Posts Tagged: ‘United Kingdom’

The media have been talking about how some rioters in London have been using smartphones and social media sites to coordinate their movements to avoid being caught by the authorities. Zack Whittaker at ZDNet wrote that while some people are using Facebook and Twitter, one of the tools of choice is the BlackBerry Messenger, which encrypts messages so they can’t be read by third parties.

For its part, Research in Motion (RIM), BlackBerry’s parent company, said it would cooperate with the authorities to identify people alleged to have participated in the riots, though according to the BBC the police have to prove they know the identities of the phones’ owners under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act before they can acquire the records, rather than searching messages for people using riot-related keywords in text messages, e-mail and social media posts.

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At Luton’s airport, two new employees will help keep the security lines moving.  They’ll work long shifts and they’ll never get a day off. They won’t earn overtime — or any time at all. They might be the target of snarky comments from passengers, who may say that they lack depth or they’re just two-dimensional characters. Despite the draconian work conditions, you’ll never hear them complain. That’s because they are holograms.

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T-Mobile is the fourth-biggest wireless phone provider in the United States and in the United Kingdom. Recently, however, the company is suffering a string of public relations fiascoes. In the United States, there was the situation in which Sidekick phone users found that their information went missing — it didn’t matter to a lot of people that the hardware on which the data was stored wasn’t owned by T-Mobile, it just mattered that their Sidekicks were T-Mobile phones.

Then the wireless carrier’s network went out. Earlier this month, as Ina Fried wrote, lots of people (myself included) found themselves unable to make calls on their T-Mobile phones on November 3 because of a network outage.

Now from the United Kingdom comes news that a T-Mobile employee allegedly sold personal information on thousands of customers to third parties, according to the BBC and the Guardian. Richard Wray of the Guardian said the data breach was the biggest of its kind to date…

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The United Kingdom Internet service provider (ISP) Virgin Media is partnering with Universal Music and launching a new music service. Most music services online follow one of three models. With the first model, you can listen to streaming music but you can’t download any of the songs (Pandora and The second is that you can purchase music on a per-song (or per-album) basis, download the music and transfer it to whatever device you want (iTunes). The third is that you pay a subscription fee to download as much music as you like but you lose that music if you cancel or fail to renew your subscription (Rhapsody and Napster).

Virgin Media’s new service will allow customers in the UK to access both streaming and downloadable music for a subscription fee. Even if the customer closes his or her account, the music stays put. According to a report by Jake Widman of iTWire, the music will be DRM-free.

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Since 2002, Gary McKinnon has fought extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States to face charges that he infiltrated and manipulated the computer systems of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and NASA. In 2007, British courts denied an appeal. But Jacqui Smith, the home secretary who made that decision, is no longer in office and two other judges are reviewing the decision.

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The BBC reports that the office of the UK Information Commissioner has decided that Google Street View doesn’t violate the Data Protection Act, much to the chagrin of organizations like Privacy International and the residents of Broughton.

Google Street View plots pictures onto a map, allowing you to navigate through a city using digital photos. It’s very useful for people who rely more on landmarks than street names or intersections. When someone tells you you need to turn left at the In-n-Out burger, you can use Street View to locate the burger joint and see exactly where you need to turn.

On a side note: some people have found fun ways to incorporate art projects using Street View. Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley created a cool project called Street With a View. They pre-set several tableaux up and down Sampsonia Way in Pittsburgh as the Google Street View car drove down the road.

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I have a thing for novels set in a dystopian future. Whether it’s Orwell’s “1984,” Huxley’s “Brave New World” or “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess, I just can’t get enough stories about a world in which the government has overstepped its bounds.

I would prefer those worlds to stay within the realm of fiction.

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