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Euronews: UK Spooks Tapped Into Yahoo Webcam Chats

Paul Rainford
2/28/2014
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Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: MWC14 breaks records; Belgacom slips in 2013; Deutsche Telekom plans job cuts in Greece.

  • In the latest installment of Snowden-related revelations, The Guardian reports that the UK's surveillance agency, GCHQ, collected still images from webcam chats, some them very rude, from millions of Yahoo accounts worldwide. Yahoo is said to be none too happy about it, and denies any prior knowledge that it had taken place. (See British Spooks Tap the Global Net.)

  • If you thought it seemed crowded at this year's Mobile World Congress, you were right: Show organizer GSM Association (GSMA) claims that MWC14 broke its own record in terms of attendance, with 85,000 visitors squeezing in, representing an 18% increase on the show in 2013. That's a lot of coffee and more than a few cheese sandwiches.

    After the Goldrush
    Weary post-show refugees at Mobile World Congress wait in vain for a coffee wagon to show up. Photo by Dan 'The Lens' Jones.
    Weary post-show refugees at Mobile World Congress wait in vain for a coffee wagon to show up. Photo by Dan "The Lens" Jones.

  • Belgacom SA (Euronext: BELG) pointed to pressures on its mobile business, as well as the effect of regulatory changes, as reasons for a 2.2% decline in its full-year revenues, to €6.31 billion (US$8.7 billion) in 2013. EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) was also down, by 4.9% to €1.71 billion ($2.35 billion).

  • Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) may be about to make more job cuts relating to its OTE S.A. subsidiary in Greece, reports Reuters, citing Focus, a German magazine. More than 1,500 jobs at OTE have already gone, mainly on the fixed-line side.

  • Vello Systems , which supplies equipment and technology for software-defined networking (SDN), is to open an office in Belfast, Northern Ireland, bringing more than 70 new jobs to the city. Government agency Invest Northern Ireland provided part of the incentive for the move. (See Vello Expands Into Europe.)

  • Chemicals giant Solway claims to have reduced its telecom costs by 30% following the deployment of BT Connect Optimization, a BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) managed service for wide-area networks that relies on smarts from Ipanema Technologies . (See Solvay Cuts Costs With BT, Ipanema .)

  • Middle Eastern operator Etisalat has signed an agreement with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. that is intended to bring more Huawei-built mobile devices to Etisalat customers. Earlier in the week, at Mobile World Congress, Etisalat underlined its relationship with Mastercard, saying that it's looking at ways to develop their mobile payments partnership that has seen recent service launches in Egypt and Nigeria.

  • A German court has dismissed a patent suit brought against Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) by patents specialist IPCom GmbH & Co KG, reports Bloomberg. The patent in question related to technology used to prioritize calls on mobile networks.

  • UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) has introduced a 152Mbit/s broadband service, claiming it is 19 times faster than "regular" broadband. Virgin's broadband network passes 12.5 million UK homes: At the end of 2013 it had almost 4.4 million broadband users.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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    SachinEE
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    SachinEE,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    3/6/2014 | 1:13:50 PM
    Euronews: UK Spooks Tapped Into Yahoo Webcam Chats
    @ Carol Wilson, well your comments on greater attendance at MWC raised new questions in mind. I was actually thinking that 18 % increase in people attending the MWC reflects the increasing use of mobile devices. But now I would love to know how shows lose their way when they get bigger?
    SachinEE
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    SachinEE,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    3/6/2014 | 1:13:02 PM
    Euronews: UK Spooks Tapped Into Yahoo Webcam Chats
    @ kq4ym, truly national security has become a sweeping word for governments and spy agencies and they can do anything they want to do in the name of national security without really defining what national security means and what are the limits to doing things in its name. One wonders what national security service they were performing by taking snapshots of private parts.
    Joe Stanganelli
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    Joe Stanganelli,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    3/6/2014 | 10:40:25 AM
    Re: No end to revelations of unwarranted intrusions
    Speaking of which, this recent court decision from Massachusetts seems relevant.
    TaraSeals
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    TaraSeals,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    3/6/2014 | 9:14:34 AM
    Re: No end to revelations of unwarranted intrusions
    It just seems like no one's really at the helm. Nebulous, distributed and therefore resilent-- just like next-gen communications networks, come to think of it!
    kq4ym
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    kq4ym,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    3/3/2014 | 11:05:59 AM
    Re: No end to revelations of unwarranted intrusions
    Under the guise of national security it seems most goverments and their spy agencies can pretty much do what they want. Supposedly, in this case they argues that they were just taking "snapshots" in order to test a facial recognition program. But what they were really up to is anyone's guess. Reportedly those Yahoo webchats contained more than one would guess in not-family rated photos.  videoe of private parts.
    Joe Stanganelli
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    Joe Stanganelli,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    2/28/2014 | 11:46:09 PM
    Re: So 85,000 people - how many service providers?
    @Carol: And, of course, of those service providers, how many were actually people ready, willing, and able to make a purchasing decision -- versus people who just wanted a company-paid trip to a conference for free swag, booze, and possibly extramarital activities.
    Joe Stanganelli
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    Joe Stanganelli,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    2/28/2014 | 11:44:34 PM
    Re: No end to revelations of unwarranted intrusions
    @Tara: The truth of the matter is irrelevant at this point, because now we are at a point where a such a spectre of wrongdoing has been raised that many people simply don't trust this agency -- or this administration -- anymore.

    Remember flag@whitehouse.gov, for instance?
    Joe Stanganelli
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    Joe Stanganelli,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    2/28/2014 | 11:42:53 PM
    Belgacom
    Combined with revelations that Belgacom was hacked by GCHQ and the brouhaha that led to the ousting of CEO Didier Bellens, Belgacom has had a rough year indeed.  2.2% isn't so bad.  I'd expect it to come back well this year.
    TaraSeals
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    TaraSeals,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    2/28/2014 | 1:51:43 PM
    Re: No end to revelations of unwarranted intrusions
    I agree. I think that we all rest easier knowing that our intelligence people--spies, spooks, agents, operatives, etc. etc.--do indeed have the tools to effectively do their jobs. Which is, you know, to gather intelligence, to surveill, to know what people of dubious intentions are up to. However, this protective role has never been a carte blanche for filterless, mass data collection on citizens. Even so, I think that the former point about letting them do their jobs is about as close as either the US or the UK administrations have come to explaining let alone justifying why this is happening. Obama's meek address of the issue payed lip service to "transparency" and included assurances that the NSA would NEVER, EVER, HONESTLY do anything nefarious with the information it's culling and archiving every single day. But in my mind the principle itself has not effectively been addressed. Indeed where does the buck stop--who will take responsibility, who will face up to the decision to embrace wholesale surveillance? We don't have a satisfactory answer yet. I suspect we never will.

    Apologies for any conspiracy theorist undertones--think that might be rather inevitable given the subject matter!
    Carol Wilson
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    Carol Wilson,
    User Rank: Blogger
    2/28/2014 | 10:38:47 AM
    So 85,000 people - how many service providers?
    When shows get that big, they often seem to lose their way - how many of the 85,000 folks at the show were actual service providers, there to kick the tires and try out news things? How many were exhibitors and their personnel?
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