Breakfast Briefing: spying on social media, MPs’ steamy searches, Spotify for Windows 8
Today’s top tech stories include software that can figure out where you’ve been and where you’re going, what MPs Google when at parliament, Spotify for Windows, and US customs gadget grabs.
Social media spying software revealed
The Guardian has revealed software called Riot from a US firm called Raytheon, which can search through all web content of a person, tracking where they’ve been and guessing where they’ll be.
In a video seen by the newspaper, the software scans through looking for meta data on photographs, specifically looking for location data. “Riot pulls out this information, showing not only the photographs posted onto social networks by individuals, but also the location at which the photographs were taken,” the paper said. “The video shows that Nick, who posts his location regularly on Foursquare, visits a gym frequently at 6am early each week… So if you ever did want to try to get hold of Nick, or maybe get hold of his laptop, you might want to visit the gym at 6am on a Monday.”
MPs using parliament machines for steamy searches
Those dodgy websites that the Daily Mail and certain politicians want to block? Turns out some fairly steamy sites are fabulously popular in parliament, according to a story in – you guessed it – The Mail.
After a freedom of information request into which sites were the most visited by MPs, peers and their staff, The Mail discovered that adult extra-marital dating website Out of Town Affairs had received 52,000 hits in seven months from official machines. “The site had more hits in December from parliamentary computers than the official websites for the Treasury, Ministry of Justice and Department for Education,” the paper points out.
Spotify launched for Windows Phone 8
Microsoft has announced the arrival of the Spotify app in its Windows Phone 8 app store, with a beta version of the streaming app being rolled out. According to the Windows Phone blog, the app is free, and there’s a free trial, after which a $9.99 subscription applies when it is available. “The app is just starting its roll out, so it might take a few more hours before it shows up in search or is available for download where you are,” the company said.
US stands firm on seizing gadgets from travellers
Travelling to the States? Better leave any sensitive company or classified info at home for the near future. Wired reports how a watchdog looking into the consumer rights impact of US border control officials’ “suspicionless seizures of electronic devices” has ruled it’s perfectly legitimate to hold visitor gadgets for 120 days without any apparent reason.
“Imposing a requirement that officers have reasonable suspicion in order to conduct a border search of an electronic device would be operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits,” the watchdog said. The report was, however, put together by the same Department of Homeland Security that is responsible for border controls, so was unlikely to be too hard on its officers.