Tech 2.0 for Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Contributor: Matt Davenport
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Updated: 7/31/2013 6:02 pm


Documents published by the Guardian are providing new insight into how the National Security Agency scours the world's data, giving readers an over-the-shoulder look at the way in which American intelligence analysts exploit the hundreds of billions of records they gather each year. Dozens of slides published by the newspaper divulge details about XKeyscore, one of a family of NSA programs of which leaker Edward Snowden says has given America the ability to spy on "the vast majority of human communications." Some of the slides carry screenshots appearing to show what analysts would see as they trawled the intercepted conversations. How and from where the program draws its data isn't completely clear, but the slides say XKeyscore is supported by 700 servers and 150 sites across the globe.

Heckling at a hacker's conference didn't faze the head of the National Security Agency. Army Gen. Keith Alexander remained unapologetic Wednesday in Las Vegas about methods the NSA uses to, in his words, connect the dots and go after bad guys who aim to kill people. He told the tech-savvy audience in his keynote comments at the annual Black Hat conference at Caesars Palace that the ability to look for patterns in telephone and email communications has stopped terror attacks in the U.S. and other countries. Alexander even drew laughter when a voice in the overflow crowd shouted that he should read the Constitution. Alexander said he had, and the heckler should, too. He insisted that it wasn't true the spy agency listens to specific phone calls and reads emails.

IBM says federal regulators are looking into how the company reports sales for its cloud-computing business. The technology company disclosed in a regulatory filing Wednesday that it learned in May that the Securities and Exchange Commission was conducting an investigation. IBM started its cloud business in 2007 and has spent billions since then acquiring related businesses. It is one of a number of technology companies shifting its focus to cloud computing, which allows customers to use software and other services online, rather than on their own computers. IBM provided no further details on the investigation. A representative for the company was not immediately available to comment. The SEC declined to comment.

Starbucks says it's reached a deal to partner with Google that will allow it to offer its customers dramatically faster Wi-Fi service. Financial terms were not disclosed. Starting in August, new U.S. company-operated Starbucks stores will begin to receive up to 10 times faster network and Wi-Fi speeds. And over the next 18 months, Starbucks will convert more than 7,000 U.S. stores to the upgraded service. Starbucks says the improvements will help ensure that its customers can easily access the internet. Seattle-based Starbucks Corp. and Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc. also plan to work together to co-develop the next generation of Starbucks' digital network. Level 3 Communications, a telecommunications company, will upgrade existing Wi-Fi devices and manage connectivity in more than 7,000 company-owned stores.
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