NSA SealThe National Security Agency has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world, according to documents obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and interviews with knowledgeable officials.

By tapping those links, the agency has positioned itself to collect at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts, many of them belonging to Americans. The NSA does not keep everything it collects, but it keeps a lot.

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A 12 year old boy has pleaded guilty to three counts of hacking in a Canadian court on Thursday.

The fifth grader, who was 11 at the time of the offences, aided Anonymous in DDOS attacks against government sites during the 2012 Quebec student protests.

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The boy contributed to the crashing of sites and acquired user and administrator information from database servers. He is also accused of defacing the front page of websites.

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Acer, the world's fourth-largest PC hardware company, will see its current CEO leave the top job at the beginning of 2014. J.T. Wang announced his resignation from Acer today, with the company's president Jim Wong planning to take over the CEO duties from January 1st. Wang will remain as chairman of Acer until his tenure in that position is concluded at the end of June 2014.

Acer CEO

Today's announcement comes as Acer is also dealing with a bigger loss than expected for the  third quarter of 2013. The Taiwan-based company announced today that it lost T$13.12 billion ($446 million) for the July-September time period. Acer has posted a loss in five of its financial quarters since 2011.

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NSA SealThe National Security Agency (NSA) said Friday that a multi-hour outage of its website, NSA.gov, was caused by an error during scheduled maintenance rather than a hacking attack as rumored on the Internet.

The NSA site was reportedly down as early as around 3 p.m. Eastern on Friday and still remained inaccessible at around 11 p.m., with some Twitter accounts associated with the Anonymous hacktivist collective taking credit for a malicious takedown of the site via distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, Gizmodo reported.

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Bill GatesMicrosoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates may want to focus most of his efforts on the charity work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but in a new interview with the Financial Times Gates admitted that he's working a lot more at Microsoft than he first agreed to do.

When Gates decided to stop working full time at Microsoft, he did pledge to spend one day a week at the company he helped to build.

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german flagGermany is reportedly mulling the creation of its own Internet to secure communications from spying by foreign intelligence services in the wake of allegations that the United States bugged German chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone.

State-backed Deutsche Telekom is currently urging other German communications firms to "cooperate to shield local Internet traffic from foreign intelligence services" like the National Security Agency (NSA), Reuters reported Friday.

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It's been a long time in coming, but the U.S. government is finally going to allow people on commercial airline flights to use most electronic devices in nearly all parts of a flight. Confirming previous rumors, the Federal Aviation Administration announced the changes to the current rules in a press release today.

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The announcement states, in part:

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amazon packerAmazon has increased its minimum order for free shipping to $35 - up by $10.

It's the first price hike in 10 years, with the online retailer previously offering free five-day shipping to non-Prime members with a minimum order of $25.

While the company has not commented, commentators say today's news could be a bid to encourage consumers to buy an Amazon Prime subscription.

 Since it was founded in 1996 by CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon has become a global retail power and dominates the e-book market.

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Microsoft has teamed up with some of its biggest rivals to try to get the U.S. government to help reform the data collection efforts of the National Security Agency. The Washington Post reports that Microsoft, along with Google, Apple, Facebook, AOL and Yahoo!, sent a letter to several members of the U.S. Congress on Thursday on this topic.

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The letter itself said that while more transparency on how the NSA collects its information is needed, it added that the six companies "... believe that government surveillance practices should also be reformed to include substantial enhancements to privacy protections and appropriate oversight and accountability mechanisms for those programs."

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united states capitol - west frontWhile the company behind the dysfunctional HealthCare.gov was virtually unknown to the American public until this month, critics say the Obama administration should have known this multibillion-dollar firm had a checkered history with other government contracts.

In projects stretching from Canada to Hawaii, parent company CGI Group and its subsidiaries ran into complaints about its performance. And this was while, and in some cases before, CGI Federal was paid millions, along with other contractors, to create the ObamaCare website.

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