Hundreds of Counterfeit Sites Seized in Cybersting
Today in international tech news: Loads of counterfeit-peddling websites are seized in an EU-U.S. tag-team effort. Also: Canadian officials are asked to not use BlackBerry Messenger; China's top Bitcoin exchange wants Beijing to allow the digital currency; the UK prime minister joins Sina Weibo; and Australia looks to crack down on fake online reviews.
Nearly 700 websites pushing counterfeit products were seized by American and European authorities, according to Europol.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement teamed with European law enforcement agencies to execute the holiday cybersting.
It is surely no coincidence that the seizures coincided with Cyber Monday, the online shopping orgy. ICE has a history of dramatic timing, like when it seized scores of sports-streaming sites in 2011 and 2012 just before the Super Bowl.
Common articles sold on the fraudulent sites included sports jerseys, headphones, shoes and electronics.
[Source: The Associated Press]
Canadian Officials Asked to Ditch BlackBerry Messenger
Canada's information commissioner published a report in which she asks Canadian officials to not use BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, for fear that the service stymies requests for information.
Canada has something roughly akin to the Freedom of Information Act, whereby citizens can request information from the government. The commissioner, however, fears that "information that should be accessible by requesters is being irremediably deleted or lost" because it is housed on BBM.
The investigation into these BBM interactions began last year after a government official suggested to another that they should move their convo away from email and onto BBM, thereby making all subsequent exchanges free from prying eyes.
Politicians' messages are exempt from information requests, but bureaucrats' messages are fair game -- in theory.
In other BlackBerry news, the company's share of U.S. smartphone sales has reportedly fallen under 1 percent. In China, Spain and Japan, the share has slipped to less than 0.1 percent.
Chinese Bitcoin Exchange Chats With Beijing
China's largest Bitcoin exchange, BTC China, has engaged in low-level talks with national regulators in China in an effort to have the digital currency recognized.
The Shanghai-based company hasn't yet scored high-level meetings, apparently, but it has yakked it up with officials from the People's Bank of China, the China Banking Regulatory Commission and some other big-but-not-BIG bodies.
There has been chatter that regulators in China could ban Bitcoins, which, given Beijing's propensity to ban things -- to say nothing of its tight control over the value of the yuan -- would seem more likely than letting the currency loose.
UK Prime Minister Joins Weibo
British Prime Minister David Cameron has joined Sina Weibo, the Chinese social networking site and domestic equivalent to Twitter.
Cameron, who accumulated nearly 200,000 followers within a couple days, was on a trade visit to the country.
His account was launched Friday and was not initially verified, which apparently caused some confusion as to whether or not it was indeed Cameron. To clear things up, the UK embassy in Beijing later declared, "Big boss has come to Weibo!"
Cameron has been on Twitter since 2012; he has a half-million Twitter followers.
Aussie Watchdog Targets Fake Online Reviews
Australia's competition watchdog released a set of guidelines addressing fake online reviews, complete with a friendly reminder that companies that breach the law can be fined up to AU$1.1 million.
The national watchdog has reportedly called out a trio of companies for fake online reviews. Currently, Euro Solar and Australian Solar Panel are in the midst of court cases because of their bunk reviews (Euro Solar's offense was YouTube-based).
[Source: The Age]