Download our latest podcast here.

Suspicious phone conversations on Skype could be targeted for tapping as part of a pan-European crackdown on what law authorities believe is a massive technical loophole in current wiretapping laws, allowing criminals to communicate without fear of being overheard by the police.

The European investigation could also help U.S. law enforcement authorities gain access to Internet calls. The National Security Agency is understood to believe that suspected terrorists use Skype to circumvent detection.

While the police can get a court order to tap a suspect’s land line and mobile phone, it is currently impossible to get a similar order for Internet calls on both sides of the Atlantic.

IPhone users have short attention spans. At least that’s the conclusion from data collected by Pinch Media, a company that helps developers track the use of their iPhone applications. Pinch found that of the users who download free applications from the App Store, only 20 percent use the app the next day, and far fewer do as the days pass.

For paid applications, the return rate is only slightly better: 30 percent of people use the application the day after they buy it. The drop-off rate for paid applications is about as steep as for free applications after the first day. Generally, 1 per cent of users who download an application turn into long-term users of it, Pinch found.

Pinch has noticed some differences based on the kind of application. For example, sports applications get more use than others in the short term, while entertainment applications tend to keep users for longer than others.

A new proof-of-concept application from Microsoft’s research arm integrates elements from the Windows OS and its Windows Azure cloud infrastructure to let users share files from their desktops with Web users via social networking.

From Microsoft’s description, it seems similar to how the Facebook social-networking site allows users to post links, videos and photos on their Facebook pages and add comments and other context to those links. The Social Desktop application marries a Web-oriented sharing model with the desktop and lets users easily share local files such as photos or videos, Microsoft said.

Equipment vendors are trying to convince mobile operators to spend money upgrading their networks to deliver faster Internet access, with two technologies battling for the bucks: LTE and WiMax.

However in the short term the winner could be an intermediate technology, HSPA+, as operators look for ways to wring more out of their existing networks with less capital outlay than LTE requires. U.S. operator Verizon Wireless made headlines at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week with its announcement that it will build an LTE network this year, offering commercial service next year.

Other operators are proving slow to adopt LTE — but vendors of the rival WiMax technology will have a hard time taking advantage of this reluctance because of the economic situation.

…And those are the top stories from the IDG Global IT News Update, brought to you by the IDG News Service. I’m Sumner Lemon in Singapore. Join us again later for more news from the world of technology.

Share on LinkedIn Share with Google+