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Jason Palmer | 14:39 UK time, Thursday, 9 September 2010

GoogleMap Fort Gay

Today on Tech Brief: Updating Facebook via your car, fighting pirate with pirate, and why your Xbox Live profile details could still be a delicate topic.

• Remember all that noise back in June about Google's StreetView cars gathering wi-fi packet information willy-nilly as they mapped the globe? Well, they stopped. Well, sort of. But they weren't alone anyway. Bob McMillan writing for PCWorld has taken a long look at how our wireless data could be and is being used. It's not all scary, Big Brother-style erosion of civil liberties stuff, but it is terra incognita:

"As it becomes increasingly important for programs that run on your phone to know exactly where you are -- to be location-aware in industry parlance -- having a way of figuring out exactly where you are becomes critical. But the companies collecting this data haven't come under much scrutiny, many users do not understand how the data is being collected or why, and security experts are just now starting to discover some of the ways that this information could be misused."

• Let's get a couple of things clear about exclusive carrier contracts for new handsets: consumers - and hackers in particular - don't much care for them. Before we leave PC World, lets have a look at their poll of people who don't want an iPhone4 in the US. While 20% cite their reasoning as Antennagate - reception problems due to antenna design - three times that many said the reason was AT&T's exclusive contract.

But for all those carriers vying for the latest, greatest handset, take note of a more insidious problem. A software update for the iPhone's operating system, iOS 4.1 came out on Wednesday and within hours was jailbroken - releasing it from ties to any particular network. It is pretty speedy for a jailbreak, but more than that, Dan Goodin at The Register points out, this one hits deep:

"The exploit... was soon confirmed by other hackers, who said that because the exploit targets such a low-level part of the operating system, Apple won't be able to stop jailbreakers without making significant hardware changes."

• Tired of file-sharing pirates stealing your copyright material? Wish there was a way to play them at their own nefarious web-based game? Good news: the Bollywood film industry can show you the way.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Indian firm Aiplex Software has been hired by Bollywood studios to track down copyright films being offered for download on the web and then executing denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on the sites offering them. In the interview with Aiplex managing director Girish Kumar, it seems like business is booming - but he's not averse to picking up a few Aussie clients:

""We are tied up with more than 30 companies in Bollywood (and) with Fox STAR Studios - Star TV and 20th Century Fox - who are a joint venture company in India. If you want me to service any Australian companies I would be really pleased to come down and do a presentation and work for the Australian movie [industry] also if they are willing."

• It's really kicking off now with the whole connect-your-mobile-life-to-your-car thing. In January, Ford showed off a version of its Sync in-car software that allows voice commands to access mobile apps. Now the OnStar service offered by General Motors and Saab says that they'll be offering to allow to simply speak your Facebook updates to the car, or get your text messages read out to you.

Previously, the coolest thing OnStar could do was unlock your car in a spookily remote way, but CrunchGear has envisioned the brave new world we'll presumably soon be living in:

"Imagine this:
'Hello, OnStar. Facebook status update--In the car, about to drive.'
Pretty great, right? Eh, maybe some people will get a kick out of it. Nothing wrong with that."

• It could be that Microsoft has been a little too careful in its monitoring of Xbox Live profiles. Josh Moore was booted off the service because Microsoft thought his hometown, listed as "fort gay WV", was a homophobic slur. Apparently Mr Moore, of the very real Fort Gay, West Virginia, had to eventually enlist the help of the town's mayor and even a local television station to draw attention to his plight.

Mike Sharkey of GameSpy observed that what Microsoft called a "very, very specific case" is the trailing edge of a long-standing don't-ask-don't-tell sexuality issue on Xbox Live:

"Microsoft's response goes against the very Code of Conduct rules it updated in March, which allow gamers to use the words lesbian, gay, bi and transgender to express relationship orientation in their profile or Gamertag. The company updated the rules after engaging in talks with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (Glaad) for nearly a year."

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