Young American Serial Entrepreneur Faces Harsh Criticism Over Free-By-Ads WiFi Service Privacy Issue

Kristopher Tate is an American-born serial entrepreneur who had appeared many times on TechCrunch by his photo-sharing start up Zooomr founded at his age of 17.

TechCrunch’s database had not tracked him later but he migrated to Tokyo with Zooomr with seeing more possibility in Japan and Japanese web in 2007, has been actively developing several services,

  • Keireki.jp [J] – business social networking service aimed at Japanese LinkedIn counterpart
  • am6 [J] – service adds a toolbar with social tools on your websites
  • Zenback [J] – blog widget provides Zemanta-like recommendation and social media parts, developed for Six Apart (TypePad and Movable Type company which is now Japan-based)

His latest product is ConnectFree [J], which offers free WiFi access points around the nation in exchange of displaying toolbar with ads. As Japan is known with comparatively poor WiFi environment because of widespread use of 3G data connection service, it sounds a good idea to add more free WiFi spots all around the nation with good incentive to shops and advertisers.

Tate leads the company ConnectFree as a CEO and Chief Development Officer and on October 26, the company made a big partnership [J] with Japan’s (and the world’s) largest printing company Dai Nippon Printing(DNP) to promote a WiFi system which enables to shops to offer free WiFi spot by inserting ConnectFree toolbar on user browsing pages.

However, calamity for them (or bless for consumers) began at night December 5, when a notable security researcher Hiromitsu Takagi appeared on a shop which serves ConnectFree WiFi and a good-looking case-study on the service site. With praising the dish, Takagi demonstrated and tweeted to his security-aware 11K followers how ConnectFree modified the original HTML codes of whatever websites you are browsing, with explaining that it collects and sends users MAC address, Twitter account name, Facebook account name to the ConnectFree server. It also replaced Amazon associate program links all with ConnectFree’s ID (which is not allowed by Amazon’s terms of use) and tracked accesses by ConnectFree’s Google Analytics account.

On a popular tweets curating service Togetter, Takagi’s and related tweets are summarized [J]. Takagi started tweets at 9:21 p.m. and he said he got a phone call at 12:50 a.m. from “ConnectFree president”, who must be Tate and according to tweets they talked over the phone about nearly an hour. At that point, Takagi’s tweets got great attentions on Japanese Twittersphere.

A half day later, 6th afternoon, the company issued an apology release [J] with its stopped all of MAC/Twitter/Facebook/Amazon/Google-Analytics manipulation. The release said that it collected those data but never used or handed them over to the third-parties. About Amazon affiliate modification, it told that it was experiment only at one shop (where Takagi ate at the night?), but after the release, some others reported on Twitter that they salvaged JavaScript file from their browser cache when they used ConnectFree about a month ago the Amazon-related code were there at other shops.


(Tate’s apology on his personal Twitter account)

After Asahi [J], Yomiuri [J], many more followers and Yahoo! Japan News [J] reported it, the word “ConnectFree” (in Japanese katakana notation) was ranked on the top 10 of trending words both on Twitter and Google today December 7.

According to Twitter users, ConnectFree’s company profile page [J] was observed to delete(“All except CEO disappeared”) and resume(“Some boards are back now”) some executives today.

DNP also announced immediate shut-down of ConnectFree WiFi services at its affiliating shops. Although I do not know how deep those other people were explained and understood what Tate was trying to do both in technically and ethically, the attitude of adults around the young foreign challenger is not so admirable.

[Update 2011-12-13]

Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported it on its national news [J, movie on the linked page].

According to NHK, ConnectFree system was served at about 40 restaurants and hotels in greater Tokyo and Kwansai area. Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications(MIC) heard from ConnectFree as it could violate a law of Telecommunications Business Act(Denki Tsuushin Jigyou-hou, 電気通信事業法) which orders to keep privacy of communications.

WordPress Japanese Official Character Gets A Name

WordPress set [J] its Japanese official character in February 2011, and held a naming contest [J] recently.

So its name is Wapuu.

Wapuu’s character is copyrighted by the creator Kazuko Kaneuchi [J], but the license is the same as WordPress, GPL version 2 or any later version.

Six Apart, a blog application rival who led WordPress by Movable Type and TypePad in Japan, made [J] a mascot for TypePad, named Topf, in 2005 [J].

Toph is still used [J] by Six Apart for campaign.

See Also:

Firefox Japanese mascot Foxkeh

Say Media To Sell Six Apart Japan And The Brand To Infocom

Six Apart Japan, a 100% subsidiary of Say Media, who bought a blog service company Six Apart (U.S.) in September 2010, announced [J] that the whole stock of the company will be sold from Say Media to a Japanese company Infocom soon.

According to the announcement, Six Apart Japan takes the “Six Apart” trademark, keeps its Japanese site sixapart.jp and the original English site sixapart.com.

Their blog application Movable Type will be handed over to Six Apart Japan. Six Apart Japan will provide the application and its support to worldwide.

TypePad stays in Say Media and Six Apart Japan becomes the local distributor for TypePad Pro. TypePad Micro is directly served by Say Media to Japanese users.

Six Apart Japan said to have 40 employees at January 2008.

The president Nobuhiro Seki will stay the position, but one of Japan’s most influential web engineers/geeks Tatsuhiko Miyagawa leaves his operating officer post and stays at Say Media as he tweeted [En].

[Update] English Six Apart official blog now has an announcement post by Nobuhiro Seki.

April Fools’ Day Jokes On Japanese Websphere

On the day when all we are permitted to wag the dog, many companies devoted themselves to create attractive pranks on their websites.    I wrapped up what had happened on Japanese web scene.

For pursuing the journalist’s perspective to be honest on the facts, we Asiajin report no prank nor joke, but do the fact covering what people have made.    We appreciate your understanding.

Company / Website Main Business Pranks & Jokes
Tsuburaya's Logo
Tsuburaya Production
A well-known movie production for its special effects, and the father of Ultra-Man Kanegon or coin monster, which is appeared in Tsuburaya’s TV serials, restarted blogging.
ImpressWatch's Logo
Impress Watch
Japan’s oldest e-mail newsletter covering IT business matters The company started publishing a daily newsletter called “Cat Watch” that day.
DPZ's Logo
Daily Portal Z
The editorial team introduces useful tips for our daily life on the country’s popular portal site every day. The editorial team investigated the following supervisions.- A mermaid can be seen when you have the eyes opened in bath water.- In order to receive the appropriate signal from the radio station far from you, and to listen to your favourite program more clearly, how do you assume a pose to use your body as an antenna?
Irem's Logo
Irem Software Engineering
A famous pachinko game developer The secret society called “Black Irem” jacked the company’s website.
Google's Logo
Google
Unnecessary to explain A senryu or a humorous Japanese poem may be inserted to some search results.  The popular children’s TV program characters, Gachapin and Mukku were invited to GoogleMap advisory board[J].
SixApart's Logo
Six Apart
The world’s famous blog platform developer It showed an interview with Yaruo, the ASCII art character born on the “2ch” BBS, and asked him the reason why he had upgraded his blog platform to Movable Type 4.
MagMag's Logo
Mag Mag
Japan’s largest e-mail newsletter distribution platform provider The website’s top page turned to be a Google-like.
YouTube's Logo
YouTube
Unnecessary to explain Some videos are seen upside down.
NicoNicoDouga's Logo
Nico Nico Douga
Japan’s popular video sharing site Subtitles overwrapped on the video run through much faster than usual.  President Obama will join the program.
KokubanIn's Logo
Kokuban.in

(blackboard in)
Draw a picture on the virtual blackboard with your mouse, and share it with the other users on the illustration SNS The title has been changed to Sukebu.in, meaning “sketchbook in”.
Pixiv's Logo
Pixiv
An online illustration community for artists The company’s office is registered in Tokyo, but their data center facility is reportedly located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which causes reponse delay for browsing the website.
Yahoo Japan's Logo
Yahoo! JAPAN
Japan’s most famous search engine and directory service Planning on-the-spot filming of Evangelion drama movie, which is originally known as an animation.
Hatena's Logo
Hatena
Japan’s most popular social bookmark site Hatena has the service allowing its users to give rewards to interesting blog post, which is called “star”. Inspired by the supplementary income payments that Japanese government distributes to the national, the company also distribute “star” to all the Hatena users as to give it to their favorites.
Kayac's Logo
Kayac
Developing a number of entertaining and weird websites and projects As the substitute to the supplementary income payments, Japanese government will distribute Kayac’s product encouraging your fidgeting.
Interlink's Logo
Interlink
ISP, web hosting provider and domain registrar President Obama applied for “.obama (dot obama)” domain.
Himote SNS's Logo
Himote SNS
An internet forum for unpopular people, in response to the torment caused by St. Valentine’s Day The forum founder Ega-chan got his girlfriend finally, and he shut the website.
Vector's Logo
Vector
Japan’s largest library having shareware and freeware applications More than 100,000 software titles are available for free of charge.
Eiga.com's Logo
eiga.com
The portal site introducing new movie lineups The top page shows you no listing of movie titles, but a bunch of stupid news.
Paper Boy & Co.'s Logo
Lolipop
A famous website hosting provider Their business has been changed to an Indian curry restaurant.
WebKare's Logo
Web-kare
A role playing game on the website, for having dates with your virtual boyfriend Web-kare (web boyfriend) has been changed to the e-commerce shop selling curry (web curry).

GoogleSmileCompany's Logo
Good Smile Company
The company making and selling a number of cartoon character clay works. It shows you the preview of a movie titled Nendoroid Deka, a story about the detective girl with a clay doll.
MyNet Japan's Logo
MyNet Japan
Running a “Digg”-like social news site and mobile site integration. Their power source turned to naturally generated type, and the employees need pedaling bikes to keep their servers running.

Web-kare sold a fake product of “web curry” retort pouch on the website.Web-kare's Web Curry

Good Smile Company made a fake announcement that they intend to release a movie of the detective girl with a clay doll.
Nentroid Deka - A Detective Girl with A Cray Figure

MyNet Japan CEO & employees couldn’t stop pedaling bikes for generating power to feed their mission-critical servers.MyNet Japan Pedalling