News Roundup: UK elections, Carly confirms and scary headlines

A roundup of the week’s tech news including “A Digital Single Market for Europe” and illegal spying.

UK Election: Five more years

So despite being the most-polled election in the country’s history, the pollsters [and anyone tracking social media] got it completely wrong. David Cameron’s Conservatives are in power for another five years, this time without needing a coalition. As we said last week, the Tories’ main tech policies revolve around broadband, more cash for driverless cars, nanotech, 5G and the IoT. Considering the coalition kept the majority of its tech-based pledges during the last government, there’s little to suggest they won’t come good on their promises this time round. Also expect a new Snooper’s Charter to be put through parliament. It’s unclear what will happen to #EdBallsDay.

Carly confirms

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina has confirmed that she is running for the Republican nomination for next year’s presidential elections. “I am running for President,” she Tweeted, followed by an interview on ABC where she said “I think I'm the best person for the job because I understand how the economy actually works. I understand the world; who's in it.” Aside from defending her time at HP and taking to livestreaming app Periscope for a Q&A, the only female republican candidate officially running was at TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY, where she claimed “85 to 95% of what people spend doing on their technology today is pretty superficial and useless.” As if to hammer home this point, carlyfiorina.org was registered by someone clearly not happy with her record, the page simply had 30,000 sad faces; one for each of the people she laid off during her time as CEO.

EU goes all digital

The European Union has revealed its 16-point plan to create “A Digital Single Market for Europe.” In an effort to get more small businesses selling across their own borders and giving consumers a better deal, the EU plans to remove digital barriers between countries. This means no geo-blocking, more anti-trust inquiries into big US companies, updating copyright, and reviewing privacy & security rules.


In response the net neutrality arguments, Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org has opened up the platform to more apps and websites, but only under certain conditions. Developers can submit apps to the free service only if they come without JavaScript, SSL, IFrames, video, Flash, and Java. In an interview with Scroll.in, Facebook's VP for Internet.org Chris Daniels claimed the controversy in India was “interesting feedback” that “accelerated plans” to provide more services. 


The ever-maverick John McAfee still feels like he’s on the run. “I have friends here in Lexington,” he told the Guardian. “This is a beautiful small town. Neighborly. But yes indeed – bad people are still after me.”

There were quite a few people unhappy with U2 forcing their way on the world’s iTunes catalogue last year. One Russian party member was so incensed by the album’s cover that he has reportedly asked the country’s Attorney General to investigate Apple for distributing “gay propaganda” to minors. “I, like many citizens of the Russian Federation, am the owner of an iPhone,” said Alexander Starovoytov, a member of the Russian parliament. “In 2014, my iTunes application downloaded songs by U2, where the cover of the album shows a group of two men, in my view, depicting a non-traditional sexual relationship.”

Peter Theil, the tech-libertarian who wants to create a floating tech-utopia, isn’t a fan of politicians. “I aspire to be a political atheist,” he said while speaking in the UK last week. “I don’t think we should place too much hope in our political leaders. A lot of it seems to resemble World Wide Wrestling with the difference that the wrestlers know it’s all fake.”

Don’t upset the internet. It’s a simple rule but Valve had to learn it the hard way. “Pissing off the Internet costs you a million bucks in just a couple of days,” wrote Valve CEO Gabe Newell in a Reddit post, referring to the backlash over paid mods for the game, Skyrim.

Opening yourself up for criticism online is a dangerous gamble, especially for political leaders. But Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong did just that after putting some code he wrote on Facebook. The Sudoku solver, written in C++ several years ago, was made available via Google for anyone who wanted it. Perhaps all the world’s leaders should be forced to code at a basic level then put it online.


The value of Mobile Internet Unicorns now have a global value of $575 billion.

We’re seemingly no closer to uncovering the truth behind Saleforce’s potential buyer. Those ever-reliable “sources” claimed Microsoft was the company looking to spend $50 billion for Marc Benioff & Co, only for other “sources” to claim the Redmond company wasn’t interested. Either way there’s been no actual statement from Microsoft. SAP however, have ruled themselves out, with CEO Bill McDermott saying his company has “zero interest” in acquiring Salesforce.

Nokia’s HERE maps is going through a similar parade at the minute. Uber has been touted as a potential buyer, along with a conglomerate of German car makers including BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. It might all be waste of time though after Nokia Chairman Risto Siilasmaa said he might not sell the maps division to anyone.

Google has acquired calendar app Timeful, Cisco has bought Cloud-based API platform Tropo, Microsoft has “acquired advanced digital pen technology” from N-trig, AVG has purchased VPN firm Privax, App Annie now owns analytics firm Mobidia, and Ciena has got its hand on Cyan.

Intel is reportedly still interested in acquiring Altera but is waiting until June to make a move, while news app Circa is up for sale and getting the eyes from Twitter.

HP is suing Autonomy, and claims the latter’s revenues were falsely inflated for three years; by 24.7% in 2009, by 38% in 2010 and by 36% in 2011. Former Autonomy chief executive Mike Lynch said HP was looking for a “scapegoat.” It’s all very messy.


The usual dose of NSA-related headlines.

-          The NSA’s bulk phone collection has been ruled illegal by the courts. Kim Dotcom was happy about it, John McCain (“People seem to have forgotten 9/11”) and others were not

-          The results echoed Congressman Ted Lieu’s advice on the whole thing: “just follow the damn Constitution”

-          The news hasn’t stopped the leaks revealing father titbits though: the NSA has been using voice to text tech to transcribe your calls

-          Fallout from German/NSA cooperation continues: A German MEP is very upset, the BND has reportedly deleted 12,000 NSA spying requests, and the cooperation has now apparently come to an end

-          Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf says backdoors are “Super, super risky

-          Internet kill-switches violate human rights, according to a group of human rights experts

-          Some researchers have compiled a list of 27,000 intelligence officers they say are working on surveillance programs

Microsoft, Apple, Google

Some headlines from the biggest tech companies in the world (because it’s hard to avoid them)…

Some of the press were allowed to have a go on Microsoft’s new HoloLens, and the results were underwhelming. The Reg was especially unkind and called the whole a gimmick, while PC World was kinder but made it clear the technology is still way off the polished demos we saw at MS Build. The logic behind Microsoft skipping Windows 9 may have been explained this week; various staff at the Build conference wore t-shirts with logos made up of binary code, and once translated it read “Windows 10, because 7 8 9.” In other news, Cortana has been ported to Android by a group of hackers and renamed Portana.

Apple has confirmed that tattoos don’t combine well with the Apple Watch and may give you a rash, while Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has confirmed he hasn’t combined well with the Apple Watch but didn’t mention anything about a rash.

Google has followed in the footsteps of Intel and dedicated a stack of cash to increasing diversity within the company. After spending $115 million on diversity initiatives last year, the company plans to spend $150 million in 2015. The next generation of Google Glass could be a bit of a looker; a new patent awarded to the search giant shows a more rounded and stylish looking bit of gear than the current model. Also Nest founder Tony Fadell, who is in charge of the Glass project, is a big fan of watches, just not Apple-branded ones.

“Internet Sucks Up All UK’s Power”

In a serious case of the scaremongering headline, we’re running out of internet in the UK!!!! According to the Sunday Times, Andrew Ellis, professor of optical communications at Aston University will tell the Royal Society that the UK won’t be able to keep up with the power and capacity current intergrowth demands. “The internet is already consuming at least 8% of Britain’s power output, equivalent to the output of three nuclear power stations, and demand is soaring,” he said. “It is growing so fast, currently at an exponential rate, that, in theory, it could be using all the UK power generation by 2035. We cannot make all that extra power, so we will have to restrict or reduce access, perhaps by metering consumers so they pay for what they use.”


« I'm under surveillance — by my watch


Rant: Farewell then UK politicians, even though you did nothing »
Dan Swinhoe

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

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