FOXTROT/ALFA: Google to Pay Publishers in France, SAP Hit by COVID-19 Fallout, New Thunderbird Version

Hey, everyone… I got completely side-tracked from doing my newsletter yesterday. I do apologise for that! So I’m writing you now to recap everything I didn’t report yesterday plus some news from today. Which is just as well, as we’re a bit light on stories right now anyway.

And with that, I welcome you to issue 98 of FOXTROT/ALFA, your daily tech news briefing, this time for Saturday, 11 April 2020.

New Thunderbird Version Foreshadows Extension Changes

Thunderbird 68.7.0 is out and the mail client is gearing up to changes that are coming with regards to extensions in the next major version.

The developers of the email client Thunderbird have released Thunderbird 68.7.0 to the public. The update for the stable 68.x branch of the email client is a maintenance update for the most part that resolves more than a dozen issues in the email client and improves MailExtensions support in the client. Additionally, it fixes security issues. Thunderbird installations that are already on Thunderbird 68.x will be upgraded to the new version automatically.

The team continues to enhance MailExtensions support in the Thunderbird email clients. Thunderbird, which is based on Firefox, is undergoing the same architectural changes as the Firefox browser. The move has implications on extensions support and one of the main changes is that the next major version of Thunderbird, Thunderbird 74, will only support MailExtensions (similarly to WebExtensions in Firefox).

Google Must Start to Pay French Publishers

Google has been ordered to compensate French publishers for its use of snippets of news stories in its search engine.

The French Competition Authority (FCA) has told Google to negotiate with French news companies to determine fees due for the re-use their content. In a statement, the FCA said, Google’s practices were “likely to constitute an abuse of a dominant position, and caused serious and immediate harm to the press sector.” The ruling gives Google three months to come to reach an acceptable price with French publishers for using snippets of their articles in Google News, Google Search, and other services.

Article 11 of the EU’s Copyright Directive, which in the true spirit of bureaucracy was renamed Article 15 in its final version, referred to as the “link tax,” gives publishers the right to be paid when large online aggregators and platforms like Facebook and Google republish article snippets. Last September, Google said it would stop including snippets from French publishers in all Google services due to the Copyright Directive. The FCA has indicated that it considers the blanket refusal to compensate publishers an abuse of Google’s market dominance. So if Google fails to negotiate in good faith, further sanctions may be forthcoming.

Internal Aerospace Company Documents Leaked By Ransomware Gang

Some ransomware criminals have leaked internal documents from Boeing, Lockheed Martin and SpaceX.

Internal confidential documents belonging to some of the largest aerospace companies in the world have been stolen from an industrial contractor and leaked online. The data was pilfered and dumped on the internet by the criminals behind the DoppelPaymer Windows ransomware, in retaliation for an unpaid extortion demand. The sensitive documents include details of Lockheed-Martin-designed military equipment – such as the specifications for an antenna in an anti-mortar defense system – according to a Register source who alerted us to the blueprints.

Other documents in the cache include billing and payment forms, supplier information, data analysis reports, and legal paperwork. There are also documents outlining SpaceX’s manufacturing partner program.

The files were siphoned from Visser Precision by the DoppelPaymer crew, which infected the contractor’s PCs and scrambled its files. When the company failed to pay the ransom by their March deadline, the gang – which tends to demand hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to restore encrypted files – uploaded a selection of the documents to a website that remains online and publicly accessible.

Maybe I should start looking into the Boeing documents. With all the shit happening to that company lately, there’s bound to be some juicy stuff in there.

SAP Earnings Hit By Coronavirus Effects

Well, looks like SAP is among the first tech companies to feel the impact of the COVID-19 scare.

ERP giant SAP has cut its annual revenue estimates by as much as €1.9bn in the face of COVID-19 disruption which saw a “significant amount of new business” postponed in the first quarter. Pre-announcing its first-quarter results, the global software company said total revenue grew 7 per cent year-over-year to €6.52bn. But the end of the quarter had seen a big drop-off in orders.

SAP said it had responded to the new environment by adopting a virtual sales and remote implementation strategy, as well as slowing hiring and reducing discretionary spending.

This has only just started and its seriously going to hurt all of us in the long run. Mark my words.

Also Noteworthy

Some other (gaming) stories I’ve been reading:

This is an archived issue of my daily newsletter FOXTROT/ALFA. You can find more information about it, including how to subscribe via email, on this page.