Technology News Headlines for July 19 2012 ( Thursday )

Batman-Style Vigilantes Create A Defense League For The Internet

Kitty cats--in all of their sweater-wearing, obese, gluttonous glory--are symbols of the unbridaled, viral web. So a cartoon feline is a fitting symbol for the band of digilantes behind the just-launched Internet Defense League. Members so far include Mozilla, Reddit, and Imgur. The League was created by Fight For The Future, the organization that created blackout tools for websites during the SOPA/PIPA online protests last year. Anyone with a piece of the web to call their own--from a blog to a YouTube channel to a Twitter stream--can sign up to join the League. In return, they'll receive a bit of code for a "bat signal"-like alert they can post on their own websites to raise conjoined awareness anytime legislation pops up that the League or Fight For The Future (and probably Google) believes will threaten freedom--or at least free stuff--on the Internet. And, just in time for the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, the League is currently crowdfunding money to shine giant "cat-signal" floodlights in cities around the world, bringing its online message to real-world streets.

Researchers Stamp Out World's #3 Botnet
A group of security researchers have shut down a giant botnet called Grum that was responsible for generating 17.4 percent of the spam on the planet at the rate of 18 billion spam messages per day. "I am glad to announce that, after three days of effort, the Grum botnet has finally been knocked down," Atif Mushtaq, a researcher at the FireEye security firm,wrote in a blog post. "All the known command and control (CnC) servers are dead, leaving their zombies orphaned."

The first early victories in this battle came on Tuesday when two Dutch servers were shut down. This was followed by the falling of a server in Panama--another big win. The botnet herders recouped though, Mushtaq explains, and fired up six new servers in Ukraine, adding to the one holdout in Russia. Collaborating with Spamhaus and CERT-GIB and a third anonymous researcher, the Ukrainian and Russian servers were brought down yesterday.

Google Ordered To Block "Megaupload," "Rapidshare," "Torrent" Terms In France
Via The Register: The French supreme court has upheld music industry group SNEP's request to get Google to censor certain search terms associated with piracy. The court has ordered the search engine to remove words "Megaupload" "rapidshare" and "torrent" from the autocomplete and instant search suggestions. While the wouldn't hold Google responsible for downloads that people found using the search engine, the court insisted that Google ought to make things a little more difficult by blocking certain key terms.

Verizon Q2 Results Record $28.5 Billion In Revenue
Verizon has posted its Q2 results, showing operating revenues of $28.6 billion, up 3.7 % for the same period last year. Verizon said it added 888,000 postpaid plan customers, and, 50% of Verizon's total postpaid customers now use smartphones. Verizon's data revenues added up to $6.9 billion--up 18.5 % from last year--and the company's service revenues reached $15.8 billion. Things could change around for the next quarter as the company suspends its 3G unlimited plans, and introduces its Share Everything shared data plans (which began on June 28).

Mobile Browsers Overtake Desktop Surfers As China's Internet Population Hits 538 Million
China and India's growing connected population has social networks and ecommerce firms world-over vying for a toehold in those online markets. A new report from the China Internet Network Information Center breaks down some of those booming numbers for the first half of this year in China, revealing an 11% growth in the Internet-connected population since last year. As of June, the country has 538 million people connected to the Internet, which is 40% of the population. Interestingly, a big chunk of that traffic is coming from mobile phones--CNNIC reports that 388 million mobile users now have access to the Internet. That number has overtaken the number of desktop users--380 million--for the first time (though, as Jon Russell at TheNextWeb points out, that number would be more telling if it represented PC users as a whole, counting desktop and laptop users).

Nokia Reports Billion Dollar Loss In Quarterly Finances
Nokia's finances for the second quarter of 2012 have just been reported: On €7.5 billion in sales (approx $9.2 billion), a figure that represents a slip of €500 million on the previous quarter, the company managed to convert the money into a quarterly loss of €826 million--around $1.02 billion. While Nokia managed to increase overall handset sales both quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year to 73 million units, it's clear that the firm isn't selling enough high-margin handsets to overcome its own operating costs...despite the fact it reported second quarter sales of its flagship Lumia Windows-powered smartphones were up to 4 million phones. Nokia also reported that the third quarter is expected to be challenging for its Smart Devices division due to "product transitions."

Court Decides Apple Must Apologize To Samsung In UK

One battle in the back-and-forth war over intellectual property rights between Apple and Samsung has just gone Samsung's way, with a decision in Britain's High Court that Apple must run a national ad campaign saying that Samsung didn't copy Apple's tablet designs, and leave a note on its UK website to the same effect. The judge ruled against a Samsung request that the apology be on all Apple's EU websites presumably because that's far outside the mandate of the court, and because other nation's courts have already decided that in some senses the opposite situation is true and Samsung actually did copy Apple's iPad design.
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