Global Dispatches

An International news Digest

U.S. May Require Online Registration for Visitors

PARIS -- Europeans who visit the U.S. would be required to fill out an online questionnaire two days before entering the country, under a plan the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may send to Congress for approval.

Hugo Teufel III, chief privacy officer at the DHS, said at a press conference here this month that agency officials have been discussing the idea for about a month. He would not disclose a schedule for implementing such a program.

The proposal will likely increase tensions between the U.S. and Europe, which are already involved in a heated debate over U.S. demands for data about air passengers traveling from Europe to the U.S.

Though Teufel offered few details on the latest proposal, he did note that the DHS will prepare a privacy impact assessment covering issues such as how data is used, who can access it and how long it will be retained.

-- James Niccolai, IDG News Service

Wipro Touts Green PCs

BANGALORE, India -- Wipro Ltd. has introduced a line of PCs that it says are compliant with the EUs Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive.

Wipro, based here, is the first Indian computer maker to offer RoHS-compliant products, said Ramapati Kumar, team leader for toxics at the Bangalore office of the international environmental group Greenpeace.

The RoHS directive, which the European Union adopted in 2003, went into effect in July 2006. It restricts the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic equipment.

Wipros entire PC line will be RoHS-compliant by the end of this year, said Ashutosh Vaidya, vice president of Wipros personal computing division. The division, which primarily targets corporate customers, sold about 170,000 PCs last year and expects sales of 250,000 units in the fiscal year ending next March, Vaidya said.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Barclays Sells Stake In Indian Outsourcing Firm

MUMBAI, India -- Barclays Bank PLC and Indias Housing Development Finance Corp. (HDFC) have announced plans to sell Intelenet Global Services Pvt., a jointly owned business process outsourcing services provider, to SKR BPO Services Ltd.

SKR BPO Services is jointly owned by the management of Intelenet and Blackstone GVP Capital Partners Mauritius V-B Ltd., a unit of New York-based Blackstone Capital Partners.

Terms of the deal for Mumbai-based Intelenet, which has a workforce of about 17,000 and assets of $107 million (U.S.), were not disclosed.

London-based Barclays said it plans to create a wholly owned subsidiary in India for business process outsourcing projects. Our sourcing operations have reached a scale where we would like full control over the operations, a Barclays spokeswoman said last week.

Barclays acquired a 50% stake in Intelenet from Mumbai-based HDFC in 2004; HDFC retained the balance.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Briefly Noted

Google Inc. has announced plans to open a research and development center in China, stepping up its effort to boost its search business there. Marsha Wang, a China-based spokeswoman for Google, confirmed plans for an R&D lab but declined to say how many people it will hire or when it will open.

-- Steven Schwankert, IDG News Service

U.K. National Health Service IT Director Richard Granger has announced plans to quit his post by the end of this year. As IT director, Granger oversees the controversial £12.4 billion ($24 billion U.S.) National Programme for IT project. Granger said he is leaving to pursue a job in the private sector.

-- Tash Shifrin, Computerworld U.K.

Microsoft Corp. has agreed to buy 15 million newly issued shares in Sichuan Changhong Electric Co., a Mianyang, China-based consumer electronics maker, for 94.1 million renminbi ($12.3 million U.S.). Terms of the deal require that Microsoft hold the Changhong shares for at least three years.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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