French construction-to-media group Bouygues denied reports on Saturday that its CEO, Martin Bouygues, had died. "The Bouygues Group formally denies the death of its CEO Martin Bouygues and regrets that such a rumor could have spread," a Bouygues spokesman told Reuters by phone. Agence France-Presse had reported the 62-year-old businessman's death, citing a mayor of the northwestern Orne region, where Bouygues has a home. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls reacted to the erroneous news on Twitter: "Glad to have had Martin Bouygues on the phone and to have shared his astonishment".
By Yoshiyasu Shida TOKYO (Reuters) - NTT Communications Corp is in talks to acquire German data center provider e-shelter for about 100 billion yen ($836 million), according to a source familiar with the matter. An acquisition of e-shelter by Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Communications is the latest in the NTT Corp's overseas expansion due to a dwindling home market. NTT bought South African IT firm Dimension Data for 382 billion yen ($3.2 billion) in 2010, followed by takeover deals with a combined worth of 85.5 billion yen ($715.42 million) of two U.S. ...
By Shelby Sebens PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - Oracle America Inc, the software giant in charge of developing Oregon's failed health exchange website, has filed suit against five former staff and campaign advisers to the state's former governor, saying they worked behind the scenes to kill the site for political reasons, court documents showed. The company also gave notice to state administrators on Thursday, the same day it filed suit in Multnomah County Circuit Court, that it might file similar claims against former Governor John Kitzhaber and his former chief of staff, Mike Bonetto. The lawsuit says Kitzhaber's staffers and advisers, who did not work for Cover Oregon, "improperly influenced" the decision to shutter the site and then blamed Oracle to defuse the political consequences. Named in the lawsuit are Kitzhaber's former campaign manager Patricia McCaig, consultants Kevin Looper and Mark Wiener, former business policy director Scott Nelson and former spokesman Tim Raphael.
(Reuters) - About 50,000 of Uber's driver names and license numbers may be in the hands of an unauthorized third party due to a data breach that occurred last year, Los Angeles Times reported, citing the ride service provider's managing counsel of data privacy. The company could not say how the security vulnerability was first discovered because the matter is currently under investigation, according to the report. (http://lat.ms/1DiWfWP) Uber was not immediately available to comment. (Reporting By Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)
By Kim Palmer CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A former school employee in Ohio pleaded guilty to obstruction in a rape case involving a 16-year-old girl that drew national attention after supposed images of the incident circulated on the Internet, the state's Attorney General office said Friday. William Rhinaman, former information technology director for Steubenville City Schools, pleaded guilty to obstructing official business, a second-degree misdemeanor. Rhinaman was indicted in 2013 by a special grand jury that looked into whether officials had tried to thwart the investigation into the rape by two Steubenville High School football players. Visiting Judge Patricia Cosgrove sentenced Rhinaman to 90 days of jail, 80 of which are suspended upon completion a year of probation and 40 hours of community service.
Machete-wielding assailants hacked to death an American critic of religious extremism in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, in the latest of a series of attacks on writers who support freethinking values in the Muslim-majority nation. Avijit Roy, a U.S. citizen of Bangladeshi origin, and his wife and fellow blogger, Rafida Ahmed, were attacked on Thursday while returning from a book fair. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called it "a shocking act of violence" that was "horrific in its brutality and cowardice." Psaki told a regular news briefing she had no information as the motive for the attack, but said the United States was ready to assist the investigation. They said they were investigating the involvement of Ansarullah Bangla Team, an Islamist extremist group based in Bangladesh that claimed responsibility on Friday for the murder.
(Reuters) - Apple Watch will replace your car keys and its battery will last the whole day, Apple Inc's Chief Executive Tim Cook told the Telegraph in an interview. The watch is designed to replace car keys and the clumsy, large fobs that are now used in many vehicles, Cook told the newspaper. Its battery will last the whole day, and will not take as long to charge as an iPhone, the report quoted Cook as saying. Apple Watch will also work as a credit card through Apple Pay, Cook told the paper, but did not mention how user verification will work with the watch.
(Reuters) - Google Inc has abandoned its plan to ban adult content on its blogging site Blogger after receiving negative feedback from users. Google will instead "step up enforcement" of its existing policy prohibiting commercial porn, Jessica Pelegio, the company's social product support manager, wrote on Google Product Forums on Friday. Bloggers can continue to tag any blog with sexually explicit content as "adult" that is placed behind a warning page. ...
By Michael Martina and Krista Hughes BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - China is weighing a far-reaching counterterrorism law that would require technology firms to hand over encryption keys and install security "backdoors", a potential escalation of what some firms view as the increasingly onerous terms of doing business in the world's second largest economy. A parliamentary body read a second draft of the country's first anti-terrorism law this week and is expected to adopt the legislation in the coming weeks or months. The initial draft, published by the National People's Congress late last year, requires companies to also keep servers and user data within China, supply law enforcement authorities with communications records and censor terrorism-related internet content. Its scope reaches far beyond a recently adopted set of financial industry regulations that pushed Chinese banks to purchase from domestic technology vendors.
Some of China's largest Internet companies deleted more than 60,000 online accounts because their names did not conform to regulations due to take effect on Sunday, the top Internet regulator said. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Tencent Holdings Ltd, Baidu Inc, Sina Corp affiliate Weibo Corp and other companies deleted the accounts in a cull aimed at "rectifying" online names, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said. The purge is notable as a step toward China's government locking down control over people's internet account names, an effort which censors have struggled with in the past, despite numerous efforts to introduce controls.
(Reuters) - Cyberspace was being consumed by an acute philosophical debate on Friday over a picture of a dress many claim is obviously white and gold but others argue just as trenchantly is black and blue. The hashtag #TheDress led trends on Twitter worldwide, boosted by a stream of tweets from celebrities voicing support for either of the opposing camps. Blue & black, or white & gold," U.S. comedian Ellen DeGeneres tweeted. Musician Taylor Swift was gripped by ontological uncertainty.
By Zoran Radosavljevic ZAGREB (Reuters) - Damir Sabol, Croatian computer expert and entrepreneur, was helping his son with his maths homework when he had an idea. "I found it a bit tedious, all those additions and multiplications, so I reckoned, 'We already have intelligent software, why not make it deal with maths?'" Sabol said.
(Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Thursday set new rules to regulate Internet providers more heavily. Following are some details about the concept of net neutrality and the FCC's work to regulate Internet traffic: WHAT IS NET NEUTRALITY? Net neutrality is the principle that Internet providers should treat all traffic on their networks equally. The FCC, which regulates U.S. cable and other companies that provide broadband services, has tackled net neutrality rules several times.
By Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators on Thursday approved the strictest-ever rules on Internet providers, who in turn pledged to battle the new restrictions in the courts and Congress, saying they would discourage investment and stifle innovation. Experts expect the industry to seek a stay of the rules, first at the FCC and then in courts, though the chances for success of such an appeal is unclear. It culminated in the FCC receiving a record 4 million comments and a call from President Barack Obama to adopt the strongest rules possible. In the past, broadband was classified as a more lightly regulated "information service," which factored into a federal court's rejection of the FCC's previous set of rules in January 2014.
Google Inc has combined its two European regional divisions as it seeks to meet the challenges of tougher regulation across the continent, a source close to the company said on Thursday. The Internet giant is merging its northern and western European division with the unit covering southern and eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, the source said. The shake-up follows a year of setbacks for the company on political and regulatory fronts on issues ranging from antitrust to privacy to how much tax it pays in different European nations, as well as fraught relations with some European industries including media and telecom groups. Google's regional headquarters will remain in Dublin, where it employs thousands of staff, and the reorganization will not result in job losses, the source said.
Revenue growing at Google video site, but still limited by narrow audience.
Chinese computer and smartphone firm Lenovo Group Ltd said its website was hacked on Wednesday, its second security blemish days after the U.S. government advised consumers to remove software called "Superfish" pre-installed on its laptops. Hacking group Lizard Squad claimed credit for the attacks on microblogging service Twitter. Lenovo said attackers breached the domain name system associated with Lenovo and redirected visitors to lenovo.com to another address, while also intercepting internal company emails. Lizard Squad posted an email exchange between Lenovo employees discussing Superfish.
(Reuters) - Viacom Inc's Nickelodeon unveiled on Wednesday a paid streaming service for children called Noggin that will launch on March 5 for $5.99 a month. The mobile subscription service will be available for Apple Inc's iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. Noggin serves as a complement to the Nick Jr. app, which features live streaming video as well as on-demand episodes that are available with a paid-TV subscription. Nickelodeon said it is in discussions with pay-TV distributors about offering Noggin as a premium complement to its authenticated subscribers.
By Brenda Goh SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A Chinese government push to promote e-commerce has created a host of online retail rivals for Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Amazon.com Inc catering to shoppers' fears about the quality and safety of local everyday goods. Encouraged by tax-relief programmes and other policies that gained traction last year, logistics firms including SF Express and state-owned Sinotrans are seeking to grab a piece of the cross-border e-commerce market which the government estimates to be worth $1 trillion by 2016. "Local e-commerce businesses aren't able to meet the needs of China's consumers who are increasingly buying from abroad," said Masa Ren, vice president of international e-commerce services at SF Express, one of China's biggest logistics firms.
By Anthony Deutsch and Jim Finkle AMSTERDAM/BOSTON (Reuters) - A cybercrime operation that stole banking information by hacking more than 3 million computers in Indonesia, India and other countries has been disrupted by European police with assistance from three technology companies, officials said on Wednesday. Europol's European Cybercrime Centre coordinated the operation out of its headquarters in The Hague, targeting the so-called Ramnit botnet, a network of computers infected with malware. Microsoft Corp and Symantec Corp in dismantling the server infrastructure used by the criminals, Europol said. "The criminals have lost control of the infrastructure they were using," Paul Gillen, head of operations at Europol's cybercrime center, told Reuters.
BlackBerry Ltd said on Wednesday that it is working with Google Inc to enable its software to manage and secure some of Google's Android devices, a move that builds on BlackBerry's recent partnership with Samsung Electronics Co. In November, BlackBerry announced partnerships with Samsung and other high-profile technology industry players, broadening the reach of its revamped mobile-device management and security platform. BlackBerry said it is offering a "highly secure mobility solution" for Samsung's Android devices.
By Thomas Grove MOSCOW (Reuters) - It was not an unusual evening for war blogger Eliot Higgins. As he was rocking his infant son to sleep in his bedroom in the English city of Leicester, Higgins, who has written in-depth reports on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, was engaging in an online war of words with a pro-Kremlin blogger over Twitter. This time he and his Bellingcat project, funded by fans and supporters, were being accused of taking money from Kiev to produce some of his hardest-hitting work, which has riled pro-Kremlin separatists and those in Moscow who support them. Multi-tasking while on baby duty, Higgins called his detractor a "deluded idiot" and signed off on that night in late January.
By Julia Fioretti BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Ireland will not retain sole control over privacy disputes involving companies such as Facebook and Apple under new rules agreed on Wednesday allowing any of its European peers to challenge Irish rulings. Under a "one-stop-shop" mechanism initially proposed in reforms of EU data protection laws, businesses operating across the 28-nation bloc would only have had to deal with the data protection authority in the country where they are headquartered or have their main European base - even if the alleged mishandling of data affects citizens in another country. On Wednesday, a majority of member states agreed to scrap an option requiring at least a third of concerned authorities to object, diplomats said, potentially giving a single "concerned" authority the right to complain. Latvia, which holds the rotating European presidency, had suggested rules to ensure a minimum number of regulators object to a decision before it is referred to the European Data Protection Board with the power to overturn the original decision.
Italian authorities are investigating whether Google violated any tax laws in the country, Milan's prosecutor said on Wednesday, adding that talks were under way with the U.S. company over a possible settlement. Officials had started discussions with Google representatives relating to its earnings in Italy in the years from 2008 to 2013, Milan prosecutor Edmondo Bruti Liberati said in a statement. Google was considering whether to provide information over revenues it generates in Italy, it added. It did not say when the investigation or the discussion with Google would conclude.
Health insurer Anthem Inc, which earlier this month reported that it was hit by a massive cyberbreach, said on Tuesday that 8.8 million to 18.8 million people who were not its customers could be victims in the attack. Anthem, the country's second-largest health insurer, is part of a national network of independently run Blue Cross Blue Shield plans through which BCBS customers can receive medical services when they are in an area where BCBS is operated by a different company. It is those Blue Cross Blue Shield customers who were potentially affected because their records may be included in the database that was hacked, the company said. Anthem updated the total number of records accessed in the database to 78.8 million customers from its initial estimate of 80 million, which includes 14 million incomplete records that it found.
(Reuters) - ESPN on Tuesday suspended anchor Keith Olbermann for the rest of the week because of a series of disparaging tweets about Pennsylvania State University and its students on Monday night. "We are aware of the exchange Keith Olbermann had on Twitter last night regarding Penn State," the Disney-owned cable sports network said in a statement. "It was completely inappropriate and does not reflect the views of ESPN. "We have discussed it with Keith, who recognizes he was wrong." Penn State students raised $13 million for pediatric cancer victims over the weekend.
By Chris Arsenault ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Floods and landslides linked to climate change have battered parts of Sri Lanka in the past two years, disrupting food output, but scientists believe a new program to install low-cost weather stations based on open-source technology could help farmers adapt to increasingly wild weather. New Mobile Weather Stations, made mainly from local parts, are starting to give farmers quick access to rainfall data, so they can better plan for floods or other extreme weather, Yann Chemin, a scientist leading the new initiative, said on Tuesday. The easy-to-make sensors cost about $250 to produce compared with about $10,000 for standard weather stations, he said. When more of the systems have been produced, Chemin hopes to have text messages sent from the sensors directly to farmers and government officials when rainfall levels are expected to rise in a specific area.
By Foo Yun Chee BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt will meet Europe's antitrust chief next week, two sources with knowledge of the matter said on Tuesday, a move likely to help regulators decide the next step in a four year-old investigation into the Internet company. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has met more than a dozen Google complainants, including executives from Microsoft and German publisher Axel Springer, in the last few weeks to get feedback. Commission spokesman Ricardo Cardoso declined to comment. Google spokesman Al Verney did not immediately respond to an email for comment.
Chile's Ministry of Defense said its website was hacked on Monday night by people claiming to belong to the Islamic State militant group, known by the acronym ISIS.
By Matthew Stock and Anastasia Gorelova LONDON (Reuters) - Everyone has seen someone play an air guitar that makes no sound. As odd as it looks, the inventors of Aerodrums say it is the first fully drumless drum set, and they have ambitious plans for the product. Developed by Yann Morvan and Richard Lee, research fellows at the Trinity College Dublin Vision and Visualization lab, the kit is intended as an alternative for drummers who lack space for a drum set or who don't want to annoy their neighbors. Using motion-tracking technology similar to that used for motion-capture effects in movies, Aerodrums replicates the sound and experience of a real drum kit while being compact enough to fit in a backpack.
Facebook Inc said on Tuesday that its active advertisers rose to 2 million, a 33 percent increase from the 1.5 million it had in July 2014. The vast majority of the advertisers, defined as those that have placed an ad on the social media platform in the last 30 days, represent small- and medium-sized business owners. "Small business owners are really hard to reach and they are not tech savvy usually," Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, said in an interview. Facebook also launched a mobile app for advertisers to use to manage their campaigns.
Deutsche Bank will outsource large parts of its wholesale banking IT infrastructure to U.S.-based Hewlett-Packard (HP) in a multibillion-dollar deal that leaves the group's retail operations untouched. Under the 10-year agreement, HP will provide computing capacity and data storage to host Deutsche's operations, the two companies said in a joint statement on Tuesday. Deutsche will retain activities such as IT architecture and information security. The HP deal will allow the bank to reduce costs and launch new products and services more quickly, Deutsche Bank Chief Operating Officer Henry Ritchotte said in a statement.
By Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - There were underpants, Lego statues and a nail-biting finale on the Oscars stage on Sunday, but it was Lady Gaga's "Sound of Music" spectacular that sparked the most chatter on social media. The Oscars lit up digital platforms, with 21 million people logging 58 million interactions about the awards ceremony on Facebook Inc, according to figures from the social networking site on Monday. Lady Gaga performed a medley of hits from "The Sound of Music" and then was joined by Julie Andrews on stage for the 50th anniversary of the musical, which was talked about by 214,000 people per minute globally on Facebook, the company said. According to Nielsen Social, which monitors comments on Twitter Inc, some 60,000 tweets were posted in the minute following Lady Gaga's tribute performance as she was joined by Andrews, making it the most-tweeted moment of the night.
By Warren Strobel WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the National Security Agency refused to comment on Monday on reports that the U.S. government implants spyware on computer hard drives for surveillance purposes, saying "we fully comply with the law." U.S. Navy Admiral Michael Rogers was responding to reports that the NSA had embedded spyware in computers on a vast scale and that along with its British counterpart, had hacked into the world's biggest manufacturer of cellphone SIM cards. Former NSA operatives told Reuters the agency was behind the campaign. Another report, based on documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published by the Intercept site, said the U.S. agency and its British counterpart hacked into Gemalto, which produces SIM cards. I don't have time." Even as he declined comment on the reports of aggressive NSA operations, Rogers argued that U.S. intelligence, along with law enforcement agencies, needs the legal means to break strong encryption increasingly built into operating systems such as those of Apple or Google.
By Peter Rudegeair NEW YORK (Reuters) - DriverUp, a U.S. online marketplace that allows hedge funds to invest directly in car loans, launched on Monday with a $50 million investment from venture capital firms. Executives at DriverUp told Reuters that the company is expecting to sell at least $50 million of auto loans to funds, wealthy individuals and other investors through its website this year. DriverUp's parent, Dallas, Texas-based Sierra Auto Finance, will make all the loans on the platform at first, but Chief Executive Sam Ellis said that over time other lenders may sell their loans via the site. Before starting Sierra in 2012, Ellis founded Exeter Finance Corp, a subprime lender acquired by Blackstone Group LP in 2011.
By Phil Stewart CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (Reuters) - New U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Monday America had the right "ingredients" of a strategy to combat Islamic State, emerging from talks with top U.S. military and diplomatic leaders without hinting at any fundamental shift in the campaign. After a day of meetings in Kuwait, Carter acknowledged some room for improvement, broadly suggesting some allies could contribute more to the fight and saying the United States needed to be more aggressive on social media combating Islamic State. Our global coalition is up to the task and so (is) American leadership." Carter kicked off the talks addressing the more than two dozen senior American officials he invited to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait as "Team America" in the region. He also received an operational update from Lieutenant General James Terry, the senior U.S. commander of operations against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
By Michael Holden LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron said internet firms must do more to deal with online extremism after three teenage girls radicalized "in their bedrooms" left London in an apparent bid to travel to Syria. Friends Amira Abase, 15, Shamima Begum, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, flew to Turkey last week in what the authorities believe was an attempt to travel to Syria to join the militant Sunni Islamist group Islamic State. News of their actions led to calls from lawmakers for social media companies to do more after it was revealed they had been in contact via Twitter with other women involved with Islamic State.
By Kieran Guilbert LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Islamic State is using social media and the promise of adventure to lure British Muslim girls to join its cause, an anti-extremism think tank said on Monday, as police attempt to trace three London schoolgirls believed to be heading to Syria. The three friends, two aged 15 and one 16, left their east London homes last week and caught a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul without telling their families. The Quilliam Foundation said there had been a concerted effort from Islamic State to use websites like Twitter, Ask.fm and Facebook to groom young girls into believing they have a moral duty and obligation to join the militant group. For girls from conservative Muslim families in Britain, who may be denied the same opportunities as their brothers and male peers, messages offering the chance to "do something with your life" can prove tempting, said managing director Haras Rafiq.
(Reuters) - Target Corp halved the size of online orders eligible for free shipping to $25, undercutting Amazon.com Inc and traditional rival Wal-Mart Stores Inc as it focuses on its online business. Target said on Monday the new threshold comes into effect immediately. Shipping has become a key promotional tool in the escalating war between retailers, with companies increasingly offering free shipping throughout the year instead of just during the holiday shopping season. Target's digital offerings include Target.com and Cartwheel, a mobile app for coupons.
By Teppei Kasai TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's biggest mobile phone service provider NTT DoCoMo Inc said it is investigating whether its customers were affected by a reported hack of a key mobile phone component supplied by Gemalto NV. News website The Intercept reported on Friday that the U.S. National Security Agency and Britain's Government Communications Headquarters hacked into Gemalto's systems to steal encryption keys that could unlock security settings on billions of mobile phones.