Weekend news roundup: Apple’s route out of Maps debacle, Europe’s new virtual police force

24 Sep 2012

In our roundup of the weekend’s top tech stories, Apple is reportedly headhunting ex-Google workers to resolve its problems with Maps in iOS 6, Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer is ready to reveal her five-year plan, and new surveillance laws in Europe will curb anonymity and pave the way for a virtual police force.

Apple looking for route out of mapping debacle – seeks Google Maps folk

TechCrunch reported that Apple is hiring its way out of problems discovered within the new Maps app that came with iOS6 last week and is focusing particularly on ex-Google workers.

“Using recruiters, Apple is pursuing a strategy of luring away Google Maps employees who helped develop the search giant’s product on contract, and many of those individuals seem eager to accept due in part to the opportunity Apple represents to build new product, instead of just doing ‘tedious updates’ on a largely complete platform,” TechCrunch reported.

FBI back on internet surveillance offensive

CNET reported that the FBI is renewing its request for new internet surveillance laws, saying technological advances hinder surveillance and is warning that companies should be required to build in back doors for police.

CNET was reporting on remarks by FBI director Robert Mueller to a US Senate committee this week.

“Currently, he said, many communications providers ‘are not required to build or maintain intercept capabilities.’”

Europe wants more surveillance powers – virtual police and no anonymity

In addition to the FBI’s everts, TechDirt reported on a leaked document that suggests the EU is preparing to roll out a clean IT anti-terrorism project for the internet “amounting to a system of continuous surveillance, extrajudicial removal of content and some new proposals that can only be described as deranged.”

Among the recommendations are:

·      Governments should stimulate self-regulation by internet companies

·      Knowingly providing hyperlinks on websites to terrorist content must be defined by law as illegal just like the terrorist content itself

·      Internet companies must allow only real, common names. These must be entered when registering

Power and pollution

The New York Times concluded a year-long investigation into data centres that support the explosion of digital information and claims the sleek, clean image presented by the data centre industry is at odds with the facts.

“Stupendous amounts of data are set in motion each day as, with an innocuous click or tap, people download movies on iTunes, check credit card balances through Visa’s web site, send Yahoo e-mail with files attached, buy products on Amazon, post on Twitter or read newspapers online.

“A year-long examination by The New York Times has revealed that this foundation of the information industry is sharply at odds with its image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness.

“Most data centres, by design, consume vast amounts of energy in an incongruously wasteful manner, interviews and documents show. Online companies typically run their facilities at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centres can waste 90pc or more of the electricity they pull off the grid,” the Times found.

Mayer to reveal strategy to troops this week

Yahoo! CEO and former Google executive Marissa Mayer is to reveal her strategy to put the portal giant at the forefront of all things web and mobile following meetings with the company’s board of directors this week, AllThingsD reported.

“In the memo, titled ‘Board slides, strategy and goals,’ Mayer talked about the meetings. There will be two this Tuesday, one in the morning and one later in the day, in order to accommodate Yahoo! staffers internationally. ‘In an act of radical transparency that will be a tradition moving forward,’ Mayer promised that she will go over the slides – which are usually not shared widely – of her ‘strategy and vision’ that she presented at the board meeting on Friday. ‘We want to offer you transparency into what happens at the board level as well as guidance as to where the company is going,’ Mayer noted.

“Mayer also said in the memo that she will have another all-hands meeting on October 1, where she will begin ‘rolling out a new system and process for goals for the company,’ including annual goals that will be tracked and graded – first on a company level, then to departments, teams and, finally, individuals.”

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