Russian Rocket, Satellite Don't Quite Make It
Today in international tech news: A Russian rocket -- and its piggybacking satellite -- don't quite make it. Also: A Russian regulator gets blustery about Twitter and Facebook; Cisco's CEO pleads with President Obama to chill on all the spying; and YouTube launches a Thai version.
A space-bound satellite designed to provide Internet access to remote regions in Russia and neighboring states was destroyed when its ride blew apart mid-flight.
The Proton-M rocket, affixed with a European-built Express AM4R satellite, seemed to be doing just fine until nine minutes into the flight, when it exploded some 93 miles above Earth. The fireworks start at about 1:45:
The exact cause of the crash apparently was not known, but the head of the Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said that preliminary information suggested an "emergency pressure drop in a steering engine."
Last summer, a Proton-M rocket carrying a trio of communications satellites -- value: $200 million -- haplessly tipped over shortly after takeoff and exploded, shrouding the surrounding area in plumes of toxic smoke.
Russian Regulator Slams Twitter, Facebook
A top Russian communications regulator dissed Twitter and Facebook, declaring that the country doesn't see significant risks in blocking the sites.
The rhetoric, spewed by Maxim Ksenzov, deputy head of Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor, included accusations that Twitter is "a global instrument for promoting political information," and that Facebook sometimes makes "internally motivated decisions."
Both sites, he said, could be shuttered "in a matter of a few minutes," if it came to that.
A spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin said that Ksenzov's remarks reflected his personal views; also, Ksenzov backed off his comments a little bit in a later interview.
That said, the bluster fits the pattern of Russia's recent rhetorical and legal stance on the Internet.
In addition to passage of the so-called "bloggers law" -- a measure that obliges any website with more than 3,000 daily visitors to follow the edicts of Russia's press laws -- the founder of the nation's most popular social media site, VKontakte, was mysteriously ousted in April.
[Source: The Wall Street Journal]
Cisco CEO Pens Letter to Obama About Spying
John Chambers, the chief executive officer of Cisco, inked a letter to President Barack Obama imploring him to ease up on all the snooping.
The letter, dated May 15, comes on the heels of evidence indicating that the National Security Agency had intercepted Cisco equipment.
"We simply cannot operate this way," Chambers wrote, calling for new, less secretive "standards of conduct" from the NSA.
Uncertainty surrounding NSA meddling hampers U.S. companies' ability to deliver products around the world, Chambers wrote.
Other multinational U.S. tech companies have complained about the NSA's effect on business. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, for one, called President Obama to talk NSA. That call followed on the heels of revelations that the NSA was impersonating Facebook to scoop data from people's computers.
Google Launches Thai YouTube
Google has launched YouTube.co.th, the Thai version of YouTube.
The launch is a nod to YouTube's popularity in Thailand, where people watch a reported 1 million hours of YouTube per day. There are an estimated 1 billion YouTube page views in Thailand per month.
The Thai-specific site means that searches in Thai will be more accurate, and that YouTube will be working more closely with local curators.
[Source: Tech In Asia]