cloud segment growth rate to accelerate.

Intel has been focusing on the unit and its operation that makes chips for internet-connected devices, as it seeks to lower dependence on the slowing PC market that it once helped create.

Sales from the Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker’s traditional PC business, which also includes chips for mobile phones and tablets, fell three percent to $7.3 billion in the second quarter ended July 2.

Global PC shipments fell less than expected in the quarter, helped by strength in the United States.

Over all Intel reported a better-than-expected profit as its cost-cutting begin to pay off. In April it announced plans to slash 12,000 jobs, or 11 percent of its global workforce, of which it said about half was already complete.

Intel’s forecast for $14.9 billion in current-quarter revenue topped the average analyst expectation of $14.63 billion.

Net income fell to $1.33 billion, or 27 cents per share, in the second quarter, from $2.71 billion a year earlier.

Profit for the quarter was hit by a one-time charge of $1.41 billion related to its cost-cutting drive.

Net revenue rose 2.6 percent to $13.53 billion, narrowly missing the average analyst estimate of $13.54 billion.

 

Britannia’s cool science image sunk by Brexit

imagesubmarine2sinkingBritish scientists are losing grant money and will have to scale down operations and lay off staff thanks to the Brexit vote.

Seven national academies have called on the government to ensure that research is protected in Brexit negotiations and the President of the Royal Society has told the BBC that the future prosperity of the UK is at stake.

Annually, British universities receive £850 million in research grants each year from the European Union, but now British applicants for grants have been told to sling their electronic hooks.

Boffins are now being told that there are concerns from Euro partners that if UK scientists are involved in a project it could harm their chances in raising cash.

They are getting frozen out of big projects and European researchers in Europe are looking elsewhere to collaborate which means the British will not be around when big discoveries are made.

But the research problem is also extending to small high tech companies. The BBC found Archer Technicoat in High Wycombe, which develops bespoke coatings to toughen components for rocket thrusters for the European Space Agency.

Its managing director John Yeatman said that European funding has stopped after 30 years and interest from European partners for involving us in their projects has basically dried up.

Other researchers are packing their bags and setting up companies in Europe. Christopher Bovey was planning to set up a testing company, Herba Invest, in Totnes in Devon to help manufacturers of herbal products gain European Union regulatory approval.  Now he is setting it up in Spain.

Dr Pietro Cicuta, a physicist at the University of Cambridge, said the UK’s image was already tarnished in Europe, but it has now gone from “being cool to uncool in a day.”

Still at least we no longer have unelected officials from Europe telling us what to do, we just have Teresa May and Boris Johnson – what could possibly go wrong?

Turkey tries to stuff Wikileaks as it does something useful

turkey_with_apples_-_croppedrszTurkey’s Internet watchdog has blocked access to the WikiLeaks website in Turkey, it said, after the whistleblower organisation released nearly 300,000 emails from the ruling AK Party.

The Telecommunications Communications Board said on Wednesday that an “administrative measure” had been taken against the website – the term it commonly uses when blocking access to sites.

All emails are attributed to “akparti.org.tr”, the primary domain of the main political force in the country, and cover a period from 2010 up until July 6, 2016, just a week before the failed military coup.

The Turkish supporters of President Erdogan are believed to have tried to break the Wikileaks site with a huge DoS attack to prevent the information getting out. So far Wikileaks thinks they have managed to have beat the attack off.

The government of Turkey is continuing its massive crackdown following a failed coup attempt during which more than 200 people lost their lives as fractions of the armed forces attempted to seize control of several key places in the cities of Ankara and Istanbul. Over 1,400 were injured over the course of armed clashes.

In the wake of the failed takeover, thousands have been detained or lost their posts across the judiciary, military, interior ministry and civil service sectors. This includes teachers and university professors because Turks under Erdogan don’t need no education .

Wikileaks has not been doing that much lately other than trying to increase the profile of its leader Julian Assange, who is still sitting in a London embassy because he refuses to answer questions from Swedish authorities about an alleged sex offence. Because of its “Assange orientation” Wikileaks has been basically subverted and eclipsed by leaks from Edward Snowden.

It is not clear what material Wikileaks has its paws on. However other leaks about Erdogan’s government have shown widescale corruption at the highest levels. Erdogan has done his best to block such information being released.

 

Nvidia releases answer to AMD’s Radeon RX 480

nvidiaNvidia just launched its Pascalish answer to AMD’s Radeon RX 480 mainstream card.

The GeForce GTX 1060 has about half of the resources of Nvidia’s super expensive GeForce GTX 1080 and the outfit claims it’s on par with a previous generation high-end GeForce GTX 980.

It runs on 120W and is a mix of low-power and high-performance. The new GeForce GTX 1060 features a new Pascal derivative GPU that’s somewhat smaller, called the GP106. It has 10 streaming multiprocessors (SM) with a total of 1280, single-precision CUDA cores and eight texture units.

The GeForce GTX 1060 also features six 32-bit memory controllers, for 192-bits in total. GeForce GTX 1060 cards with either 6GB or 3GB of GDDR5 memory will be available and offered performance that just misses the mark set by the pricier AMD Radeon R9 Nano.

The GeForce GTX 1060 has the largest leads over the Radeon RX 480 in the DirectX 11 tests, though the Radeon had a clear edge in OpenCL and managed to pull ahead in  some DirectX 12 tests.

The GeForce GTX 1060, however, consumes significantly less power than the Radeon RX 480 and is quieter too.

All up it means that Nvidia and AMD are squaring up with different offerings for a similar price