Boom times for surveillance tech

Surveillance has come a long way in the past decade.

Spurred in part by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, surveillance has become a more important method of trying to protect people from terrorist activity, or to root out dissident activity. And there's no shortage of companies looking to supply the gear that can do those jobs.

Some of the tech employed includes tools that allow governments to hack into individuals' cell phones and computers, as well as "massive intercept" equipment that can record all Internet communications in a country, according to documents obtained and cataloged … Read more

Tumblr users fight SOPA with 87,834 calls to Congress

Tumblr users have come out in full force against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the microblogging service announced yesterday.

Earlier this week, Tumblr set up a page where its users could sign up and receive a phone call from the company with talking points about SOPA. From there, the company connected users with their U.S. representatives to voice concerns about the bill.

All told, Tumblr said yesterday, 87,834 calls were placed to representatives. The average call lasted 53 seconds, while the longest came in at 31 minutes, the company said. A total of 1,293 total hours … Read more

White House: There is no evidence aliens exist--yet

What if it's just us? What if this is all there is?

The clocks going back stimulated me to this thought. Then, grabbing my laptop from beneath my 1,200-thread sheet duvet cover, I discovered that the White House might think the same.

You see, the president's "We The People" initiative, which allows groups to ask specific questions of the government and get a response, received a couple of queries about alien life, existence beyond here, and little green people with strange antennae coming out of their heads.

Naturally, interested entities were highly expectant for a … Read more

Google: Governments seek more about you than ever

A new report from Google shows a rise in government requests for user account data and content removal, including a request by one unnamed law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality--which the company refused.

The latest Google Transparency Report, released today, also shows historic traffic patterns on Google services via graphs with spikes and drops indicating outages that, in some cases, indicate attempts by governments to block access to Google or the Internet. For instance, all Google servers were inaccessible in Libya during the first six months of this year, as was YouTube in China.

But the … Read more

U.K. ISPs to make customers opt-in for pornography

Four prominent Internet Service Providers in the U.K. will require customers to opt in if they want to view pornography, according to a new report.

According to the Guardian, Prime Minister David Cameron later today will unveil the details of the plan, which will prevent customers of ISPs BT, Sky, TalkTalk, and Virgin to access pornographic Web sites without first opting in.

Although full details on how users will be asked to opt in and whether they'll need to do it once or every time they access a site is unknown at this point, in a follow-up report, … Read more

Solyndra CFO won't say if solar maker to stay in U.S.


The chief financial officer of bankrupt startup Solyndra, which had ramped up its operations after getting a government loan for solar companies, declined to say yesterday if potential buyers would keep its business in the United States.

Under questioning at a bankruptcy court hearing from a government attorney, CFO W.G. Stover declined to identify either of the two companies that have shown an interest in Solyndra's operations, or even where they were based.

Asked if the potential buyers might move Solyndra's unique solar cylinder business overseas, Stover would only say doing so would increase the cost to … Read more

Comodohacker returns in DigiNotar incident

A hacker known as Comodohacker has taken responsibility for the recent attack against Dutch certificate authority DigiNotar and is now threatening to release fake security certificates for other companies that he has hacked.

Beyond issuing a phony certificate for, DigiNotar has admitted that the attack actually caused the company to issue more than 500 fake Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates for a variety of major organizations, including the CIA, MI6, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype, and Twitter.

SSL certificates are used to authenticate secure Web sites to ensure that users are connecting to the intended site. Faked certificates are especially … Read more

Apple has more money than Uncle Sam

During these lonely nights of wondering what will happen to America's vast indebtedness, I am sure that several of you have been wishing that Steve Jobs would sort out this mess.

It seems clear that he might be very direct, tell everyone just how it's going to be and even ensure that the economy doesn't merely function, but also looks good.

You might think I am not being serious. But consider that, thanks to my regular reading of the Financial Post, you might now learn that Apple has more cash than the U.S. government.

The U.S Treasury told the world on Thursday that it has $73.768 billion stashed away in various shoes and socks. Apple, on the other hand, in its latest and most fascinating quarterly earnings disgorgement, casually mentioned that it has $75.876 billion lying around.

I am not entirely sure how these figures compare with, for example, the Mafia. However, it seems that Google, which seems like the ultimate cash business, merely has $39.1 billion to spend on, um, new ideas about social networking.

Microsoft used to have more than that. At the end of 2010, its nest egg seems to have numbered $40.23 billion. But its $8.5 billion emotional commitment to Skype may have cut into that.

I am told that the U.S. government's figure is a little less descriptive than Apple's. After all, the government can just print some more dollars using old machines whenever it feels like it. Apple has to make new machines in order to add to its coffers.… Read more

Quid pros land $10 million in funding

New Zealander and former decathlete Sean Gourley says it's only a matter of time before his company Quid will know more than the United States government. "How much is information worth?" he asked rhetorically during at a recent lunch meeting with CNET, as he showed off Quid's software that uses data, math, and visualizations to help clients make billion-dollar decisions.

Based on today's news from the company, the answer to Gourley's question is "a lot." Quid announced it has secured $10 million in series C funding from some heavyweights in the Silicon … Read more

PlayBook certified for U.S. government

It may not be good enough for the likes of AT&T or Verizon Wireless, but the U.S. government is giving a thumbs-up to Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

RIM said today that its PlayBook has received Federal Information Processing Standard certification, which means it can be deployed within U.S. federal government agencies. RIM said no other tablet on the market has gained certification from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, including Apple's smash-hit iPad.

"This certification demonstrates our continued commitment to meeting the needs of security-conscious organizations and enables the U.… Read more