Bytes: What’s new in tech

NSA collecting contacts worldwide; Apple slashes 5C orders; Coming to cable: Netflix

NSA collecting contacts worldwide

The National Security Agency is up to even more than we thought, said Barton Gellman and Ashkan Soltani in The Washington Post. According to top-secret documents leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the NSA “is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts around the world.” The spy agency analyzes buddy lists and address books “to search for hidden connections and to map relationships within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets.” A set of presentation slides provided by Snowden shows that the NSA collects more than 250 million email address books each year and peruses 500,000 buddy lists on chat services every day.

Apple slashes 5C orders

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Is the iPhone 5C a flop? asked Lorraine Luk, Eva Dou, and Ian Sherr in The Wall Street Journal. Sources say Apple has cut orders to assemblers for its new, lower-end iPhone 5C in the face of “tepid demand for the device.” Those lukewarm sales may not be a bad development for the tech giant. They could mean that “consumers are buying more of the 5S, the higher-end iPhone that came out at the same time last month and sells for $100 more.” While the plastic-backed 5C has languished, demand for the 5S—especially the gold-colored model—has been strong, with Apple increasing orders for the more expensive model and quoting shipping delays of two to three weeks.

Coming to cable: Netflix

There’s a new premium cable channel in town, said Graeme McMillan in Wired.com. Samsung announced last week that it will make a set-top box that lets cable providers offer Netflix to their subscribers. While that “doesn’t really change Netflix as an offering”—customers will still need a subscription to stream content—the move will make Netflix “part of the ‘regular’ TV experience,” perched alongside premium channels such as Showtime and HBO. Netflix is supposedly in negotiations with other cable providers as well, and even TiVo may soon add Netflix to its cable box. “Having the Netflix app on a set-top box is a natural progression,” Netflix executive Jonathan Friedland said. “Our goal is to make it as simple as possible for consumers to enjoy Netflix while cable operators see value, too, because it makes their broadband service more attractive.”

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