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News Roundup: Politi-Tech, CV Lies and McWearables

A roundup of the week’s tech news including Milky Clouds, M&A Rumours and Tech Bans.

Lies and Wages

Tech companies are some of the most in-demand employers in the world, so much so that at Google you only have a 0.2% chance of actually getting a job there. It’s probably not surprising then to learn that one in three job hunters in the UK tech industry tell porky pies on their CVs. A survey by First Advantage found discrepancies around the when, what and where’s of studies and qualifications.

It’s hard to blame them though: GigaOm data shows plenty of software engineers make more than $100,000 a year, and people will do almost anything when there’s money involved. For example, the California-based Electronics For Imaging was just fined by the US Labor Department for flying IT technicians over from India and mistreating them. As well as working over 100 hours a week, the employees were paid their usual salary in rupees, equivalent to just $1.21 an hour. They have since been remunerated properly.

Meanwhile tech companies in China are reportedly planning to raid the Taiwanese semiconductor industry for talent by offering five times their current salaries. I imagine it’s kind of hard to say no to those kinds of figures.

Internet Tax and China Bans

Hungary, a country not known for its tech prowess, is planning to hamper the industry even further by imposing an Internet Tax. Under the plan, internet providers would pay a tax of 150 forints (60 cents) per gigabyte of data traffic: which would have generated more than $700 million in 2013. EU digital chief Neelie Kroes took a dim view of the idea; "Unilateral internet taxes are not a clever idea. It will increase internet access prices for consumers."

Meanwhile the distrust between tech companies in the east and west continue to fester. According to Business Weekly, UK companies are being warned off working with companies such as Huawei or ZTE by their US partners. “Our American customers have made it clear to us that we cannot deal with Huawei or ZTE if we want to keep dealing with them – full stop,” an anonymous CEO said. “Even if no official ban is being vocalised they have been given to believe they could lose US government business if they do deal with ZTE or Huawei.” A second CEO agreed, saying; “Basically we have been told - if it’s Huawei it’s the highway for you.”

Tech Donations & Lobbying

We here at IDG Connect have done a fair few pieces on the growing intertwining on Tech & politics, and lately there’s been plenty of new data showing that trend is continuing.

The FT this week revealed that Google has overtaken Goldman Sachs in this year’s US political donations, while data from Crowdpac exploring which way Google and other Silicon Valley companies have been donation over the last 10 years. Unsurprisingly there’s a very strong left-bias running through every company featured: Twitter was 100% according to the data, while Intel was the closest to being right-wing with only most of its donations going to the Democrats.

The latest data on US Tech lobbying is in, and the numbers just keep getting bigger. Google spent $3.94 million and saw its figure for the year up to $13 million, only just short of the $14.1 million it spent in 2013. Facebook spent $2.45 million, meaning the company has already surpassed the $6.4 million the social network spent last year. Although some of the bigger enterprise tech companies such as IBM and Cisco saw their spending decline compared to last year, there were plenty ramping up the lobbying efforts including Apple, Amazon and Dell.

Also available is the data for Tech lobbying in the European Union. Microsoft and Huawei were the biggest spenders, with €4.5-4.75 million and €3 million respectively, but compared to the US the figures are tiny. Where Google spent €11.1 million on US lobbying last year, it spent just €1.25-1.5 million on the EU. The top 10 tech lobbyers spent around €16,500,000 in Europe in 2013, but in the US the equivalent figure was closer to €53,000,000. In fact, of all the tech companies featured on this list, only Huawei and Symantec actually spent more in Europe than in the US.

NSA

The usual dose of NSA headlines

-          Outgoing GCHQ director Iain Lobban thinks his staff were “the embodiment of British values” and would sooner walk out the door than be involved in anything remotely resembling ‘mass surveillance’.”

-          Snowden Documentary maker Laura Poitras thinks “Facebook is a gift to intelligence agencies.”

-          People in the US are more afraid of companies spying on them than the government.

-          Facebook wasn’t happy about the DEA using fake accounts on its site, and neither was Senator Patrick Leahy.

-          One lawyer is suing President Obama over all the spying.

Verbatim – Royal Tweets, Milky Clouds and HP vs Glass

We here at IDG Connect run a (semi) regular series asking politicians about techy stuff and how tech savvy they think they are. There’s still lots of politicians to ask, but it looks like Lady O’Cathain has already shown she need a bit of help. While chairing a meeting exploring the privacy implications of personal drones, she basically admitted she had only just discovered Google Maps. “I was horrified the other day when I was giving a certain website to look at. I could see the roses in my garden,” she said. “It was on a Google map or something, and I have no idea how it was taken. It was taken from up there. Obviously it was not a large aircraft, but this is happening. It did not fill me with a sense of security.”

Meanwhile the European Union's new digital commissioner Gunther Oettinger has been showing off about his tech skills. "I go online every day," he boasted. "Sometimes I even put my own appointments into the calendar using my iPhone.” His predecessor Neelie Kroes had words of warning with her parting speech. “I am very worried that Europe is missing large parts of the digital opportunity,” she said. “I am worried that Europe will continue to stagnate, that we will look at success stories but let them pass by.”

Does wearable tech turn the ladies off? It seems some at HP think so. Ray Edwards, managing director for HP’s New Ventures division, had some choice words for Google’s smart glasses. “When you look at the appeal of Google Glass…would you wear it on a date?” He asked. “Probably not. And, if you did, you probably wouldn’t get a second date.”

Billionaire investor Mark Cuban has some harsh comments when asked about IBM. “IBM is no longer a tech company,” he told CNBC. “They are an amalgamation of different companies that they are trying to arbitrage on Wall Street. They have no vision…Who is IBM anymore?”

Bono has again been talking about giving anyone with an iTunes account a free copy of his new album, saying he didn’t know it would automatically download. "It's like we put a bottle of milk in people's fridge that they weren't asking for," he told Rolling Stone. The U2 frontman called it ‘a gross invasion’ and ‘an accident’. “The milk was supposed to be in the cloud. It was supposed to be on the front doorstep." To be honest, people probably would have appreciated a nice cold glass of milk more.

Mark Zuckerberg has learnt another language. Good for him.

Also, the Queen sent her first Tweet. It’s nice to see the older generation embracing new technology.

Buy My Company, We’ll Pay You

Many of the big enterprise tech companies are struggling, but how bad do things have to be when you’re paying companies to take business units off your hands? But that’s exactly what IBM has done; Big Blue will pay Globalfoundries $1.5 billion to take its loss-making semiconductor unit.

This week has seen Google acquire cloud database company Firebase while its Deepmind unit has acqui-hired the brains behind Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory. Citrix has acquired RightSignature,  Progress Software is buying Telerik, Good Technology has got its hands on Macheen, Vox Telecom has snapped up Two IT and Computer Initiative (CI), Life360 now owns HelloWorld and Empired has paid out for New Zealand-based Intergen. Elsewhere BAE Systems now owns email and network security specialists SilverSky and Skyscanner has bought mobile developer Distinction.

In the rumours section, Lenovo are reportedly making moves to buy out BlackBerry again, EMC is rumoured to be acquiring Maginatics and Yahoo! is apparently interested in video-tech company BrightRoll.

McWearables

According to Juniper Research, more than 100 million smartwatches will be in use worldwide by 2019. But they might not all be from your Apples or Samsungs of the world. When asked in a PwC study how excited they’d be to experience a wearable technology product from a particular brand, over a quarter of people said they’d be excited about a product from Starbucks or Coca-Cola, and almost 20% said they would be interested in wearable tech from McDonalds.

Other data in the study said over a third of people don’t think they would ever use any wearable tech, while those that do often lose interest within a year,  backing up our graphic about Goldfish surviving longer than people’s interest in the devices. So there’s an industry McDonalds and Coke should get into: pets.


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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