Discharged Female Cadet Sues Aussie Gov't for Sexual Harassment
Today in international tech news: A former member of the Australian Defense Force plans to sue the government over a Skype-streamed sexual encounter with a fellow cadet. Also: eBay apologizes for Holocaust-related auction items; Swisscom to build a less vulnerable cloud; and a mammoth patent lawsuit takes shape.
An Australian woman formerly in the Australian Defense Force said that she plans to sue the nation's federal government for grievances stemming from a sordid saga in which a fellow cadet filmed the two of them having sex and then streamed it via Skype.
The woman, known in the media as "Kate," said she will file suit against the defense department in the Australian Human Rights Commission. She alleged that she was sexually harassed and subsequently victimized for speaking out.
"It's basically been hell for me and my family," she told Australian media.
Kate's story has led to a series of reviews into the ADF's treatment of women. The nation's army chief said in June that more than 100 Defense Force personnel were being investigated for degrading emails involving up to 10 women.
[Source: The Age]
eBay Apologizes for Holocaust Artifacts
eBay removed 30 items from its website and issued an apology after people realized the site was hosting auctions for artifacts once owned by Holocaust victims.
The items in question included a uniform purported to have belonged to a Polish baker who died in Auschwitz; it was on sale for more than US$17,000. Other items included shoes and a toothbrush of a victim, as well as Star of David armbands.
In addition to saying it was "very sorry," eBay noted that it doesn't allow such items on its site, and that it dedicates "thousands of staff to policing" for such objectionable material. The company padded its apology with a charitable donation of nearly $40,000.
[Source: The Guardian]
Swisscom Says Its New Cloud Is Safe(r)
Like its neighbors to the north, Switzerland is trying to turn data collection fears into a marketing tool.
Swiss telecom Swisscom is building a cloud service that will be able to shield sensitive data from prying foreign eyes.
Swisscom's head of IT services said that the company's decision to set up a safe, domestic cloud was unrelated to NSA revelations, but the timing seems fortuitous: a groundswell of data angst and a cloud that claims to protect data from snoopers.
Swiss providers might be in a better position, legally speaking, to protect data than their American counterparts. Unlike in the U.S., where government authorities are reportedly snooping on companies without the companies' knowledge, Swiss law requires a prosecutor to file a formal request, which would then have to be received by Swisscom. So, it's possible for the data to be accessed to a third party -- just harder.
Swisscom is currently focusing on Switzerland-based clients but said it could expand should foreign companies show demand.
Mammoth Lawsuit Takes Shape
The Rockstar Consortium, a group of tech heavyweights, is suing Google, Samsung, HTC and more because of alleged mobile phone patent infringements.
Rockstar is going after manufacturers of Android devices, claiming that Google infringed seven patents relating to how Internet search terms match advertising. Android devices accounted for more than 80 percent of smartphone shipments in the third quarter of this year.
Rockstar is jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson and Sony, so this lawsuit includes most all of the big boys.
Last month, Samsung offered to quit making patent infringement allegations for five years after European Union authorities complained that the company was a bit too sue-happy.
Samsung and Apple are engaged in lawsuits in more than 10 European nations.