Today’s Tech: GCHQ smashes up Guardian hard drives to stop Snowden leaks and Apple recruits Nike FuelBand man for iWatch project

Today’s Tech: GCHQ smashes up Guardian hard drives to stop Snowden leaks and Apple recruits Nike FuelBand man for iWatch project

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has published a chilling expose revealing a series of events beginning with “shadowy” Whitehall figures warning the newspaper to hand over documents related to the Snowden leaks, and culminating in the destruction of hard drives belonging to the publication by GCHQ agents. “And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents,” Rusbridger wrote. The raid had been prefigured, he said, by a sinister caution: “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.” WikiLeaks has been quick to weigh in via its Twitter account, noting that, “The Guardian hard drive shredding scandal demonstrates why it is necessary to publish early publish often and publish globally.” Rusbridger broke cover with his story the day after the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has been responsible for breaking the Snowden leaks, was detained for nine hours at Heathrow Airport under anti-terror laws.

HTC looks set to make another entry into the smartphone market, as a device named the HTC Zara has surfaced online. If the leak proves accurate, the smartphone will land during the fourth quarter of this year. It is alleged to pack a 4.5in 960 x 540 qHD display, a 2,100mAh battery, a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM and 8GB internal memory, which can be expanded through a MicroSD slot. According to @evleaks, the Zara will also carry an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, Beats Audio technology, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and HTC Sense 5.5. If the leaked photo is accurate, the mid-range smartphone appears to be built from plastic, rather than the aluminium of the flagship HTC One, but the overall designs are similar. Despite the suggested launch date of Q4, it is possible that HTC could launch the handset at IFA 2013 in Berlin next month, alongside the widely-expected 5.9in HTC One Max. Whatever happens, we’ll be on hand with all the news.

The PRISM scandal took another twist at the beginning of the week, after it emerged that the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald – who has worked closely with whistle blower Edward Snowden in exposing NSA and GCHQ spying – was detained by British authorities at Heathrow airport, with all his electronic devices taken away for examination. While much of the subsequent debate has entertained the rights and wrongs of David Miranda being held for nine hours under anti-terrorism laws, the technical implications of Miranda’s devices ending up in the hands of the authorities has also stirred discussion, particularly in cyber-security circles. For Snowden associates and supporters, alarm bells would have been ringing when Miranda detailed the seizure, given his relationship with Greenwald and the likelihood of him encountering highly sensitive information regarding PRISM and Snowden. The police seemed thorough in their electronics asset-strip too. “They took my computer, video game, mobile phone, my memory cards, everything,” Miranda said. But Greenwald is adamant the authorities will not actually be able to access valuable data from the devices, insisting that encryption technology deployed by him and Miranda will safely protect the necessary information. For more, follow the link above. 

In what appears to be a move by Apple to bolster its iWatch development team, Jay Blahnik, a world renowned fitness expert and key Nike consultant of 18 years has joined the tech firm. Blahnik has been instrumental in a series of Nike fitness products including FuelBand, a wristband gadget which monitors users’ daily activity and sends the results to a smartphone app. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who also happens to sit on the Nike board of directors, has already admitted he is a big fan of the wearable device. It looks like health and fitness monitoring is set to be a key aspect of the product Apple is developing. Vein mapping firm AccuVein, and developers of glucose level monitoring gadgets C8 MediSensors and Senseonics, are all said to have lost employees to Apple in the past few months.

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