Foxconn in Trouble Again Over PS4
Today in international tech news: Foxconn is in trouble again, this time over PlayStation 4 labor; The Guardian says more Snowden leaks are coming; conservationists use Google Earth to protect elephants from poachers; and AT&T mulls its options for penetrating Europe.
Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn, one of the world's most vilified workers-rights violators, confirmed reports that it is manufacturing Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 on the backs of university interns.
Chinese media broke the story, asserting that thousands of students from an engineering program at the Xi'an Institute of Technology -- the program is officially considered an internship -- are being forced to work at Foxconn's Yantai plant, which is manufacturing the new consoles. Should a student decline the internship, he or she would lose course credits, making it more or less impossible to graduate.
The unpaid students claimed that upon arrival at the Foxconn plant, they were given jobs that bore no relation to their studies. A finance and accounting major, for instance, was apparently assigned a job gluing together PS4 parts.
In what has been a quickly evolving story, Foxconn told Quartz that immediate action had been taken to remedy the situation.
There was a similar story last year, also involving Foxconn and the Xi'an Institute of Technology.
The Guardian: Snowden Revelations Nigh
The Guardian, which first dropped Edward Snowden's National Security Agency bombshells over the summer, plans to publish additional revelations despite British authorities' warnings that the newspaper would do well to knock it off, its editor says.
The editor, Alan Rusbridger, has held fast that the paper is in its right to publish Snowden's leaks despite pressure from authorities -- and pressure there has been.
A few months back, UK law enforcement reportedly smashed up Guardian hard drives to prevent more leaks. Then, this week, the new head of the UK intelligence agency MI5 spouted off about Snowden's leaks, saying that outlets peddling this information were making life easier for terrorists.
Google Earth Used to Prevent Poaching
Conservationists in Kenya are using Google Earth to help protect elephants from poachers.
A team protecting the elephants has affixed GPS-equipped collars to 15 elephants in order to track their movements and overlay their paths on Google Earth. This way, the conservationists can detect if the elephants stray into poaching-heavy areas. If so, remote-controlled drones are used to scare the elephants, thereby rerouting them out of harm's way.
This isn't the first time Kenya has gone high-tech to protect elephants. Kenya's wildlife agency in January announced a text message system to warn park rangers about potential poaching threats. The system is connected to fences surrounding wildlife parks and sanctuaries; an attempt to breach the fence triggers an automatic alarm, which shoots off text messages to a security switchboard.
AT&T Mulls Europe Push
AT&T is considering a bid for a European carrier but is wary because of the EU's stiff competition and dizzying regulations.
Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chief executive, this week called Europe "a huge opportunity for somebody," adding that the continent is ripe for a network upgrade that could result in huge profits from the sort of high-speed wireless services now commonplace in the U.S.
AT&T, the U.S.'s No. 2 wireless operator, has a list of potential targets, including UK outfits Vodafone and EE, as well as Spain's Telefonica.