By Esteban Israel SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Big Internet companies were the clear winners at a global conference hosted by Brazil on the future management of the Web where most participants agreed it should remain a self-regulated space free of government intervention. Convened by President Dilma Rousseff after revelations of U.S. surveillance undermined trust in the Internet, the NETmundial conference concluded that governments, companies, academics, technicians and users should all have a say in where to go next. That is exactly what companies such as Google or Facebook say is essential to spur innovation, expand the boundaries of the Internet and keep their businesses growing. "Our focus is on making sure the Net stays free and open," said Ross LaJeunesse, Google's head of international relations.
Chinese Internet company Baidu Inc forecast better-than-expected revenue for the second quarter, sending shares up 5 percent in after-hours trading. Baidu said revenue in the second quarter will range between 11.820 billion yuan ($1.901 billion) and 12.110 billion yuan ($1.948 billion). Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S were looking for second-quarter revenue of 11.573 billion yuan. Baidu said it saw strength in its core online search business during the first three months of the year and that it would continue to invest aggressively in its core business and in key strategic areas.
By Dan Levine SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Four major tech companies including Apple and Google have agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing them of conspiring to hold down salaries in Silicon Valley, just weeks before a high profile trial had been scheduled to begin. The settlement was disclosed in a court filing on Thursday, which did not spell out terms. The case has been closely watched due to the potentially high damages award and a steady disclosure of emails in which Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and some of their Silicon Valley rivals hatched plans to avoid poaching each other's prized engineers. Tech workers filed a class action lawsuit against Apple Inc, Google Inc, Intel Inc and Adobe Systems Inc in 2011, alleging they conspired to refrain from soliciting one another's employees in order to avert a salary war.
By Deepa Seetharaman SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc's revenue grew more than expected for the first quarter, offset by a sharp increase in spending on technology, content and new warehouses as the e-commerce giant branches into new businesses. The Seattle-based company's overall revenue growth bested the average Wall Street estimate of $19.4 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Amazon reported earnings per share of 23 cents, in line with expectations. Shares of Amazon, which is rapidly expanding its lineup of devices and computing services to sustain its pace of growth, rose 1.6 percent to $342.56 in afterhours trading. Amazon is spending big on a wide range of projects as its core retail business comes under pressure.
By Alexei Oreskovic SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google Inc's head of social networking services, Vic Gundotra, is leaving the Internet search company, he said on Thursday, three years after overseeing the launch of the Google+ social network. Gundotra, who has worked at Google for eight years, announced the move in a Google+ post. "We pour our heart and soul into our work and it becomes something we love and cherish," Gundotra wrote.
Facebook said on Thursday that it has created a newswire tool tailored to journalists, part of a broader effort to be the go-to place for conversation for its 1 billion users. Called FB Newswire, it is designed to help journalists share and embed newsworthy Facebook content that is made public by its members such as photos, status updates and videos. "News is finding a bigger audience on Facebook than ever before, and journalists and media organizations have become an integral part of Facebook," wrote Andy Mitchell, director of news and global media partnership at Facebook, in a blog post announcing FB Newswire.
The U.S. communications regulator on Thursday sought to tame an outcry over "net neutrality" rules it is developing, saying the agency would make sure broadband providers which "unreasonably" discriminate against Web traffic are punished. New rules proposed by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler would ban broadband providers from blocking Web content, but would allow deals with content providers to deliver Internet traffic to users faster, as long as such agreements are "commercially reasonable." Consumer advocates sharply criticized Wheeler's draft after details leaked out on Wednesday, as he prepared to share his proposal with other FCC commissioners. That may mean that some traffic, from content providers who do not pay, may be comparatively slower, discouraging users from visiting those sites. In a May 15 vote, the five-member FCC is expected to formally seek public comment on proposed new "open Internet" rules aimed at making sure Internet providers do not restrict consumers' access to online sites and applications.
By Jim Finkle BOSTON (Reuters) - The world's biggest technology companies are donating millions of dollars to fund improvements in open source programs like OpenSSL, the software whose "Heartbleed" bug has sent the computer industry into turmoil. Amazon.com Inc, Cisco Systems Inc, Facebook Inc, Google Inc, IBM, Intel Corp and Microsoft Corp are among a dozen companies that have agreed to be founding members of a group known as Core Infrastructure Initiative. Each will donate $300,000 to the venture, which is recruiting more backers among technology companies as well as the financial services sector. Other early supporters are Dell, Fujitsu Ltd NetApp Inc, Rackspace Hosting Inc and VMware Inc. The industry is stepping up after the group of developers who volunteer to maintain OpenSSL revealed that they received donations averaging about $2,000 a year to support the project, whose code is used to secure two-thirds of the world's websites and is incorporated into products from many of the world's most profitable technology companies.
By Jennifer Saba NEW YORK (Reuters) - AOL is making a push into China with its digital video studio Makers, which struck a partnership on Thursday with that country's privately held Sun Media Group. This is AOL's biggest effort in China since it was spun out from Time Warner Inc almost five years ago. China's Sun Media Group is helping Makers, which produces documentaries focused on women, select and produce content to be shown in China and abroad.
By Alina Selyukh WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are expected to vote on May 15 on a new set of so-called "net neutrality" rules aimed at making certain that broadband providers do not slow down or block consumers' access to legal Internet content. The rules from the Federal Communications Commission, which released its framework in February, are expected to ensure network operators disclose how they manage Internet traffic and do not block any content on the Web. The proposed rules are also expected to allow Internet providers to negotiate agreements with content providers on delivery of traffic to users as long as the deals they strike are "commercially reasonable," according to an FCC spokesman. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has also said he planned to review the practices adopted by Internet providers on a case-by-case basis.
By Jeremy Wagstaff SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The next hacker playground: the open seas - and the oil tankers and container vessels that ship 90 percent of the goods moved around the planet. Somali pirates help choose their targets by viewing navigational data online, prompting ships to either turn off their navigational devices, or fake the data so it looks like they're somewhere else; While data on the extent of the maritime industry's exposure to cyber crime is hard to come by, a study of the related energy sector by insurance brokers Willis this month found that the industry "may be sitting on an uninsured time bomb". Globally, it estimated that cyber attacks against oil and gas infrastructure will cost energy companies close to $1.9 billion by 2018.
By Esteban Israel SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff praised the United States on Wednesday for its decision to ease control over the Internet and called for a more democratic, transparent network following the U.S. National Security Agency spying scandal. Rousseff spoke at a global conference that she convened on how to govern a safer, less U.S.-centered Internet after revelations that she and other world leaders had been spied upon by the NSA. Rousseff hailed President Barack Obama's decision to hand off control of ICANN, a California-based non-profit in charge of assigning Internet domains or addresses, to an international oversight body that has yet to be decided on. Revelations last year by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden that the United States spied on Internet users with secret programs prompted worldwide calls for reducing U.S. control of the network now connecting one-third of the world's population.
Netflix Inc on Wednesday announced its first original Spanish-language television series, a bid by the video-streaming company to attract subscribers in Latin America and Spanish speakers in the United States Netflix said the series, a 13-episode comedy about a family feud among the heirs to a soccer club, is slated to premiere in 2015 and will be shot in Mexico. The series, which is so far untitled, will be produced by Gaz Alazraki, the director of the popular 2013 Mexican comedy film "Nosotros los Nobles" ("We Are the Nobles"), and star Mexican actor Luis Gerardo Mendez. Netflix's venture into original programming, which includes political thriller "House of Cards" and comedy-drama "Orange Is the New Black," has earned the first Emmy Awards for an online-only company. Netflix is available in much of Latin America.
Amazon.com's streaming video service will offer some older shows from premium-cable channel HBO starting next month, a deal that intensifies both companies' competition with subscription-video service Netflix. This is the first time HBO, owned by Time Warner Inc, has licensed its award-winning programming to an online subscription streaming service, the companies said in a statement on Wednesday. HBO shows are not available through Netflix. Netflix shares fell 4.7 percent to $355.31 on Nasdaq.
By Chris Francescani NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York Police Department campaign to burnish its image via social media instead produced a flood of pictures of apparent police brutality and tweets critical of the force being shared at a rate of thousands an hour. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Wednesday he would continue and expand the NYPD Twitter campaign a day after it backfired, triggering an outpouring of negative images including police violence at New York's Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, an NYPD officer pointing a gun at a dog, and an officer asleep in a subway car. "Most of those photos that I looked at are old news," said Bratton, appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to take over from Ray Kelly, who served for 12 years under de Blasio's predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.
By Jim Finkle BOSTON (Reuters) - The FBI has warned healthcare providers their cybersecurity systems are lax compared to other sectors, making them vulnerable to attacks by hackers searching for Americans' personal medical records and health insurance data. Health data is far more valuable to hackers on the black market than credit card numbers because it tends to contain details that can be used to access bank accounts or obtain prescriptions for controlled substances. "The healthcare industry is not as resilient to cyber intrusions compared to the financial and retail sectors, therefore the possibility of increased cyber intrusions is likely," the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a private notice it has been distributing to healthcare providers, obtained by Reuters.
By Anthony Boadle BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's Senate unanimously approved groundbreaking legislation on Tuesday that guarantees equal access to the Internet and protects the privacy of Brazilian users in the wake of U.S. spying revelations. President Dilma Rousseff, who was the target of U.S. espionage according to documents leaked by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden, plans to sign the bill into law. The legislation, dubbed Brazil's "Internet Constitution," has been hailed by experts, such as the British physicist and World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, for balancing the rights and duties of users, governments and corporations while ensuring the Internet continues to be an open and decentralized network. To guarantee passage of the bill, Rousseff´s government had to drop a contentious provision that would have forced global Internet companies to store data on their Brazilian users on data center servers inside the country.
By Esteban Israel and Anthony Boadle SAO PAULO/BRASILIA (Reuters) - A global conference in Brazil on the future of the Internet in the wake of U.S. spying revelations might be much less anti-American than first thought after Washington said it was willing to loosen its control over the Web. Bowing to the demands of Brazil and other nations following revelations last year of its massive electronic surveillance of Internet users, the United States has agreed to relinquish oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned of Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit group based in California that assigns Internet domain names or addresses. "The focus has changed from a political reaction to the NSA allegations to one of more constructive criticism and talk about the future of the Internet," said William Beer, a cyber security expert based in Sao Paulo.
By Marina Lopes NEW YORK (Reuters) - AT&T Inc said Tuesday it would partner with The Chernin Group media holding company to invest $500 million in a joint venture for web-based video services, making it the latest company aiming to tap the growing consumer demand for online video. The move follows announcements by Verizon Communications, Disney and Dish Network Corp which have plans to roll out video products outside a traditional TV subscription. Chernin Group, former News Corp president Peter Chernin's holding company, produces films and TV shows, and has a stake in Crunchyroll, a subscription and video-on-demand service. "AT&T's massive reach on those platforms across mobile and broadband and their commitment to the online video space make them the perfect fit for this venture with us," Chernin said.
After several months of rumors and reports of setbacks due to local regulations, plans to launch in France and Germany were indirectly confirmed by a Netflix executive. On an investor's call regarding Netflix's quarterly financial results, the company's Chief Content Officer and Vice President Ted Sarandos was questioned by JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth on whether Netflix would consider launching in new markets, "for example, France and Germany," if the company did not have the rights to all of its original content there. "And we will also have shows that we are premiering in France and Germany and other markets around Europe that we won't necessarily have in the United States." Rumors suggest that Netflix could arrive in the two countries as soon as this fall.
(Reuters) - Netflix Inc's planned price hikes will allow it to spend more to produce more original content that will help it attract more customers globally, analysts said, as many of them raised their price targets on the stock. Netflix's shares rose more than 9 percent in early trading on Tuesday after the company unveiled plans to increase prices and reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit. At least seven brokerages raised their price targets on the stock. Raymond James and Cantor Fitzgerald upgraded the stock to their equivalent of a "buy" rating, citing strong growth prospects from international markets.
(This story changes Mandalah description in the 30th paragraph, company name in the 31st paragraph) By Sophie Knight TOKYO (Reuters) - In June 2011, when customers of now-bankrupt bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox agitated for proof that the Tokyo-based firm was still solvent after a hacking attack, CEO Mark Karpeles turned to the comedy science fiction novel "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". During an online chat, Karpeles moved the equivalent of $170 million in bitcoin at today's market rates - the virtual equivalent of a bank manager flashing a wad of cash in a wallet to establish credit. The gesture - with a sly wink to the "geek" culture Karpeles believed he shared with many of his 50,000 customers at the time, including an interest in coding, Japanese manga comics and science fiction - succeeded. By moving 424,242 bitcoins, Karpeles, then 26, evoked the random number, 42, described as the "meaning of life" in Douglas Adams' sci-fi novel.