2014 in 'too long, didn't read': The tech stories you probably missed

Buried in between the lines of the major stories are tidbits you may have missed - often stories that are significant in their own right. Here's the rundown in 50 words or less.
By Zack Whittaker, Contributor
1 of 16 Yahoo

White House threatened to bankrupt Yahoo in 2008

The Bush administration in 2008 threatened to levy huge, exponential fines against Yahoo if it didn’t comply with the law by joining the PRISM program. If Yahoo had held out five months, the fines would have paid off the entire US debt -- or about $9.5 trillion.

Read more: U.S. government to Yahoo: Comply with PRISM, or we'll make sure you go bankrupt

2 of 16 Wikimedia Commons

Italy has saved millions of euros by switching to open-source software

Over the past year, an Italian region and city have switched from Microsoft software to operating system alternative Ubuntu, and open-source LibreOffice. Why? It saves money, not only on software but it also increases efficiency. Why pay for 85 percent of software you don’t use?

Read more: Why one region ditched Microsoft Office for LibreOffice | City of Turin decides to ditch Windows XP for Ubuntu and €6m saving

3 of 16 Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook

Russia may outlaw Facebook, Google, others under surveillance plan

Russia’s laws won’t let it spy off its soil. To get around that, it’s forcing companies to store Russian data on its soil so the Kremlin and its intelligence agencies can prevent serious crime and terrorism. But free-speech loving Western companies face exile if they don’t comply.

Read more: Facebook, Gmail, Skype face Russia ban under 'anti-terror' data snooping plan

4 of 16 White House/Flickr

Americans at risk from against domestic spying because of secret law

The Fourth Amendment is meant to protect against unwarranted government searches and seizures. But a secret presidential executive order is said to have undermined those constitutional protections, meaning domestic snooping is fair game for the National Security Agency.

Read more: Americans as 'vulnerable' to NSA surveillance as foreigners, despite Fourth Amendment

5 of 16 CNET/CBS Interactive

Bitcoin (slowly) makes its way into mainstream in Silicon Valley, and around the world

Ignore what you’ve heard from the class clown, Bitcoin continues to grow in popularity into mainstream culture. eBay UK this year began allowing classified ads to trade the virtual currency. Over on the other side of the world, users can now withdraw and deposit Bitcoin from the world’s first ATM.

Read more: eBay UK to allow Bitcoin trades, but only in classifieds for now | São Paulo to get first bitcoin ATM in South America

6 of 16 Wikimedia Commons

Website blocking is 'not internet filtering,' says Australian government

According to Australia’s government, website blocking is “not filtering,” leading to concerns that the government down-under is censoring the Internet in favor of preventing crime, like child abuse and investment fraud.

Read more: Website blocking is not internet filtering: Australian government

7 of 16 ZDNet/CBS Interactive

Tech brokers deliver your data to the NSA for a profit

These "trusted third-parties" may be the most important tech companies you've never heard of. They act as middlemen or "brokers" of customer data between Internet providers and phone companies, and the US government. And they turn a hefty profit for their shadowy services.

Read more: Meet the shadowy tech brokers that deliver your data to the NSA

8 of 16 Apple

Apple's Irish tax arrangements look like illegal state aid, says Europe

European antitrust officials said Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland fall foul of European law because an Irish ruling may have allowed the iPhone and iPad maker to lower its taxable profits. If that’s the case, it amounts to illegal state aid, which distorted the market in Apple’s favor.

Read more: Apple's Irish tax arrangements look like illegal state aid, says Europe

9 of 16 Google

Google expands "Loon" project, providing Internet balloons in the sky

It turns out launching dozens of balloons in the sky across Australia and Brazil will bring Internet access to potentially tens of thousands of residents where online accessibility is limited or impossible. The tech-laden balloons are now offering LTE equipment for faster speeds over larger distances.

Read more: Google to test Project Loon internet balloons in Australia | Google trials LTE in Project Loon’s balloons over Brazil

10 of 16 Justice Dept.

US government can now grab anyone's data from anywhere in the world

Thanks to one US judge who has no regard for international law, the US government can now acquire data abroad -- through any means it deems necessary -- without going through the official channels. Why? Because those channels are “slow and laborious,” and a “burden” on the US government.

Read more: How one judge single-handedly killed trust in the US technology industry

11 of 16 CNET/CBS Interactive

Microsoft had a Windows 8 leaker sent to jail

The software giant dug through a blogger’s private Hotmail account, leading to the arrest of one former Microsoft employee, accused of sealing trade secrets. Alex Kibkalo, a former senior architect, was charged with stealing pre-release information on Windows 8, among other software.

Read more: Former Microsoft employee pleads guilty to theft of Windows 8 trade secrets

12 of 16 Apple

Silicon Valley tech giants aren't very diverse

Technology giants in the valley aren’t as diverse as they could be. Google said it was “miles away” from ideal, as it disclosed its employee base was 70 percent men. Amazon wasn’t much better, nor was Apple or Microsoft. Racial diversity was also poor. The companies said they’d do better.

Read more: Google admits company diversity 'miles away' from ideal | Amazon defends weak diversity scorecard with STEM programs | Microsoft: 29 percent of our global workforce is now women | Apple CEO Tim Cook 'not satisfied' with diversity numbers

13 of 16 CNET/CBS Interactive

Justice Dept. would collect cellphone data through low-flying planes

Heard about those random cell towers that would appear, then vanish? They were probably Justice Dept. fake cell towers attached to overhead planes that would vacuum up cell traffic. But innocent Americans are said to have had their data collected inadvertently, despite legal protections.

Read more: Secret US technology said to intercept cellular communications

14 of 16 CBSNews.com

Facebook experimented with your emotions

If you thought your Facebook feed was particularly glum , you may not be wrong. More than half-a-million users may have been unwittingly part of an “emotional manipulation” experiment, which Facebook is said to have done to see if certain emotions spread across its user base.

Read more: Federal hot water for Facebook over emotional manipulation experiment

15 of 16 European Commission

You can be wiped off Google's search results in Europe

Under a European court ruling, you can now have your search results in the 28-member state bloc scrubbed, so long as they show that damage or harm that could be caused. The so-called “right to be forgotten” law doesn’t extend outside Europe, but EU officials want it to spread worldwide.

Read more: Right to be forgotten: Google may hate it, but we're dangerously close to making it work | US consumer group asks Google to import Europe's right to be forgotten

16 of 16 Wikimedia Commons

The Internet hiccupped, because some Internet providers didn't care

Earlier this year, the Internet stumbled for one day, all because some older networking gear ran out of memory. The problem is that many Internet providers didn't do anything despite having known as early as May. This would’ve meant admitting they were using older, outdated networking equipment.

Read more: Internet hiccups today? You're not alone. Here's why

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