by CIO Staff

Top 10 IT News Stories of the Week: HP Pays $14.5M to Settle Civil Suit Over Spying

Dec 08, 20066 mins

1. “HP Pays $14.5M to Settle Civil Suit Over Spying,”, 12/8

Hewlett-Packard is putting some of its woes behind it after agreeing to pay US$14.5 million to settle a California lawsuit related to the vendor’s boardroom-level spy scandal. The bulk of the money will be used to create a privacy and piracy fund that the state’s attorney general and local prosecutors across California can draw on to investigate and prosecute alleged violations of privacy and intellectual property rights. HP isn’t out of the woods yet, however, since former employees and the private investigators they retained still face criminal charges stemming from their actions, including the use of pretexting, as they tried to identify the source of leaked corporate information.

Check out’s HP Spying Scandal page for more on this story. 2. “’The World Needs Only Five Computers,’”CNET, 12/7

That kind of comment isn’t one you’d expect to hear from the chief technology officer of a company that makes workstations and servers, but Sun’s Greg Papadopoulos is predicting just such a consolidation will eventually take place. What he expects is five, or perhaps seven broadband computing services titans including, eBay, Google and Microsoft that provide hosted software applications to huge numbers of users around the world. Each of the five to seven IT giants would run a massive computer containing hundreds of thousands of chips and millions of disk drives. Serving the needs of the broadband vendors would be a thriving ecosystem of much smaller technology companies that would help to create the on-demand applications, Papadopoulos said.

3. “Plenty of Deals in the Chips,”BusinessWeek, 12/5

Ups and downs in demand for semiconductors are a fact of life, with the current slowdown a factor in driving increasing consolidation between chip players. This week saw a major deal proposed as LSI Logic offered $4 billion to purchase Agere Systems, Lucent’s former semiconductor unit. Subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, LSI hopes to close the acquisition in the first quarter of next year. The move will enable LSI to double in size and better compete with rivals Marvell and Broadcom.

4. “Wal-Mart, Intel Launch E-Health Project,”Computerworld, 12/6

With U.S. government efforts to create a nationwide electronic health record system for its citizens seemingly stalled, five large companies are taking matters into their own hands. Applied Materials, BP, Intel, Pitney Bowes and Wal-Mart are funding a nonprofit institute to develop a Web-based e-health system known as Dossia to store records for a total of 2.5 million individuals who have health insurance coverage through the companies. The organizations hope to offer the e-health records to their staff in the middle of next year as a way to help reduce the cost of health care by avoiding the kind of medical errors and duplication that can occur with paper-based records.

5. “Yahoo Reorganizes into 3 Units, COO to Depart,” 12/6

With Yahoo struggling to adapt to the current Internet landscape replete with social networking websites and fierce competitors, notably Google, it was only a matter of time before a corporate shake-up took place. Out on his ear come March is Dan Rosenweig, the company’s chief operating officer, while Yahoo itself is being reorganized into three new units to focus on better meeting the needs of consumers, advertisers and publishers. The move comes after the leaking of an internal memo by a company senior vice president, which charged that Yahoo is spreading itself too thin like a layer of peanut butter and not concentrating instead on key areas of its business. 6. “Microsoft Readies Book Search Service,”Computerworld, 12/6

While Google has drawn plenty of heat for its controversial approach to scanning books, Microsoft has been quietly plugging away, adopting a less aggressive tack, and the fruits of those labors are now available in the beta version of Live Search Books. Both vendors have been rushing about to establish relationships with libraries, universities and publishers and have been scanning books in the public domain. However, unlike Google and its Book Search, where the vendor hasn’t always secured permission from the copyright owner prior to scanning in-copyright books, Microsoft is indexing such volumes for its Live Search Books only when the copyright owner has signed off on the move.

7. “IBM to Purchase Consul to Boost Tivoli,”, 12/5

IBM was busy once more on the acquisition trail this week, lining up its 11th software company purchase of 2006. Big Blue plans to buy Consul Risk Management as a way to deepen the compliance and security auditing capabilities of its Tivoli systems management software family. With Consul under its belt, IBM will own technology that more thoroughly tracks the behavior of users accessing corporate data, with the software able to flag when employee viewing of information goes above and beyond what a company has defined as acceptable use.

8. “Industry Group Urges Caution on U.S. Plan for RFID-Enabled ID Cards,”Computerworld, 12/5

Nonprofit industry body the Smart Card Alliance this week urged the U.S. government to reconsider its decision to use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in a proposed passport card program for its citizens traveling to Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico. The alliance voiced security and privacy concerns over the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) scheme, which is set to provide residents who don’t have passports with an RFID-enabled personal identity verification card to facilitate land and sea border crossings. The government claims that WHTI will help improve security at U.S. borders where customs and border officials equipped with handheld devices can remotely read the credit-size passport cards from distances of 20 to 30 feet.

9. “Sun, StorageTek Hit With Copyright Infringement Suit,”, 12/5

Already involved in patent infringement suit and countersuit on the server side of its operations with Azul Systems, Sun is now facing a second intellectual property lawsuit. This time, the legal action relates to Sun’s storage business. Internet development tools company Netbula alleges that Sun and its StorageTek unit have infringed on its copyrights and are unlawfully using Netbula’s core technology in their LibAttach software. The tools vendor is seeking an injunction to stop Sun from using its technology, as well as financial restitution.

10. “Pleo Robot Gives Life to Dinosaurs,”, 12/5

The latest keenly anticipated robotic pet is a bit of a dinosaur—not in technology terms, but in reality. Pleo, which is the size of a fat cat, has the look of a 1-week-old Camarasaurus, a dinosaur that was wandering around what later became North America in the Jurassic period. Pleo’s also a pretty emotional creature, crying when scolded and responding to a pat on the head with a smile and a tail wag. Ugobe, the designer of the so-called dino-bot, is hoping tech-savvy owners of Pleo will change the real-time open-source operating system the dinosaur runs on to create new emotions and movements for the beast. Pleo is due to appear in stores come March 2007 and cost under $250.

-China Martens, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)

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