China Gets Its First Homegrown Game Console
Today in international tech news: China gets its first-ever homegrown videogame console the same week Beijing lifts its ban on foreign consoles. Also: The EU formally blasts U.S. and British data collection -- and plans to interview Edward Snowden; Snowden is lambasted by D.C.; and crime-fighting apps come under fire in Australia.
Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications outfit best known for its mobile phones and its propensity to spook U.S. lawmakers, announced that it has created China's first videogame console.
The timing of Huawei's announcement, coming at this week's CES extravaganza in Las Vegas, is interesting: Just this week, Beijing announced that it would for the first time allow foreign-made videogame consoles.
Huawei's console, called "Tron," is small and cylindrical -- roughly the size of a coffee mug, as Tech In Asia puts it.
There could be an interesting patent battle in the offing if Microsoft objects to Tron's controller, which looks eerily similar to the Xbox controller.
EU Blasts Mass Surveillance
European parliament's civil liberties committee condemned, in the "strongest possible terms," mass surveillance programs used by the U.S. and Britain.
The committee demanded that such programs, which have been used to snoop on Europeans, be halted, bemoaning the fact that such surveillance has eroded trust between allies.
Members of the European Parliament also announced that in the coming weeks they plan to interview Edward Snowden, currently in Russia, via video conference. U.S. congressmen have implored Europe not to give Snowden -- deemed a "felon" -- such a platform, but the EU seemingly plans to ignore that advice. (The only two committee members who voted against hearing Snowden speak were British Conservatives.)
The U.S. has already been called out by France -- after the NSA targeted the country in a mass data grab a year ago -- and Germany -- after the NSA reportedly monitored the phone of its chancellor, Angela Merkel.
[Source: The Guardian]
Snowden Dubbed Biggest-Ever Secret Thief
The Pentagon has formally branded Snowden the biggest secret thief in U.S. history, asserting that the former NSA contractor downloaded some 1.7 million intelligence files.
Snowden's leaks have "gravely impacted" national security, the Defense Department said. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intelligence committee, decried Snowden's "acts of betrayal," saying they are "likely to have lethal consequences for our troops in the field."
President Obama met with lawmakers this week to discuss potential changes to the NSA's far-reaching data collection practices.
Crime-Fighting Apps Faces Resistance in Australia
Police and victim groups in Australia have criticized "surveillance apps" that purport to help fight crime.
For example, Tonto Security's Red Handed app, released this week, offers a platform to post videos of fights and assaults, and then implores people to vote on whether or not a crime has been committed. The app claims that it helps victims by "catching and deterring criminals."
Other apps, such as MyWitness and PoliceCam, give users a sort of panic button to alert friends and family about their location. Those two apps also automatically start rolling video and audio recordings to document potential crimes.
Not everyone is impressed, though. The Victoria Center Against Sexual Assault, for one, said that widespread use of such apps would simply prompt assailants to commandeer and discard victims' mobile devices. The Center added that Red Handed will have no crime-fighting benefit, but will instead encourage people to post videos of bad -- but not necessarily illegal -- behavior.
Victoria Police, too, are underwhelmed, pointing out that apps like Red Handed require people to stay at the scene of a crime, thereby putting users in danger.
[Source: The Age]