Global Dispatches

An international news digest

Chinese Dissidents Wife Sues Yahoo

BEIJING -- The wife of an imprisoned Chinese dissident has sued Yahoo Inc. for divulging information about her husbands Internet activity. The lawsuit contends that the release of the information led to the arrest and torture of Wang Xiazoning.

The suit was filed in U.S. federal court in Oakland, Calif., by the World Organization for Human Rights USA on behalf of Yu Ling, said Monique Beadle, refugee project director at the Washington-based organization.

Wang was arrested in September 2002 on several charges, including incitement to subvert state power.

He was convicted in April 2005 after Yahoo turned over e-mail from his account to Chinese authorities. Included was an e-mail to pro-democracy activists in New York regarding Chinese government concerns about an anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

Yu is seeking damages under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act, Beadle said.

Yahoo said it could not comment on the lawsuit. In a statement, the company said that it is distressed that citizens in China have been imprisoned for expressing their political views on the Internet.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

Singapore Exchange to Replace Aging System

SINGAPORE -- Singapore Exchange Ltd. last week announced plans to replace its aging Securities Order Processing System with a new trading system from Paris-based GL Trade SA. The announcement came less than a month after a system outage left many traders unable to access the order system for more than an hour.

A month before the March 27 snafu, a heavy trading period had slowed the 17-year-old order-processing system to a crawl for a brief time.

Singapore Exchange said that the latest slowdown did not prevent trades from being completed but that many traders were left without timely access to order information.

The new system will be installed by the end of this year, the exchange said.

The technology refresh is crucial to raise the performance and reliability of our trading infrastructure, said Hsieh Fu Hua, CEO of Singapore Exchange.

Terms of the deal with GL Trade and technical details of the new system were not disclosed.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

Barclays, ABN Plan to Join Data Centers

LONDON -- Barclays PLC will lay off more than 12,000 workers and move 10,800 jobs to India in an effort to generate billions of euros in annual savings following its merger with ABN Amro Holding NV.

The London-based bank last week announced that it has agreed to buy Amsterdam-based ABN Amro for about ¬67 billion ($91 billion U.S.), creating a European banking giant with more than 47 million customers, including 1.4 million businesses.

The deal is expected to generate annual savings of ¬3.5 billion ($4.8 billion U.S.) by 2010, the banks said. The two companies said that they also plan to consolidate their data centers and supporting IT networks.

ABN Amros trade and payments back-office operations will be integrated into the Barclays network, and the credit card operations will be merged into a single organization managed by Barclays Barclaycard unit, according to the announcement.

The combined company, to be called Barclays, will be based in Amsterdam. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

-- James Niccolai, IDG News Service, and Tash Shifrin, Computerworld U.K.

Group Looks to Monitor E-voting in the U.K.

LONDON -- A U.K. advocacy group is seeking to monitor local elections next month in which a range of e-voting technologies will be used at selected sites.

The Open Rights Group, which is based here, has requested that local governments and machine vendors provide its members with access to voting facilities during the May 3 elections in England, Scotland and Wales, said Jason Kitcat, e-voting coordinator at the organization.

The groups volunteers want to monitor how e-voting systems protect voter privacy and their vulnerability to fraud, Kitcat said.

The Open Rights Groups findings will be submitted to the Electoral Commission, a body set up by the U.K.s parliament and charged with evaluating the performance of evoting systems, he said. The commission is slated to present its results to parliament by Aug. 3.

One voting area in the U.K. that Kitcat declined to identify has already rejected his groups request, he said.

The U.K.s Department for Constitutional Affairs is overseeing 12 pilot evoting programs on May 3. The agency has called for the use of new technologies as part of an effort to counter falling voter turnout rates in the U.K.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

Phishing Scam Targets Australian Tax Office

SYDNEY -- The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has issued a warning against a phishing e-mail that claims to be from the agency.

The e-mail fraudulently uses the ATO logo and the words Australian Taxation Office Please Read in the subject line. The message claims to offer a refund from the ATO and prompts users to click on a link to a fraudulent Web site.

Three variants of the phishers Web site have been reported so far, one using a URL registered in the Netherlands and the other two using a French URL. The phishing site is not believed to contain malicious software, but it does ask users to provide credit card and personal information.

Greg Farr, second commissioner of the ATO, said the department has notified authorities, who are investigating the matter.

Farr advised recipients of the phishing e-mail to delete it immediately. People who have entered information on the Web site should contact their credit card providers, he said.

-- Liz Tay, Computerworld Australia

Briefly Noted

Microsoft Corp. last week asked the European Commission for direction on how much it should charge for protocol information. The commission had ordered Microsoft to disclose protocol information to competitors as part of its antitrust settlement with the company in 2004. The vendor has agreed to distribute the protocols, but the EC said the initial pricing plan does not meet its demand for reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

Australian federal government agencies have collaborated to publish a guide to improve their IT decision-making processes. The Automated Assistance in Administrative Decision Making Better Practice Guide was created by 18 agencies to ensure that IT decision-making proc­esses are transparent and accountable and that officials follow best practices, said Gary Nairn, special minister of state.

-- Rodney Gedda, Computerworld Australia

Business Objects SA has agreed to buy Cartesis SA, a Paris-based maker of finance and performance management software, for ¬225million ($300 million U.S.) in cash. Business Objects expects to combine the Cartesis tools for forecasting corporate costs and spending with its business intelligence software in a suite of products that manage corporate performance.

-- James Niccolai, IDG News Service

Red Hat Inc. has set up a global services center in Mumbai, India, to help customers deploy open-source technologies. The center will hire about 100 staffers over the next 12 months, Red Hat said. It will also use personnel from Indian outsourcing companies, including Satyam Computer Services Ltd. in Hyderabad.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

The parliament of New South Wales, Australia, has awarded a multiyear managed security services deal to Earthwave, a Sydney, Australia-based security firm. Under the agreement, Earthwave will manage the core and edge network security at the parliaments Sydney headquarters and at some 94 electoral offices throughout the state.

-- Rodney Gedda, Computerworld Australia

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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