Mark Wilson

YouTube will help users fight DMCA takedowns in court


The use of other people's copyright material on YouTube is permitted in certain circumstances. Fair use rules allow for the use of copyright material for the purposes of review, parody, and more -- but this doesn't stop copyright holders from issuing DMCA takedown notices.

YouTube is a natural breeding ground for copyright violations, but there are also countless examples of fair use that end up in court. This is something that many people are scared of, and rather than fighting back, will tend to cave in. Now Google has said that it is willing to stand up for users and will defend them in court.

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Siri poses privacy and security risks for iPhone users


Digital assistants such as Siri are billed as great time-savers, and there's no denying that Apple's voice-activated feature can be a real help. But security experts at Trend Micro warn that it also poses a serious privacy risk for iPhone owners.

Even if your iPhone is protected with a PIN or passcode, it could still be possible for someone else to use Siri to learn personal information about not just you, but your relations and other contacts, as well as details about your schedule.  Described by Trend Micro as a 'flaw', Siri actually acts as a backdoor that enables anyone with physical access to your phone to bypass security features.

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Facebook helps you to cut your ex out of your life


Break ups happen. Relationships come to an end. It might be an amicable termination, but the chances are that it's not. You probably never want to hear from your ex partner again. Unfortunately, over the years, you have built up a shared circle of friends, and you're both connected to them on Facebook.

Depending on the circumstances of the break up, you might want to go as far as ditching the online friendship and blocking your former beau. But you might not want to take things quite that far. With this in mind, Facebook is now rolling out new features that kick in when you indicate that you're no longer in a relationship, so you won’t be constantly reminded of what you have lost.

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Track censored content on Facebook, Twitter, Google and other social media


There are many problems with the censoring of online content, not least that it can limit free speech. But there is also the question of transparency. By the very nature of censorship, unless you have been kept in the loop you would simply not know that anything had been censored.

This is something the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to change, and today the digital rights organization launches to blow the lid off online censorship. The site, run by EFF and Visualizing Impact, aims to reveal the content that is censored on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube -- not just the 'what' but the 'why'. If you find yourself the subject of censorship, the site also explains how to lodge an appeal.

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Google introduces mandatory 'ad-supported' label to Play store


At the moment, developers looking to see their apps listed in the all-important Designed for Families category in Google Play have to clearly indicate whether the apps are ad-supported. Following on from the earlier introduction of an 'In-App purchases' warning label, Google is now going further with a mandatory 'ad-supported' label.

Starting 11 January next year, an app that includes ads must show the new label in its store listing. This will make it clear to downloaders what to expect from anything they install, and Google's definition of ads is wide-ranging so a lot of apps will be affected.

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Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 10586 hits the Fast ring -- it's RTM and 'really great'

Microsoft Cityman Windows 10 Mobile flagship

Desktop users have been rather spoiled when it comes to preview builds of Windows 10, but the same cannot be said for mobile users. After a quiet few weeks, Microsoft today releases Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 10586 to the Fast ring.

The official launch date for Windows 10 Mobile draws ever closer, this will be the final preview build Insider get to see. How do we know? This is the RTM build that comes pre-installed on new Lumia devices and Build 10586 sees Microsoft putting the final finishing touches in place. There are no new features this time around, but bugs have been squashed -- there are just a few things to watch out for.

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Most smartphone owners fear hackers, thieves and government control


Edward Snowden's NSA and GCHQ revelations seem to be unending. One of his more recent disclosures was that UK intelligence agencies had the ability hack and remotely control any smartphone.

A survey by Broadband Genie shows that smartphone owners are more than a little concerned about this, with more than half (55 percent) saying the possibility of remote control worries them. A similar number (53 percent) express concern that these surveillance and control powers are open to abuse, and nearly a quarter (24 percent) feel they are a breach of human rights.

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We can't let governments use ISIS and Paris attacks as excuses to increase surveillance


The tragic events in France have, almost inevitably, led to renewed calls for increased surveillance of the internet. This cannot be allowed to happen; terrorism cannot be used as an excuse to infringe upon the privacy of millions of innocent internet users.

We have groups such as Anonymous taking a vigilante stance in a bid to drive ISIS from the internet, but governments have leapt on the massacres as a justification for additional snooping powers. This smacks very much of being a knee jerk reaction, and there is a very real danger that rushed legislation will cause greater harm than good.

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Smartwatches set to be big sellers from Black Friday through holiday season


Wearables are going to fly off the virtual shelves in the run-up to Christmas according to a new report from Argus Insights. And when it comes to splashing out on smartwatches and fitness trackers, research shows that price is seen as far less important than quality.

This means that despite its higher price tag, the Apple Watch is the most sought-after device this year. Times may be tough, but market analysts believe that shoppers are going to be willing to cough up for quality this holiday season, with high-end devices such as the Pebble Time Steel and LG Watch Urbane are expected to sell in large numbers behind the Apple Watch.

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The Google app grows up and becomes contextually aware


Voice control is becoming increasingly common with the eager adoption of Siri and Cortana. Google has been in the game for some time as well, and today announces that the Google app is growing in intelligence, enabling it to 'understand' ever more complex questions.

Google's ability to recognize the context in which questions are asked is not new, but it has now evolved even further. Rather than just doing simple searches based on keywords, Google believes that it is "starting to truly understand the meaning of what you're asking".

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Get 1TB of Google Drive storage for free


It's hard to have too much storage, and cloud storage is particularly handy. Microsoft may have cut the amount of space OneDrive users have access to, but Google is giving you a way to gain 1TB of Google Drive space for free.

There is, of course, a slight catch. While the storage space is free, you will have to work for it. It's all part of a big push of Google's Local Guides program. Make contributions to Google Maps in the form of uploading photos, writing reviews, and correcting mistakes and you'll be rewarded in a number of ways.

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Microsoft and use Minecraft to teach coding to kids


As part of the third Hour of Code, Microsoft has launched a coding tutorial based on Minecraft. The event is part of Computer Science Education Week, which runs from December 7-13 and uses the familiar Minecraft to teach coding to people aged 6 and above.

The tutorial is a collaboration between Microsoft,, and Mojang AB, the company behind Minecraft. It provides a gentle on-ramp to learning the basics of coding, with a view to inspiring the next generation of developers.

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What's so different about Paris? Facebook reveals why it enabled Safety Check after French attacks


The shootings and suicide bombings in France this week grabbed the attention of the global media. To help those caught up in the aftermath to let loved ones know that they were OK -- and to enable others to check on friends and relatives in France -- Facebook enabled its Safety Check feature for the disaster.

While this was welcomed, it also raised questions. Why had this not been done for other such disasters? Why were shootings in other countries treated differently? What was so special about France that it warranted extra attention from Facebook? Were the lives lost in other atrocities seen as less important? Facebook's Alex Schultz has stepped up to the plate to answer these concerns.

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FCC says it's legal to hack your router


Router hacking is a geek staple. No computer geek worth his or her salt would consider running vanilla firmware -- the likes of Tomato are where it's at. A little while back, the FCC suggested plans to ban such hacking via open source firmware... or at least that's how it seemed.

The commission has now acknowledged that there was more than a little confusion from people who believed that manufacturers would be encouraged to prevent router modifications. The FCC wants to make it clear that most router hacking is fine and will remain fine. With a few exceptions, that is.

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Zune is dead

Zune Logo

The writing has been on the wall for some time now, but Microsoft has today officially killed Zune. After nine years, the music service is no more, driven to the grave by the competition.

Zune players just never managed to fight off the iPod, and with smartphones taking on the role of music player in addition to everything else, it didn’t take long for Microsoft's player to become surplus to requirements. Microsoft is not learning from history, though; the company continues to try its hand at music with Groove.

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