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Technology Top Stories

Web companies give first look at secret government data requests

Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google on Monday began publishing details about the number of secret government requests for data they receive, hoping to show limited involvement in controversial surveillance efforts. The tech industry has pushed for greater transparency on government data requests, seeking to shake off concerns about their involvement in vast, surreptitious surveillance programs revealed last summer by former spy contractor Edward Snowden. The government said last month it would relax rules restricting what details companies can disclose about Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court orders they receive for user information. Several companies, including Google and Microsoft, sued the government last year, seeking the ability to disclose more of that data.

Google executive chairman expects U.S. approval of Lenovo-Motorola deal

Google Executive Chairman Schmidt speaks during a talk at the Chinese University of Hong KongGoogle Inc Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt expressed confidence on Monday that Lenovo Inc would gain approval from U.S. regulators to buy Google's Motorola smart-phone hardware business in what would be China's biggest technology acquisition to date. Schmidt said he saw "a good chance" of the deal passing muster with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, which monitors acquisitions by overseas corporations. Speaking at a dinner organized by the Cato Institute think tank, Schmidt said Lenovo's experience buying IBM's ailing personal computer division in 2005 would stand it in good stead as it seeks the green light to acquire the Motorola business. "There's a good chance of it being OK," Schmidt said, adding, "We would not have done the transaction if we thought it would be in trouble." Lenovo said last week it would acquire the Motorola handset business, along with some 2,000 patents, for $2.91 billion.

Samsung Electronics to unveil latest Galaxy smartphone in late February

A man walks out of Samsung Electronics' headquarters in SeoulSamsung Electronics Co will unveil a new version of its flagship Galaxy S smartphone this month, but expectations are low that features such as a bigger screen will lead to a sharp jump in sales given intensifying competition. Samsung sent out invitations on Tuesday for "Samsung unPacked 5" event on February 24 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The launch has been brought forward by around three weeks after sales of Samsung's S4 came in weaker than expected, analysts said. The world's biggest smartphone maker is bracing for its weakest mobile annual profit growth in seven years amid fierce competition from Apple Inc and Chinese vendors, and as growth for high-end smartphones eases due to near saturation in many markets.

Disney to lay off hundreds in gaming unit: report

The signage at the main gate of The Walt Disney Co. is pictured in Burbank(Reuters) - Walt Disney Co is preparing to lay off several hundred people in its interactive unit, the division that includes gaming products and the website, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. The layoffs are expected to begin after Disney releases its quarterly earnings on Wednesday, the Journal said. Playdom, a social gaming business Disney acquired in 2010, is one division expected to see cutbacks, the newspaper said. Disney is trying to turn around the interactive unit, which has about 3,000 employees.

Secret Service urges lawmakers to do more on cyber crime

People shop at Target store during Black Friday sales in the Brooklyn borough of New YorkThe Secret Service on Monday urged U.S. lawmakers to do more to prevent the types of cyber thefts of consumer information that recently have hit Target Corp and other major retailers. "Legislative action could help to improve the nation's cybersecurity, reduce regulatory costs on U.S. companies, and strengthen law enforcement's ability to conduct effective investigations," said William Noonan, a top agent with the Secret Service's cyber operations branch. Noonan testified at a Senate Banking subcommittee hearing on safeguarding consumer financial data, the first of a series of panels scheduled this week in response to the Target breach and other incidents. Target, the No. 3 U.S. retailer, was hit by a massive cyber theft over the holiday shopping period.

U.S. boosting investment in high-speed Internet in schools by $2 billion

Students set up their donated laptop computers on the first day of school at Joplin High School in JoplinThe Federal Communications Commission, doubling its investment in high-speed Internet at schools, on Monday pledged an additional $2 billion over two years for improving broadband networks in schools and libraries. The investment comes through E-Rate, a subsidy program funded by fees Americans pay on their monthly phone bills that helps schools and libraries get discounts on Internet services and digital devices. But demand has far exceeded that amount, FCC officials have said, and of all E-Rate funding, only about half has gone toward equipping schools and libraries with true high-speed Internet access, the agency said. In what FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler called a "business-like approach," the agency would reshuffle how it spends the current E-Rate funds to prioritize high-capacity Internet connections over other purposes and to improve the program's efficiency and management.

Pebble's appstore rolls out on iOS, starts beta testing on Android

Pebble's appstore rolls out on iOS, starts beta testing on AndroidPebble's smartwatch appstore has arrived as promised and it's loaded with over 1,000 apps and watchfaces. Our review of the new Steel watch has more details on how it all works, and users with the iOS companion app will see the new features right away. An Android version isn't quite ready for release, but a beta APK is up on Pebble's developer website if you want to try it out early.

Educator charged with sexual abuse in YouTube case

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) ? A Southern California school administrator who quit her job after a former student aired sexual abuse allegations on a YouTube video that has since been seen nearly a million times was charged Monday with 16 counts of sexually abusing two girls, prosecutors said.

Not dead yet: Windows XP somehow gained market share last month

Not dead yet: Windows XP somehow gained market share last monthWith Microsoft dropping support for Windows XP in April, you would think people would start moving on to Windows 7 or Windows 8. Apparently they aren?t and instead, Windows XP?s market share is increasing. According to the latest report from Net Market Share, XP?s market share increased from 28.98% in December to 29.23% in January. Net Market Share measures usage and not install base, so it is unlikely that the increase is from people making the jump from Windows 95 to Windows XP. Whatever the cause, Microsoft can?t be thrilled that over a quarter of all desktops run a decade-old OS while just over 10% run Windows 8 or 8.1. While Microsoft is dropping support for XP on April 8th,

Target fast-tracks new credit card security following data breach

Target fast-tracks new credit card security following data breachTarget says it's accelerating a program that will update its retail stores with technology designed to thwart credit card fraud. In an op-ed in The Hill, Target chief financial officer John Mulligan says the company is moving up its goal to utilize chip-enabled smart cards, and now plans to have them in stores by early 2015, which is six months earlier than originally planned. Those cards encrypt point of sale data, rendering the credit card number less useful if stolen. Mulligan notes that the smart cards have not taken off in the US, but have resulted in lower card number theft in other countries, notably Canada and the United Kingdom.

Calif. educator arrested in YouTube abuse case

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) ? A California school administrator charged with felony sexual abuse after a former student aired allegations in a YouTube video has been arrested.

Samsung's 'Unpacked 5' event promises a new flagship device

Samsung's 'Unpacked 5' event promises a new flagship deviceSamsung sure knows how to whet the appetite of its fans. The Korean tech giant has announced that it's holding an "Unpacked 5" event at Mobile World Congress on February 24th -- a potentially not-so-subtle reference to the upcoming Galaxy S 5. There's no guarantees that the new high-end smartphone will appear in Barcelona, especially when Samsung has only unveiled one Galaxy S device (the Galaxy S II) at the trade gathering.


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