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Saturday, January 08, 2011

U.S. Subpoenas Twitter Over WikiLeaks Supporters -

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBaseU.S. Subpoenas Twitter Over WikiLeaks Supporters -

WASHINGTON — Prosecutors investigating the disclosure of thousands of classified government documents by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks have gone to court to demand the Twitter account activity of several people linked to the organization, including its founder, Julian Assange, according to the group and a copy of a subpoena made public late Friday.

The subpoena is the first public evidence of a criminal investigation, announced last month by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., that has been urged on by members of Congress of both parties but is fraught with legal and political difficulties for the Obama administration. It was denounced by WikiLeaks, which has so far made public only about 1 percent of the quarter-million confidential diplomatic cables in its possession but has threatened to post them all on the Web if criminal charges are brought.

Dozens of Pentagon and State Department officials have worked for months to assess the damage done to American diplomatic and military operations by the disclosures. In recent weeks, Justice Department officials have been seeking a legal rationale for charging Mr. Assange with criminal behavior, investigating whether he had actively solicited leaks and or provided technology to facilitate them.

The move to get the information from five prominent figures tied to the group was revealed late Friday, when Birgitta Jonsdottir, a former WikiLeaks activist who is also a member of Iceland’s Parliament, received an e-mail notification from Twitter.

In the message, obtained by The New York Times, the company told her it had received a legal request for details regarding her account. It supplied the names of lawyers who specialize in electronic communications, and warned that the company would have to respond to the request unless the matter was resolved or “a motion to quash the legal process has been filed.” The subpoena was attached.

The subpoena was issued by the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia on Dec. 14 and asks for the complete account information of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence specialist awaiting a military court martial under suspicion of leaking materials to WikiLeaks, as well as Ms. Jonsdottir, Mr. Assange and two computer programmers, Rop Gonggrijp and Jacob Appelbaum. The request covers addresses, screen names, telephone numbers and credit card and bank account numbers, but does not ask for the content of private messages sent using Twitter.

Some published reports in recent weeks have suggested that the Justice Department may have secretly impaneled a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, which often handles national security cases, to take evidence in the WikiLeaks inquiry. But the subpoena, unsealed by a Jan. 5 court order at the request of Twitter’s lawyers, was not issued by a grand jury.

In messages in its own Twitter feed, WikiLeaks confirmed the subpoena, and suggested that Google and Facebook might also have been issued such legal demands. Officials for Facebook declined to comment, and Google did not immediately respond to an inquiry.

WikiLeaks suggested that the United States was hypocritical for promoting an “Internet Freedom” initiative and decrying Iran’s interference with activists’ use of the Internet while pursuing a criminal investigation of the group’s activities.

Using the abbreviation for direct messages, the only messages on Twitter that are not publicly accessible for some users, WikiLeaks said, “If the Iranian govt asked for DMs of Iranian activists, State Dept. would be all over this violation of ‘Internet freedom.’ ”

Mr. Appelbaum wrote in his Twitter feed on Saturday that Twitter’s lawyers had warned him against using or receiving private messages using the service. “Do not send me Direct Messages,” he wrote. “My Twitter account contents have apparently been invited to the (presumably-Grand Jury) in Alexandria.”

Jodi Olson, a spokeswoman for Twitter, said the company would not comment on the subpoena. But she said that “to help users protect their rights, it’s our policy to notify users about law enforcement and governmental requests for their information, unless we are prevented by law from doing so.”

Of the five individuals named in the subpoena, only two — Mr. Manning and Mr. Appelbaum — are American citizens. The others include an Australian, Mr. Assange; Ms. Jonsdottir, of Iceland; and Mr. Gonggrijp, a Dutch citizen. This raised the possibility of a diplomatic quarrel between the United States and allied nations whose citizens were among those covered by the subpoena. They could argue that American laws were being used to stifle free communications between individuals who were not American citizens, and who were not in the United States at the time of the messages.

Reached by telephone in Iceland, Ms. Jonsdottir said that she would be filing an appeal. She said that she had not exchanged sensitive information using her Twitter account, “but it’s just the fact that another country would request this sort of personal information from an elected official without having any case against me.”

Iceland’s foreign minister, she said, has requested a meeting with the American ambassador to Iceland to ask, among other things, whether a grand jury inquiry prompted the subpoena.

“It is so sad,” she said. “I have so many friends in the U.S., and there are so many things that I respect about it. This is not how America wants to present itself to the world.”

Obama administration officials on Saturday indicated that the investigation was still in an early phase, with a broad net cast for evidence regarding WikiLeaks’ interactions with Private Manning, 23, who has been held for months in a military detention center at Quantico, Va., on suspicion of being WikiLeaks’ source for the classified military and diplomatic records.

The subpoena seeks Twitter account activity since Nov. 1, a few weeks before Private Manning is alleged to have started downloading documents from his military computer and giving them to WikiLeaks.

Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer and writer who posted the subpoena on his blog at, suggested investigators may be focusing on the first of the disclosures of which Private Manning has been accused — a military video depicting two American helicopters in Iraq in 2007 firing at people on the ground who included two Reuters journalists, both of whom were killed. An edited version of the video listed Mr. Assange, Ms. Jonsdottir, and Mr. Gonggrijp as producers.

Leak prosecutions have been rare and have almost always focused on government employees who disclose classified information, not on journalists or others who publish it. In its first two years, the Obama administration has charged five current or former government employees for such leaks, a record.

But there has never been a successful prosecution of a nongovernment employee for disseminating classified information. Most legal experts believe that efforts to bring criminal charges against WikiLeaks volunteers would face numerous practical and legal obstacles, and some human rights organizations and constitutional scholars have said such a prosecution could damage press freedom.

Technology and telecommunications companies receive thousands of subpoenas and court orders every year in which government and law enforcement authorities demand a broad range of information about their customers, from the content of their e-mails, to the Internet Protocol addresses of their computers, to their files that are stored online and location data from their cellphones.

The volume of requests has become so large, and the rules guarding personal information so patchy, that in March a coalition of Internet companies and communications carriers teamed up with civil liberties groups in an effort to lobby Congress. The coalition, Digital Due Process, wants to strengthen the privacy protections for online information and simplify the laws governing access to those records by law enforcement authorities.

WikiLeaks faced severe criticism after it posted military documents from the war in Afghanistan in July without removing the names of Afghan citizens who had assisted the United States. Since then, WikiLeaks has become far more cautious, stripping names out of Iraq war documents posted online and moving slowly in publishing the 251,287 diplomatic cables it obtained six months ago.

As of Saturday morning, the group had published 2,017 State Department cables on its Web site.

But Mr. Assange has posted an encrypted “insurance” file on several Web sites containing all or most of the unpublished cables and possibly other classified documents. Thousands of supporters around the world have downloaded the file, and Mr. Assange has suggested that if legal action is taken against him or the organization, he would release the encryption key and make the documents public.

“If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically,” Mr. Assange said in an online interview with readers of The Guardian last month.

Scott Shane reported from Washington, and John F. Burns from London. Reporting was contributed by Ravi Somaiya from London, Claire Cain Miller and Miguel Helft from San Francisco, Eric Lipton from Washington, and J. David Goodman from New York.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Apple's two-year roadmap: Think cloud services | Macs in Business |

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBaseApple's two-year roadmap: Think cloud services | Macs in Business |

Apple’s upcoming year is expected to feature upgrades to its existing product line, but the company is expected to prep a bevy of cloud services running into 2012.

According to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, Apple won’t enter new categories in 2011. This year will be about harvesting gains from the iPad, iPhone, App Store, Mac and iPod and upgrades.

In 2011, Apple is expected to launch the iPhone at Verizon in the March quarter with iTunes cloud services also due this year. Munster reckons that the fifth generation iPhone will have NFC (near field communications) technology. NFC allows you to swap data with other devices and use your mobile device for payments.

Munster estimates that a NFC enabled iPhone sets the stage to use your iTunes account as a point-of-purchase tool. Apple has payment information for 160 million active iTunes accounts. That fact means Apple is best suited to turn the iPhone into a wallet.

Going into 2012, Apple will have the stage set for cloud services. Munster writes:

Apple has largely failed in cloud services to date. Its first major push into web services for its connected devices, MobileMe, was riddled with issues surrounding the July 2008 launch. Following the failed launch, MobileMe has improved under new leadership but we believe the service has gained little traction considering the estimated 60.7m active iPhone users (last two years of sale) compared to an estimated 5m MobileMe users. Likewise, Apple has rolled its advertising services platform, iAds, out at a measured pace. But recently, the company made its “Find My iPhone” service free to any iOS user (previously a MobileMe paid service) showing a rising interest in web services for its connected devices. We believe iTunes streaming represents Apple’s largest opportunity in services with an addressable market of 160m iTunes active accounts, each with a real problem that Apple can solve (accessing music on portable devices). We expect to see an iTunes streaming service in 2011, but we expect Apple to continue its focus on web services beyond 2011 in order to leverage the connected nature of its devices. Other web services could include expanded support for document storage in the cloud, or even remote computing capabilities using the cloud to access your Mac and all its files and settings from another Mac (or an iPad) via the cloud.

This is a guest post from Larry Dignan, Editor in Chief of ZDNet, TechRepublic’s sister site. You can follow Larry on his ZDNet blog Between the Lines (or subscribe to the RSS feed).

Apple - App Store - Buy, download, and install apps made for Mac.

App StoreImage via WikipediaApple - App Store - Buy, download, and install apps made for Mac.

With the Mac App Store, getting the apps you want on your Mac has never been easier. No more boxes, no more disks, no more time-consuming installation. Click once to download and install any app on your Mac. The Mac App Store is now available as a software update for any Mac running Mac OS X Snow Leopard.
At first look it looks similar to the iOS store. It places an icon on your Doc which can be hidden. There are plenty of applications available but I am disappointed to see that iWorks 09 has not been updated. It is getting a little out of date with the release of Office 2011 for Mac. However yesterdays iWorks update adds web sharing ability to Keynote. I am experimenting with that feature right now. I am finishing the upload of a presentation. It is interesting that the presentation is converted to the PowePoint format after it is uploaded. I will add to this post as my experience with the new features grow.

Update 10:40 AM EST

I just downloaded the free Twitter App.  Download and installation of Apps is automatic and very fast.  This is going to be a hit.  

John H. Armwood

Apple releases iWork '09 update, fixes Keynote issues | MacNN

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 06:  MacWorld attendee...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeApple releases iWork '09 update, fixes Keynote issues | MacNN

Apple has released an update to its iWork '09 productivity suite today, adding playback of Keynote presentations on the public beta -- requiring the latest version of Safari -- with 15 animations and effects. Keynote Remote v1.2 is now supported with high-resolution slides available for Retina displays and two major bugs in Keynote are fixed. One involves a ruler issue when resizing, the other an export to iPod issue when iTunes 10 is installed alongside iWork '09. The update also fixes a Drop transition, Dissolve build, and Shape Colors issue in Keynote.

Compatibility has been improved for ePub documents exported from Pages, and new options have been added for sharing documents on -- Pages, Keynote and Numbers can now share publicly or upload privately to the website.

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.6 and works with all previous versions of iWork '09. The online download lists the package at 67 MB -- It is also available via Software Update, which lists the download as 76.8 MB.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Internet Explorer falls behind Firefox in Europe for first time, says StatCounter | Technology |

Image representing Firefox as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBaseInternet Explorer falls behind Firefox in Europe for first time, says StatCounter | Technology |

Microsoft's browser - all versions - now trumped by open source product, with the losses apparently due to rise in use of Google Chrome. But is that because of the 'browser ballot' in Windows?
Firefox has narrowly overtaken Internet Explorer in Europe, according to StatCounter
Statcounter, a web statistics company, says that Firefox has now passed Internet Explorer, for the first time ever, to become the most-used browser in Europe.

The screengrab above (or see it on their web page) shows what happened, with Firefox trundling along at 38% or so, and Internet Explorer falling to about 37.5%.

On which the company remarked, "This is the first time that IE has been dethroned from the number one spot in a major territory," commented Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. "This appears to be happening because Google's Chrome is stealing share from Internet Explorer while Firefox is mainly maintaining its existing share."

Indeed, that's what the figures seem to show. Comparing the North American market (see pic) shows a broadly similar trend, but Internet Explorer is miles ahead there.

Internet Explorer share is holding up in North America, StatCounter says
Arguably, one reason why Firefox is so prevalent in Europe might be Germany, where it is streets ahead of anything in market share terms - at least according to StatCounter's numbers.

But another theory I've heard put forward is that IE's decline is due to the browser ballot, launched in March, in which the 200m or so Windows users in Europe were offered a sort of roulette where they could choose to install a different default browser from a randomly shuffled group of 12, with the top 5 (IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera) presented first in what turned out to be only a quasi-random order that slightly favoured Chrome, until it was fixed.

So was it the ballot wot won it? Looking at the graphs, it's hard to say that there's any evidence of a sudden upward lurch in Chrome's share, nor a sudden downward one for IE. Nor does Firefox show any dramatic difference, which you might expect if the ballot had really influenced people. True, StatCounter was reported as claiming late in March that the ballot was "already having an effect" (though there's no actual link to that study on its site). But looking at the numbers, it's not so evident; all that seems to be happening is a long-term trend as more and more individuals - and particularly businesses - adopt other browsers.

Even so, the advent of more competition in the browser market does have one good side effect: it increases the pressure for standards, and especially compliance (by browser writers) to standards like CSS2 and CSS3, and to emerging standards such as HTML5. Microsoft hasn't given up there - it's working on IE9 as you read this. But it's quite possible that the days when Internet Explorer was the only browser to code for are gone forever. In the future, the W3C's HTML standard might be what coders develop against.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Chrome finishes 2010 with 10 percent share | Deep Tech - CNET News

Google Chrome IconImage via WikipediaChrome finishes 2010 with 10 percent share | Deep Tech - CNET News

With the steady rise in Chrome, 1 out of every 10 people surfing the Web in December used Google's browser.
Chrome's gains have come largely at the expense of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, whose usage share has been dropping for years, but there's also a ray of hope for Redmond. IE9, which embodies Microsoft's ambition to build a cutting-edge browser once again, is showing signs of real adoption with usage that grew from 0.4 percent in November to 0.5 percent in December, according to new statistics from Net Applications.

Fractions of a percent may sound insignificant, but with hundreds of millions of people using the Web, they actually represent a large number of real users. And in the current competitive market, browser makers are attuned to where the growth is occurring.

For months now, Chrome has risen. Most recently, it rose from 9.3 percent in November statistics to 10 percent in December, according to Net Applications. That's helpful for Google's ambition to speed up the Web overall; Chrome is a vehicle by which the company can explore, develop, and promote new features, such as Native Client, SPDY, WebP, andFalse Start, that Google hopes will speed the Web and make it a more powerful foundation for applications.

Mozilla's Firefox, the second-place browser, stayed flat at about 22.8 percent, Apple's Safari rose from 5.6 percent to 5.9 percent, and Opera was flat at about 2.2 percent. Chrome and Safari grew at the expense of IE, which dropped from 58.4 percent to 57.1 percent.

Note that because browser usage overall is increasing, even percentages that remain flat from month to month still mean a growing user base.

Microsoft can take consolation that its share losses have come from older versions of its browser. IE6, an advanced browser when released nearly a decade ago but now despised among Web developers for retarding progress on the Web, dropped from 13.7 percent in November to 13.1 percent in December. IE7 dropped from 9.5 percent to 8.8 percent.

Apple's market cap tops $300 billion - Apple 2.0 - Fortune Tech

Apple's market cap tops $300 billion - Apple 2.0 - Fortune Tech

Giving ExxonMobil a run for its money in the race to be the world's most valuable company

In a broad 2011 rally that pushed the Dow up nearly a point in mid-morning trading Monday, Apple (AAPL) popped more than $7 (2.25%) to hit new record intraday highs -- and to cross a major psychological barrier.

The company's market capitalization -- its stock price times the number of shares outstanding -- is now more than $300 billion.

Apple has been the most valuable tech stock and the world's second most valuable publicly traded company -- after ExxonMobil (XOM) -- since it passed Microsoft (MSFT) last May.

With oil prices running as high as they are, however, it won't be easy to overtake the petrochemical giant. The gap between the two market caps had narrowed to less than $50 billion last October; now ExxonMobil's lead has widened to more than $73 billion -- despite Apple's gains.