Report: US, Israel Started Flame War
Today in international tech news: The U.S. and Israel are apparently the culprits behind the recent Flame cyberattacks. Also: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange seeks refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London; a Nike ad campaign upsets a UK advertising watchdog; and Denmark tries to find a new way to deal with file-sharing.
The United States and Israel are responsible for the Flame computer malware, according to The Washington Post.
The virus, which was seemingly targeted at Iran, was part of a cybersabotage program designed to cripple that country's ability to develop nuclear weapons, according to the Post.
The Post does not name its source but cites "Western officials" who had knowledge of the cybersabotage program. The program was reportedly part of a joint effort between the National Security Agency, CIA and Israeli military. Spokespersons from all of those agencies declined to comment to the Post.
The Flame malware reportedly mapped and tracked Iran's computer networks and sent back reports.
Flame, which was unearthed last month when Iran detected numerous cyberattacks on its oil industry, was part of wider assaults that are still ongoing, according to the article.
Earlier this month, the UN digital security chief, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, said that he didn't suspect the United States was involved in the attacks.
Assange Seeks Refuge in Ecuadorian Embassy
On Wednesday the far-flung story of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange got stranger yet: In London, the 40-year-old requested political asylum at the Ecuador Embassy, according to the BBC.
Ecuador's government was considering Assange's request, said Ricardo Patino, Ecuador's foreign relations minister. Assange will reportedly stay at the embassy, under the Ecuadorian government's protection, until a decision is rendered.
While Ecuador might at first blush appear a random country, there is some history between it and Assange. In late 2010, Ecuador's deputy foreign minister offered Assange residency. In 2009, Ecuador kicked out the U.S. Ambassador after WikiLeaks documents revealed U.S. speculation about corruption in Ecuador.
Sweden has issued an extradition request for Assange, who is wanted on sexual misconduct charges in that country. Last week, Assange's appeal for the UK to reconsider the extradition was denied, apparently prompting Wednesday's last-gasp jaunt the embassy.
In seeking refuge, Assange also violated his British bail agreement by failing to adhere to his 10 p.m. Curfew. He is now subject to arrest by UK authorities, but the authorities have no jurisdiction at Ecuador's Embassy, according to the BBC.
Denmark Lays Groundwork for File-Sharing Changes
Denmark on Wednesday announced a new strategy for handling unauthorized online file-sharing, according to TorrentFreak.
The plan, dubbed the "Pirate Package," will emphasize bolstering legal offerings as opposed to punishing individuals who break the rules, according to the article.
The TF article says that a core component of the strategy are so-called "Innovation Forums," which will be designed to help create digital business models that can thwart online piracy. Another component is informing consumers about the importance of choosing legal media instead of pirated materials.
UK Bans Nike Tweets
The ruling was inspired by tweets from the Twitter handles of English soccer players Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere. The tweets contained the hashtag "#makeitcount," a Nike slogan, and had linked to a Nike website.
Those tweets, according to the watchdog, ran afoul of rules that require advertisements to be "identifiable as marketing communications." In other words, it wasn't clear enough that they were advertisements.
Nike rebutted that the hashtag and slogan of its marketing campaign distinguished the tweets from personal messages. The company also said that both Rooney and Wilshere are widely-known to be sponsored by the company.