Facebook, Twitter Poke Holes in China's Great Firewall
Today in international tech news: A report on social media use in China shows that the Great Firewall has some holes. Also: In the most recent twist of the Kim Dotcom case, New Zealand's prime minister apologizes for spying; Microsoft can't get on the EU's good side; and RIM's quarterly report was bad -- but not that bad.
Despite government-imposed bans, Facebook and Twitter have tens of millions of users in China, according to London-based GlobalWebIndex.
Facebook use in China has reportedly swelled to 63.5 million people, a roughly eightfold increase over the 7.9 million who used the site two years ago. Twitter, meanwhile, has nearly 36 million users in China.
Facebook and Twitter use among China's 500 million Internet users would likely be even higher but for homegrown alternatives such as Sina Weibo, the country's Twitter counterpart (roughly 300 million users), and Renren, which has been likened to Facebook (roughly 160 million).
Even so, Facebook and Twitter speak to the platforms' popularity in China -- and to the various ways around the Great Firewall.
New Zealand to Kim Dotcom: Our bad
New Zealand's prime minister has apologized to Kim Dotcom, the founder of the file-sharing site Megaupload who was arrested earlier this year in New Zealand.
According to the BBC, the PM apologized because the New Zealand law enforcement agency that spied on Dotcom is only allowed to spy on foreigners. And Dotcom, while originally from Germany, became a New Zealand citizen in 2010.
The mistake is "hugely disappointing," according to the prime minister.
Dotcom was arrested in a January raid that was part of an FBI investigation. U.S. authorities allege that Dotcom headed Megaupload and is responsible for millions of dollars worth of copyright infringement.
The PM apology is but the latest wacky twist in this case. In May, a New Zealand court ruled that the U.S. government had to turn over the evidence it had against Megaupload. In June, a New Zealand judge ruled that the warrants used in the raid of Dotcom's home were illegal. In July, Dotcom's extradition case was delayed until March of 2013. Microsoft Still Drawing EU's Ire The European Union will charge Microsoft for failing to comply with a 2009 ruling that required the company to offer users Web browsers other than its own Internet Explorer.
According to Reuters, a "formal proceeding" will explore the company's breach of the agreement. Microsoft pledged earlier this month to comply with the EU ruling but has apparently failed to appease authorities.
In June, the EU upheld an old ruling against Microsoft, resulting in a $1 billion-plus fine. This current case could be even more costly: According to Reuters, Microsoft faces a penalty of $7.4 billion -- 10 percent of its revenues for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2012.
RIM Losses Could Have Been Worse
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion announced another quarterly loss Thursday, but it wasn't as bad as expected.
As The Guardian reports, RIM's losses were $235 million in the second quarter, or $0.45 per share. Not great, but better than the $0.47 cents per share loss analysts were expecting.
RIM also announced Thursday that it shipped 7.4 million BlackBerry phones in the quarter, considerably more than the 6.4 million analysts had predicted.
Those nuggets of good news helped send RIM's stock up more than 19 percent in after-market trading.
Thursday's good news -- and small losses constitute good news for RIM -- comes a day after a report that RIM actually picked up subscribers last quarter, buoyed by growth in emerging markets.