News Roundup: Altruistic malware, tech cults and unfriending

A roundup of the week’s tech news including internet everywhere, AI cars and smart piggybanks.

A roundup of the week’s tech news including internet everywhere, AI cars and smart piggybanks.

Internet for all, sponsored by Bono

It’s been a busy week for Facebook. You might have heard that Mark Zuckerberg wants to give everyone in the world access to Facebook the internet. This week he’s furthering that plan by getting an array of celebrities and tech moguls – including U2 frontman Bono, Bill Gates, and more – to join his #ConnectTheWorld campaign . Details are light on what that campaign involves, aside from getting everyone in the world online , but safe to say Facebook and will be involved.

Speaking at the UN as part of the campaign, Zuck said that "A 'like' or a post won't stop a tank or a bullet, but when people are connected, we have a chance to build a common global community with a shared understanding." He also said this week he will be giving refugees internet access to tell loved ones they are safe and working to reduce anti-immigrant posts on his site. He also met with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to talk about getting people online.

Meanwhile, has had a bit of an honest rebrand. The Platform – which allows developers to create services to push out apps – will now called Free Basics by Facebook.


Microsoft has acquired CRM startup Adxstudio, IBM has bought Workday service provider Meteroix, Google/Alphabet/Android has purchased Jibe Mobile, AirBnB has snapped up sensor-making startup Lapka (possibly signalling a move into the smarthome market?), EMC has acqui-hired flash startup Graphite Systems, Cisco now owns security firm Portcullis, Gartner has snaffled Capterra, Barracuda has secured Intronis, and Randstand has paid out for RiseSmart.

EMC won’t be breaking up its federation and selling off its stake in VMWare. “We believe strongly that breaking up is the wrong thing to do,” President David Goulden told Re/Code this week. Meanwhile, a date HP’s hydra-like spilt into two companies has been officially set for November 1st.

Verbatim – hobbies, selfies and cults

Apple is taking the enterprise super seriously, according to CEO Tim Cook. “If you look at the last 12 months [enterprise sales for Apple were] US$25bn,” Cook told Box’s Aaron Levie on stage at the BoxWorks conference. “This is not a hobby. This is real business.”

It might be a real business, but it’s still a beacon for fanatics. “It's a cult. Right? It's so obviously a cult,” said cultural historian professor Erica Robles-Anderson. She claimed that Apple stores create a holy church-like effect. All hail.

If you hate mining, give up your electronics. That’s the message from one Australian senator. “It’s the height of hypocrisy for Green Members of Parliament to steadfastly oppose mining in Australia but continue to use technology that can’t exist without mining products,” said Queensland LNP Senator Matt Canavan. “The Greens might be happy with reverting to something like the fourth millennium BC Sumerian cuneiform writing on clay tablets – though that would still require mining of clay. Would they be alright with that?”

If a monkey takes a selfie, they deserve the proceeds from that image, according to animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). You might remember the story over who owns the rights to a picture a macaque took last year, and the courts decided nobody. But this week PETA filed a lawsuit claiming all proceeds should go to Naruto the monkey. “The act grants copyright to authors of original works, with no limit on species,” claimed PETA lawyer Jeffry Kerr. “Copyright law is clear: It’s not the person who owns the camera, it’s the being who took the photograph.”


The usual dose of NSA & privacy-related headlines

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina couldn’t wait to supply the NSA with HP server. According to Yahoo!, the Republication presidential candidate was approached shortly after the 9/11 attacks by NSA director Michael Hayden and asked “Carly, I need stuff and I need it now.” The servers were reportedly used for the agency’s “Stellar Wind” warrantless surveillance program.

“I felt it was my duty to help, and so we did,” Fiorina said. “They were ramping up a whole set of programs and needed a lot of data crunching capability to try and monitor a whole set of threats. … What I knew at the time was our nation had been attacked.” She also says she advised the NSA to be transparent in its activities in order to reassure people.

-          Ed Snowden joined Twitter. He only follows the NSA.

-          GCHQ tracked pretty much every visible user online. Including your porn habits.

-          Hitachi has gone all Minority Report and says it can predict crimes before they happen.

-          Apparently it was “Love Note Day” this week, so the NSA created security-themed love notes for people.

-          Someone was interviewed about Ed Snowden for The Daily Share, talked about Edward Scissorhands instead.

-          Someone has created altruistic malware that goes around removing malicious viruses from your laptop.

-          Old voters want to hear more about cyber security in political debates – see our recent InfoShot for more politics and security info.

Social media might be a great way to reach out to the unwashed masses, but it can be difficult. Many political types don’t understand the internet very well or are unsure about how to best use social media. Luckily, Twitter has stepped in to give a helping hand. The social network has published a 136-page guide on how elected officials do this whole tweeting thing. Nuggets of information include guides to character limits, selfies, the social etiquette of following, and more.

Android all over

Google this week announced two new Nexus phones and a Pixel tablet, but they weren’t the only company to announce new Android devices.

BlackBerry officially confirmed its terribly-named, Android-based Priv slider phone. "Everybody loves BlackBerry 10, they really do,” said BB CEO John Chen. “But there's not enough apps. If I could put all the apps on BlackBerry 10 then that would be a smashing success. But I can't afford to do that, for all the practical and logistical reasons. So this is the best thing I could do."

Silent Circle has launched the second edition of its privacy-focused Blackphone 2. This super-secure Android phone is now compatible with the Google Play Store and the enterprise-focused Android for Work program.

Fossil has become the latest watchmaker to show off its addition to the smartwatch bandwagon. The Fossil Q comes in three flavours; connected bracelet, hybrid and full digital.

Microsoft has invented DIY Virtual Reality! The Redmond company has shown off screenshots of a cardboard-based piece of headgear that uses the computing capabilities of your smartphone to create immersive 3D experiences…oh wait, didn’t Google and every other company under the sun do this last year?

If you made a list of things that didn’t need making “smart”, what would be on it? Your toaster? Your shoes? How about your piggybank? New Zealand bank ASB has created a digital moneybox for the cashless society. The bright yellow elephant with a digital display (with accompanying mobile app, obviously) displays a child’s bank account balance and will help teach kids about money.