Mark Wilson

Facebook rides roughshod over privacy laws

Facebook rides roughshod over privacy laws

Facebook and privacy are not words that generally belong in the same sentence, but a Belgian watchdog has expressed surprise at just how little regard for European law the social network shows. The Privacy Protection Commission says "Facebook tramples on European and Belgian privacy laws", and warns users to take action.

Mark Zuckerberg's site is accused to tracking users even if they are not logged into a Facebook account, and sidestepping questions from European regulators. Although the Privacy Protection Commission is not able to impose fines for failure to abide by European law, it is in a position to offer advice -- and the advice to people is to use software to block Facebook's tracking regardless of whether they use the site or not.

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European telecom firms may block all mobile ads, spelling trouble for Google

European telecom firms may block all mobile ads, spelling trouble for Google

Google is facing something of a European revolution as mobile companies consider blocking ads on a massive scale. Israeli company Shine has developed software that blocks mobile ads, and it has gained the attention and support of a number of telecom companies in Europe.

Talking to the Financial Times, one wireless carrier said that the software had been installed at its data centers and could be enabled by the end of the year. With the potential to automatically block most ads on web pages and within apps, the repercussion of the ad boycott could be huge as mobile providers try to wrestle control from the likes of Google.

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Bing follows Google's lead in favoring mobile-friendly sites in search results

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Last month Google announced a series of changes to the way it handled search results on mobile devices, and now Microsoft is following suit. Now there is a focus on promoting those sites that are optimized for viewing on a smaller screen. Microsoft said six months ago that it would start to push mobile-friendly sites, and today this plan is being put into action.

The project started off by simply highlighting mobile-friendly sites to aid identification, but now they will be promoted further up search rankings. If there are two sites rated equally highly for their content, the one which is considered most suitable for viewing on a mobile device will appear higher in results when a search is conducted from a mobile device.

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Microsoft brings searchable handwriting and Apple Watch support to OneNote

Microsoft brings searchable handwriting and Apple Watch support to OneNote

The latest update to OneNote sees the addition of support for Apple Watch as well as the ability to search through handwritten notes. Thanks to handwriting recognition, it is possible to perform a search that looks through not only typed notes, but also those that have been written with a stylus.

The feature is available in the mobile and desktop versions of the app, and Microsoft says that any new handwritten notes that are saved to OneDrive will be automatically rendered searchable in a few moments. Over the coming weeks older handwritten notes will be indexed in the same way so they can also be searched.

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It's far too easy to steal an Apple Watch

It's far too easy to steal an Apple Watch

The problem with a lot of technology is that it acts as a beacon to thieves. Use a phone or tablet in public and you run the risk of having it swiped from under your nose. To overcome this, Apple and Google have built in security features that make it possible to render useless iPhones, iPads and Android devices. The same, however, cannot be said of the Apple Watch.

While the Apple Watch does feature a passcode system that is used as a locking mechanism when the wearable is removed from the wrist, it is incredibly easy to bypass. A thief can grab a Watch, factory reset it and pair it with their own iPhone. The risk of arrest aside -- and, you know, morals -- there is no deterrent to helping oneself to a Watch and claiming it as your own.

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Leading academics call for greater transparency about Google's Right To Be Forgotten

Leading academics call for greater transparency about Google's Right To Be Forgotten

Just yesterday Google revealed that it rejects most Right To Be Forgotten requests it receives. In publishing yet another transparency report, the search giant will have hoped to have put to bed any questions that users and critics may have had. While the report may have satisfied some, it did not go anywhere near far enough for one group of academics.

A total of 80 university professors, law experts and technology professionals have written an open letter to Google demanding greater transparency. The letter calls upon the company to reveal more about how Right To Be Forgotten requests are handled so that the public is aware of the control that is being exerted over "readily accessible information".

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Google stops developers and Mac users installing unofficial Chrome extensions

Google stops developers and Mac users installing unofficial Chrome extensions

Google is extending its block on unofficial Chrome extensions to the developer channel and Mac users. The move is a continuation of the decision taken last year that forced people using the stable and beta channels of the Windows version of the browser to stick with official extensions.

It is a decision which aims to stop people from installing malicious add-ons; Google has previously been criticized for failing to clear out junk quickly enough. With immediate effect, those on the developer channel will have to install extensions from the Store, and the policy will be applied to the Mac version of Chrome in a few weeks. All is not lost for anyone who wants to install unofficial extensions, though.

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Google rejects most Right To Be Forgotten requests

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One year ago, a European court ruled that Google should comply with requests from individuals to remove certain results from search results; it became known as the Right To Be Forgotten. Twelve months after the initial ruling, Google has published a new transparency report that shows it rejects more requests than it complies with.

The Right To Be Forgotten stemmed from a case brought by Spaniard Mario Costeja González who wanted Google to remove search results that pointed to online articles about his home being repossessed. There then followed an influx of requests after Google set up an online form to provide individuals with an easy way to get in touch.

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International access to BBC iPlayer ends in two weeks

International access to BBC iPlayer ends in two weeks

The BBC has announced that access to its iPlayer service from outside of the UK is to end from 26 May. Originally only made available to those living in the UK, the international version of iPlayer provided access to a selection of its content for a monthly subscription.

Those with a subscription have a month to access the content they have paid for, so the final date that iPlayer can be used will actually be 26 June. The timing of the BBC's announcement is interesting, coming just a week after the European Commission revealed plans to break down the barriers of geo-blocking.

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Will Microsoft Edge's security boost shake off the shackles of IE's terrible reputation?

Will Microsoft Edge's security boost shake off the shackles of IE's terrible reputation?

Project Spartan is no more, now it's all about Microsoft Edge. It's only been a few months since the successor to Internet Explorer was revealed and it will be the default browser when Windows 10 sees the light of day later this summer -- but has enough been done to shake off the poor reputation that Internet Explorer has earned itself over the years?

There's no getting away from the fact that Microsoft Edge has an uphill battle on its hands if it is to avoid being tarred with the same brush as the millstone around Microsoft's neck -- Internet Explorer. Microsoft is pinning a lot of hopes on upping the security feature set, but is this a case of too little too late? Is Microsoft Edge doomed before it even gets off the ground?

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Samsung pushes the Internet of Things with open ARTIK platform

Samsung pushes the Internet of Things with open ARTIK platform

Every company worth its salt is keen to get aboard the Internet of Things bandwagon, and Samsung is no different. Today the company announces its ARTIK platform which it hopes will accelerate the development of IoT apps and hardware for both consumers and the enterprise.

This is more than just a platform announcement, however; Samsung has produced three modules with a variety of integrated features ready to power the next generation of connected devices. The modules are backed up with embedded hardware security and can be tailored to a range of tasks.

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Microsoft invests in cables to cope with increasing cloud capacity

Microsoft invests in cables to cope with increasing cloud capacity

Microsoft's focus on the cloud means that the company and its users are more data-hungry than ever before. To help cope with a seemingly insatiable appetite for bandwidth, the company is investing in undersea cables to improve connectivity and bandwidth across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

With an increased push towards services like Azure and OneDrive, Microsoft's infrastructure needed to grow. The company has spent the last nine months forming fiber partnerships to improve intercontinental data connectivity and now new cable deals see North American datacenters connecting Ireland and the UK at greater speeds.

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Apple goes green and aims for 100 percent renewable energy usage

Apple goes green and aims for 100 percent renewable energy usage

Apple is not just a company concerned with boosting its profits, it's also interested in image and -- as its latest pledge shows -- the environment. Today Apple announces that it is setting its sights high when it comes to reducing the environmental impact of its operations. The ultimate goal is to switch worldwide operations to 100 percent renewable energy sources.

The company is teaming up with World Wildlife Fund to protect areas of responsibly managed woodland, and is also investing in renewable energy projects in China. Investments are also being made in solar energy projects that will produce more than enough electricity to power Apple's entire collection of Chinese offices and stores.

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A third of people would rather lose a finger than their internet connection

A third of people would rather lose a finger than their internet connection

Losing a finger is something that you might more readily associate with horrific industrial injuries, or the result of failing to pay back a gangland loan shark. In the UK, however, broadband access is now seen as such a vital service that people would rather lose a digit than lose their high speed internet connection.

An incredible one in three people would be willing to live without a phalanx rather than coping without a broadband connection. Being online is now seen as a lifeline and losing that connection can lead to feelings of social isolation.

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Terminator Genisys: Revolution is the first Android app you can pre-register for

Terminator Genisys: Revolution is the first Android app you can pre-register for

To be first in line to download a new app, you need to be quick off the mark. You might hear about a game or app weeks ahead of launch, and it's all too easy to miss the launch date. You might be wondering why it has taken Google so long to do something about it.

For Android users this is now a thing of the past thanks to the introduction of pre-registration. The first title in Google Play to offer this is Terminator Genisys: Revolution. You can now register your interest in the game and you'll be notified when it is released and is ready for download.

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