data

Barely two months after Apple admitted it was storing users’ data online in mainland China, reports emerged that hackers have tried breaking into its iCloud data.

Apple representatives in China declined to comment on the reports of the hacking attack, which were posted on GreatFire.org, a group that conducts research on Chinese internet censorship.

The revelations, if true, would be little surprise to China observers. But it would be a comeuppance for Apple whose decision to store users’ data in mainland servers underlined the tenuous balance that foreign tech companies must strike between commitment to customer security and the realities of the Chinese market. 

Earlier on Friday, Wired reported that Apple’s voice app Siri, which is perhaps most famous for its comical misinterpretations, keeps users’ data for up to two years.

Now Google has told the FT that it stores queries to its voice search service for the same period. The difference is that Google stores the actual audio samples for up to two years, unlike Siri which deletes the audio after six months and then just retains the queries. So, is two years too long? 

Maija Palmer

George OsborneThe UK government does not have a lot of money to pump into the technology sector so it is trying to be generous with something it does have in plentiful supply – data.

On Tuesday, as part of the government’s Autumn Statement George Osborne, the chancellor, is expected to announce plans to open up access to more government data, including transport data, health records, house prices and Met Office weather information. 

Maija Palmer

Google logoGoogle’s European Zeitgeist event this year has been nicknamed “the Royal one” as it was attended not only by the usual business heavyweights like Vivendi’s Jean-Bernard Lévy and Richard Branson but by Prince Charles of the UK, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Prince Philip of Spain.

The presence of royalty is not as strange as it might initially seem. Much of Zeitgeist revolves around discussions on how to save the planet, and this is a project that many otherwise under-employed European royals have embraced.

Perhaps these aristocrats also see a kindred spirit in Google, the king of the internet. Oh if only it weren’t for those tedious elected governments, those dull regulations, how much easier it would be to make the world work better. 

Maija Palmer

spying

Privacy activists have had a busy few weeks. First there was Google’s announcement that it would start using behavioural targeting for its display advertising, which had them up in arms. The following week Google launched Street View, the controversial 3D mapping feature, in the UK, again drawing protest. The latest concern is over revelations that the UKgovernment is thinking of monitoring social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo as part of its anti-terrorism measures.

 

There is already an EU directive on monitoring emails and internet usage, requiring internet service providers to store traffic data for 12 months. Since the July 2005 the UK government has been keen to broaden the scope of the ways it can monitor for terrorists. This latest proposal is to extend this to social networking sites, which have become hugely popular after the proposals were first formulated.