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January 29, 2013

Technology News Briefs — Jan. 29, 2013

U.S. Leads in Requests for Users’ Twitter Info

The United States, it seems, is the leader when it comes to requesting user information from technology and social media sites.

According to Twitter’s transparency report, released Jan. 28, 81 percent of all information requests came from U.S. agencies.

Google, which released its report Jan. 25, also had the majority of requests from American government agencies and courts.

Twitter received user information requests from 30 different governments in 2012. During the second half of the year, it received inquiries from 23 countries with an increase of 160 requests over the first half.

The U.S. far surpassed all other countries making 815 user information requests about 1,145 Twitter user accounts last year. In second place was Japan with 62 requests about 75 accounts.

Twitter complied with 69 percent of requests from U.S. agencies, giving  “some or all information” requested.  Sixty percent of the requests were subpoenas, 19 percent were search warrants and 11 percent were court orders.

WhatsApp Breaches International Privacy Laws

Cross-platform app WhatsApp breached international privacy laws because users must consent to the use of their address book for the app to work properly, according to a ruling by Canadian and Dutch data protection authorities.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Dutch Data Protection Authority released their findings Jan. 28 from a collaborative investigation into the handling of personal information by the California-based mobile app developer.

“The investigation revealed that users of WhatsApp — apart from iPhone users who have iOS 6 software — do not have a choice to use the app without granting access to their entire address book. The address book contains phone numbers of both users and non-users,” Dutch Data Protection Authority chairman Jacob Johnstamm said in a statement.

The two agencies said WhatsApp relies on users’ phone numbers to “populate” the instant messenger’s contacts list. The phone numbers are transmitted to WhatsApp to “assist in the identification of other WhatsApp users” but, instead of deleting the phone number of non-users, WhatsApp saves the numbers in an unreadable hash form.

This contravenes both Canadian and Dutch privacy law, which maintains personal data can be retained only as long as is required for the fulfillment of a particular service.

“Our investigation has led to WhatsApp making and committing to make further changes in order to better protect users’ personal information,” Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said in the joint statement.

Apple Likely to Release 128GB iPad

Apple is getting set to launch a 128 GB version of its iPad, sources have told 9to5Mac.

The gadget would be a new SKU for the current fourth-generation iPad with Retina display line, the site reports.

The WiFi-only model iPad would sell for $799 while the cellular-compatible device would retail for $929.

According to the site, the fourth-generation iPad — not a new design — will be offered in black or white.

“It is a more premium SKU that will join the current line of 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB fourth-generation iPads,” the site says.