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Tech News: Michael Dell Is Getting Desperate

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Plus, Instagram's new video serive offers nine seconds more than Vine, Google wrangles with the UK government, and more.

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Michael Dell Is Getting Desperate to Take His Company Private

For months now Michael Dell has been trying to take the company he founded, Dell Inc (NASDAQ:DELL) private, and now, he is trying his best to seal the deal. Today, the company, in anticipation of a July 18 shareholders' vote, called on shareholders to approve the $24.4 billion buyout offer made by Dell and the private equity firm Silver Lake, arguing that the offer is the best choice given the other strategic options available to keep the company afloat.

In a letter to investors, Dell's board said, "A sale to the Michael Dell/Silver Lake group... is the best alternative available - in a challenging business environment it offers certainty and a very material premium over pre-announcement trading prices."

The strongest competition to Michael Dell comes from Carl Icahn, Southeastern Asset Management, and their leveraged recapitalization plan for the company. Icahn, who after a major insider purchase filed yesterday owns over 150 million shares of Dell, has threatened that he will rally shareholders to vote against Dell's buyout offer if his plan is rejected.

Firing Back at Twitter's Vine, Instagram's New Video Service Gives Users 15 Seconds to Record

Yesterday, at a press event held at Facebook Inc's (NASDAQ:FB) headquarters, Kevin Systrom, the co-founder and CEO of Instagram, introduced "Video on Instagram," the video-sharing service from the wildly popular picture-sharing service that allows users to share 15-second videos. That is, of course, nine seconds longer than Twitter's Vine service allows.

Also included in Instagram's new app are 13 filters, image stabilization, and the ability to delete the last clip taken, all features that Vine does not have. With the announcement, Facebook, which owns Instagram, seems to be squaring off more directly with Twitter than it has in the past.

Google Faces a Deletion Order for Street View Data From an English Government Agency

The Information Commissioner's Office, the data-regulating agency of the British government, has submitted an order to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) to delete personal data acquired by its Street View cars, or else face court action. The enforcement notice gives Google 35 days to delete images captured for the project, which populate Google's Earth and Maps applications.

Controversy over the project, launched in 2010, comes from the fact that Google has to be able to locate exactly the properties it is taking pictures of, so it uses a computer program that employs local Wi-Fi outlets. Accessing those Wi-Fi outlets, Google also collects bits of data from them.

Britain launched an inquiry into the matter in 2010 but eventually concluded there was not sufficient evidence to prove that Google was collecting personal data on a corporate level. The new notice from the ICO comes with heightened awareness of how Google approaches its Street View project.

Google will comply with the notice, and as the company said in a statement, "We work hard to get privacy right at Google. But in this case we didn't, which is why we quickly tightened up our systems to address the issue. The project leaders never wanted this data, and didn't use it or even look at it."

The FAA Will Loosen Up Rules on In-Flight Electronic Use

According to a story published by the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to relax its restrictions on the use of electronic devices at lower altitudes (electronic devices are permitted for use at cruising altitudes). Currently, electronic devices are prohibited below 10,000 feet due to concerns that wireless signals from the devices can interfere with communications between the plane and air control. The FAA advisory panel has found that today's airplanes are much more tolerant of wireless signals from passenger devices, and that in general, most devices use less power and a weaker signal now then in the past.

Not included on the list of items to loosen restrictions on are cell phones, though the advisory board has said they plan to keep consideration on the table and plan "to provide a separate addendum" for cell phones that the FAA "may or may not address."

Follow me on Twitter: @JoshWolonick and @Minyanville
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