This year saw many firsts — a woman was arrested for a Facebook post, the country was hailed as the “spam king” of the world and an online doomsday party made headlines. We look back at 2012 with the top 10 tech news.
Arrested for a post
When 21-year-old Shaheen Dhada, a Palghar resident, commented on Bal Thackeray’s funeral, little did she know that her story would soon make headlines and force revisions in India’s IT Act. Dhada’s post on Facebook simply stated that one should not observe a bandh for a funeral. “We should remember Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev,” she said. Her friend Renu Srinivasan ‘liked’ the post. Both were arrested under Section 66 (A) of the IT Act and sent to 14-day judicial custody. The resulting outrage on social networking sites forced the government to reexamine the Act and add safeguards to prevent “misuse”.
First Social Games
Critics and fans hailed the 2012 London Olympics, which began on July 27, as the first ever ‘social media’ Games. Even before the opening ceremony began, commentators, sports enthusiasts and athletes participating were asked to tweet even their most mundane thoughts. Official Twitter handles dispensed public information on a day-to-day basis and gave live updates on medal winners, YouTube streamed the events live while athletes logged on to their personal Twitter handle or Facebook page to celebrate each win with millions of fans.
Internet blackout On January 18, 2012
Netizens were in for a surprise when over 1,15,000 websites joined an Internet protest against two proposed laws in the US Congress — the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). The coordinated protests saw some websites shut down completely.
This first-of-its-kind protest saw giants like Wikipedia, Google, Flickr and Mozilla participate.
Keep it real
Creating and maintaining an anonymous profile on the World Wide Web became even more difficult when Facebook, Google Plus, MySpace and a few other social networking sites began urging “users to use real names” while creating profiles online. Soon YouTube hopped on to the bandwagon. Last heard, the issue had taken a political twist when Germany told Facebook that its refusal to allow users to adopt pseudonyms was an “unacceptable” violation of data protections laws in the country.
Anonymous India raises its head
India got a taste of desi hacking this year when the government decided it was time to vote for control and regulation of the Internet. Anonymous India retaliated by hacking into Reliance Communication servers. Later, they managed to take out the websites of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Trinamool Congress. And to bring their issue into focus, they also organised street protests in various cities.
The term ‘you win some, you lose some’ seems apt when you describe the ongoing patent tussle between the smart phone giants. For some time now, Apple and Samsung have clashed over patented technologies each believes have been infringed by the other. While the former won some battles, the latter too managed to make inroads into Apple’s holier-than-thou reputation, much to the chagrin of the fan boys and girls. The war is definitely on.
Windows 8 launched
Microsoft decided that it was time to bridge the gap between them and the competition. Windows 8 was launched with much fanfare. Microsoft wanted Windows 8 to be different, but instead of a general consensus on what that “different” ought to be, they seemed to put something in to please everyone. However, few were impressed with the gimmicks and it remains to be seen if their “big bet” has paid off.
Android takes the lead
There was a time not too long ago when India seemed to be in the grasp of a BlackBerry revolution. Every person on the street either had a BlackBerry or aspired to own one. But it faded away. With its superior technology, apps and high-end phones for a cheaper price, 2012 became the year when Android consolidated its position as the biggest player in the game. According to a survey by Cybermedia Research for the first half of 2012, Android today holds a 56.4 per cent market share in India.
Facebook IPO fails
Media pundits and the public were awestruck when it was announced. But when one of the biggest-ever IPOs in history finally arrived on May 18, it bombed. First, Nasdaq suffered a computer malfunction during the first hours of the IPO, and millions of dollars were “wrongly placed”; then there were claims that the initial price was too high. But what was the final nail in investor confidence was when Facebook executives were accused of alerting industry insiders about its earnings before they were public. The stock was worth less than half its IPO value in three months.
‘Gangnam’ biggest viral hit ever
Now who could have imagined that a South Korean pop star named Psy with dance moves that looked like someone riding a horse would go on to become the biggest virtual sensation. But that is exactly what happened when ‘Gangnam style’ made its way into the world on July 15. The song went viral on YouTube and is the site’s most-watched video ever. It also became the first YouTube video to hit the 1 billion views point in a span of six months.