Category: Archive

Business Briefs A digital divide in info superhighway

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

The Celtic Tiger is beginning to sport a few divisive stripes.

While Ireland is acknowledged as a world leader in computer software production and other e-commerce applications, there are fears that the gap is widening between those exposed to the internet — mainly in the Leinster area — and others who are not.

According to a recent report from the Information Society Commission, the majority of those exposed to the internet and e-commerce in Ireland are young, knowledge-oriented individuals. But with the certainty that more tasks will be administered electronically, those without knowledge of the new technologies, mainly older people, as well as women, particularly housewives, will be at distinct disadvantages.

Inexperience of the internet and lack of understanding of computer hardware and jargon are among the biggest hurdles facing people over 35 using the internet.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s president, Mary McAleese, has warned that despite Ireland’s economic growth, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen.

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IBO news

There is a change of venue for the March meeting of the Irish Business Organization of New York. The meeting, this Wednesday, March 8, at 7 p.m., will be in the Beekman Tower Hotel, at 49th Street and First Avenue, NYC.

Vacancies at Aer Lingus

Two vacancies have emerged on the board of Aer Lingus following the resignation of former Fianna Fáil TD and Justice Minister Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and the completion of a five-year term by Davy Stockbrokers’ chief economist, Jim O’Leary.

Geoghegan-Quinn, who’s from Galway, has also resigned from the board of the Ryan Hotels Group. She is to join the European Court of Auditors.

Replacements for the two former Aer Lingus board members will be watched with interest because of the airline’s planned flotation.

Aer Lingus is also looking for a new chief executive; its former boss, Garry Cullen, resigned unexpectedly three weeks ago.

Iona acquisition

Iona Technologies, the Irish-based software company, has agreed to buy U.S. company Watershed Technologies for $13.2 million. The acquisition provides Iona with technology for its iPortal Suite product, designed to help companies build portals for internet-based business.

Meanwhile, Baltimore Technologies has acquired a U.S. e-security company for $150 million. The company, Cyber Trust, based in Boston, is a subsidiary of the GTE Corporation.

Why the uproar?

In the aftermath of complaints from privacy advocates as well as a Federal Trade Commission probe, the Manhattan-based online advertising firm DoubleClick has said it will not, for now, connect people’s names, addresses and other personal information with the data it collects about their online travels. But why exactly was there such outrage?

DoubleClick can collect its online data by use of "cookies." These are tiny files that are placed on users’ hard drives. Each "cookie" contains a tracking number and since that number identifies a computer, not a specific user, it is considered to be anonymous. But that anonymity ends when a site or advertiser matches a "cookie" with a name, address and what a user does while logged onto the internet. Once a consumer is known, an advertiser can then obtain a treasure trove of information about that consumer from an off-line data company, in DoubleClick’s case, Abacus Direct Corporation, which was founded by Monaghan man Tony White. Last November, DoubleClick paid $1.7 billion in stock to buy Abacus Direct.

Battling pirates

Conor Molloy, international business manager with Corel Corporation, has been appointed chairman of the Business Software Alliance, in Ireland. The BSA fights software piracy.

Jobs for Galway, Athlone

Seven hundred jobs are to be created in Galway City and Athlone by the electronics manufacturing company MSL. Six hundred of the jobs are to be created in Galway and the remaining 100 at Athlone where MSL already employs a workforce of 300.

Wicklow-born Kevin Melia, the man who heads up MSL, was once a senior executive of the Digital Computer Corporation. The company he established in Athlone five years ago now employs 5,000 people worldwide in designing and manufacturing systems and components for the electronics industry.

The head of MSL operations in Ireland, Tony Boyle, said that the availability of a skilled workforce and what he described as a "friendly business environment" convinced the company that it should expand its operations in Ireland.

Eircom invests in MIT research

Eircom, formerly Telecom Éireann, the Irish telecommunications company, will have access to the research and inventions of the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology after investing 5 million euros to aid the setting up of MIT’s MediaLab in Dublin.

MediaLab founder Nicholas Negroponte said the Dublin move was the first time the organization had set up outside the US. The Dublin MediaLab would operate as a window for the rest of Europe, with the research facility aiming to invent the future.

Eircom chief executive Alfie Kane said the move would mean the telecom company would have 100 percent access to all MIT intellectual property.

Wind farm on Aran Island

A controversial wind-farm development on the Aran Islands has been given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála, the Irish planning appeals board. Environmentalists who are opposed to the project on Inis Maan say that the decision is regrettable. The proposal to site the three wind turbines on the island is being put forward by the Inis Maan Co-op.

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