Tech wrap: Privacy storm strikes Sony, passes Apple

April 27, 2011

Apple denied it is tracking the movements of its iPhone customers, but said it will provide a software update that stores less location information on phones in response to public outcry over privacy issues. Apple plans to release a software update that would cut the size of the wireless hotspot location database stored on its iPhones, and stop backing up that information. The software will be released in the next few weeks, it said.

Users of location-based services like those offered on iPhones have a hard time reconciling the security and privacy implications that come with allowing third parties access to their information, writes Mashable’s Christina Warren.

Sony’s delay in announcing that hackers had stolen names, addresses and possibly credit card details from the 77 million user accounts of its video game online network sparked an online furor from users. Some gamers writing in online forums called for a boycott of Sony products, while shoppers at London video-games stores said they might leave the PSN network, which allows them to play games with other members and buy games online. A Sony spokesman said that after learning of the breach it took “several days of forensic investigation” before the company knew consumers’ data had been compromised.

One U.S. class-action lawyer said he was considering filing a lawsuit against Sony on behalf of consumers as soon as this week. Also, the Iowa and Connecticut attorneys general, who act as consumer advocates for their states, were discussing the matter with their staff, according to their offices. And a government watchdog in Britain said it had already launched an investigation of the incident, which put credit card information at risk.

EBay reported quarterly revenue that grew 15.9 percent to $2.55 billion, fueled by a 23 percent rise at PayPal and a 12 percent increase at its main marketplaces unit, beating Wall Street forecasts of $2.48 billion.

Nokia will axe 7,000 jobs and outsource its legacy Symbian software to cut $1.46 billion of costs as it struggles to compete in the fierce smartphone market. The move includes laying off 4,000 staff and transferring another 3,000 to services firm Accenture – a total 12 percent of its phone unit workforce. Accenture will take over Symbian software activities and support future smartphones, including those running on Microsoft’s Windows platform.

Google introduced its Docs app for Android phones, which allows users to upload content and open documents directly from Gmail. The app can also perform optical character recognition, turning text captured from the phone’s camera into an editable document.

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