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TITLE: The Cuban Twitter Was a US Plot, 978GUEST CO-ANCHOR: Jillian D'Onfro

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This is Tech News Today for Thursday, April 3, 2014!

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This episode of Tech News Today is brought to you by…
Gazelle, the fast and simple way to sell your used gadgets! Find out what your used Apple and Android devices are worth at gazelle.com.

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Welcome to Tech News Today, I'm Mike Elgan - I'm Jason Howell.

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Tech News Today explores the big stories of the day in conversation with some of the world's best journalists.

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Our guest co-anchor today is Jillian D'Onfro who writes for Business Insider.Jillian D'Onfro
Tech writer, Business Insider @jillianiles

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http://bridgeurl.com/tnt978/all

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LATE-BREAKING STORYSHOWLINKS

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CONVERSATION 1SHOWLINKS

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A social network called ZunZuneo emerged in Cuba in 2009 for users of the tightly controlled Internet in that country, then mysteriously vanished two years later. The Marxist, one-party government there, ruled by the Castro brothers for 45 years, sounded paranoid when they called it a US-controlled plot. But it turns out they were right. The whole thing was a US government scheme to undermine the Castro brothers’ grip on power. VIDEO http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-secretly-created-cuban-twitter-to-stir-unrest/2014/04/03/8a2dc77c-bafa-11e3-80de-2ff8801f27af_story.html

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No Interview

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* The site lasted for two years

* Called ZunZuneo, but often referred to as the "Cuban Twitter,” was created through secret shell companies and financed through foreign banks.

Hatched by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the site’s purpose was to build an audience of young Cubans, then foment dissent against the Cuban government.

* The project had tens of thousands of subscribers, and the US government gathered personal information about them through American contractors.

* It is unclear whether the scheme was legal under U.S. law

* Undermines USAID’s claims that it does not conduct covert actions

* USAID and its contractors went to extensive lengths to conceal Washington's ties to the project, according to interviews and documents obtained by the AP

* Set up front companies in Spain and the Cayman Islands to hide the money trail, and recruited CEOs without telling them they would be working on a U.S. taxpayer-funded project.

* publicly launched shortly after the 2009 arrest in Cuba of American contractor Alan Gross

* The AP obtained more than 1,000 pages of documents about the project's development

* It independently verified the project's scope and details in the documents through publicly available databases, government sources and interviews with those involved in ZunZuneo.

* hoped the network would reach critical mass so that dissidents could organize "smart mobs" that could trigger political demonstrations, or "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society."

* "Mock ad banners will give it the appearance of a commercial enterprise

* "It was such a marvelous thing," said Ernesto Guerra, a Cuban user who never suspected his beloved network had ties to Washington.

* Executives set up a corporation in Spain and an operating company in the Cayman Islands

* Subscribers' messages were funneled through two other countries — but never through American-based computer servers.

* For more than two years, ZunZuneo grew and reached at least 40,000 subscribers

* Cuban officials tried to trace the text messages and break into the ZunZuneo system

* ZunZuneo stopped in September 2012 when a government grant ended.

* The moment when ZunZuneo disappeared, (it) was like a vacuum," said Guerra, the ZunZuneo user. "In the end, we never learned what happened. We never learned where it came from."

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CONVERSATION 2SHOWLINKS

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Google’s long-awaited stock split goes into effect today. Normally stories like this are boring. But in this case, Google is not only splitting the stock, but changing the types of stocks issued to boost the power of the company's two founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Critics call it a naked power grab. Supporters say it’s just a smart move. http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/03/27/that-class-c-google-stock-split-is-finally-happening-heres-what-it-means/

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Rolfe Winkler is a reporter for the Journal.

Q: Can you tell us about the new share types and what they mean for the company and its shareholders?

Q: Because of the split, the shares won’t alter the balance of power in the company, so what’s the point?

Q: Why are critics calling this a power grab?

Q: Why would they need to bolster power. Aren’t they firmly in control anyway?

Q: Why has Google needed to issue so many shares to pay for acquisitions. Aren’t they swimming in cash?
Rolfe Winkler
Reporter, The Wall Street Journal @RolfeWinkler

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* Super-voting Class B shares, Page and Brin controlled 56% of Google as of last April’s proxy filing

* Founders power has faded as Google continued to issue Class A shares to finance acquisitions and pay employees with stock

* Each Class A share carries one vote, while each Class B share carries 10 votes.

* Today’s solution: Google created ”Class C” shares that are being issued at the beginning of April to shareholders of record March 27.

* Class C = no voting rights and, going forward, are the shares Google intends to issue for compensation and acquisitions. That will end the slow-motion dilution for Class B shareholders.

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Rolfe * wsj.com * @RolfeWinkler

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CONVERSATION 3SHOWLINKS

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The European parliament passed a major set of telecom reforms, including strong net neutrality rules and laws to kill roaming fees within Europe.http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/179762-europe-votes-to-protect-net-neutrality-abolish-mobile-data-roaming-charges

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Maggie Reardon Reporter, CNET

Maggie.Reardon

Q: First of all, are you impressed with Europe’s new net neutrality law?

Maggie Reardon
Reporter, CNET @maggie_reardon

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* Incredible set of errors in an Associated press report on this:

AP: “European policy is now departing sharply with the route taken in the U.S., where a net neutrality law was struck down in January. Since then, Netflix has contracted with Comcast for preferential treatment of Internet traffic bearing its film streams.”

1. It wasn’t a “law” that was struck down, but the FCC’s own rules

2. It wasn’t “struck down” -

3. Netflix and Comcast agreement wasn’t a net neutrality issue

* Amendment 234 gave a strong definition for net neutrality: “Net neutrality” means the principle according to which all internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, independently of its sender, recipient, type, content, device, service or application.

* The bill also forbids telecommunications companies from blocking or degrading Internet services such as Skype or WhatsApp to prevent them from competing with their own offerings.

* phase out roaming fees across the 28-country European Union by December 2015.

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Maggie * cnet.com * @maggie_reardon

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CONVERSATION 4SHOWLINKS

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As expected, Microsoft unveiled Cortana yesterday. The Windows Phone virtual assistant feature, which will initially remain in beta and for the US market only, competes with Apple’s Siri and Google Now. http://www.pcworld.com/article/2139344/hands-on-microsofts-new-cortana-digital-assistant.html

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* make phone calls, send texts, take a note or give you a reminder.

* Cortana notebook: store your interests, places you frequent, calendar, relationships

* After searching, Cortana asks if you want her to store personal info in notebook

* third-party apps that can extend Cortana functionality (example = Facebook and Skype)

* Windows Phone 8.1 update starts rolling out in next few months

* Available on new phones as soon as late April or early May, Belfiore said.

* can express ‘emotions’

* Cortana will present contextual alerts like Google Now

* Will remember previous topics, so you don’t have to be specific in subsequent questions

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CONVERSATION 5SHOWLINKS

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CONVERSATION 6SHOWLINKS

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Yahoo announced new encryption, partly as a response to the Edward Snowden leaks. The company now encrypts traffic between its own data centers and also changed the default setting for the Yahoo homepage so it’s HTTPS unless the user takes action to turn it off. http://yahoo.tumblr.com/post/81529518520/status-update-encryption-at-yahoohttp://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/04/02/yahoo-faces-balancing-act-between-ads-encryption/

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* Google made a similar announcement last month

* Yahoo web sites for Good Morning America on Yahoo, Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Finance won’t feature the encryption by default because it interferes with ads

* Yahoo Messenger as the next major product to get a secure update

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CONVERSATION 7SHOWLINKS

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CONVERSATION 8SHOWLINKS

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CONVERSATION 9SHOWLINKS

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FOLLOW-UP

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We told you back in February about Google’s huge expansion of Google Fiber rollouts to up to 34 new cities. Google Fiber, of course, is Google’s fiber infrastructure that the company claims is a hundred times faster than your average broadband connection. Well, an exclusive by Amir Efrati on The Information this morning says Google is working on adding mobile wireless service to markets where Google Fiber exists. If Google goes forward with this idea, it’s possible that a single monthly payment to Google would get you fast home Internet connectivity and also mobile phone data and voice service. The company wouldn’t build its own cell towers, but would instead act as a mobile virtual network operator using the services of an existing network. https://www.theinformation.com/Google-Plots-Plunge-into-Mobile-Phone-Services

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A web site promoting a new version of Windows for the Internet of Things appeared a couple days ago. At the time, Microsoft hadn't announced what the site was promoting, and the site was quickly taken down. Well, yesterday Microsoft announced it at its BUILD developers conference and brought the site back up. Awkwardly named Windows on the Internet of Things, the new version runs on the Rasberry Pi like Galileo platform from Intel. Microsoft said the new version of Windows will be free. The site is Windows on Devices dot com. http://www.windowsondevices.com/

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FOLLOW-UP 2 - We’ve been keeping you up to date with the Turkish government’s block of Twitter within that country. One of several dramas unfolding there is that Turkey’s constitutional court ruled the ban illegal -- but the government kept the block in place anyway. Reuters reported and Twitter has confirmed this morning that the block has finally been lifted. https://twitter.com/policy/status/451753089855664128

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IN OTHER NEWSSHOWLINKS

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THANK GUEST CO-ANCHOR

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* * * FIN * * *

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A Cuban social network was created by the US government to undermine the Cuban goverment.

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Google finally splits its stock

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Europe gets strong net neutrality at last

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And Google wants to be your wireless carrier.

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