Tech roundup: What made news across the globe

Modern world

Ex-Google ad boss builds tracker-free search engine

An advert- and tracker-free search engine launches in the UK, France and Germany on Thursday.

Neeva has 600,000 users in the US, where it launched last year.

Creator Sridhar Ramaswamy, who worked at Google for 16 years and ran its ad business, told BBC News the technology sector had become “exploitative” of people’s data, something he no longer wanted to be a part of.

Trackers share information about online activity, largely to target adverts. Neeva has raised $77.5m (£68m) from investors.

It offers free-to-use search, with other features such as password-manager access and virtual-private-network (VPN) service to be made available on a subscription basis.

Users are asked to create an account, to build subscriptions at a later date.

And the UK price was likely to be about £5 per month, Mr Ramaswamy said.

“We felt the traditional search engines had become about advertising and advertisers – and not really about serving users,” he said.

“Google has a dominant position in the marketplace – and the incentive for them to truly innovate, to truly create disruptive experiences, is not really there.  BBC

Elon Musk Twitter deal back on in surprise U-turn

Billionaire Elon Musk has apparently changed his mind about buying Twitter, again, and is now willing to proceed with his takeover of the social media platform.

In a letter to the firm, Mr Musk agreed to pay the price he offered months ago before trying to quit the deal.

The surprise reversal comes just weeks before the two sides were due in court.

Twitter, which had sued Mr Musk to force the takeover to move forward, was seen as having the stronger case.

In the letter, attorneys for Mr Musk said he intended to move ahead to complete the transaction, pending receipt of the financing and an end of the legal fight.

A spokesperson for Twitter acknowledged the firm had received the proposal, adding “the intention of the company is to close the transaction at $54.20 per share” – the price that Mr Musk promised in April. BBC

Kim Kardashian pays $1.26m over crypto ‘pump and dump’

Kim Kardashian has agreed to pay a $1.26m (£1.12m) fine for advertising EthereumMax on her Instagram page.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission said the reality TV star had received $250,000 for advertising the cryptocurrency, without disclosing she had been paid to do so.

She also agreed not to promote crypto asset securities for three years.

Her lawyer told BBC News: “Ms Kardashian is pleased to have resolved this matter with the SEC.”

The lawyer said: “Kardashian fully cooperated with the SEC from the very beginning and she remains willing to do whatever she can to assist the SEC in this matter.

“She wanted to get this matter behind her to avoid a protracted dispute.

“The agreement she reached with the SEC allows her to do that so that she can move forward with her many different business pursuits.”

Ms Kardashian, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr, basketball player Paul Pierce and EthereumMax’s creators were sued by investors in January.

The legal action alleged they had collaborated to “misleadingly promote and sell” the cryptocurrency in a “pump and dump” scheme designed to inflate the price before selling to investors. BBC

Former Uber security chief convicted for concealing a felony

Uber’s former chief security officer has been convicted of failing to tell US authorities about a 2016 hack of the company’s databases.

A jury in San Francisco found Joe Sullivan – fired from Uber in 2017 – guilty of obstruction of justice and concealing a felony.

Increasingly, companies negotiate with ransomware hackers.

But investigators said they must “do the right thing” when their systems are breached.

The conviction is a dramatic reversal for Sullivan, who had at one point in his career prosecuted cyber-related crime for the San Francisco US attorney’s office.

After Sullivan’s conviction his lawyer, David Angeli, said “Mr Sullivan’s sole focus, in this incident and throughout his distinguished career, has been ensuring the safety of people’s personal data on the internet,” the Washington Post reported.

But prosecutors said the case was a warning to companies.

“We expect those companies to protect that data and to alert customers and appropriate authorities when such data is stolen by hackers,” US attorney Stephanie M Hinds said.

Ms Hinds accused Sullivan of working to hide the data breach from US regulator the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), adding he “took steps to prevent the hackers from being caught”.

At the time, the FTC was already investigating Uber following a 2014 hack.

When it was hacked again, the attackers emailed Sullivan and told him they had stolen a large amount of data, which they would delete in return for a ransom, according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) .

Staff working for Sullivan confirmed data, including about 57 million Uber users’ records and 600,000 driving-licence numbers, had been stolen.

According to the DOJ, Sullivan arranged for the hackers to be paid $100,000 (£89,000) in bitcoin in exchange for them signing non-disclosure agreements to not reveal the hack to anyone,

EU Parliament approves common charging cable from 2024

European MPs have voted for a law requiring all new portable devices to use the same type of charging cable.

Smartphones and tablets, including the Apple iPhone and iPad, would have to use a USB-C charger from 2024, while laptop manufacturers would have until 2026 to make the change.

There were 602 votes in favour and 13 against, with eight abstaining.

Member states are expected to grant approval on 24 October, before the rule is signed into law at the parliament.

Following a provisional agreement by the European Union, in June 2022, the UK government told BBC News it was not “currently considering” introducing a common charging cable.

But under the current post-Brexit arrangements, the new regulation could apply to Northern Ireland.

The “new requirements may also apply to devices sold in Northern Ireland under the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol in the Brexit agreement, potentially triggering divergence of product standards with the rest of the UK”, according to a December 2021 parliamentary report.

The treaty works by keeping Northern Ireland inside the EU’s single market for goods, while the rest of the UK is outside it.

A row between the UK and EU about how to reform the Northern Ireland protocol remains unresolved.

EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager celebrated the new rule on Twitter, citing the “waste and inconvenience” of having multiple chargers. BBC

Popular Minecraft YouTuber Dream reveals face

Popular YouTuber Dream has for years been known to his fans only as a cartoon smiley face.

The Minecraft gamer, with 30 million subscribers online, only ever uses his voice in streams – albeit occasionally appearing on camera wearing a mask.

But all that looked set to change after his friends – and other YouTubers – posted videos apparently reacting to Dream without his mask.

He then posted a video revealing his face for the first time.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Minecraft is the world’s bestselling video game and Dream’s most popular videos have tens of millions of views, with one having been watched more than 115 million times.

“Hi, my name is Clay, otherwise known as Dream,” he said in a five-minute video viewed more than 12 million times.

With a friend moving to the US, where Dream is based, he wanted to be able to go out more, without worrying about leaks or speculation, he said.

“I’ve been bunkered up,” Dream said. “The people trying to leak my face, trying to find out what I look like… it’s just a tiny bit too much.” BBC

French court cuts antitrust fine against Apple to 372m euros from 1.1bn- source

A French court on Thursday substantially lowered a fine against iPhone maker Apple for alleged anti-competitive behavior to 372 million euros ($366.31 million) from 1.1 billion euros.  The original fine had been imposed by France’s antitrust watchdog in 2020 for what it described as Apple’s anti-competitive behavior towards its distribution and retail network.

At the time, it was the biggest fine levied by the antitrust regulator, which said Apple imposed prices on retail premium resellers so that the prices were aligned with those charged by the California firm in its own shops, or on the Internet.

The Paris appeals court lowered the fine because it decided to drop one of the three main charges, related to allegations of price-fixing, the source said. The court also decided to significantly lower the rate applied to calculate the overall fine, the source added. REUTERS

Samsung quarterly profit to slump 25%

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s third-quarter profit could tumble 25%, the first year-on-year decline in nearly three years, as an economic downturn saps demand for electronic devices and the chips that power them.

Globally, inflation is on the rise, central banks are aggressively hiking interest rates, fears of recession are growing and uncertainty about the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is ever-present. As a result, businesses and consumers alike have reined in spending.

Operating profit for Samsung, the world’s biggest memory chip and smartphone maker, likely fell to 11.8 trillion won ($8.3 billion) in the July-September quarter, according to a Refinitiv SmartEstimate from 22 analysts.

“Being the world’s top memory chip maker, top in TV and mobile OLED displays, and top in smartphone shipments, Samsung is highly sensitive to the economy, with profits easily linked to demand,” said Greg Roh, head of research at Hyundai Motor Securities.

It would be the first profit decline since the first quarter of 2020, early on in the pandemic, and the lowest level of quarterly profit since the first quarter of 2021. Until this latest quarter, robust demand for devices as people were forced to stay at home has driven large profit gains for the South Korean tech giant. REUTERS









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