As law enforcement and content associations alike slowly recognize the fact that trying to track down and prosecute millions of illegal file sharers is nothing more than a high-tech game of whack-a-mole (that they're losing), they're turning to commercial help in combating the threat of piracy. American ISPs have already voluntarily signed as copyright cops. In Britain, the real copyright cops – i.e. the London Police – are relying on payment processors to help put a halt on music sold without proper licenses. Yesterday, PayPal UK announced it had signed on to the coalition.
With hackers currently on a global rampage like they have never been before, your most sensitive personal details are under constant threat of being compromised. But some 8.63 million people in the UK need not fear rampageous hackers, for the National Health Service (NHS) is already doing its bit to ensure the seamless transfer of their personal information to unscrupulous elements. A laptop containing unencrypted records of 8.63 million people has reportedly gone missing from the National Health Service North Central London health authority.
Lovefilm is a name to remember. Right now it's just Europe's best impersonation of Netflix, only now it's owned by Amazon. It also has the backing of Samsung, which just announced plans to include the Lovefilm streaming application on all of its Blu-ray players in the U.K.
That's a pretty significant win for Lovefilm/Amazon. As far as Blu-ray players go, Samsung owns a quarter of the European market. With the app now coming standard, Samsung Blu-ray owners get access to thousands of streaming movies, from "Hollywood blockbusters, to the latest Cannes Film Festival nominees and even critically acclaimed documentaries," provided they pony up for a £5.99 (just under US$10) for a subscription.
Linux has always been the go-to operating system for governments and non-profits trying to empower technology-starved people around the world with cheap, no-frills computers. So it is no surprise that the UK government has chosen the open-source OS for subsidized computers that will soon be offered to those Brits that are yet to log on to the internet (around 9.2 million) under its Race Online 2012 scheme, an initiative that the government there believes can help UK become the first nation in the world to have its entire population online.
Under this scheme, both PCs and internet connections will be subsidized so as to lure internet holdouts. The starting price for the affordable PCs will be just a shade over $150 (£98), with subsidized internet connections costing $14 (£9) per month. The PCs will include a flat-screen monitor, keyboard, mouse, warranty, dedicated telephone helpline and delivery, according to a BBC News report. The initial goal is to sell around 8,000 PCs during the 12-month trial period.
Most of those charged by the US authorities, including many Russian nationals, acted as “money mules,” or money-laundering agents, merely concerned with moving stolen funds for their Zeus-armed clients.
“The mule organization typically recruited mules from Eastern Europe who were either planning to travel to or were already present in the United States on J1 visas,” reads one of the complaints in the matter.
"The mules kept a portion of the fraudulent proceeds for themselves -- usually 8 to 10 percent -- and transferred the rest to other participants in the fraudulent scheme."
The trojan, which mainly spreads through phishing and drive-by download attacks, is said to have helped thugs rake in over $200 million since 2006.
As if people needed another excuse to use Facebook, UK's Channel Five has decided to use the social networking site as a content delivery platform. According to a NewMediaAge report, Five is close to becoming the first broadcaster to show programs on Facebook. “All systems go” is how NMA's sources described the deal between Five and Facebook. They also revealed that Five will begin delivering TV content through Facebook “within the next week to ten days.” The TV shows will be delivered by embedding Demand Five, Five's TV-on-demand player, into Facebook. UK's Facebook population stands at 26 million.
Google has found itself mired in ever-increasing controversy ever since it fessed up to collecting payload data in over 30 countries. While data privacy watchdogs around the world are becoming more unstinting in their strictures on Google, Britain's data protection authority is not too concerned about the actual impact of the entire Wi-Fi snooping episode.
Britain's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found no “meaningful personal details” while vetting data samples it collected from Google. Unlike its counterparts elsewhere, the ICO was never too keen on probing the matter and had even asked Google to delete the data at the onset of the crisis in May.
"On the basis of the samples we saw we are satisfied so far that it is unlikely that Google will have captured significant amounts of personal data," the UK's leading data protection authority said in a statement. "There is also no evidence as yet that the data captured by Google has caused or could cause any individual detriment."
It's taken Five years, but Google's email service in the UK is finally shedding its Googlemail domain, and becoming plain old Gmail. The delay stems from a trademark dispute with a company called Independent International Investment Research (IIR). The original settlement request was apparently unacceptable to Google, and they took to using the Google Mail name instead.
With the issues finally worked out, users will be given the option to use a @gmail address soon. Starting this week, anyone that signs up for a new account will receive a @gmail address. Google also pointed out that since typing gmail required 50% fewer keystrokes than typing googlemail, the change could save 60 million keystrokes per day. That amounts to 217 microjoules, or 20 bonbons worth of energy saved per day. Leave it to Google engineers to measure energy using bonbons as units.
Google said that changing addresses would not affect the functionality or settings of the account. Have any of you Brits become so attached to those extra letters that you'll stick with Googlemail?
Word has leaked out today that Hulu's negotiations with UK broadcasters have broken down, and the service will not be offered in that market. Sources at the broadcasters claim that the "market does not match [Hulu's] business expectations”. Which we take to mean the British broadcasters wanted too big a slice of the action.
Hulu in the US has become a marginal success, and even has been turning a profit as of late. The video streaming company is owned by News Corp, NBC Universal and Disney. Hulu is rumored to be planning to launch a subscription model next month, but apparently even that model was not enough to sway UK broadcasters.
One British station, ITV, is clearly forging ahead with their own ITV Player instead of putting their content on aggregators. Hulu hasn't had anything to say on the matter as of yet, but we'd be interested to hear their side of things. In the meantime, at least our friends in the UK can enjoy Spotify, which has yet to land in the States.
Back in November we found ourselves sympathizing with a UK bar owner who was facing a $13,000 fine for copyright infringement as a result of operating an open hotspot, but little did we know this was only the tip of the iceberg. It was a clear cut case of misplaced accountability, but it looks like the UK government is planning to go one step further to keep this from happening in the future. A new "Digital Economy Bill", if passed, would ban the use of open Wi-Fi hotspots outright anywhere in the UK. The bill would ultimately make any home or business operating an internet connected router 100 percent accountable for the traffic that passes over it.
Making users accountable for locking down their own connection doesn't sound like a bad idea in principal, but it ultimately closes off opportunities for businesses to offer internet access to the latté sipping masses at the local coffee shop. The bill will require all networks to be secured with a password, and to maintain a log of all users who access it in order to be in compliance with the new law. "This is going to be a very unfortunate measure for small businesses, particularly in a recession, many of whom are using open free Wi-Fi very effectively as a way to get the punters in," said Lilian Edwards of Sheffield University.
I'm sure nobody here minds trading up a few more civil liberties in exchange for giving the folks over at the RIAA a good nights sleep do you?