ISP’s in Germany Can be Ordered to Block Piracy Websites

ISP’s are the ones responsible for giving the public access to the world wide web and everything that you can find on it. The problem with the public having access to everything is that sometimes they give access to things which they shouldn’t, a game or a movie or sometimes just designs for things which haven’t even been created. Piracy online is the concept that you either host or copy something that you don’t own, have the rights to use or the permission to run. Germany has had enough though and its supreme court has said that maybe you shouldn’t be able to access that material online.

In a recent ruling, the supreme court has ruled that ISP’s can be required to block sites if they meet two conditions first. The first condition is that the person requesting the block must have explored alternative options, this can be anything from contacting the person that uploaded the material to contacting the site that hosts the material.

The second option is that the site can only be blocked if “on balance” they are deemed to have more illegal than legal content, this means that if someone uploads one bad file to your system the chance that your system will be blocked is small.

More and more countries are making moves like this, from tracking down illegal uploaders to blocking off people’s access to the materials, where do you stand on this question. Should we be given free reign of the internet and the people who are illegally uploading materials targeted or should the people who download and use the materials illegally be acceptable targets for legal action as well?

Germany Promises 50Mbps Broadband

With a wide majority of the world using internet on a regular, if not every day, basis, we need to be aware of just how much we use the internet for. While most activities are mundane and almost ritualistic in how we do them each day. There are some which we take a lot of time to do, and can even be in their work life every day. With more and more people relying on the internet for everyday work related activities speed is essential (yes, we understand that you want that YouTube video to buffer a little faster too). Germany has decided that it will take the first step and states that it will promise all users 50Mbps broadband across the entire country.

The current highest download speed (on average) is South Korea with 23.6Mbps, with the average speed in the US only measuring at 11.9Mbps. With initial estimates putting 70% of Germany already connected to 50Mbps connections, the cost of upgrading everyone to this speed is expected to be rather small. It should be noted though that their current average speed is only 11Mbps, a value only slightly lower than the US’s and under half of the current world’s leaders average.

With the public being asked to provide 10% of the cost, with 90% being provided by a combination of German states (40%) and development projects (50%), users could soon see their internet speed jumping.

Thank you The Next Web for the information.

Image courtesy of Gecko And Fly.

Treason Investigation For Netzpolitik.org Paused In Germany

Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister taking part in Sundays demonstration in Berlin

Secrecy and news. These things are against odds in recent years with the public being aware of just how much we do not know courtesy of the Snowden leaks. In Germany, there is an investigation into the digital rights news site Netzpolitik.org, or rather two journalists, who are charged with treason.

Earlier this year Netzpolitik published two leaked documents detailing the plans by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution to expand surveillance of social networks. The head of the German intelligence services, Hans-Georg Massen, has defended the idea of bringing criminal charges to the sites writers. It should be noted that he is also the president fo the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

The investigation began with just those responsible for the leaks but was expanded to include Netzpolitik journalists. The idea of journalists being under investigation for treason caught wind and ended with a lot of people expressing their dislike of the matter, including Correctiv.rog who not only republished the leaked documents but then reported themselves to Germany’s prosecutor general.

With politicians such as Renate Künast (leading Green MP) calling the investigation a “humiliation of the rule of law”, the matter will only continue to gather favour and the public opinion and action will impact on the government’s decisions.

The trial is currently halted courtesy of the Prosecutor general, Harald range, who has stated that he will “await the results of an internal investigation into whether the journalists from the news platform netzpolitik.org had quoted from a classified intelligence report before deciding how to proceed.”

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

Image courtesy of Sebaso.

 

German Youth Club Produce Sweet ‘Floppy’ Music

I’m sure everyone has an old floppy disk drive under their bed or in a box in the attic. How long since you used it? A year? 2? 5? Well a group of german individuals went and rounded up 49 of these relics, joined them together to produce the music of the 8-bit apocalypse.

The instrument, known as the Floppy Orgel or Floppy Organ to the English-speaking world; was devised by a german electronics youth club. It consists of 49 floppy drives and some fancy custom 3D printed parts. To power the ‘instrument’, it’s all hooked up to an Arduino Uno running Sammy1Am’s GitHub “Moppy” Code, which converts standard MIDI signals into motor pulses.

The most intriguing part of this build is how well it works by a simple keyboard interface, despite a small delay between pressing the key and the drive operating; it sounds pretty good. The group originally planned on producing a four-drive unit, but decided against it for the manly ‘go big or go home’.

“Musical floppy drives are made by manipulating the internal motor that moves the read/write heads over the floppy disk. Each floppy disk is divided into 80 tracks radially from the centre, which the notoriously noisy floppy drive motor can send the read/write head to. By pulsing the motor at any of those 80 positions, representing different frequencies, you can create a particular musical note. And, because floppy drives don’t contain their own controller, they’re far easier to manipulate with third-party boards and tools like the Arduino.”

I actually quite like the sound of it, reminds me of video games from the early 90’s. Do you know of any similar musical instruments made from computer parts? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.

Fingerprint of Politician Cloned Just From Public Photos

A member of the Chaos Computer Club has reportedly ‘cloned’ the fingerprint of a politician from Germany solely using publicly available images taken by press at a conference.

Jan Krissler created a usable copy of German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen’s fingerprints using only images and computer software. The software presumably magnified the images taken to a degree that individual details in Ms von der Leyen’s prints could be identified and easily replicated.

Krissler says that “politicians will presumably wear gloves when talking in public” following the publication of his research. Maybe they should too, because details like this could give someone access to anything from her phone to a highly secure building.

Fingerpint recognition has slowly been shown to be not as secure as originally accepted, with hackers working hard to find ways to circumvent it. There are other methods, like finger vein recognition, that are being developed to get around the issues traditional biometrics pose.

Source: BBC News

Phone, Tablet Company Linshof Claims a ‘Clean Android’ Device Launch

We’ve recently reported on Linshof’s i8 smartphone offering, allowing users to utilize their 80GB of storage space through an interesting 64GB and 16GB memory module paring technology. Just now, news has come to light that this German manufacturer has announced that they will launch ‘clean Android’ offerings of these smartphones and tablets as soon as the first-quarter of 2015. This is an expanded news article, with more pricing and product information being made available to us.

This new OEM has been officially revealed to the public, utilizing Android’s 5.0 Lollipop software at a reported low price. Linshof claims that their i8 5-inch smartphone and their 10-inch tablet will be released on the market with an unnamed octa-core processor @ 2.1GHz, paired with 3GB of RAM and the aforementioned 80GB storage modules. They sent out an email this last Saturday, further clarifying that their 80GB modules are split up between a 64GB and 16GB chip – with this 16GB chip being a “super-high data rate” device, allowing for SSD-like upgraded performance contained within your mobile phone.

The tablet is set to be listed at $360 US, alongside their Smartphone at $380 US. These sharp-angled products are expected to see a slight change in pricing upon release according to reports, however it will be based around the same mark.

Linshof is looking to prove that Germans have what it takes to enter the phone market globally, can they compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung?

Germany May Switch to Using Typewriters in a Bid to Stop US Spys

It seems like German and US relations are being stretched even further recently, with the NSA scandal showing no signs of dissipating any time soon, German politicians are now considering using typewriters to write up confidential documents in a bid to stop spying from the NSA.

By going low-tech the German government hope to throw a spanner in the works for any digital spy efforts. The joys of a physical and manually printed piece of paper mean that the only way you’ll get to see it, is to have it in your hands… or through a pretty awesome telescope / CCTV set up, but this isn’t James Bond movie.

Chair of the German Parliament, Patrick Sensberg suggested that committee members consider ditching e-mail in favor of typewriters. “As a matter of fact, we already have [a typewriter], and it’s even a non-electronic typewriter” he said when speaking with ARD Morning Show Monday. When asked if it was a joke, the Sensburg Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union Part responded “yes, no joke”.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TweakTown.

 

Tor/Tails Linux Users and Linux Journal Readers Tagged as “Extremists” by NSA

Tor and Tails Linux Users, as well as Linux Journal readers have been apparently tagged as ‘extremists’ by the National Security Agency, having leaked documents reveal that the XKeyscore snooping program is apparently targeting anyone who is interested in online privacy and use the latter software.

For those who do not know, XKeyscore is a piece of software which was among a number of surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden last year. Having said that, sources say that a number of Tor project members and security specialists from NDR and WDR in Germany have analyzed the source code and identified two German Tor Directory Authority servers as being under surveillance by the NSA, having other specific IP addresses cited.

However, the code appears not to keep every country in ‘lockdown’. Canada, UK, New Zealand, Australia and the US have apparently been given a free pass from the NSA’s surveillance program. For those who are not, the program is stated to mark and track IP addresses of users who search for keywords such as ‘tails’ or ‘Amnesiac Incognito Live System’, along with ‘Linux’, ‘ USB ‘,’ CD ‘, ‘secure desktop’, ‘ IRC’, ‘truecrypt’ or ‘ tor’, having also referring to the Tails Linux distribution as “a comsec mechanism advocated by extremists on extremist forums”.

The report also states that, aside from Linux Journal, other websites such as privacy.li, FreeProxies.org, HotSpotShield, MegaProxy, FreeNet, Centurian, and an anonymous email service called MixMinion are on the surveillance list. Aside from the surveillance details, nobody knows who leaked source code in question. While the obvious ‘target’ would be Snowden himself, other security specialists point to a ‘second leaker out there’.

Following the leaked information, the NSA has apparently released an official statement (available here), stating that the agency only collects data relevant for them and authorized by law, pointing out that tools such as the XKeyscore have different layers of searches and data gathering, relevant to and in accordance with every nation’s laws.

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information

Intel Fined $1.4 Billion Due To “Unfair Sales Tactics”

Intel has lost a case this Thursday opened by the European Commision back in 2009, where Intel was charged with harming its competitor, Advanced Micro Devices, or most commonly known as AMD by giving rebates to PC makers such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, NEC and Lenovo for buying most of their computer chips from Intel.

In addition to the above charges, Intel is said to have paid German retail chain Media Saturn Holding to stock only computers with its chips. These are quite harsh accusations thrown at Intel, having the case opened for about 5 years now. However, it appears that the decision has been finally made and it looks like the Luxembourg-based General Court has backed the Commision’s decision as well with the following statement:

“The Commission demonstrated to the requisite legal standard that Intel attempted to conceal the anti-competitive nature of its practices and implemented a long-term comprehensive strategy to foreclose AMD from the strategically most important sales channels,” the court said in a near 300-page decision.

The EU judges have also decided to fine Intel with the outstanding sum of $1.4 billion, which is equivalent to 4.15% of the company’s revenue in 2008, opposed to a possible maximum fine consisting of 10% of the revenue. Also, the judges’ decision along with the rising level of fines could become a source of serious concern for a lot of companies.

Intel still has one more chance it could take by taking the case forward to the Court of Justice of the European Union. However, the company refused to make any official statement on what its future actions will be.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information

Industry Giants Google And Apple Consider Expanding To The Automobile Industry

The car industry has quickly caught the attention of both Apple and Google. After fiercely competing with each other in smartphone, web browser, and tablet markets, both the companies are now working with leading car manufacturers to develop in-car entertainment and information systems.

Google and German automaker Audi AG are said to be working together on Android based in-car infotainment systems and they plan to announce their partnership at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next week. The Google announcement is being seen as the answer to Apple’s “iOS in the car” initiative, which was launched in June at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). As part of the initiative, Apple is developing technology to integrate iPhones with car’s dashboard control panels. Apple is said to be collaborating with BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Honda Motors for their projects.

In terms of tech features, while Apple is going for the iPhone attachment to the car, Google is taking to a more embedded approach and is working on integrating the Android OS with the car’s dashboard. According to the report, 80 million new cars and light trucks are sold every year. Quite clearly, the market has huge potential and this is the reason Apple and Google are trying hard to penetrate it. The concept of smart cars has also opened the doors for leading chip-makers like Qualcomm, Intel, and Nvidia, to enter the car business.

Thank you Tech Report for providing us with this information

Google Voice Search Receives An International Upgrade

Google responds to their users’ requests to add multiple languages to their Google Search engine for other parts of the world. By tapping the microphone icon in the search bar, French, German and Japanese speakers can ask Google any number of questions and have their smartphone respond in their native language.

Google also gives some examples, with asking for some coffee in Munich: “Wo bekomme ich Kaffee in München?” and users will get a list of local options, or the height of the Eiffel tower by saying: “Quelle est la hauteur de la Tour Eiffel?”, as well as who invented the transistor in Japanese: “トランジスタを発明したのはだれ?”, giving you the answer to the latter question.

Given the localization standards, we can see languages such as Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese and even Netherlands added to the search engine, give or take. But as Google did not make any official announcements on this matter, it should be taken with a grain of salt. At least German, French and Japanese users can enjoy searching in their native language so far.

The changes will not require a new update, as the feature is to be implemented server-side. Download the application for your iPhone, iPad or Android from their respective stores if not already done so and ask away. Or you could use the traditional way and type your question as well to get you answer. The means is entirely up to you.

Thank you Google for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Google