America files trade complaint over European tariffs on technology

The United States recently filed a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) about European Union tariffs on high-tech products, the Washington Business Journal reports. Specifically, a U.S. trade representative has asked the WTO to help settle the dispute concerning cable and satellite boxes; flat-screen computer monitors; and combination printers, scanners, copiers and fax machines. According to the United States, those products should be duty-free under a 1996 trade agreement, but the EU has used "protectionist gimmicks" to tax such imports. The Business Times notes that thus far, the EU and the U.S. have had four rounds of unsuccessful negotiations on this issue (Washington Business Journal, 5/28/08). 

EU falls short on Internet business security, ENISA says

According to the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA), the European Union must step up efforts to safeguard Internet businesses, NewsFactor reports. In particular, ENISA noted the importance of network and information security, specifically related to i2010—the EU's umbrella strategy for technological development. As one solution, ENISA cited computer emergency response teams (CERTs) as key components in combating cyber attacks and spam. The number of CERTs among EU member states has grown from eight in 2005 to 14 today, with an additional 10 planned. Meanwhile, ENISA estimated there are six million botnets used worldwide by organized criminals to send spam and commit online fraud. The organization also underscored the risks of social-networking sites and called for a review of the regulatory framework of Directive 2002/58 on privacy and electronic communications (LeClaire, NewsFactor/Yahoo! News, 5/27/08).

N.Y. to adopt tech-enhanced driver’s licenses

New York Gov. David Paterson on Tuesday announced that the state is partnering with federal authorities to issue enhanced drivers licenses that double as border-crossing cards, Washington Technology reports. The move makes the state the fourth, joining Washington, Vermont and Arizona, to have negotiated agreements with U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff that enable them to issue a state driver’s license that also meets specific requirements for border crossings. Slated to take effect in June 2009, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires travelers to show a passport or other approved document to cross the U.S. borders. However, some of the enhanced licenses have been controversial because of privacy concerns. For instance, in Washington, which was the first state to begin producing the new licenses, the new IDs include a radio frequency identification microchip that can be read wirelessly from 20 feet to 30 feet away. Such RFID chips have been criticized for their potential to be scanned without authorization, risking identity theft and loss of privacy. Meanwhile, Washington Technology notes that it is unclear whether New York’s licenses will include the RFID chip (Lipowicz, Washington Technology, 5/28/08). 

Africa, Mid East to benefit from $40.5 billion technology fund

African nations and those in the Middle East, a region commonly referred to as the Mena region, will soon share funding from an expected $40.5 billion technology investment, the Lagos Vanguard reports. According to a study recently published by the International Data Corporation (IDC), the Gulf region, which includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, will receive $9.1 billion, while African nations will split the remaining $31 billion to bolster technology efforts. According to the Vanguard, Nigeria will likely earn the largest portion because of the tech innovations currently underway and planned, as well as the sheer size and population of its market (Aihe, Lagos Vanguard, 5/28/08).

Colorado to consolidate technology services

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter recently signed legislation into law that will centralize the state’s information technology systems under the state Office of Information Technology, Washington Technology reports. According to Ritter, the bill aims to correct disparate and inefficient information technology systems, adding that currently the state uses 39 data centers and more than 1,600 servers, while some states function with just two data centers. Commenting on the bill, he says “this legislation marks a historic turning point in how we will manage, consolidate and improve our IT assets and personnel” (Welsh, Washington Technology, 5/29/08).

Yale researchers create new Internet efficiency strategy

A Yale research team has engineered a system designed to boost Internet efficiency that enables Internet service providers (ISPs) and peer-to-peer (P2P) software providers to work cooperatively to deliver data, Science Daily reports. Specifically, the research team has proposed an architecture called P4P, which stands for "provider portal for P2P applications" and enables explicit and seamless communications between ISPs and P2P applications. According to the researchers, P4P architecture can operate in multiple modes including a simple mode in which the ISPs will reveal their network status so that P2P applications can avoid hot-spots. Using another mode, Science Daily reports that P4P can operate "much like a stock or commodities exchange -- it will let markets and providers interact freely to create the most efficient information and cost flow, so costs of operation drop and access to individual sites is less likely to overload." According to a paper slated for presentation at ACM SIGCOMM 2008, a premier computer networking conference in August 2008, the P4P is expected to reduce the cost to ISPs and boost performance of P2P applications (Science Daily, 5/27/08).

Google aims to solidify commitment to developers

Google this week is hosting a conference for external developers called Google I/O, which IDG News Service reports is the company's "strongest statement to date of its deep, long-term commitment to external developers." Launching on Wednesday, the two-day conference in San Francisco will feature more than 100 in-depth technical sessions about the company's developer programs and tools and will likely garner nearly 3,000 attendees. In addition, Google will announce plans to open the doors of App Engine to all developers, after an initial period of limited access. Meanwhile, Google's vice president of engineering for developer products acknowledged that, with this first I/O event, Google clearly indicates that it is invested in a long-term relationship working for and with external programmers (Perez, IDG News Service/CIO, 5/27/08).

EC calls for greater adoption of IPv6

The European Commission (EC) this week announced plans to get 25 percent of European Union (EU) industry, public authorities and households to use IPv6 by 2010, Government Computer News reports. According to GCN, IPv6 adoption is necessary because of the looming shortage of Internet addresses under IPv4, as well as to ensure the continental economy does not lag behind areas such as the Asian Pacific region, where many are already adopting IPv6. To introduce and promote the initiative, the EC will host a European IPv6 Day in Brussels May 30. Meanwhile, GCN points out that, unlike the U.S. solution to mandate government agencies to transition for IPv6 capabilities by next month, the EC cannot compel adoption of the new IP (Jackson, GCN, 5/28/08).

African mobile-service providers tap solar energy for rural users

African mobile-service providers are tapping into solar energy and other renewable sources to power base stations and connect users in remote areas to mobile networks, IDG News Service reports. For instance, Africa's largest mobile telecommunication company Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) and the east African regional service provider Safaricom recently announced plans to use solar energy and bio-fuel. MTN operates in 21 African countries, including Zambia, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa. IDG also notes that Ericsson has already developed and deployed solar-powered base stations for rural areas without access to electricity in Malawi and Morocco. In Namibia, meanwhile, the country's mobile telecommunication company, MTC, plans to install solar-powered base stations. Moreover, Ericsson and MTN are collaborating on a project to power base stations using bio-fuels from palm and pumpkin seeds (Malakata, IDG News Service/CIO, 5/27/08).

Latest version of Windows to include touch screen controls

Microsoft Corp plans offer touch screen controls as one component of the next version of its Windows operating system, Reuters reports. During a joint interview on Tuesday as part of the Wall Street Journal's three-day D: All Things Digital conference, Microsoft leaders Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer unveiled new Windows features based on software known as "multi-touch," which will be part of Windows 7—the next version of Windows slated for release in late 2009. For example, in a demonstration of the touch-screen capabilities, Microsoft displayed a new application called "Touchable Paint" that allows a user to paint with his or her fingers, as well as software to organize photos or navigate maps by touch (Auchard, Reuters, 5/28/08).

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