Business

eBay, Carl Icahn butt heads over Skype sale

eBay and activitist investor Carl Icahn continue to duke it out in public with their latest tit-for-tat focused on the purchase and sale of Skype.

In an open letter to investors posted Monday, Icahn lashed out at eBay and board member Marc Andreessen for their mishandling of Skype. eBay bought the video chat service in 2005 only to divest it in 2009 to an investor group that included Andreessen's venture capital firm.

Icahn has accused Andreessen of a conflict of interest over the deal, challenging his claim that he recuses himself from any board discussions that involve companies backed … Read more

Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker friends Silicon Valley

The US Department of Commerce wants to friend Silicon Valley. That's the message from Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who made her first official visit this week to what she called a "place of majestic beauty" and a "dynamic and innovative ecosystem that is envied not just across the United States but throughout the world."

Pritzker met with Silicon Valley executives from Facebook, Google, and eBay, and with startup entrepreneurs. "With the country moving at warp speed toward the 'Internet of Everything,' our goal at the Department of Commerce as a service organization is … Read more

Sen. Manchin demands complete US ban on Bitcoin

A US senator is asking the federal government to take this remarkable step: completely ban Bitcoin.

Joe Manchin, a Democratic senator representing West Virginia, sent a letter Wednesday to the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, and other regulators characterizing the virtual currency as encouraging "illicit activity" as well as being "highly unstable and disruptive to our economy."

Manchin, who is a member of the Senate banking committee, suggested in the letter -- titled "Manchin Demands Federal Regulators Ban Bitcoin" -- that a complete prohibition was appropriate because Thailand, China, and South Korea have already … Read more

Court: Workers can sue Apple, Google, others in wage dispute

Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel, and other companies will have to battle a class action lawsuit from around 60,000 disgruntled workers.

Late Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld last October's ruling by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh that paved the way for a lawsuit against companies accused of conspiring to fix wages by agreeing not to poach employees. The appeals court's decision affirms the right of the workers to pursue their lawsuit as a group, according to Reuters.

If successful, a class action lawsuit can saddle the defendants with a higher penalty than … Read more

Apple supplier under scrutiny following worker deaths

The death of a 15-year-old factory employee has intensified fears about poor working conditions at Apple supplier Pegatron.

Shi Zhaokun had worked at a Pegatron factory that makes Apple's iPhone 5C. On October 9, Shi died of pneumonia shortly after being admitted to a hospital. His ID said he was 20, but in actuality he was only 15, according to The New York Times.

A spokeswoman for Pegatron told the Times that Shi's death was not related to the workplace environment. The boy's uncle said he was in good health and had just passed a physical on … Read more

Apple, Samsung supplier abuses workers' rights, group claims

Screen supplier Biel Crystal Manufactory has been accused of violating workers' rights within its Chinese factories.

The manufacturer, which supplies iPhone screens to tech giant Apple, allegedly abuses its workers in a number of ways. According to a report by the Students Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), employees are forced to work 11-hour shifts with only a single day off each month.

SACOM's research was conducted through 60 off-site interviews and an undercover investigation. Biel Crystal Manufactory, one of the largest producers of glass for mobile devices in the world, accounts for 60 percent of Apple's glass supply … Read more

Bitcoin mining dispute ends with $1M settlement

A company accused of submitting its unaware customers to a Bitcoin mining army has settled with a New Jersey's attorney and will pay a settlement of $1 million.

Online video game company E-Sports Entertainment has been accused of infecting thousands of computers belonging to customers to illegally mine Bitcoins.

E-Sports was established in 2006 and charges subscribers $6.95 per month for its game subscription service. Malware was injected within users' computers through software that was necessary to play games through the subscription service. Once downloaded and installed, the digital currency was mined without user consent.

Court documents state … Read more

CNET hosting Lavabit's Ladar Levison tonight: Join us!

You're invited to join CNET at our headquarters in downtown San Francisco tonight to meet Ladar Levison, who created the Lavabit e-mail service that's now at the center of a high-profile lawsuit over government surveillance and Americans' privacy rights. Please RSVP if you're able to come.

Levison, who pulled the plug on Lavabit to avoid becoming "complicit in crimes against the American people," has graciously agreed to join us to talk about his lawsuit pitting him against the US government. Lavabit's e-mail services were used by Edward Snowden, the source of leaks that have … Read more

Silent Circle: NIST encryption standards untrustworthy

The National Security Agency's apparent attempts to weaken encryption technology has led a private-communication startup to move away from encryption algorithms from the US government's National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Silent Circle co-founder Jon Callas called NIST encryption experts "victims of the NSA's perfidy" in a blog post Monday and said the company will move away from using encryption standards that NIST helped create. The standards will still be available, but not by default, he said.

"At Silent Circle, we've been deciding what to do about the whole grand issue of whether … Read more

How NSA snooping secures profits for famed privacy pro (Q&A)

In a double dose of irony, the National Security Agency's prying has given a big helping hand to Phil Zimmermann's business, Silent Circle.

The first irony is that Zimmermann was the very person the US federal government fought with in the 1990s over the release of the software called PGP, short for Pretty Good Privacy, which made encryption much easier to use. The second irony is that he's now president and co-founder of Silent Circle, a company that seeks to profit from making it harder for the NSA or anybody else to find out what people are … Read more