European Privacy Passions Flare in PRISM's Wake
Today in international tech news: Following Germany's lead, the European Union weighs in on tougher data protection laws. Also: Baidu looks to make waves in the app market with a $2 billion acquisition; Google's top man in China is stepping down; and Spotify's catalog gets a little lighter after some ballyhooed artists remove their music.
European Union justice commissioner Viviane Reding implored EU member states to get on board with Germany's call for tougher and more unified data protection laws.
German chancellor Angela Merkel spent the weekend clamoring for EU-wide regulations that would force more transparency from Internet companies. Merkel complained that companies incorporated in, say, Ireland -- as Facebook is -- are subject only to that country's data laws, even though they operate throughout the EU. Ireland has far laxer data regulations than Germany, a disparity that Merkel wants to be remedied with static rules across the 28-nation bloc.
Reding echoed that sentiment, saying that "common European rules" would help protect "fundamental rights of EU citizens."
Merkel has faced criticism in Germany for what appears to be widespread surveillance of German Internet. Leaker Edward Snowden handpicked Germany's Der Spiegel, perhaps the nation's most popular media outlet, as an avenue for a recent round of leaks suggesting that Germany was a prime target of the National Security Agency.
[Source: The Guardian]
Baidu Could Pony Up for App Store Developer
Baidu, China's largest search engine, has reportedly agreed to pay US$1.9 billion to purchase 91 Wireless, a major developer of app stores in China.
The potential purchase signals Baidu's intention to diversify its services and compete with rivals Alibaba, which owns China's largest e-commerce site, and Tencent, which owns the popular and ever-expanding WeChat messaging app.
Baidu reportedly said it will pay $1.09 billion to acquire a 57.4 percent stake in 91 Wireless and then supplement that by offering $800 million to the owners of the remaining stake.
91 Wireless operates app stores 91 Assistant and HiMarket and develops its own apps.
China is the world's largest smartphone market, so apps are a coveted segment.
Changing of the Guard for Google in China
John Liu, the head of Google's business in China, will step down after six years at the post.
It has been a topsy-turvy ride for Google in China the past six years, including the company's 2010 move to shut down its Chinese search service and redirect search traffic to its search engine in Hong Kong, which doesn't have the same degree of censorship as mainland China. Google's share of the Chinese search market has since dwindled to 2 percent.
Scott Beaumont, a Google exec currently managing the company's partnerships business in Europe, will take Liu's spot starting in mid-August.
[Source: The Next Web ]
Radiohead Frontman Takes Music Off Spotify
Thom Yorke, the frontman for revered rock group Radiohead, and producer Nigel Godrich -- who together form two-fifths of the band Atoms For Peace -- have removed music from streaming services like Spotify and Rdio.
Announcing the move via his Twitter account, Godrich wrote, "We're off of Spotify. Someone gotta say something. It's bad for music."
The specific albums removed were Atoms For Peace's Amok; Yorke's solo album The Eraser; and the self-titled album from Godrich's other project, Ultraista.
In a somewhat opposite move, Pink Floyd recently allowed Spotify to carry its music.