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Top 10 technology villains of 2012

Mon Dec 24 2012, 11:00

Mike Lynch
Mike Lynch, former CEO of Autonomy, one of the UK's most successful IT companies, has been accused by HP of at the very least presiding over account inflation prior to the firm's purchase in 2011. Lynch and Autonomy were, for the past decade, seen as one of the bright lights in the UK information technology industry alongside ARM and Imagination, but now all that is lost amidst deeply damaging allegations.

Ex-HP CEO Leo Apotheker signed off the $11bn purchase of Lynch's Autonomy software outfit last year, after Oracle and Dell turned down the opportunity believing the price to be too high. A year on, HP has written off billions and will try to recoup some of that cash back through the courts.

Lynch has denied all of the accusations brought by HP. Nevertheless, with HP forwarding its evidence to the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the UK Serious Fraud Office, while taking the route of very publicly accusing Lynch, his reputation, even if the allegations are not proven to be true, is in tatters.

Scott Forstall
If we'd have told you last year that Scott Forstall would be on our "Top 10 IT villains of 2012" list, you'd have scoffed.

Before you question this, hear us out. Scott Forstall, ex-SVP of IOS, is the guy that took a look at Apple Maps and thought, "Great! - Let's get rid of Google Maps and replace it with this!" What. A. Mistake. Not only did this error get Forstall fired and Jonny Ive left in charge of IOS, it meant that Apple, for the first time in its history, was forced to apologise to its customers.

We know it's only an Iphone app, but this app is potentially life threatening. Australian Police have had to warn Idevice owners not to use Apple's homemade Maps application for fear that it could kill them.

"It's quite a dangerous situation, so we would be calling for people not to use the new Apple Iphone mapping system if they're travelling from South Australia to Mildura," they said.

Oh dear, Forstall.

US government
Gary McKinnon and Richard O'Dwyer share one thing in common, having been put through psychological hell by the overreaching US government, which apparently thinks it can strong-arm foreign governments into sending people over to its shores for alleged crimes. McKinnon, who was accused of showing up the inadequacies of US government networks, and O'Dwyer, who ran the TV Shack website, were up for extradition to the US to face charges and possible lengthy prison sentences.

McKinnon in particular had to endure a decade of legal proceedings that showed how the UK government lacked any backbone, until UK Home Secretary Theresa May finally decided to end what must have been nothing short of hell for McKinnon by blocking the US attempt to extradite him. Finally last week, the UK director of public prosecutions dropped all charges against McKinnon, leaving him free to get on with his life.

O'Dwyer's TV Shack website did not host any illegal content, but merely linked to other websites, just like Google or Bing. Nevertheless, this was all the US government needed to seize the domain and start legal procedings against someone who wasn't even on US soil. In the end all charges against O'Dwyer were dropped, but once again only after a multi-year legal battle. µ


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