Breakfast Briefing: RBS hit by another outage, iOS vs Android on privacy, China's censorship workers
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 7 Mar 2013 at 09:22
Today's technology news includes another NatWest systems failure, how iOS apps sniff more data than Android equivalents, a look inside China's censorship farms and Intel's investment in an app porting firm.
RBS systems crash leaves customers stranded - again
RBS banking customers were left without access to cash or their online accounts after the company's systems went down – less than a year after another glitch left customers unable to pay bills. The latest issue – now fixed, according to The Register – saw online and telephone banking affected. The bank acknowledged the problem, and said it would provide more information when it was available, but has so far only said that it's sorry for the glitch and that systems are back to running normally.
iOS apps snare more data than Android
With the more open nature of Android's app ecosystem, you might be forgiven for thinking developers on Google's platform would be more cavalier with personal information than Apple counterparts. Not so, according to a report covered by Ars Technica, which claims "iOS apps tend to play things fast and loose with users’ personal data compared to Android apps". Citing a study from risk assessment company Appthority, Ars reports how 100% of the tested iOS apps sent and received user data unencrypted, while 92% of the Android apps did the same.
iOS developers also collected more data – 60% of iOS apps collected location data compared to 42% on Android, while 60% of iOS apps shared user data with ad networks or data analytics companies compared to Android’s 50% result.
The humans behind China's censorship filter
MIT's Technology Review has an interesting look at the censorship policies and practices of Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter. Rather than relying on software filters alone for real-time filtering, the service also employs 4,000 workers to sift through posts. A study shows 12% of all posts are deleted, either by the poster or the authorities, but it's the speed of removal that's impressive, or scary, depending on your point of view.
According to the report, 5% of deletions happen within eight minutes of the item being posted, while 30% happen in less than a minute. "In total, 90% of deletions occur within a day, although at times deletions can occur several days later," it adds. However, the censorship rate slows down while workers take a break to watch the evening news.
Intel invests in mobile-to-desktop app porting firm
The world may be moving from PCs to mobile devices, but Intel still believes the desktop has a key role to play and has invested in a company that ports mobile apps to Macs and PCs. The chip maker has bought into BlueStacks and CNet reports how BlueStacks' App Player lets users run ARM-based mobile applications on a Mac or Windows PC, supporting titles including Angry Birds Space and Instagram. The tool's been downloaded five million times, but there was no detail on how much Intel invested.
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