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Mark Ward | 13:08 UK time, Thursday, 24 June 2010

A blood elf paladinOn Tech Brief today: Google maps, Android apps and the danger of being you.

• Google and the Chinese have not seen eye-to-eye for a while and the relationship looks to get even frostier thanks to new regulations demanding that anyone who provides mapping services in the nation can only do so if they have a license. Complying might be tricky for Google as its servers are in Hong Kong:

"China cited the need for the new regulations to protect state secrets and set out the requirements for a license to include having map servers storing data within the country and no record of information leakage within the last three years."

• A Windows PC might be the playground of the hi-tech criminal but there is growing evidence that mobile phones and the apps they use have their security failings too. A survey by SMobile Systems found that 20% of 48,000 apps on the Android store want access to more of your phone than they actually need. Bill Ray at The Register wonders if it is as bad as it looks at first glance:

"it might be true that 20% of Marketplace applications request access to personal information, but if those applications are social-networking-integration apps then they're going to need access to that data."

• You know that Tauren Druid you spend a lot of time questing with in World of Warcraft? Now you can know who they really are. Blizzard has introduced an ID and chatting system for users of its service to bring people together. Scott Jennings runs an eye over it:

"World of Warcraft is only very, very peripherally a role-playing game in the sense that your character may or may not be human and may or may not cast spells at mobile bags of improvement called 'monsters'. However, to this point, players have had the ability to be anonymous. That is gone."

He predicts problems:

"If I wanted to be known as 'Lum the Mad' - which, in every MMO to date, I have had that option to do - to protect myself from people who, just as a random casual aside, may have an unkind word or two to say to the real person behind the author of many of these blog postings - I would either have to change my name in Blizzard's accounting system (which I'm not even sure is possible) or simply shrug and say, oh what the hell, it's not like there are unstable people out there on the internet! I mean, it's not like I'm female or anything."

• Warcraft intruding ever more into the real world is a continuation of a trend that is seeing the real become more virtual and, as such, subject to ever more manipulation. Given the power to mould the world with mouse and fingertips, what should we make? Edward Castronova at Terra Nova recommendsthinking carefully before shaping those pocket planets and your own private universe:

"Worlds of imagination cannot be true or false. They can be good or bad - that's the moral question - but what makes them good or bad? The answer must involve aesthetics. Judging the moral worth of an imaginary world begins with its aesthetics. Is it Beautiful? Apt? Shocking? Thought-provoking? Balanced? Engaging?"

If you want to suggest links or stories for Tech Brief, you can send them to @bbctechbrief on Twitter, tag them bbctechbrief on Delicious or e-mail them to

Links in full

Melanie Lee | Reuters Technology | Google examining impact of new China laws on products
Bill Ray| The Register | Android apps: Shifty little bleeders
Scott Jennings | Broken Toys | You Got Your Facebook In My Orc Game
Edward Castronova | Terra Nova | Pure Imagination

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