By John Gapper
An efficient and functioning internet can boost GDP, partly by enabling small and medium-sized companies to sell and source raw materials more widely, according to a Boston Consulting Group report unveiled at Davos. Read more
By Catherine Contiguglia
♦ Internet billionaires are putting their money into futuristic, even outlandish, ventures that could herald the new era of scientific innovation or just be exercises in hubris.
♦ German politicians may be saying that they have no intention of joining a coalition now, but all the party “colour combinations” will become viable once the election comes round, says the FT’s Quentin Peel.
♦ For those who have never been inside a gulag, New Republic takes a tour of a Russian penal colony through photographs to give an idea of what sort of conditions prisoners like Mikhail Khodorkovsky and the members of the punk bank Pussy Riots face.
♦ New calculations that show that jumping into a black hole would cause one to be flash-fried by a firewall of energy – rather than smote to particles smaller than dust – have ignited a tense debate among the world’s physicists.
♦ The New York Times profiles documentary film maker Laura Poitras, looking at her investigations into growing surveillance in the United States and how her involvement with releasing information from Edward Snowden changed her life. Read more
The US government’s secret internet surveillance programme, codenamed Prism, began when the National Security Agency signed up Microsoft as its first partner on Sept 11, 2007, less than a month after the passing of the Protect America Act which authorised it.
♦ Yahoo was added on 12/3/2008, Google on 14/1/2009, Facebook on 3/5/2009, PalTalk on 7/12/2009, YouTube on 24/9/2010, Skype on 6/2/2011, AOL on 3/3/2011 and Apple in October 2012, , according to a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation obtained by the Guardian and the Washington Post .
♦ The companies liaise with the NSA through the FBI’s data intercept technology unit. Twitter is conspicuously absent from the list. Read more
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Welcome to the World blog. Gideon Rachman and colleagues offer commentary on international affairs.