#TechTop3 – Our top three tech stories of the week

By November 21, 2014EU

By the London technology team

No room at the inn-ternet for bad reviews

A Blackpool hotel trying to avoid bad publicity made national news this week after it fined guests £100 for leaving a negative review on TripAdvisor. The Broadway Hotel said their fine policy was in the terms and conditions to prevent defamatory comments, but Blackpool Trading Standards have waded in saying such action could be illegal. TripAdvisor also issued a statement saying how it was unhappy with attempts to ‘bully’ users and curtail free speech.

Whilst sympathy for the hotel is low, the story does reflect the travel industry’s frustration with online review sites. Some hotels have complained that competitors leave fake reviews to push them down the rankings, and others have complained that customers will use the threat of a bad review to extort a discount. However such sites can also prove invaluable as good reviews can act as otherwise expensive advertising. A good review can also better inform consumers to take the plunge and make a booking.

The bizarre and multi-layered nature of the story meant it got diverse coverage, featuring in Travelmole, The Register, Independent, Daily Mail (with pictures!) and BBC News. Will Coldwell also wrote on ‘TripAdvisor’s fraught relationship with the travel industry’ for the Guardian.

Watch out! Russian hackers break into webcams and CCTV.

Data watchdogs across the world have been sent into a frenzy after a website emerged containing thousands of live feeds to baby monitors, webcams and CCTV systems. The site contains live streams from more than 250 countries, with 500 streams from the UK alone. The website, based in Russia, has demonstrated the lack of immediate action the UK can take to close down a foreign website. Closer to home there were four arrests across the UK related to spyware, with a further eleven across Europe, in a co-ordinated action by Europol,

The UK Information Commissioner has urged Russian authorities to close down the site and has pledged to work with the US Federal Trade Commission to force its closure if those authorities fail to cooperate. In the meantime, the Information Commissioners Office has issued guidance to webcam users to reset weak or default passwords. The website itself insisted its actions were “fully legal”. Cyber security experts, meanwhile, feel that the website is part of a wider problem with users failing to comprehend the vulnerability of the information their digital services collect. Excellent summaries of the developments can be found in the Guardian, Independent and BBC News.

Move over TV, this is mobile data’s turf (or will be by 2022 anyway)!

On Wednesday Ofcom announced that, following a consultation, they have decided to make the 700 MHz spectrum band available for mobile data. Currently, this part of the spectrum is used by digital terrestrial TV (DTT) channels, but Ofcom’s decision means that by the beginning of 2022 mobile data services (4G and 5G) will instead use this space.

It is believed that this move will be required in order to cope with the expected increase in mobile data usage – Ofcom thinks that the demand for mobile data usage could be 45 times higher than it is today by 2030. Ofcom’s outgoing Chief Executive, Ed Richards, described the move as “a crucial next step in the development of the UK’s communications infrastructure” and, whilst the cost of the change is expected to be around £450 million, the regulator predicts the step will produce ‘benefits to the UK of at least £900m-1.3bn’.

Mark Jackson covered the story in ISPreview.