Sky message switch resurrects emails

Sky buttonSky customers have vented their feelings on the company’s support forums

Many UK customers of Sky are being deluged with thousands of old and deleted messages as the company switches email providers.

In recent weeks Sky has stopped using Google to provide email services in favour of Yahoo.

But the change has caused trouble as many customers are reporting that formerly deleted messages have been delivered again and again.

Some have spent hours clearing the messages out of overflowing inboxes.

Discussion forums on Sky’s support site have been filling up with messages from disgruntled customers complaining about the switch. The company, which has more than four million UK broadband customers, changed from Google to Yahoo this week.

The switch has seemingly resurrected many messages users formerly deleted with some reporting that they had to go through thousands of messages before deleting them for a second time. Some unlucky customers had to suffer thousands of deleted messages being re-delivered several times.

Many others said the switch had wiped out email settings, deleted aliases and re-set filters. Customers called on Sky to do a better job of responding to complaints and explaining why old messages were turning up.

On its support site, Sky acknowledged the problems the changeover had caused.

It said it was aware of the issue and had “an ongoing investigation and are working to resolve it”. It pledged to provide an update late on 5 April about its efforts to fix the problem.

It said the problem emerged during migration as it was copying all customer emails to Yahoo’s mail servers. The issue should recede as mail services were synchronised, it said.

Article source:

Privacy fears over Facebook home

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Mark Zuckerberg: ‘The home screen is really the soul of your phone’

Facebook’s “home” software for Android phones could “destroy” privacy, warn industry watchers and analysts.

Unveiled on 4 April, home is a “wrapper” for Android and puts Facebook feeds on a phone’s main screen.

But the detailed data that could be mined from home users could intrude on private life, commentators warned.

Many took issue with the claim that home put people, not apps, at the heart of the mobile experience, saying it would help Facebook sell ads.

Handset home

Home was shown off in a presentation given at Facebook’s campus by the social network’s founder Mark Zuckerberg. He said it was an attempt to do away with app-centred systems that were a legacy of the computer world in which people clicked on an icon to start a program.

Once installed on a phone, home takes over the lock screen and main display turning it into a live feed of information, notifications and images Facebook users are sharing.

The “always on” nature of home bothered industry watcher Om Malik from tech news website GigaOm who said it could be a route to gathering data about users that would otherwise be hard to find.

“This application erodes any idea of privacy,” he wrote. “If you install this, then it is very likely that Facebook is going to be able to track your every move, and every little action.”

Users of home could see their privacy “destroyed”, he warned.

Harry McCracken at Time pointed out that many other apps can grab data like home but said it would be “comforting” to get confirmation from Facebook that it had no plans to datamine the lives of its users.

Their worries were echoed by Natasha Lomas at TechCrunch who said “The Facebookification of the mobile web is a threat to openness, to choice, to privacy – but only if you care about those things”.

Ms Lomas wrote that home would create many winners and losers and said it was a way for Facebook gradually to take over more and more functions on phones. Home will have monthly updates and Ms Lomas expected many of those to use Facebook as the core controls for a handset.

Facebook Home launchThe home software will swap apps for a people-centred system, said Facebook

She also wondered if home would be a success or prove unpopular with users.

“Facebook thinks it’s more important to people than it actually is,” Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester Research, told Reuters.

“For the vast majority of people, Facebook just isn’t the be-all and end-all of their mobile experience,” he said. “It’s just one part.”

“I see a more apathetic response among Facebook users than Facebook might be expecting,” he added.

Jan Dawson, senior telecoms analyst at Ovum, said home was the “next best thing” to creating a Facebook operating system for mobiles.

Mr Dawson added that the change would let Facebook track more of a user’s behaviour on devices and to serve up ads.

“That presents the biggest obstacle to success for this experiment: Facebook’s objectives and users’ are once again in conflict,” he said. “Users don’t want more advertising or tracking, and Facebook wants to do more of both.”

The software will be available via Google’s Play Store as a download and will work only with phones running Android 4.0 or higher – this accounts for about 50% of all Android phones. Home will be available on 12 April in the US and soon after in other territories.

No information was given about whether home would be redeveloped to work with Apple or Microsoft phones.

Article source:

Film studios seek takedown privacy

Game of ThronesGame of Thrones was found to be the most pirated TV series of 2012

Two film studios have asked Google to take down links to messages sent by them requesting the removal of links connected to film piracy.

Google receives 20 million “takedown” requests, officially known as DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notices, a month. They are all published online.

Recent submissions by Fox and Universal Studios include requests for the removal of previous takedown notices.

Google declined to comment.

The notices are requests for individual web addresses to be removed from Google’s search engine results because they contain material uploaded without the permission of the copyright holders.

By making the notices available, Google is unintentionally highlighting the location of allegedly pirated material, say some experts.

“It would only take one skilled coder to index the URLs from the DMCA notices in order to create one of the largest pirate search engines available,” wrote Torrent Freak editor Ernesto Van Der Sar on the site.

Similar notices have been received by the Lionsgate studio, makers of the Twilight movies and The Hunger Games, and tech giant Microsoft, according to Torrent Freak.

Mr Van Der Sar added, however, that the requests may well have been a “by-product of the automated tools that are used to find infringing URLs” and not deliberately included.

According to its transparency report, Google complied with 97% of the requests it received for links to material published outside copyright to be removed from its search engine between June and December 2011.

The website Chilling Effects, a collaboration between a number of US law schools and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, publishes the notices, and is still visible via Google Search.

David Petrarca, who directed a couple of episodes of HBO drama Game of Thrones, the most pirated TV series of 2012, was reported to have said at a literary festival in Australia that piracy gave the series a “cultural buzz” but has since denied that he is in favour of the activity.

“I am 100 per cent, completely and utterly against people illegally downloading anything,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I think most people would be willing to pay for a show they love.”

Article source:

Smart bracelet protects aid workers

Alarm braceletAlerts can be triggered manually or automatically

A hi-tech bracelet could soon be helping civil rights and aid workers at risk of being kidnapped or killed.

When triggered, the personal alarm uses phone and sat-nav technology to warn that its wearer is in danger.

Warnings are sent in the form of messages to Facebook and Twitter to rally support and ensure people do not disappear without trace.

The first bracelets are being given out this week and funding is being sought to make many more.

The bracelets have been developed by the Civil Rights Defenders campaign group in a bid to help workers in war zones and other areas of conflict.

The chunky bracelet has mobile phone technology buried within it that can send prepared messages when the gadget is triggered.

Alerts can be sent manually by a rights worker if they feel under threat or are triggered automatically if the bracelet is forcefully removed. The alarm sends out information about its owner and where they were when they were attacked. Other staff nearby will also be alerted so they can start to take action to help anyone in distress.

Civil Rights Defenders wants people to sign up to monitor the bracelets of individual rights workers via social media. It hopes the global involvement will act as a deterrent to anyone planning attacks on aid workers.

“Most of us, given the chance, would like to help others in danger,” said Civil Rights Defenders’ executive director Robert Hardh. “These civil rights defenders are risking their lives for others to have the right to vote, or to practise religion or free speech.”

Those who monitor bracelets can also help bring pressure to bear on governments to find or release people abducted or jailed. In total, 55 bracelets will be given out by the end of 2014.

The rights group started work on the gadget in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of Chechen rights worker Natalia Estemirova in 2009. Ms Estemirova had been involved in documenting the alleged abuse of civilians by government-backed militias.

Article source:

Anonymous ‘hacks’ North Korea pages

Uriminzokkiri hack informationAnonymous posted messages on the Twitter account belonging to news site Uriminzokkiri

The hacking collective Anonymous has said it has been “hacking” and vandalising social networking profiles linked to North Korea.

The group has issued several warnings since the country’s threats have intensified.

Uriminzokkiri, a news site, has been forced offline – while Twitter and Flickr accounts have been breached.

Anonymous also claimed to have accessed 15,000 usernames and passwords from a university database.

As part of action which the loosely organised collective has called “Operation Free Korea”, the hackers have called for leader Kim Jong-un to step down, a democratic government to be put in place – and for North Koreans to get uncensored internet access.

Currently, only a select few in the country have access to the “internet” – which is more akin to a closed company intranet with only a select few websites that are government-run.

The country recently allowed foreigners to access mobile internet, but this service has since been shut off.

In a message posted online, members of Anonymous wrote: “To the citizens of North Korea we suggest to rise up and bring [this] oppressive government down!

“We are holding your back and your hand, while you take the journey to freedom, democracy and peace.

“You are not alone. Don’t fear us, we are not terrorist, we are the good guys from the internet. AnonKorea and all the other Anons are here to set you free.”

‘Tango down’

Urminzokkiri’s Twitter feed started displaying messages reading “hacked” at around 0700 BST. The account’s avatar was changed to a picture of two people dancing, with the words “Tango down”.

On Urminzokkiri’s Flickr photo page, other images, including a “wanted” poster mocking Kim Jong-un, were also posted.

Anonymous has posted what it said was a sample of the hacked information.

However, some have questioned the reliability of the details as some of the email addresses were in fact Chinese.

Also unreachable on Thursday was the website of Air Koryo, the country’s airline, which launched its online booking site late last year.

Like the main Urminzokkiri homepage, it is suspected the Air Koryo site has been hit with a Distributed Denial of Service attacked (DDoS) – a technique which involves flooding a website with too much traffic for it to handle.

Although a highly secretive nation, North Korea puts considerable effort in to having a strong presence online.

Various YouTube accounts attached to the regime post news items and propaganda videos on a regular basis.

Article source:

Libraries to store UK web content

Twitter pageOnline content on platforms such as Twitter will be stored

Millions of tweets, Facebook status updates and even a blog about a bus shelter in the Shetlands are to be preserved for the nation.

The British Library and four other “legal deposit libraries’” have the right to collect and store everything that is published online in the UK.

It is estimated around a billion pages a year will be available for research.

It follows 10 years of planning and will also offer visitors access to material currently behind paywalls.

The other institutions involved are the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales, the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford, the University Library, Cambridge and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.

The archive will cover 4.8 million websites and will include magazines, books and academic journals as well as alternative sources of literature, news and comment such as Mumsnet, the Beano online, Stephen Hawking’s website, and the unofficial armed forces’ bulletin board, ARRSE.

Ben Sanderson from the British Library said while people may think information on the web lasts forever, huge amounts of research material has already disappeared.

He added the public had already “lost a lot of the material that was posted by the public during the 7/7 bombings”.

MP’s blog sites have also been lost following a death or an election defeat.

Top 100 websites

Mr Sanderson explained that with much of public life having migrated to the online world, material that is now published physically gives only a part of the story and debate within modern Britain.

He said: “It will be impossible to tell for instance the story of the 2015 general election without accessing what appears on the web”.

The new databases will cover all areas of interest, for example the website Style Scout – a fashion blog documenting London Street Fashion – will give historians a snapshot of what people were wearing in 2013.

As part of the launch of the process, the British Library has commissioned a survey of the top 100 websites that ought to be preserved for historians and researchers.

Among the sites recommended to keep material from are eBay, Facebook, Twitter, Tripadvisor and Rightmove.

Some other lesser known ones include the Anarchist Federation, the Dracula Society and The Dreamcast Junkyard – a blog dedicated to the community of gamers who continue to play Dreamcast games online, despite the fact they were officially discontinued in 2002.

The British Library is also asking for advice from the public as to which websites should be preserved to give an accurate picture to future generations.

Article source:

Facebook releases Android ‘home’

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

Mark Zuckerberg: ‘The home screen is really the soul of your phone’

Facebook is releasing software that puts feeds from the social network on the home screen of Android phones.

The software will act like a “wrapper” for the Android operating system and become the main way to use a phone.

Notifications, images and messages will appear on the main screen of the phone instead of being accessible via a downloadable app.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the change would put people, not apps, at the heart of the mobile experience.

Handset home

In a presentation given at Facebook’s campus, Mr Zuckerberg said phone apps were a legacy of the computer world in which people clicked on an icon to start a program.

While this worked well with desktops and laptops, it made less sense with phones, he said.

“Now there’s a new use case that’s more and more important,” he said. “We have our phones with us all the time and we want to know more what’s happening to our friends.”

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

Users don’t want more advertising or tracking”

End Quote
Jan Dawson

Facebook’s Home software will hide apps and instead pipe all the content and chat carried on via the social network to the home screen.

The software “wrapper” will also change the way that people swap messages or content by letting them respond by tapping on pop-up images, known as chat heads, rather than opening up apps and navigating through menus.

The software will be available via Google’s Play Store as a download and will work only with phones running Android 4.0 or higher. Facebook home will be available from 12 April on six phones – three from HTC and three from Samsung. Only four of these handsets are available now. The others are set to launch alongside Facebook home.

No information was given about whether home would be re-developed to work with Apple or Microsoft phones.

Facebook said users could try the software rather than have to commit to use it all the time. Initially, the code will only be available for phones but a version for tablets is under development.

Cory Ondrejka, Facebook’s head of engineering, said the company started its push to make everything it did centre on mobiles in early 2012. Figures from Facebook suggest that users spend about 25% of their time on their handsets looking at their feeds and chatting with friends.

Facebook’s fourth quarter earnings revealed that about 23% of the money it made from advertising came from adverts shown to mobile users.

Facebook Home launchThe home software will swap apps for a people-centred system, said Facebook

Prior to the news conference, many people speculated that Facebook would announce a branded handset. Mr Zuckerberg said the firm shied away from doing this because even the best selling phones would only reach a small percentage of its user base.

“This can start to be a change in the relationship that we have with how we use these computing devices,” he said.

Jan Dawson, senior telecoms analyst at Ovum, said: “To Facebook, this is about becoming more deeply embedded in the operating system on mobile devices, and creating a broader platform.

“Since Facebook doesn’t make an operating system for mobile devices, this is the next best thing,” he said.

Mr Dawson added that the change would let Facebook track more of a user’s behaviour on devices and to serve up ads.

“That presents the biggest obstacle to success for this experiment: Facebook’s objectives and users’ are once again in conflict,” he said. “Users don’t want more advertising or tracking, and Facebook wants to do more of both.”

Article source:

Google faces European privacy probe

Streetview cameraGoogle has faced repeated investigations over the data it gathers on users

Six European data protection agencies are contemplating legal action over Google’s privacy policy.

The threat comes as a four-month deadline to change the policy expires with Google making “no change” to the policy.

Google’s perceived failure to act is being looked in to by data watchdogs in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK.

In a statement, Google said its privacy policy “respects European law”.

‘Full engagement’

In late October 2012, a European Commission working party reported that Google’s privacy policy did not meet Commission standards on data protection.

The report said Google should do more to let users see what information was held about them, provide tools to manage this data and take more care to ensure it did not store too much data about users.

The investigation was kicked off by Google’s decision to update its privacy policy so it had one set of guidelines for every service it ran.

Google was given four months to comply with the working party’s recommendations to bring the policy into line with European law.

“After this period has expired, Google has not implemented any significant compliance measures,” said French data watchdog CNIL in a statement. CNIL headed the probe into the privacy policy.

In addition, said CNIL, Google was warned about the potential for action on 19 March in a meeting with officials from six data watchdogs. “No change,” was seen following this meeting, said CNIL.

As a consequence, all six data protection bodies were now opening new investigations into Google and how it handled privacy. The UK’s Information Commissioner confirmed it was looking at whether the policy complied but said it could not add further comment because the investigation was ongoing.

A Google spokesman said: “Our privacy policy respects European law and allows us to create simpler, more effective services.”

“We have engaged fully with the DPAs involved throughout this process, and we’ll continue to do so going forward,” added the spokesman.

News of the action comes as Google’s privacy director, Alma Whitten, steps down from her job. Ms Whitten was appointed as the search giant’s first privacy director in 2010, following a series of mistakes by Google that had led to user data being exposed.

Article source:

Prime minister’s tech adviser quits

Rohan SilvaRohan Silva will leave his post in June, Number 10 said

The prime minister’s adviser for technology, Rohan Silva, is to step down from his post in June.

Mr Silva was the driving force behind Tech City, the government’s initiative supporting start-ups in and around the Old Street area of east London.

The BBC understands he is to work with venture capital firm Index Ventures, before moving into the educational technology industry.

Number 10 said it planned to hire a replacement in due course.

A source at Downing Street said: “Rohan is committed to entrepreneurship and has always said he wants to start his own business at some point.”

During Mr Silva’s time as adviser, he has overseen initiatives focused on expanding London’s burgeoning start-up scene.

In a statement, the Tech City Investment Organisation praised the 32-year-old’s contribution.

“When you have a passion for entrepreneurship like Rohan and spend as much time working with start-ups as he has in building Tech City, moving from championing those businesses to creating one is a natural next step.

“We will continue to work closely with Rohan until his departure in June and we wish him a world of success.”

‘Big coup’

Mr Silva had become known as a cheerleader for progressive policies for technology start-ups, including the Entrepreneur Visa.

He was said to be directly involved in the hiring of Joanna Shields, formerly of Facebook, to run Tech City – an appointment described as a “big coup” at the time.

However, Tech City’s many critics have said the visa has been ineffective in helping to hire talent from outside the EU, while other initiatives – such as a revamped Old Street Roundabout – have been dismissed as a waste of money.

Last summer, a think tank published a stinging attack on Tech City, saying developers whom it was seeking to help were left “frustrated”, and some policies were counterproductive.

Speaking to Tech City News, a blog based in east London, Mr Silva said: “Anyone that knows me knows I’ve been straining at the leash to have a go at my own business for a number of years now.”

He insisted his decision was not a statement on the leadership of David Cameron and George Osborne.

“It’s been a hard decision, I’ve loved that I’ve been able to make a difference.”

Article source:

Mobile phone hits 40th birthday

DynaTAC 8000XThe DynaTAC 8000X, Motorola’s first commercial handheld cellular phone, was launched in 1983

The first mobile phone call was made 40 years ago today, on 3 April 1973.

Martin Cooper, a senior engineer at Motorola, called a rival colleague at another telecoms company and announced he was speaking from “a ‘real’ cellular telephone”.

In 2012 a report carried out by the International Telecommunication Union found that there were six billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide.

At the time the global population was seven billion.

“In 40 years we’ve moved rapidly from the mobile phone as a businessman’s tool, through consumerisation and internet access to everything being connected,” Dr Mike Short CBE, former president of the Institute of Engineering and Technology and Vice President of Telefonica Europe, told the BBC.

“In the future we will see a much wider range of devices – many of which will be wearable,” he added.

“We will work more fully with all the senses. The move to glasses has begun – how can we use eye control to change and look at pages?

“Wearables, in terms of (smartphone) watches, are coming. We’ll also see health measurement body vests that can communicate with your phone and then your doctor,” said Dr Short.

Phone father

Martin Cooper, now aged 85, is renowned as the “father” of the mobile phone.

In a previous interview with the BBC he admitted he thought the initial cost of the devices (in 1983 the first models cost $3,500, or £2,300) might be prohibitive to the mobile phone becoming a mass-market product, but he did recognise that the hefty handsets would probably shrink.

“We did envision that some day the phone would be so small that you could hang it on your ear or even have it embedded under your skin,” he said.

Mr Cooper said his vision for a mobile phone was first conceived in the late 1960s when the car telephone was invented by ATT.

He wanted to create “something that would represent an individual so you could assign a number not to a place, not to a desk, not to a home but to a person,” he said.

“It pleases me no end to have had some small impact on people’s lives because these phones do make people’s lives better. They promote productivity, they make people more comfortable, they make them feel safe and all of those things,” Mr Cooper added.

He was also pleased to have been one step ahead of the competition.

“When you are a competitive entity like we were, it’s one of the great satisfactions in life,” he said.

Do you remember your first mobile phone call or have a picture of your first handset? Send us your comments using the form below

Send your pictures and videos to or text them to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (International). If you have a large file you can upload here.

Read the terms and conditions

Article source: