Daily Tech Briefing: June 30, 2014

The new Skype app for Windows Phone 8.1 comes with Cortana, Microsoft's voice-enabled digital assistant. Lara Kingwell, a Skype product marketing manager, called Cortana a personal assistant for the Windows Phone that helps keep people connected to the things and people who are most important to them.

Cortana debuted at Microsoft's Build developer conference in San Francisco on April 2, and this Skype update is moving Cortana toward becoming a full-featured virtual helper. Kingwell explained that now, through Cortana, people can say things like "Skype get Lara Kingwell on the screen" and it will do just that.

Microsoft will soon implement an updated services agreement that covers much of the company's cloud and online services portfolio. However, Alliance for Justice, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group, is arguing that a clause contained within the agreement will hinder users' ability to seek restitution if they are harmed by Microsoft's services.

The clause in question is the binding arbitration clause, which states that users are giving up the right to litigate disputes in court before a judge or jury, but rather can only go through a neutral arbitrator who will have the final decision.

Hewlett-Packard and some of its key shareholders have come to an initial agreement to settle three lawsuits involving HP's acquisition of U.K.-based big data search and analytics software maker Autonomy.

If the settlement goes through, attorneys for the shareholders will drop all claims against HP's current and former executives. However, former Autonomy executives will not be exempt from additional litigation.

The German government has announced it is reorganizing its information and communication structures, ending its contract with Verizon. This is in response to various threats to its networks.

This announcement is a clear indication that the practices of the National Security Agency are impacting the profits and credibility of American technology companies. Executives such as Cisco Systems' CEO John Chambers called on President Barack Obama to rein in the NSA, after reports surfaced that suggested the agency is intercepting shipments between manufacturers and customers and inserting surveillance technology.

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