Will Google's departure from China prove to be a harbinger of things to follow? Going by a report in a leading Indian newspaper, the answer is quite likely to be found in the vicinity of a “yes.” A report on Google's exit from China in the Hindustan Times carries a quote from the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the prospect of another American tech giant shutting shop in China. The Indian premier is reported to have told the country's Planning Commission that Dell is about to shutter its China operations.
The Indian head of government is quoted as having told the Planning Commission,“This morning I met the chairman of Dell Corporation. He informed me that they are buying equipment and parts worth $25 billion from China. They would like to shift to safer environment with climate conducive to enterprise with security of legal system." Although it is difficult to discount anything that quotes a country's leader as its source, it is still wise to wait for a clearer picture to emerge.
But there is no denying the fact that the Chinese government has plenty to ponder in the aftermath of Google's exit. The Chinese economy may not be under any real threat of a collapse, for the dragon can only founder in the face of an exodus of foreign companies, but it will surely have its hand forced if a few more foreign businesses grow a conscience or leave in search of a more stable environment. It now knows that businesses are not entirely shy of moving out in search of “safer” alternatives, where they are immune from the whims of a government adamant on making everyone fall in line.
We had previously heard that Google may be announcing an exit from the Chinese market today. As it turns out, they’re taking a slightly different approach. The Google.cn domain now redirects users to the uncensored Hong Kong version of the search engine. Google says they plan to retain most of their operations in China including R&D teams and sales.
The move seems to be a direct challenge to the Chinese government, which could easily block access to Google on mainland China. Google’s David Drummond claims the move is “entirely legal” and went on to say, “We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision.”
Beijing has not yet responded to Google’s action, but the government has become increasingly harsh over the weeks. Some analysts pointed out that Google’s plan could backfire, leaving their sites blocked even in Hong Kong. For now it’s a waiting game for the Big G.
Are you worried Fermi is going to make your GeForce 8800 look a bit long in the tooth? Well just be glad you're not stuck trying to run Crysis on the Secret Service's mainframe featuring state of the art technology from the 1980's. A classified review of the aging computer system has revealed that the system is now only operational about 60 percent of the time, and frequently prevents them from accessing the master database of mission critical information and apps.
"We have here a premiere law enforcement organization in our country which is responsible for the security of the president and the vice president and other officials of our government, and they have to have better IT than they have," said Lieberman, who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. Currently the NSA runs 42 mission-oriented applications on a 1980s IBM mainframe, and are hideously underpowered based on the agencies current requirements.
The price tag for updating the system is a mere $187 million, and far below the $33 million they currently have in the budget. If I were president, I would probably check the seat cushions on Air Force One to make up the difference, they are charged with saving his life after all.
All the recent buzz may be centered around, um, Google Buzz, but don't go writing Twitter's obituary. The mico-blogging service has attracted yet another high-profile poster - White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
"I opened it today," Gibbs told the Associated Press. "I was watching a Twitter feed while the President visited the briefing room last week." Gibbs added that he "thought it was fascinating to watch and see what people were thinking, doing, and writing."
And speaking of watching others, Gibbs notes in his bio that his is an official White House Twitter account, and that messages received through such pages are subject to the Presidential Records Act and may be archived.
If you still want to follow him -- and so far, over 18,600 Twitter users do -- you can find his Twitter page here (PressSec).
The U.S. government's practice of seizing laptops through random searches at border crossings is again coming under scrutiny, this time by a pair of civil rights groups who are on the hunt for potential plaintiffs.
The groups include the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, both of which have the support of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
"This lawsuit will not seek monetary damages for individuals who have been searched; instead, it will focus exclusively on fixing the unconstitutional policy," wrote Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director and lawyer with the EFF.
To help bolster their chances in court, the groups are in search of lawyers whose laptops or other electronic gadgets were subject to search and/or seized at U.S. points of entry and exit.
Losing a laptop full of travel photos and bookmarks hurts, but losing the laptop and USB decryption key for a high-ranking Royal Air Force officer stings just a tiny bit more. Great Britain authorities are on the hunt for suspects in a high profile laptop theft, but you might be surprised to learn that it is but one of 66 so far this year, bringing the grand total up to 658 machines in the past four years.
I’m not sure whats worse, the fact that top-secret information is contained on mobile computers at all, or that the thief managed to sneak it out of the Ministry of Defense, an ultra secure government facility without anybody noticing. “This has the potential to become one of the most serious security breaches at the Ministry for a very long time” said a spokesman for the MoD. “An investigation by the MoD police is ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment further”.
According to Intel stolen laptops cost companies almost $50,000 per year, per machine, so I don’t even want to speculate on what a laptop full of “top secret” government data would fetch. I suppose the only consolation is the fact that so many are stolen, I doubt anything contained on the laptop was still a secret anyway.
GPS tracking? Biometric readers? Anyone else have a few suggestions for these guys? Clearly they need them.
Is big brother watching your every move on Facebook? That's something the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) tried to find out by asking several federal agencies for their policy on the use of social media during investigations. But after being given the cold shoulder, the EFF, along with UC Berkeley's Samuelson Center, have taken the matter to court where they hope the half-dozen federal agencies pinged will be forced to hand over documents relating to social networking as it pertains to investigative procedures.
The short suit gets right to the point and cites the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which normally requires that a response be given within 20 days. But the plaintiffs allege that only the IRS responded within that time frame, and that was a request for a 10-day extension.
So why the sudden interest in the first place? The suit points out various news reports from credible sources (The New York Times, for example) indicating that federal authorities have used social networking sites to pursue investigations. And this includes an incident where investigators staked out Facebook and nabbed a fugitive as soon as he set up an account.
The paper, which is titled "Government ICT Strategy: New world, new challenges, new opportunities," notes that many new technologies are poised to become mainstream by 2015, but that the above three stand out from them all. It says that Web 2.0 will provide the foundation to improve public sector interaction between citizens and businesses, while cloud computing will lead to different business models for the use and reuse of applications. Service oriented architecture, it says, will enable the delivery of the G Cloud and ultimately lead to an online store of government apps.
Other technologies discussed in the leaked document include the potential of semantic advancements, which separate data and content files from application code and meanings, location aware services, human-computer interaction which removes the need for a keyboard, and technologies to improve energy efficiency.
While the Cabinet Office doesn't comment on leaked documents, a spokesman did say that the paper is aimed at steering the government's approach to IT over the next five years, and that a it hopes to publish a final draft in time for Christmas.
If it's good enough for Maximum PC, then it's good enough for the White House. What are we talking about? Open-source Drupal software. Citing an Obama Administration source, PersonalDemocracy.com notes that the WhiteHouse.gov website has kicked its proprietary content management system (CMS) software to the curb and made the switch to Drupal after months of planning.
So why the switch? Obama's media team decided they needed a more flexible development platform in order to make the White House's online presence an interactive one. The media team envisions question-and-answer forums, live video streaming, and collaborative tools all meshing with the site's infrastructure, and for that, they decided on Drupal. Score one for the open-source community.
"Open-source is a great form of civic participation," said Macon Phillips, the White House media director. "We're looking forward to getting the benefit of their energy and innovation."
In addition to MaximumPC.com, the White House joins a growing number of sites built around the Drupal platform, some of which include NASA, Ubuntu, Linden Labs, Yahoo Research, Popular Science, and thousands of others.
But that is not enough to belittle its courage in setting a precedent for other countries of the world. The Finnish government hopes to implement its latest edict beginning July 2010. Initially, every Finn will have the right to a one-megabit broadband connection. Finland had previously vowed to legally guarantee access to a 100 Mb broadband connection by the end of 2015.