Google Honors Safer Internet Day with Gmail Security Changes
In honor of Safer Internet Day, which fell on Tuesday, tech giant Google revealed changes to its Gmail service. The changes were designed to warn users when an email they receive is sent over an unsecured connection or are not secure. The company began talking about these changes about a year ago, and has now enacted them on the Gmail service, which it reports just surpassed one billion active users. In addition to flagging emails that are sent over unsecured networks, Gmail will also warn users that send those emails over unsecure networks. Users will be alerted by an open-lock icon in the top-right corner of their browser when they either receive or send over unsecure networks.
Facebook's Privacy Woes Continue as French Authorities Issue Warning
Social media giant Facebook is under scrutiny in Europe yet again as the French data protection authority, known as the CNIL, has ordered the company to get its house in order. The regulator has given Facebook three months to comply with its orders to avoid charges, but warned that failure to do so would mean possible sanctions for the firm. Facebook has yet to comment publicly on the CNIL order, but confirmed that it has received it and is in the process of reviewing it. In a statement, the company claimed: "We are confident that we comply with European Data Protection law and look forward to engaging with the CNIL to respond to their concerns."
Twitter Increases Campaign to Rid Network of ISIS
Twitter revealed Friday that it has increased its efforts to stop ISIS-related activity on the social network by suspending suspected terrorists' accounts and hiring staff to monitor the network for terrorist activity. In a blog post, the San Francisco-based social media giant claimed it has supended more than 125,000 accounts over the past seven months for threatening or promoting terrorist acts or agendas. Most of the suspended accounts, the company added, belonged to persons suspected of belonging to, or supporting, ISIS. "We condemn the use of Twitter to promote terrorism," the post declared, “As the nature of the terrorist threat has changed, so has our ongoing work in this area.” Cyber-security experts in recent months have expressed alarm at the ease in which ISIS and other terror groups have used social media to lure disillusioned people, even Americans and Europeans, to join their cause.
FAA Passes Drone Registration Requirements before X-Mas Rush
Americans receiving a drone as a Christmas gift this year will be required to register the unmanned aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration after the agency quietly passed new ruled governing drones earlier this week. The rules are in response to growing safety concerns as more and more drones are used across the country and a number of accidents involving remote controlled aircraft are reported. Insiders estimate that some 700,000 drones will be purchased during the holiday shopping period, prompting regulators to act quickly to establish a database of drone operators. Drone owners will be required to submit their name, home address and email address to the FAA, in an initiative that regulators hope will make drone owners fly more responsibly.
Norwegian Man Turned $26 Into $886k with Bitcoin Investment
Thanks to the unprecedented growth in the value of bitcoins, Norwegian Kristoffer Koch discovered in 2013 that he had turned a $26 investment in bitcoins into an $886,000 windfall. While working on a thesis on encryption technologies in 2009, Koch purchased 5,000 bitcoins for 150 kroner $26.60). The busy scholar says he completely forgot about the investment until, in April 2013, media began covering the digital currency. Koch remembered the password to his bitcoin account, and discovered that the 5,000 bitcoins were now worth about 5 million kroner ($$886,000). Koch's timing couldn't have been better, as the value of bitcoins peaked that month at about $266 each. The value plummeted not long after that, reaching an all-time low of $50. Koch exchanged one-fifth of the stash and bought an apartment in trendy Toyen, an upscale neighborhood in Oslo.
Mozilla Shutters Firefox Mobile OS Business
Mozilla confirmed Tuesday that it is halting development of the Firefox Operating System, tabling nearly four years of development on a browser-based mobile operating system. "Firefox OS proved the flexibility of the Web, scaling from low-end smartphones all the way up to HD TVs. However, we weren't able to offer the best user experience possible and so we will stop offering Firefox OS smartphones through carrier channels," read an email statement from Denelle Dixon-Thayer, Mozilla's chief legal and business officer. The executive also noted that Mozilla will continue to “experiment with the user experience across connected devices”, as a way to continue the progress made with the Firefox OS.
Apple Plans for Pay TV Service Placed On Hold
Apple is putting its plan to launch a pay TV service on hold, according to multiple reports. The plan was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in March, with an initial launch date in September, to coincide with the release of the Apple TV smart television. According to reports, Apple encountered difficulty signing agreements with content providers and will table the idea for now. Apple had intended to offer a service for between $30 to $40 per month, prompting skepticism from other pay TV providers that charge more than twice that for basic packages. The company also wanted to include local stations in the service, but found out quickly that acquiring local content can be costly because many local stations are franchised or owned through an affiliate system. A spokesman for Apple declined to comment on whether the pay TV service was being shelved temporarily or canceled altogether.
Activision Blizzard Acquires King Digital
Activision Blizzard revealed Thursday it has agreed to acquire King Digital Entertainment, the Irish based maker of Candy Crush Saga, for the tidy sum of $5.9 billion. The purchase price works out to just about $18.00 per share, or a 20 percent premium over King Digital's closing price on Wednesday. The deal has already been approved by the board of directors at each company, but King Digital shareholders must still approve the sale. The deal must also gain approval of Irish regulators before the deal is finalized, which the companies hope to occur by next spring.
Groupon to Cut 1,100 Jobs, Shutter 7 International Offices
Groupon once turned down a multi-billion dollar buyout offer from tech giant Google, but the company probably wishes it had another chance at the offer based on recent performance. The formerly promising tech firm revealed Tuesday that it will reduce its workforce by 10 percent and shut down operations in seven countries, laying off some 1,100 workers in the process. The announcement came via a blog post on Tuesday from the company's COO, Rich Williams. According to the post, jobs to be cut include customer service and international sales positions. Having already closed operations in Greece and Turkey, the company will now shutter offices in Morocco, Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Thailand, and Uruguay, Williams said.
Microsoft Discourages Use of Chrome & Firefox
Microsoft is using its new Windows 10 operating system to try and dissuade users from opting for Google's Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox web browsers. When searching on the company's new Edge browser for either Firefox or Chrome, Windows 10 users see an ominous message saying: “Microsoft recommends Microsoft Edge for Windows 10,” with a “Learn Why” button next to it. Clicking the button brings up a Microsoft web page that shows off all the features of Edge. A spokesman for Microsoft noted that Edge was designed specifically for Windows 10, and the notifications are to alert people to all the browser's features, but also explained that users can still choose whatever default browser they want.