Weekend news round-up: Eric Schmidt wants an open web; Kim Dotcom speaks out

21 Jan 2013

In our round-up of some of the top tech stories from the weekend, fresh from his trip to North Korea, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt outlines the economic advantages of the internet and calls for an open web; a Canadian student is expelled for fixing a security loophole that potentially exposed the privacy of 250,000 other students; key questions emerge about Samsung’s future; and Mega’s Kim Dotcom talks to the press.

Google’s Eric Schmidt calls for an open internet

Fresh from his trip to North Korea, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt is as firm in his beliefs as ever about openness and has called for an open internet.

According to The Next Web, Schmidt told North Korea’s leaders that the country and its economy is suffering from its lack of internet, but now he’s published more thoughts on the topic.

“Once the internet starts in any country, citizens in that country can certainly build on top of it, but the government has to do one thing: open up the internet first. They have to make it possible for people to use the internet, which the government of North Korea has not yet done. It is their choice now, and in my view, it’s time for them to start, or they will remain behind,” Schmidt said.

Samsung at the crossroads

Having conquered the majority of the non-iOS smartphone business, Samsung is in a bit of a predicament.

According to tech blogger Chris Dixon, the mobile device industry is still in its infancy. Samsung’s fate depends largely on how the industry evolves.

He posed two key questions about Samsung’s future and has given his perspective on each. The questions are:

1.     Will the smartphone/tablet industry stratify the way the PC business did? 

2.      If the industry stratifies, will the lion’s share of the profits go to the OS and application layers as it did for PCs?

Student expelled from Canadian college for discovering security flaw

A Canadian student has been expelled from a Montreal college after discovering a security flaw caused by sloppy coding that potentially compromised more than 250,000 students’ personal data.

According to the National Post: “Ahmed Al-Khabaz, a 20-year-old computer science student at Dawson and a member of the school’s software development club, was working on a mobile app to allow students easier access to their college accounts when he and a colleague discovered what he describes as ‘sloppy coding’ in the widely used Omnivox software which would allow ‘anyone with a basic knowledge of computers to gain access to the personal information of any student in the system, including social insurance number, home address and phone number, class schedule, basically all the information the college has on a student.’”

An interview with Kim Dotcom

The Next Web carried an insightful interview with Mega Upload’s Kim Dotcom, who is battling extradition from New Zealand by US law authorities.

Dotcom outlined his plans for his new file-sharing service Mega, which has already amassed 250,000 sign-ups, and he insists he doesn’t want to have another brush with the authorities.

“This should not be seen as us mocking Hollywood or giving the middle finger to them – we started developing this new business last September. We are not being arrogant, it’s us using our previous experience with Megaupload to have the best product out there,” Dotcom said.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years