Breakfast Briefing: strange calls for web freedom, Facebook “Likes” everything, Dotcom spying
This morning’s top tech reads includes the UK government telling other countries how to run the web, a double dose of Facebook trouble, not very subtle spying, and Microsoft whacking tablets.
Foreign Secretary calls for web freedom – overseas
Foreign Secretary William Hague was in full flow yesterday, cajoling other governments into treating the internet as a free and open platform, where privacy was key. “We believe that efforts to suppress the internet are wrong and are bound to fail over time,” he told a conference in Budapest.
As blog The Justice Gap noticed, that’s a slightly different approach to some of the moves being deployed back home in the UK, where government-backed plans for greater surveillance are pushing ahead and the Department of Education is still considering a block on adult material unless households request the material.
Facebook thinks you “Like” everything
Facebook is surreptitiously ticking “likes” on users’ behalf, the site admitted, taking a bit of the shine off it reaching the billion user milestone. According to the BBC, merely sending a link to a friend in a private message would be enough to add two “Likes” to a page count.
“Many websites that use Facebook’s ‘like’ or ‘recommend’ buttons also carry a counter next to them,” Facebook said. “This counter reflects the number of times people have clicked those buttons and also the number of times people have shared that page’s link on Facebook… We did recently find a bug with our social plug-ins where at times the count for the Share or Like goes up by two, and we are working on fix to solve the issue now.” This we don’t like.
Kim Dotcom spying revealed by gaming ping times
Kim Dotcom, the New Zealand internet mogul arrested in a dramatic raid earlier this year, realised his internet was being monitored after his Xbox ping times went from 30ms to 180ms, according to a report in a local paper. At the time, Dotcom was trying to become the best in the world at Modern Warfare 3, so he noticed the difference, made a complaint, and his telecoms supplier investigated. Turns out spying on geeks isn’t so easy after all…
Microsoft patent tech for whacking on tablets
Microsoft is looking to control tablets by whacking them, according to a patent application uncovered by Patent Bolt. The technology would be used to control volume during music playback, for example, with, say, a hard whack making the device louder. It’s a simple enough idea, but the company manages to cram the word “whack” into the application 147 times, even going so far as to suggest “a mobile device can detect multiple whacking”, which probably isn’t something recommended for the commute on the Tube.
Facebook passwords for official log-ins
Facebook might be in hot water for not being able to count (see above) but the government is planning on allowing the company to be a trusted partner for signing into official public services.
The Guardian reports that as part of the government’s “identity assurance programme” consumers will be able to use bank log-ins, mobile phone accounts or Facebook details to access online services. Given Facebook’s not been without its privacy problems, it’s not difficult to imagine glitches publishing check-in information from embarrassing clinics.
Microsoft dials up deal for PhoneFactor
Microsoft has bought authentication company PhoneFactor, eager to employ the company’s multi-factor authentication to protect access to business applications. According to the software giant, multi-factor authentication is increasingly important as more people access services in the cloud and on company servers and Microsoft touted PhoneFactor’s convenience as a reason for buying the company.
“PhoneFactor is popular because its solutions interoperate well with Active Directory so users don’t have to learn new passwords and IT administrators and application developers can use infrastructure and services they already know,” Microsoft said in a blog announcing the deal. “Also, perhaps most importantly, PhoneFactor is popular because it conveniently relies on a device that most users already have with them – their phone.”
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