Tech 2.0 for Thursday, March 13, 2014
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he's called President Barack Obama to express his frustration over what he says is long-lasting damage caused by the U.S. government's surveillance programs. Posting on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg wrote Thursday that he's "been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the U.S. government." He adds that when Facebook's "engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we're protecting you against criminals, not our own government." The post comes a day after the news site Intercept reported that the National Security Agency has impersonated a Facebook server to infect surveillance targets' computers and get files from a hard drive. The NSA says the report is "inaccurate." White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden confirmed that the president spoke with Zuckerberg.
Russia's communications agency has banned four websites notable for their criticism of the government, including one run by opposition figure and former chess champion Garry Kasparov. A communications watchdog said Thursday that Grani.ru, Kasparov.ru and Yezhednevny Zhurnal have carried incitements to unlawful behavior and participation in unauthorized mass gatherings. The ban was requested by the Prosecutor General's Office and Internet providers are now under instructions to implement the block. Prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalnvy's blog also has been banned over the alleged violation of the terms of the two-month house arrest that he is currently serving. The move marks the latest crackdown on the increasingly diminishing ranks of independent media in Russia.Google has taken its all-seeing eyes on a trip that few experience: the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. The search giant partnered with the advocacy group American Rivers to showcase views of nearly 300 miles of whitewater rapids, towering red canyon walls and geologic history. The imagery captured from Lees Ferry south of Page to Pearce Ferry at Lake Mead went live Thursday. Google project lead Karin Tuxen-Bettman says the 360-degree views also aim to educate people on water conservation. Federal officials and environmentalist have been raising alarms recently about demand outstripping supply on the river serving some 40 million people in seven Western states. Grand Canyon National Park limits the number of people who can raft the river each year. Google's venture allows people to take the trip virtually.