(Reuters) - An online dating site for adults seeking sexual trysts has been hacked, potentially compromising the personal information of some of its 64 million members, the company said on Friday. AdultFriendFinder.com, part of Sunnyvale, California-based FriendFinder Networks Inc, said it had contacted law enforcement, including the FBI, and a private investigative team to review the incident. "FriendFinder Networks Inc. recently became aware of a potential data security incident," the company said in a statement on Friday.
Alberta's newly elected government suspended one of its rookie legislators on Friday after offensive pictures she posted on social media before being elected emerged. Sociology student Deborah Drever, 26, was elected for the New Democratic Party in the May 5 election that ended 44 years of Progressive Conservative rule in the province. Drever had already gained notoriety after posting photos on her Facebook account showing her posing beside a marijuana-themed shirt and another showing a manicured hand giving the middle finger to the Canadian flag.
By Dan Levine SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The founder of virtual reality glasses maker Oculus VR Inc, acquired by Facebook Inc for $2 billion, has been accused of taking confidential information he learned while working with another company and passing it off as his own, according to a lawsuit filed this week. The plaintiff, Hawaii-based company Total Recall Technologies, said it hired Oculus founder Palmer Luckey in 2011 to build a prototype head mounted display. Facebook's $2 billion acquisition of Oculus last year was its first-ever hardware deal, as the company sought a way into the fast-growing wearable devices arena.
The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday authorized American businesses and individuals to facilitate personal communications over the Internet like social media, instant messaging and photo sharing in Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine last year. The department's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced it had issued a general license allowing for the exportation of such services and software to people in Crimea. A department spokesperson, who asked not to be named, said, "The general license allows personal Internet-based communications – such as social networking, instant messaging, and emails – and certain software necessary to enable it, between the United States and U.S. persons and Crimea." Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and numerous other online platforms were covered by the action.
By Euan Rocha and Alastair Sharp VANCOUVER/TORONTO (Reuters) - The successful initial public offering of Shopify could prompt Hootsuite, another promising Canadian tech startup, to tap public markets sooner rather than later, its chief executive said on Thursday. Ottawa-based Shopify's shares rose as much as 69 percent in the e-commerce software maker's U.S. debut on Thursday, giving it a $2 billion-plus valuation. The CEO of Vancouver-based Hootsuite, which sells software to manage social media to companies and organizations, said the investor enthusiasm for Shopify's launch bolsters their own plans.
By Maria Tsvetkova and Eric Auchard MOSCOW/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Russia's media watchdog has written to Google, Twitter and Facebook warning them against violating Russian Internet laws and a spokesman said on Thursday they risk being blocked if they do not comply with the rules. Roskomnadzor said it had sent letters this week to the three U.S.-based Internet firms asking them to comply with Internet laws which critics of President Vladimir Putin have decried as censorship. "In our letters we regularly remind (companies) of the consequences of violating the legislation," said Roskomnadzor spokesman Vadim Ampelonsky. He added that, because of the encryption technology used by the three firms, Russia had no way of blocking specific websites and so could only bring down particular content it deemed in violation of law by blocking access to their whole services.
Ancestry.com LLC, the world's largest family history website helping users trace their heritage, is exploring a sale that could value it at between $2.5 billion and $3 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter. Permira Advisers LLC, the buyout firm that owns most of privately held Ancestry, has hired investment banks to run an auction for the company, the people said this week. Permira declined to comment, while an Ancestry spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy is working hard to improve the cyber security of its computer networks and weapon and communications systems, while bracing for potential attacks on power grids and fuel supplies, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Wednesday. Mabus said cyber warfare was a clear threat given Russia's use of cyber attacks before its physical invasions of Crimea and Georgia. It's in every system because we are so networked." Mabus confirmed recent media reports that the Navy was looking at replacing IBM servers used for its Aegis combat system after International Business Machines Corp's $2.1 billion sale of its server division to China's Lenovo Group Ltd last year.
(Reuters) - Data storage equipment maker NetApp Inc reported fourth-quarter results below analysts' estimates, hurt by lower sales to original equipment manufacturers, sending its shares down more than 10 percent in extended trading. The company, which cut about 500 jobs, also forecast first-quarter profit below market estimates. NetApp has been trying to boost growth by focusing on cloud-based products as businesses cut spending on high-end storage systems.
(Reuters) - CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, which sells health insurance in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, said on Wednesday that a cyberattack compromised the data of 1.1 million current and former members. In May, Premera Blue Cross said that 11 million customers' information may have been exposed in a hack. CareFirst said that the attackers accessed one database and could have potentially acquired member user names created by individuals to use CareFirst's website, names, birth dates, email addresses and member identification numbers.
Streaming music service Spotify will soon provide video content from musicians, news organizations and TV networks in a bid to sign up more subscribers, the company said on Wednesday. A new recommendation function, similar to what rival Pandora Media Inc offers, will let people pick channels based on lifestyle activities, like "songs to sing to in the shower," or "100 plus hits form the 1980s," the Stockholm-based company said. In a splashy event in New York, Spotify founder and Chief Executive Daniel Ek highlighted the discovery nature of the revamped platform that he said will deliver more relevant music and content to Spotify users.
The Internet is the most important front in China's ideological battle against "Western anti-China forces", the country's military newspaper said on Wednesday, adding that online controls were essential to the government's survival. Calls to reject Western thought and values have grown stronger under President Xi Jinping, who has urged more "ideological guidance" at universities and the study of Marxism. Like many officials before him, Xi is steeped in the long-held belief of the ruling Communist Party that loosening control could bring chaos and the break-up of China.
Australian telecommunications firm Telstra Corp Ltd said on Wednesday computer systems at its recently acquired undersea cable company Pacnet Ltd had been hacked, potentially exposing sensitive customer information to theft. Telstra said the corporate information technology network of Pacnet, email and other business management systems of the company, had been accessed by an unauthorized third party several weeks before its $550 million takeover of the firm was completed on April 16. Telstra said it didn't know who was behind the hack.
By Elaine Lies TOKYO (Reuters) - The governor of the Japanese island of Okinawa said on Wednesday he will travel to the United States next week to press his demand that a U.S. military base be removed from his island to lighten the burden of a people weary of hosting U.S. troops. Takeshi Onaga, who won election last year as Okinawa governor largely on his stand against U.S. bases, has accused Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of looking down on the island and its people. "Unless we make the alliance something with dignity and pride, with both Japan and America deserving of respect, I don't believe that the economy in Asia will grow more stable," Onaga said.
China will spend more than $182 billion to boost Internet speeds by the end of 2017, a top government body said, as Beijing moves towards a more service-driven economy to boost growth. The State Council said the government will invest more than 430 billion yuan ($69.3 billion) this year on network construction, with at least another 700 billion yuan ($112.8 billion) spent over the following two years. China ranked 82nd in the world for average Internet connection speed, slower than Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan, according to cloud computing services provider Akamai's State of the Internet report for the fourth quarter of 2014.
San Francisco may become the second California city in a month to limit length of stays arranged by accommodation services like Airbnb, which matches people wishing to rent out all or part of their homes to temporary guests. A city committee late on Monday advanced a proposal that would limit hosts to renting accommodation to no more than 60 days a year, down from 90 currently. Airbnb has grown quickly and is valued at far more than $10 billion, with analysts assuming it can overcome any major regulatory backlash.
By Christine Kim SEOUL (Reuters) - The founder of Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd on Tuesday called "regrettable" a lawsuit by a group of luxury goods firms owned by Kering SA accusing the Chinese e-commerce giant of being a conduit for counterfeiters. Executive Chairman Jack Ma was speaking after Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and other brands owned by Kering sued Alibaba in the United States on Friday, accusing it of knowingly making it possible for counterfeiters to sell their products throughout the world. Ma also said Alibaba was interested in investing in U.S. tech companies, confirming media reports that the e-commerce firm is in talks with Apple Inc over an electronic payments system.
(Reuters) - A Baltimore man serving life for murder, whose conviction was called into question by last year's "Serial" podcast, will get a chance to call a new witness who says she can give him an alibi. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals granted Adnan Syed an opportunity to call a woman who said in an affidavit she saw him at a library around the time of the murder of his ex-girlfriend and high school classmate, Hae Min Lee, on Jan. 13, 1999. Syed appealed his 2000 murder conviction arguing that his legal counsel was ineffective for not interviewing the witness, Asia McClain, and for not seeking a plea deal.
By Roberta Rampton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama sent his first tweet from his very own account on Twitter on Monday, quickly amassing a million followers in five hours, the latest of many White House efforts to amplify his message with social media. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account," Obama tweeted from his verified @POTUS account. A Twitter spokesman could not immediately confirm whether Obama had set a record. According to Guinness World Records, the fastest pace to a million followers was set by actor Robert Downey Jr. in 23 hours and 22 minutes in April 2014.
Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Pacific Crest Securities and William Blair are underwriters to the IPO. The California-based company, whose investors include BV Capital and IGSB, provides software to small and medium-sized property managers and also offers legal software for small law firms under the brand "MyCase".
By Malathi Nayak NEW YORK (Reuters) - AT&T Inc is gearing up to bring connected car users exclusive content such as videos and games that can be streamed onto personal mobile devices later this year, AT&T's senior vice president of emerging devices Chris Penrose said. AT&T has signed up eight automaker partners, including General Motors Co, Audi AG and Ford Motor Co, to hook up cars with Internet access. The goal is to offer free or paid content exclusively for connected car users and sell more data, Penrose said in a recent interview. AT&T is talking to its auto industry partners and content companies to bring new content like "special" shows or gaming levels on phones and tablets in connected cars, Penrose said.
By Victoria Bryan and Peter Maushagen BERLIN/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Within 40 minutes of Germanwings flight 4U9525 crashing in the Alps in March French accident investigators from the BEA authority were on the phone to plane tracking website Flightradar24. "BEA called us and we of course passed the information over to them right away," the website operator's chief executive Fredrik Lindahl said.
Boutique fitness studios are keeping track of clients' progress with methods ranging from videotaping their workouts to measuring their fat, to posting a friendly nudge on their Facebook pages. Gregory Chertok, a sports psychology consultant with the American College of Sports Medicine, said research has shown that even small amounts of social support can produce large and lasting gains in physical activity. In a 2007 study by Stanford University in California, researchers showed that even a simple, computer-generated phone call could be effective in motivating the sedentary to exercise. “These exercisers are being held accountable by their fitness studios to a degree,” he said.
By Amy Sawitta Lefevre BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand expressed concern on Monday at a wave of anti-migrant vitriol on social media, which the government said underlined why it cannot accept any more of the asylum seekers who have been arriving by boat on its shores. The United Nations has urged Southeast Asian governments to mount a coordinated rescue operation for thousands of desperate Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar adrift in rickety boats in the Andaman Sea. Following an appeal from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Thailand's junta said it would set up temporary shelters for those that did make it ashore, prompting an outpouring of bile on social media from those who do not want migrants to stay.
Malaysia's embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak broke his silence on Sunday after weeks of calls from long-time leader Mahathir Mohamad for his resignation over corruption and mismanagement allegations. The prime minister has been weakened by the attacks of his predecessor, but still retains support within the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. In his first detailed response to these attacks, Najib said that he had nothing to do with the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, and had even sworn an oath to that effect on the Koran in a mosque. Mahathir, Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister, withdrew his support for Najib last year after the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition fell short of a popular majority in the 2013 elections but retained power.
The German Bundestag lower house of parliament is trying to repair its computer system after a hacking attack but there are no indications yet that hackers accessed information, a parliamentary spokeswoman said on Saturday. The Bundestag is analyzing what happened and experts from the Bundestag administration and the BSI (the German Federal Office for Information Security) are working to repair the system, the spokeswoman said. On Friday a German media report said that unknown hackers had been attempting to access the Bundestag's internal data network for several days.
A California man has sued Uber Technologies Inc and its Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick, claiming they stole his idea for a cellphone-based car hailing service. Kevin Halpern sued Uber, Kalanick and several early investors in the company in San Francisco Superior Court on Thursday, accusing them of misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract. Uber, the San Francisco-based ride sharing company that was valued at $40 billion in its last funding round, called the claims "completely baseless" and vowed to fight them. Halpern founded a company called Celluride Wireless in 2003, six years before Uber was created.
Pennsylvania State University said on Friday that two cyberattacks at its College of Engineering, including one in 2012 that originated in China, compromised servers containing information on about 18,000 people. Penn State, a major developer of technology for the U.S. Navy, said there was no evidence that research or personal data such as social security or credit card numbers had been stolen. Cybersecurity firm Mandiant has confirmed that at least one of the two attacks was carried out by a "threat actor" based in China, Penn State said.
Sports betting and gaming company GVC Holdings Plc said it had submitted a bid for bigger rival Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc, which put itself up for sale last year. Bwin's shares were up 9.6 percent at 98.00 pence at 1422 GMT (10.22 a.m. ET) on Friday. The stock, which was up earlier in the day on hopes of a deal, touched a high of 99.70 pence after GVC's statement. GVC said if Bwin were to agree to a deal, it would be treated as a reverse takeover due to Bwin's size.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy drew a wave of mocking comments about his judicial woes when he launched a rare question-and-answer session on Twitter on Friday. As soon as the Q&A session was announced, dozens took to Twitter to question him on issues such as his decision to rename the conservative party "The Republicans" and the financing of his political campaigns. The public response was such that some local media branded the PR operation a failure before Sarkozy even started answering the questions, with one tweet showing a picture of someone looking for a needle in a haystack with the headline: "Someone in @NicolasSarkozy's team has just found ... a tweet he can answer." Live Twitter Q&A sessions can be a tricky exercise.
By Julia Fioretti BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium's privacy watchdog accused Facebook on Friday of trampling on European privacy laws by tracking people online without their consent and dodging questions from national regulators. The Privacy Protection Commission (CPVP/CBPL), which is working with German, Dutch, French and Spanish counterparts, launched the blistering attack after trying to find out more about the U.S. social media giant's practices. It urged Internet users to install privacy software to shield themselves from Facebook's tracking systems, whether they have an account with the social network or not. It said in a statement that Facebook had refused to recognize Belgian and other EU national jurisdictions, insisting it was subject only to the law in Ireland, the site of its European headquarters.
In a rare show of everyman charm from one of China's most elite politicians, Premier Li Keqiang appeared in a grinning selfie with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday. Modi, who is visiting China this week to boost economic ties and discuss a persistent border dispute, is known for being at ease with social media, including a large follower base on Twitter. Modi set up an account on the microblogging site Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, ahead of his trip, prompting a flurry of mostly skeptical messages from the Chinese public. China's leadership has experimented with more unscripted interactions in recent years.
(Reuters) - Internet radio service Pandora Media Inc said it will appeal a rate court ruling that could force the company to pay higher royalties to Broadcast Music Inc (BMI) for music licenses. BMI said on Thursday the New York Rate Court ruled in its favor and agreed that the royalty rate of 2.5 percent of revenue was "reasonable, and indeed at the low end of the range of fees of recent licenses." Pandora said in an emailed statement the ruling could increase its content costs as a percentage of revenue by 80 basis points. The latest court decision comes close on the heels of a court ruling in favor of Pandora last week, rejecting an effort by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) to charge Pandora more to license its music from 2013 to 2015.
(Reuters) - Video streaming company Netflix Inc is in talks with Jack Ma-backed Wasu Media Holding Co and other potential partners to enter China's booming online video market, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Netflix is seeking a partner that has licenses for content on all devices, including mobile phones, computers and set-top boxes, the report said. Reuters could not immediately reach Wasu Media for comment and Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours. Netflix earlier said it was developing plans to launch a "modest" service in China if it can get permission to operate in the world's most populous country.
(Reuters) - Antivirus and security software maker Symantec Corp's quarterly profit and revenue missed Wall Street estimates, hurt by a strong dollar and lower demand for its consumer security products. Symantec, best known for its Norton antivirus software, also forecast weaker-than-expected first-quarter profit and revenue, sending its shares down 3 percent in extended trading. The company, whose security products come bundled with PCs, said it expects an adjusted profit of 41-44 cents per share in the current quarter and revenue of $1.50 billion-$1.54 billion. Analysts on an average were expecting a profit of 45 cents per share on revenue of $1.62 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Slowing PC sales have hurt the company's security business, while sluggish demand for storage and data management software has diminished the value of its cash-cow Veritas business.
CITIC Securities Co Ltd, China's biggest brokerage, will partner with boutique investment bank China Renaissance to provide M&A, restructuring and initial public offering-related services for Internet companies. Well-connected local firms like China Renaissance are seeing a boom as entrepreneur-driven private businesses, particularly in the technology sector, overtake state-owned companies to drive investment banking revenues in China. While CITIC has seen profits soar on the back of a sharp rally in the nation's stock markets, it and other Chinese brokerages are keen to develop new revenue sources as Beijing's plans to allow commercial banks and other finance firms to own brokerage license will increase competition. A new team to be set up by CITIC Securities and China Renaissance will also handle OTC and A-share listings as well as develop financial products, the companies said in a statement late on Wednesday.
China will accelerate development of its high-speed broadband networks to raise Internet speeds and cut prices, long bugbears in a country where many people still have no access to the web. Telecoms firms should make rapid moves to cut prices and increase urban broadband speeds by around 40 percent, according to a statement issued late on Wednesday by China's State Council, the country's cabinet. China's investment in broadband could benefit global network equipment makers such as Ericsson and Nokia Oyj's Alcatel-Lucent, as well as home-grown players like Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] and ZTE Corp. The statement did not say how much investment would be needed, but officials have previously earmarked around 2 trillion yuan ($322 billion) to improve China's broadband infrastructure by 2020. The cabinet statement added that China would look to open up the telecoms market and encourage increased competition, including through expanding a pilot scheme for broadband services this year.
By Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Clara Ferreira-Marques BENGALURU, India (Reuters) - After ping pong tables, motivational posters and casual dress codes, India's tech start-ups are following Silicon Valley's lead and embracing the "fail fast" culture credited with fuelling creativity and success in the United States. Taking failure as a norm is a major cultural shift in India, where high-achieving children are typically expected to take steady jobs at recognized firms.
By Yasmeen Abutaleb NEW YORK (Reuters) - Facebook raised wages for its contract workers, such as cafeteria staff and janitors, to a minimum of $15 per hour amid rising tension over the wage gap between the technology sector's elite and the lower-paid workers. Contractors will also receive a minimum of 15 days of paid vacation days and a $4,000 new child benefit for parents who do not receive parental leave, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a Wednesday post on Facebook. Facebook implemented the wage increase for some workers at its Menlo Park headquarters as of May 1. The company declined to say how many contract workers it employs or name any of its vendors.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc is planning to test a new unlimited online shipping service this summer for $50 per year, a move that may hurt Amazon's annual $99 Prime shipping service. Wal-Mart's service, which will be by invitation only for now, will offer selected products on the company's website to customers within three days or less, company spokesman Ravi Jariwala told Reuters. Wal-Mart offers more than 7 million products on its website. The move underscores Wal-Mart's efforts to scale its online business rapidly and gain a share of a market dominated by Amazon.