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10 tech things we didn't know a week ago

Behind on the news and hungry for more? Here's what we learned this week — including which city is doing more for tech than Silicon Valley, and Samsung's biggest ally.
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By Zack Whittaker on
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1 of 10 Defense. Dept./National Security Agency

1. Almost 90 percent of electronic spying is carried out by governments

Verizon's latest data breach report released this week blew open how vulnerable payment systems are to attacks, and how distributed denial-of-service attacks are taking on the retail sector. But buried in the report, one data nugget showed that governments make up almost all of the electronic eavesdropping and spying in the world today. The irony of course is that Verizon continues to stay mum on any word relating to the Snowden leaks, which through the phone giant under the bus in the first round of disclosures back in June 2013.

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2 of 10 CBS Interactive

2. Google agreed to pay Samsung to defend it against Apple

As the Apple v. Samsung courtroom drama continues, we learned this week that the Korean smartphone giant had a (not too surprising) ally in the thermonuclear war against Android: no other than Google itself, the maker of the open-source platform. According to testimony, Samsung and Google signed a deal that would include Google apps on Samsung's Galaxy smartphone range. So, the search turned mobile giant would help with likely legal costs related to the technology. 

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3 of 10 Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook

3. Silicon Valley tech titans face bans from Russia under new law

Russia may soon be able to ban Silicon Valley giants, including domestic Russian startups and businesses, if they do not store Russian customer details and data inside the country. This is reportedly so the country's security and intelligence services can snoop on its citizens' data. Unlike the U.S. and other countries, Russia doesn't have the legal power to force foreign companies to hand over data. The government may force Internet providers in the country to block sites and services that fail to comply.

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4 of 10 CNET/CBS Interactive

4. Apple bought 24 companies in 18 months

In the past year-and-a-half, Apple has made two-dozen acquisitions (which we know of), chief executive Tim Cook announced at the company's fiscal second quarter earnings. That includes HopStop, BroadMap, Embark, Locationary, Topsy, Novauris and PrimeSense. That's up from 15 acquisitions in 2013, according to Cook in October. Despite having more than $159 billion in cash in the bank, Cook previously said he wasn't going to "buy something for the purposes of just being big." He added on the call that it has to work "culturally" with Apple's mindset and mentality. 

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5 of 10 EA

5. Brazil has its own "Internet Bill of Rights"

Brazil is one of the first countries in the world to adopt an "Internet constitution," guaranteeing principles, rights, and guarantees for Internet users in the country. It comes after President Dilma Rousseff was reportedly directly hit by the Edward Snowden leaks, after the U.S. National Security Agency was found to have spied on her communications. Brazil continues to work towards laws that require Brazilian data to be stored domestically, outside of the hands of prying eyes.

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6 of 10 Amazon

6. State taxes can reduce household spending on Amazon by 10 percent

U.S. states that impose sales tax from online purchases, including California and Texas, have a direct impact on Amazon.com sales, university researchers have found. Reported by Bloomberg on Tuesday, sales to the retail giant's site fell by about 10 percent compared to states that don't impose a tax.

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7 of 10 CNET/CBS Interactive

7. As Detroit's tech sector expands, Silicon Valley contracts

Detroit: home of the U.S. automotive industry, but also home to one of the largest growing tech sectors in North America. Thanks to a larger presence by car-makers at tech trade shows, touting their in-car technology solutions, Detroit is growing larger than Silicon Valley year-over-year. According to a new research study, tech industry employment in metro Detroit is up by 15 percent on the prior year, while Silicon Valley saw a 4 percent decline.

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8 of 10 CNET/CBS Interactive

8. Nobody is quite sure why tech stocks have recently tumbled

After weeks of sluggish activity in public tech stocks, like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Netflix — ahead of Weibo's initial public offering, Recode this week suggested that the reason was… well, that nobody actually knew. In reality, many companies are doing better year-over-year than during the past month, which has seen some stocks down by double-digits percentage points.

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9 of 10 Wikimedia Commons

9. The U.S. created "mesh" networks to help citizens avoid domestic spying

The U.S. State Dept. funneled $2.8 million to a team of American hackers to help create a "mesh" network in one of the most troubled countries in the Middle East and Africa today, Tunisia, two years after the country saw its own revolution and its government overthrown. The aim of the project was to stop the Tunisian government from accessing citizen data. "It is in my mind one of the great, unreported ironies of the first Obama administration," one former State Dept. official told The New York Times. 

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10 of 10 CNET/CBS Interacitve

10. Viewing pirated material may not be direct copyright infringement

Movie director Quentin Tarantino has been told that viewing pirated material does not directly infringe copyright, according to the judge who rejected his case against an online magazine. Tarantino's script was leaked earlier this year, but unlike others, Gawker linked directly to the leak that was floating around the Internet, but did not publish the script. His lawyers needed to show that Gawker readers actively used the link to view the script, something he may not be able to prove. Even then, the judge said: "Simply viewing a copy of allegedly infringing work on one’s own computer does not constitute the direct infringement necessary to support Plaintiff’s contributory infringement claim." 

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