iFive: Google-Groupon Rumors, Korea's Nuclear Threats, Firefox's User Privacy Tool, Madonna's PR Gym, Knockoffs

Who's guilty of naughty computer trojan-horse tactics? Not evil hackers. It's Apple, Google, and Microsoft, who install plug-ins to Firefox without requiring user okays. So "rages" Mozilla today, creator of Firefox. Is it malware, though? Or should Firefox have a mechanism to prevent this? It seems the debate about online privacy is getting more complex daily. While you ponder that, here's the news:

1. Google-Groupon rumors are heating up, and this morning there's a new price tag associated with the deal: $6 billion. That would be Google's biggest acquisition yet, and a massive revenue multiple for Groupon (reflecting the inherent value of the business idea behind Groupon) since its estimated income is in the region of $350 million. Rumors suggest Groupon haggled the price up, and Yahoo was interested too.

2. North Korea's now claiming it has "thousands" of nuclear centrifuges, ready to spin up some chemistry for nuclear power. It's a fabulous piece of saber-rattling, with impeccable timing: WikiLeaks' newest document leak contains data that's just revealed China would tolerate one Korea, led by the south—since the North is acting like a "spoiled child." Does that mean this newest rumor is mere playground boasting?

3. Firefox is also in the news regarding privacy for a different reason today: Mozilla's exploring a "do not track" tech that would preserve your privacy as you roam around the Internets. It's important news, since Net advertising is becoming an enormous business, and a built-in do-not-track system could force even trickier habits than cookies or IP tracking to become the norm, disrupting user privacy plans even more. Or not.

4. Madonna is pulling off a powerful trick in branding right now—she's opening a new gym. In Mexico. Before you scratch your heads in wonder that one of entertainment's richest women, and queen of PR manipulation, is trying something so odd, then check this out: The gym is named Hard Candy, after her new album. She attended the gym opening herself. The machines have screens and iPod docks. And there's a plan to "use Mexico as a place to fine-tune our brand" before expanding around the world. Clever.

5. Knockoff news: China is officially cracking down on cheap knockoffs, often sourced in the nation's factories—great news for brands, and consumers chasing quality. Meanwhile British scientists have created sheep knockoffs, as Dolly the cloned sheep has now been "reborn" again, years after her demise, turning sci-fi into sci-fact.

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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