Today in Tech News Digest, a coalition of Internet companies is formed to fight government surveillance, Windows 7 is declared dead, Xbox One users are tricked into bricking their consoles, a Game Of Thrones video game is announced, Creative Commons 4.0 arrives, Google News on iOS and Android is improved, and SpaghettiOs has a Twitter nightmare.
Reform Government Surveillance Coalition
There's something very symbolic about the tech firms' surveillance reform website not using HTTPS. http://t.co/WpCrPwEnaY
— Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian) December 9, 2013
A coalition of seven Internet companies has been formed to fight back against government surveillance. Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and AOL are collectively calling for global government surveillance reform, arguing that “current laws and practices need to be reformed.” A website detailing the demands has gone live, and an open letter has been published in several American newspapers.
All of the companies involved issued statements regarding their membership of this coalition, with Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft, saying, “People won’t use technology they don’t trust. Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.” This all comes on the back of serious and persistent leaks revealing just how much ordinary citizens are being monitored.
It’s important to note that while the Edward Snowden revelations have mostly involved the NSA, countries other than the U.S. — including the U.K. and Australia — are involved in surveilling their own citizens. Hence the need for global reform rather than just a change to the laws in the United States.
These companies all collect data about their users, and that practice isn’t going to end anytime soon. This coalition is merely seeking changes to the laws that mean intelligence agencies can demand access to this information whenever they choose. For sworn enemies such as Google and Microsoft to team up in this way, these companies must be serious about seeing this fight through all the way to its conclusion.
Windows 7 Is Dead
Microsoft has withdrawn Windows 7 from sale through retailers, but PCs with the popular operating system preinstalled on them will still be available for at least another year. While this is the end of official sales, Windows 7 can still be purchased from retailers holding stock, and existing stock could (as it has with older versions of Windows) last for several more years. Still, if you’re not a fan of Windows 8 then now is as good a time as any to buy a copy of Windows 7.
Xbox One Backwards Compatibility Trick
To be clear there is no way to make your Xbox One backwards compatible & performing steps to attempt this could make your console inoperable
— Larry Hryb (@majornelson) December 6, 2013
The Xbox One is incapable of playing Xbox 360 games, with backwards compatibility not possible on either of the next-gen consoles. Unfortunately, an Internet troll is preying on this fact in order to trick people into bricking their Xbox One with a simple guide to “unlock” backwards compatibility. This guide is being shared heavily across social networks but should not be taken seriously under any circumstances. Otherwise your shiny new Xbox One will no longer work… you have been warned.
Game of Thrones Game Announced
Telltale Games has officially announced a new title based on the Game Of Thrones television series. The developer is best known for The Walking Dead graphic adventure which scored extremely well with critics. Telltale Games has once again teamed up with HBO for the Game Of Thrones title, which is due to be released in 2014. Beyond that, little is known about the nature of the game, but another graphic adventure seems highly likely.
Creative Commons 4.0 Arrives
Creative Commons 4.0 has arrived, with the new licenses making the whole thing more user-friendly and geared towards the global community. Dozens of changes have been made for CC v4.0, which helps people protect and share their creative ventures. Works licensed by Creative Commons can easily be found using CC Search.
Google News Improved On Mobile
Google News has been redesigned for Android and iOS, with the new version offering a better experience for those on smartphones. The new Google News for mobile can be customized to suit individual tastes, and the whole thing is based on the cards UI already utilized by Android. Unfortunately, none of this will make the news any less depressing to read.
SpaghettiOs Apologizes For Pearl Harbor Tweet
We apologize for our recent tweet in remembrance of Pearl Harbor Day. We meant to pay respect, not to offend.
— SpaghettiOs (@SpaghettiOs) December 7, 2013
And finally, SpaghettiOs has apologized for a tweet some people considered to be offensive. The tweet, which has now been deleted, was to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the event which brought the U.S. into World War II.
The tweet read, “Take a moment to remember #PearlHarbor with us.” But it was the accompanying picture, showing the smiling, lip-licking SpaghettiOs mascot holding a U.S. flag, that drew complaints.
With more than 2,400 Americans having been killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor such a light-hearted image was clearly ill-advised, but the level of condemnation aimed at SpaghettiOs seems a little OTT. Perhaps brands should just play it safe and avoid piggybacking on occasions such as this one. Or at least read our free guide to social media marketing first.
Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks
Image Credit: Frerk Meyer