THE BROWSER: Truth and rumors from the tech world
Google patents free Wi-Fi
The search-engine giant has developed three technologies for offering wireless Internet access, and advertising, free of charge. Plus: London fights graffiti with cameraphones.
By Owen Thomas, Business 2.0 Magazine online editor and Oliver Ryan, Fortune Magazine reporter

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - More evidence has emerged that Google is getting ready to blanket the U.S. with free Wi-Fi, as Business 2.0 senior writer Om Malik reported last year. Now, the company has filed for three patents related to offering wireless Internet access. Search Engine Roundtable points out that the patents all have to do with serving up advertising through a wireless Internet connection maintained by a third party, whose brand Google would include in the presentation of those ads. Sounds a lot like Google's latest plan to unwire San Francisco, where it has teamed up with EarthLink (Research). By teaming up with partners who would build the actual Wi-Fi infrastructure, Google (Research) could complete a nationwide Wi-Fi network much more quickly than if it had to build it itself.

London fights graffiti with cameraphones

Skype sued over peer-to-peer technology
StreamCast Networks claims Skype is using its peer-to-peer technology. Plus: Satellite photos show an iPod-like structure in western Australia. Could it be an Apple ad? (more)

Mobile technology blog MobHappy spots a new use for multimedia messaging, also known as MMS: An anti-graffiti campaign in London. The Borough of Lewisham is offering a downloadable application for cameraphones that takes photos and uploads them to the Lewisham Council. Users are asked to note the street address of graffiti they find and text-message it to the council as well. While promoters of civic beauty will doubtless love this plan, British wireless carriers should love it too, since they can charge their usual high fees for sending photos.

Looking for love in all the wrong cyberspaces

It hasn't been a good month for geeks in love. First, software developer Len Holgate admitted hat he set up a device to monitor his partner Michelle's Internet activity, finding evidence that she'd been having an affair. Of course, part of the problem might have been Holgate's priorities: He spent more time in the post discussing how he set up his "packet sniffer" than he did on the breakdown of his relationship. John Claassen also found his love life tangled up in technology, the San Jose Mercury News reports: He's suing matchmaking site eHarmony for discrimination based on marital status. After he spent two hours filling out an online profile, the singles website rejected his application for membership because Claassen is legally separated from his wife of eight years, but their divorce is not yet final. eHarmony says it only accepts unmarried, divorced or widowed people as members.

Buddy, can you spare 10,000 quid?

You've heard of peer-to-peer file-sharing. How about peer-to-peer lending? British startup Zopa pioneered the business, where people with bulging bank accounts cut out the middleman and lend directly to other consumers, earning the interest that would otherwise have gone to a bank. Zopa announced yesterday that it had raised $15 million in venture-capital funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Benchmark Capital, and Wellington Partners. Zopa now says it has more than 55,000 members. The Online Banking Report has released a study covering the company and a similar U.S. startup, The study predicts that by 2011 person-to-person lending in the U.S. could surpass 100,000 loans a year, worth more than $1 billion. Top of page

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