by CIO Staff

Top 10 IT News Stories of the Week: Critics Question AT&T BellSouth Deal’s Impact

Mar 10, 20065 mins

1. “Critics Question AT&T Deal’s Impact,”Computerworld, 3/6. AT&T’s plan to acquire rival carrier BellSouth for US$67.1 billion appears a smart move for the two carriers, facing new competition from cable television providers offering their own bundles of services. However, critics fear such consolidation may signal a return to the bad old kind of telecommunications monopoly situation that existed prior to the breakup of the old AT&T (a.k.a. Ma Bell) in 1984 into the seven regional Baby Bells.

2. “CeBIT: Intel, Microsoft Announce 3 Origami Offerings,”, 3/9. After last week’s teasers, Microsoft and Intel unwrapped Origami, which, as expected, was a mini tablet PC running a version of Gates Inc.’s Windows XP operating system. Three versions of the ultramobile PC were on show at the massive CeBIT technology show in Hanover, Germany, from hardware vendors Samsung, Asustek and a Founder Group subsidiary. The devices come with wireless connections such as Bluetooth as standard and have the capability to support third-generation (3G) wireless networks.

3. “Fed. CIO Survey: IT Security #1 Concern,”, 3/8. Chief information officers at U.S. government agencies have made progress on several key issues including IT security and modernizing their system infrastructures, according to a recent survey. The executives have been slower to move on privacy initiatives, seeing that issue as a less mature concern. A major headache for the CIOs remains juggling the execution of long-term IT plans in the wake of government’s shifting priorities and changing budgets.

4. “Google To Settle Click-Fraud Suit”, 3/9. The search company has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit by paying as much as US$90 million. Brought by lead plaintiff Lane’s Gifts & Collectibles against Google and other search engine providers, the case centers on click fraud, where an individual clicks on a pay-per-click advertisement with malicious intent. The losers from click fraud are advertisers who pay for clicks on ads that due to the fraud won’t generate any business. Google rival Yahoo plans to continue fighting the lawsuit.

5. “Lawsuit Contests Pay Package Hewlett Gave to Former Chief,”

The New York Times, 3/8. Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard, may be long gone from the company, but the manner of her leaving became news once more. Two large shareholders have sued HP claiming that Fiorina’s US$21.4 million severance package violated the company’s executive compensation policy. Fiorina was forced out of HP in February 2005. HP’s only comment was this week’s lawsuit had no merit.

6. “Citibank Cards Pulled After Network Breach,”Network World, 3/7. Citigroup is reissuing MasterCard credit and debit cards used in the United Kingdom, Canada and Russia, saying they may have been compromised following an unspecified breach of its Citibank network. The breach appears to have occurred last year, with the company revealing it had detected several hundred fraudulent cash withdrawals in the three countries by mid-February this year.

7. “Agassi Wants Microsoft More Visible Than SAP,”

InfoWorld, 3/8. SAP executive Shai Agassi provided an interesting perspective on his company’s relationship with Gates Inc. this week. The two vendors are hard at work on a project called Mendocino to integrate SAP’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software with Microsoft’s Office desktop suite. Agassi believes users will want to stick with the Office format they’re familiar with, limiting the SAP software to a background role. He cited a statistic that four times as many people use Office as use SAP.

8. “Researcher Hacks MS Fingerprint Reader,”, 3/6. You don’t only have to worry about your passwords being stolen, a security researcher from the Finnish military has revealed how a hacker could steal your fingerprint. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Microsoft chose not to encrypt fingerprint images in its PC authentication device, Fingerprint Reader. To be fair, Microsoft hasn’t represented the reader as a security device, but as an easy way for home users to quickly log onto websites without having to remember user names and passwords.

9. “European Commission To Launch Public Inquiry Into RFID,”Network World, 3/9. Concerns over consumer privacy are leading the European Commission to embark on a public inquiry into the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. The commission wants to determine whether new legislation might be needed to regulate widespread usage of RFID technology. Another issue is trying to reach a global accord on interoperable standards for RFID equipment. The commission plans to publish a consultation document based on upcoming discussions with the general public and industry sectors in September.

10. “Tech Brings New Billionaires Onto Forbes List,”InfoWorld, 3/10. No surprise who heads the top of Forbes magazine’s annual list of the world’s billionaires in 2006–it’s still Bill Gates. The Microsoft chairman is the richest man for the 12th year in a row and grew his fortune to US$50 billion from last year’s US$46.5 billion. But lower down the list are some new additions from the world of technology including the cofounder and chairman of Indian software giant Infosys, Narayana Murthy, and the heads of Taiwan’s High-Tech Computer and Via Technologies, Cher Wang and Wenchi Chen. Oracle’s Larry Ellison is no longer in the top 10, with his net worth falling to US$16 billion to give him 15th place.

-China Martens, IDG News Service

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