Hello everyone, here’s this week’s roundup of business, tech and creative news from across the Moving World! Many thanks to all who submitted links!
Eight of the worlds largest tech giants (Aol, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo) have written an open letter to the White House seeking surveillance reform. The companies have made their point with five core reform principles.
Speaking “collectively as an industry” on BBC’s Radio 4’s Today Programme, the companies argued that governments need to retain their authority, but this can be done with transparency, privacy and oversight. When asked why they haven’t voiced this argument until now, they said they didn’t know about the full extent of government data tapping until the Washington Post reported it, and that there was “more going on than we were aware”.
Given that the majority of these tech companies are normally bitter rivals, their cooperation suggests that they are serious about the issue – however, there is also a commercial interest. Users are becoming more and more vocal about security, and will vote with their feet if they have to “use technology they can’t trust”. Are we witnessing the libertarian silicon valley finding common ground, or a collective commercial panic? You decide.
Microsoft then saw media interest after many noticed Skype isn’t included in Microsoft’s anti-NSA promises. The service uses advertising and reselling of data to provide a free service for its users, leading to speculation that encryption would lead to a loss of revenue. A Microsoft spokesperson vaguely denied these claims, saying that the announcement does “not exclude” Skype; it just wasn’t mentioned because they didn’t feel the need to mention all products.
Whilst the tech companies grapple with software and communications encryption, developers of the FreeBSD operating system have pointed out that the reliance on random number generators to encrypt data may be fundamentally flawed. Can we trust random to really be random?
The National Library of Norway has begun digitising every book in its collection – to be open for all to search and read online. The country estimates that the archiving process will take at least twenty years. Whilst other countries have funded similar endeavours, Norway has taken the extra step to make deals with publishers – allowing all Norwegian IP addresses to view commercial and copyrighted material.
The move to purely digital content doesn’t come without pitfalls, however. The Internet Archive (a non-profit dedicated to building the largest digital library possible) lost $600,000 worth of equipment in a huge fire (fortunately no data was lost) – and a school principal in Ireland has called their move from books to tablets an “unmitigated disaster”
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