Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Apple Accused for Labour Abuses in China

Consumers can't resist from getting latest fashion, branded products as well as the latest technology gadgets. How much do you know about your branded goods? Do these big companies treat their labours well for the premium prices that you pay? Many big and international companies simply ignore the basic human/labour rights by abusing them with very low wages, hiring underage workers, poor working conditions without emphasizing  safety and health protection from exposing chemical radiation, long working hours without proper rest and meals etc. 

Apple and Foxconn (an outsourcing company in China which manufactures Apple products) have been exposed for abusing the labour rights since after the incidents of factory explosion and workers commit suicide in China last year. The New York Times published an explosive article on 26 January 2012 about the working condition in China, which also highlighted that Apple aware about the labour abuses (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46143670/ns/business-us_business/)

Will you still support and purchase premium product if a company doesn't practice ethics in business and management, simply because it focuses on making higher profits margin?

Monday, January 23, 2012

USA Internet Protest Piracy Bill

On 18th January 2012 (Wednesday), a group of giant internet companies namely, Google, eBay, Wikipedia etc. joined the blackout protest against the proposed U.S. anti-privacy moves. Why did the proposed legislation create a huge protest among the American people including some of the Internet companies? How does the proposed bill affect the companies and internet users in the future?

Internet companies protested against SOPA bill in English websites in the USA, which also affect the internet access in other parts of the world on 18 Jan 2012 (Photo: Aljazeera English)

When we were being introduced to internet technology in early 1980s, there was a lot of limited usage and capabilities with the internet. At that time, we relied to television, newspapers, radio and cinemas for news and entertainment. Those who were working and studying in overseas, they had to depend on letters and telephone to keep in touch with their loved ones from home countries.

With today's technology, we are heavily depending on the internet. We read, watch, chat and even share personal stuff and photos with friends and families via online. People become closer and frequently stay in touch without feeling stranger, no matter where they are with the internet. Internet has become part of my life, from searching for recipes, sharing some interesting news on my blogs to watching Asian dramas online.
Nearly everyone is depending on the internet in his/her life, the internet companies and entertainment companies create a lot of advertising opportunities to reach the targeted consumers effectively. More and more internet users venture into blogging in hope to earn some lucrative (part-time) incomes.

On the blackout protest day, the internet users became helpless as they could not search information or access to the sites. They could see black screen and a political statement: "Imagine a world without free knowledge." Even hundreds of protestors turned out in New York, Washington DC, San Francisco and Seattle to protest against SOPA and PIPA (anti-piracy proposals) on the same day with the blackout protest by giant internet companies.

(Double-click to read the contents of the letter)

Anti-SOPA/PIPA activist group Fight for the Future created an animated video illustrating the negative consequences of the bill on internet users.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Behind SOPA: What It Means for Business and Innovation
Via: Business Insurance Blog

In other words, when the proposed bill is approved, the U.S. government, Youtube, Facebook Google and other giant internet companies will monitor and block the internet users from posting or sharing  information and sources illegally without getting copyright approval. As such, this action will not only restrict the users in the USA but throughout the world as well. The role of the internet will be resumed to the "doom" days where we would subscribe and depend on cable / satellite TV for news and entertainment, just like in early days. Internet users will not allow to express, share opinion and voice their dissatisfaction about their governments, politics and economy freely. 

What will happen to US giant internet companies such as Google, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter etc. when the legislation is implemented? Will the U.S. internet companies remain competitive in the world's market against China's search engine and social media?

Megaupload file-sharing site shut down

19 January 2012 Last updated at 23:54 ET  Source: BBC News

Georgina Ball of Radio New Zealand on the Megaupload court appearance

Megaupload, one of the internet's largest file-sharing sites, has been shut down by officials in the US.
The site's founders have been charged with violating piracy laws.
Federal prosecutors have accused it of costing copyright holders more than $500m (£320m) in lost revenue. The firm says it was diligent in responding to complaints about pirated material.
In response, the hackers group Anonymous has targeted the FBI and US Department of Justice websites.
The news came a day after anti-piracy law protests, but investigators said they were ordered two weeks ago.
The US Justice Department said that Megaupload's two co-founders Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and Mathias Ortmann were arrested in Auckland, New Zealand along with two other employees of the business at the request of US officials. It added that three other defendants were still at large.
"This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime," said a statement posted on its website.
The FBI website was intermittently unavailable on Thursday evening due to what officials said was being "treated as a malicious act".
The hackers' group Anonymous said it was carrying out the attacks.
The Motion Picture Association of America's website also suffered disruption.
Third-party sites
The charges included, conspiracies to commit racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering.
A federal court in Virginia ordered that 18 domain names associated with the Hong Kong-based firm be seized.
The Justice Department said that more than 20 search warrants had been executed in nine countries, and that approximately $50m (£32m) in assets had been seized.
It claimed that the accused had pursued a business model designed to promote the uploading of copyrighted works.
"The conspirators allegedly paid users whom they specifically knew uploaded infringing content, and publicised their links to users throughout the world," a statement said.
"By actively supporting the use of third-party linking sites to publicise infringing content, the conspirators did not need to publicise such content on the Megaupload site.
"Instead, the indictment alleges that the conspirators manipulated the perception of content available on their servers by not providing a public search function on the Megaupload site and by not including popular infringing content on the publicly available lists of top content downloaded by its users."
Before it was shut down the site posted a statement saying the allegations against it were "grotesquely overblown".
"The fact is that the vast majority of Mega's internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay," it added.
"If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch."
The announcement came a day after thousands of websites took part in a "blackout" to protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (Pipa).
The US Chamber of Commerce has defended the proposed laws saying that enforcement agencies "lack the tools" to effectively apply existing intellectual property laws to the digital world.
Industry watchers suggest this latest move may feed into the wider debate.
"Neither of the bills are close to being passed - they need further revision. But it appears that officials are able to use existing tools to go after a business alleged to be inducing piracy," said Gartner's media distribution expert Mike McGuire.
"It begs the question that if you can find and arrest people who are suspected to be involved in piracy using existing laws, then why introduce further regulations which are US-only and potentially damaging?"

(Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16642369)