EC Mulls Potential US Threat to Europeans' Privacy
Today in international tech news: The European Commission is worried that the U.S. poses a threat to Europeans' privacy. Also: SoftBank sweetens its offer for Sprint Nextel; a U.S. judge gives new life to a censorship lawsuit against Chinese search giant Baidu; and Foxconn teams with a local mobile operator to create a super-cheap smartphone.
The European Commission is concerned that U.S. data collection practices such as PRISM may pose a threat to Europeans' privacy rights.
Commission Vice President Viviane Reding, who is in charge of justice, plans to raise the issue at an EU-U.S. meeting later this week in Dublin. That announcement comes after last week's revelation that the National Security Agency has been monitoring U.S. citizens' data via the headline-grabbing PRISM program.
Reding reportedly raised the issue of data privacy with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in April, so new revelations have surely only heightened those concerns.
Europe is generally more cautious about privacy than the United States is, especially when it comes to digital data protection. Google Street View, for instance, faced staunch headwinds in Germany, while Google's consolidation of privacy policies across its various platforms has also riled EU regulators. Facebook, too, has been the butt of much criticism (and litigation) for its data collection practices.
[Source: The Guardian]
SoftBank Ups Bid for Sprint Nextel
Japan's SoftBank is now offering US$21.6 billion for a 78 percent stake in Sprint Nextel, representing an uptick from its previous offer of $20.1 billion for a 70 percent holding.
SoftBank recently won approval from U.S. national security regulators, who had raised concerns about a foreign company heading up an American mobile carrier.
Even with its sweetened offer, SoftBank's bid for Sprint Nextel is still considerably lower than Dish Network's, which sits at $25.5 billion. SoftBank has, however, increased its cash payout to Sprint shareholders, who hold the keys to the potential deal.
Dish Network has until June 18 to submit a revised offer; Sprint reportedly doesn't expect Dish's offer to change.
US Judge Reignites Baidu Censorship Lawsuit
A U.S. district judge in Manhattan is now considering a lawsuit by pro-democracy advocates against Baidu, China's top search engine and overall Internet giant.
China had previously invoked its authority to block the censorship case, citing the fact that it was a sovereign nation and therefore not subject to a lawsuit coming from the U.S. However, the Manhattan judge is now claiming the activists are entitled to serve their lawsuit without infringing China's sovereign protection.
The suit was originally filed in May 2011 by eight New York writers and video producers who claimed that Baidu (and China) were suppressing their right to free speech. The plaintiffs said that their content was available throughout the Web -- Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. -- but was nonetheless blocked by Baidu, thereby infringing their right to free speech.
In March, the judge dismissed the case but put the dismissal on hold to let the plaintiffs devise another means of serving Baidu. Thus, the new tack: file the complaint in such a way that it doesn't affect Baidu service in China, but only the United States, thereby granting China its sovereignty and, in theory, granting the plaintiffs their constitutional rights.
Teaming With Foxconn, Taiwan Mobile Launches Super-Cheap Smartphone
Taiwan's No. 2 mobile provider, Taiwan Mobile, unveiled a new smartphone in cooperation with Hon Hai Precision Industry, more commonly known by its trading name, Foxconn.
The A5 smartphone will be the first that Foxconn has produced for a local operator that carries that operator's own brand. Foxconn also produces smartphones for Apple and Samsung.
The A5 will have a 4.3-inch display and a 1 GB dual-core processor. It will be on sale in July starting at $134.
[Source: Focus Taiwan]