Global Dispatches

An international news digest

Gorbachev Asks for Leniency in Piracy Case

MOSCOW -- Microsoft Corp. is sidestepping an appeal from Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the former Soviet Union, to intervene in a piracy case involving a school principal.

In a letter sent to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates last week, Gorbachev asked for help in halting the trial of Alexander Ponosov, 40, who could face up to five years in prison.

Ponosov was charged in November with using more than $10,000 (U.S.) in pirated Microsoft software at his school in the village of Vereschagino in western Russia. The principal claims that he bought computers with the unlicensed software preinstalled.

Gorbachev said that although Russian law allows for the prosecution of those who unknowingly use pirated software, the case against Ponosov is unwarranted.

Microsoft did not request that the charges be filed — the decision was made by Russian prosecutors, said Kim Gagne, the company’s corporate affairs director for central and eastern Europe.

Olga Dergunova, who heads Microsoft’s Russian operations, added that the company does not plan to pursue a civil case against Ponosov. “We don’t see this as a serious violation,” she said.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

German Police Can’t Spy on PCs, Court Says

KARLSRUHE, Germany -- The German high court here last week handed down a decision banning police from installing spyware on the computers of suspected criminals without their knowledge.

The decision is a blow to the plans of German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble to give the Federal Criminal Police Office greater power to monitor people suspected of terrorism and other crimes.

The government was appealing a November ruling by a German judge that had also barred the practice.

In its decision, the high court concluded that searching computers is similar to searching homes, a practice requiring German police to obtain a search warrant and inform suspectedoffenders of their plans.

The judges also noted that the police are prohibited from hacking computers under German phone-tapping laws.

At Schäuble’s request, the German parliament last year appropriated €132million ($172 million U.S.) for a program for strengthening domestic security, which included plans to access and monitor PCs of suspected criminals.

The program also calls for greater use of video cameras in public places, biometric systems and other new security technologies.

-- John Blau, IDG News Service

French to Give Students Open-Source Software

PARIS -- The Greater Paris Regional Council late last month announced plans to distribute 175,000 USB memory sticks loaded with open-source software to the city’s high school students at the start of the next school year.

The council, which maintains Paris high school buildings and the 120,000 computers housed in them, plans to spend €2.6 million ($3.4 million U.S.) this year on the USB sticks.

The sticks will provide students with the ability to access e-mail and other documents on computers at multiple locations, said Jean-Baptiste Roger, a spokesman for the council.

The exact mix of open-source software carried in the USB stick will be defined by the company that wins the contract to supply them, he said.

Roger said the sticks will likely contain the Firefox 2 Web browser, the Thunderbird e-mail client, an office productivity suite such as OpenOffice.-org 2 and software for instant messaging.

-- Peter Sayer, IDG News Service

Indian IT Workers Flock to Outsourcers

BANGALORE, India -- CIOs in India are losing staffers to Indian outsourcers, even as there is greater pressure on IT organizations in user companies to deliver benefits, a Gartner Inc. researcher said.

India’s top IT employees prefer working for large services providers, which continue to hire at a strong clip, said Partha Iyengar, a research vice president at Gartner, in a conference call.

Indian user organizations are finding it very difficult to attract and retain technical staffers, particularly in middle management, he said.

The problem for user organizations may only get worse, Iyengar noted, as fast-growing outsourcing companies start hiring business line managers to build vertical industry expertise.

As large Indian outsourcers grow their revenue by 30% to 40% each year, they will hire business managers from the banking, manufacturing and retail industries, acquiring business knowledge that can be integrated into their services offerings, he added.

Such staff movement will make it more difficult for CIOs to complete projects, he said.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

EMC to Buy Indian Software Company

HYDERABAD, India -- EMC Corp. last week agreed to acquire Valyd Software Ltd., a Hyderabad-based maker of security software, for an undisclosed sum.

EMC said that the privately held operation will be added to its RSA division, which was set up last year to manage products gained from its acquisitions of RSA Security Inc. and Network Intelligence Corp.

Manoj Chugh, president of EMC India, said that the company plans to unveil two Valyd products immediately after the close of the deal, which is expected by the end of this quarter.

The new RSA Database Security Manager will provide security for database management systems of multiple vendors, Chugh said. The second product, RSA File Security Manager, will secure data at the file and folder level, he noted.

Valyd Software, formed in 1998, employs about 50 staffers in its Hyderabad office. Chugh said the workforce there will be increased to 100 by the end of this year.

Once the acquisition is complete, the RSA Hyderabad operation will be responsible for the further development and enhancement of the new security products, he added.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

Briefly Noted

Mincom Ltd. has acquired Perth, Australia-based software maker Karjeni Pty. for an undisclosed sum. Brisbane, Australia-based Mincom said the deal is part of its effort to expand through acquisitions. In mid-January, Mincom was acquired by private equity firm Francisco Partners Management LLC in Menlo Park, Calif., for $315 million Australian ($245 million U.S.).

-- Darren Pauli, Computerworld Australia

NXP Semiconductors, the former chip division of Philips Electronics NV, and Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. have agreed to form a joint chip packaging and testing venture in Suzhou, China. Kaohsiung, Taiwan-based ASE will hold a 60% stake in the venture, and Eindhoven, Netherlands-based NXP will hold the remaining 40%. The deal requires approval from Chinese and Taiwanese regulatory agencies.

-- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

Sichuan Sinomanic Technology LLC, a Chengdu, China-based PC maker, last week unveiled a low-cost computer designed for users in rural China. The Tian En GX-2, priced at 998 renminbi ($129 U.S.), is based on a 400-MHz processor from Raza Microelectronics Inc. and runs either Linux or FutureAlpha, a Chinese-developed operating system.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

Melbourne, Australia-based Capability Management Ltd. has launched a portal aimed at helping Australian businesspeople tackle IT governance and project management issues. Jed Simms, executive chairman of Capability Management, said the site,, was launched to help corporations measure the value of IT projects.

-- Rodney Gedda, Computerworld Australia

Samsung Electronics Co. has reached an agreement to pay $90million to settle a dynamic RAM price-fixing suit filed by a group of 41 U.S. state governments. Samsung also agreed to assist in resolving price-fixing charges against other defendants named in the suit, according to the Office of the New York State Attorney General.

-- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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