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Jonathan Frewin | 17:12 UK time, Monday, 28 June 2010

Babel visual hearing aidOn Tech Brief today: Apple rapped over transparency, internet access may be going underground, and natty glasses which convert audio speech to text in front of the wearer's eyes.

• Germany's justice minister has requested that Apple opens its databases to German data protection authorities, following a change in the company's privacy policy:

"'Users of iPhones and other GPS devices must be aware of what kind of information about them is being collected,' Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told the German weekly [Der Spiegel]."

It is the introduction of a clause that allows Apple to anonymously collect data on the geographic location of its users that concerns Ms Leuthesser-Schnarrenberger:

"The justice minister said it would be 'unthinkable' for Apple to create personality- or location-based user profiles... 'Apple has the obligation to properly implement the transparency so often promised by (CEO) Steve Jobs,' she said."

• You might say "it shouldn't happen to a computer security firm", but according to Softpedia, several of Symantec's websites are vulnerable to attack from hackers:

"One of the flaws is located in a language selection field on, a site dedicated to the company's community of business customers and partners. A second one is found in a feedback form loaded from, a subdomain associated with the knowledge base for enterprise products. The third one is in the German section on the subdomain, which is part of international support site."

Lucian Constantin says the type of vulnerability, called XSS, and uncovered in this case by a researcher calling himself d3v1l, is a common problem on the internet:

"Cross-site scripting, also known as XSS, is one of the most common type of vulnerabilities on the internet today. The bugs stem from a failure to properly sanitize input passed via forms, giving attackers the ability to pass content that gets interpreted as code... Fortunately, the vulnerabilities discovered by d3v1l are non-persistent in nature and can only be exploited by opening a malformed URL. However, these flaws can still be leveraged to enhance attacks, especially since they are located on the website of a trusted security vendor."

• If you're one of those people who likes the technological peace and quiet of underground railway services, London may not be the place for you in the future. Broadband Expert says, Mayor Boris Johnson is keen to see wi-fi internet hotspots in London Underground stations soon:

"He said: 'The truth is that I'm on the side of progress if we possibly can do it. We could do it because I do think people want the facility of looking at their BlackBerrys.'"

Although London would only be playing catch-up with a dynamic counterpart in the United Arab Emirates, where a Wimax network reportedly enables internet access across the whole of the Dubai Metro.

• Finally for today, the folks at PSFK have spotted a remarkable pair of glasses, which double as a speech-to-text device for the hard of hearing:

"Called 'Babelfish,' the device combines a receptive audio 'listening' process with text to display messages or conversations in the user's line of sight. Speech is filtered through two microphones and visualized through audio translation software on embedded controllers to display the speech as text via two projectors. The device also add an integrated noise-filtering system to discern other sounds from the nearest conversation occurring."

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

Sarah Marsh | Reuters | Germany says Apple must improve data transparency
Lucian Constantin | Softpedia | Several Symantec Websites Vulnerable to Cross-site Scripting
Jo Wilkes | Broadband Expert | Johnson supports wireless internet access underground
PSFK | Visual Hearing Aid Projects Speech And Text

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