2013 Year in Review: Top 10 tech news stories

We take a look back over some of the year's biggest news stories.

8) Nobody likes smart watches

Wearable technology has been hyped as one of the trends to watch in 2013, with the likes of Samsung, Qualcomm and Sony all taking steps to beef up their offerings in this area by releasing smart watches.

The devices are being positioned as companion devices to smartphones and tablets, and can be used to receive messages, calls and even take pictures.

Now, just because a vendor says their product is going to be the next big thing, doesn't always guarantee its success, and that certainly seems true of smart watch sales at the moment.

Market watcher Gartner released a scathing report in November that claimed sales of the devices will continue to stall while they remain so expensive and ugly to look at.

With Apple rumoured to be entering this space sometime next year, all this could be set to change. But - as it stands right now it will be interesting to see if they make it on to many Christmas lists in 2014.

9) Edward Snowden reveals all

The summer of 2013 was dominated by headlines about government surveillance programmes, thanks to (the now infamous) National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.

His revelations were exclusively revealed by the Guardian newspaper, and began in June with Snowden's admission that the US government had forced telco Verizon to hand over the phone records of millions of Americans.

Industry watchers widely panned the initiative because it could pave the way for wider censorship of the UK web space.

Shortly after, details of the PRISM surveillance programme came to light, which allegedly provided the NSA with direct access to user data held by Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. This claim was later disputed by the tech firms.

The months that followed saw further leaks and revelations about GCHQ's involvement with the PRISM programme, as well as claims it set up the Tempora scheme to monitor the traffic passing through undersea fibre optic cables.

In fact, it's probably fair to say stories about the NSA, Prism or Tempora have been featured on IT Pro at a rate of about one a week since the Guardian started publishing Snowden's claims.

Furthermore, privacy campaigners and civil rights groups (as you would expect) have regularly voiced their concerns about the impact of these surveillance activities in recent months.

So much so, Privacy International made formal complaints against several of the UK's largest telcos back in November for allegedly assisting GCHQ with its Tempora activities.

10) Web porn clampdown

One issue that riled IT Pro readers like no other in 2013 were the Government's plans to introduce online pornography blocks in every internet-connected home in the UK.

The measures were announced in July with the intention of making it harder for children to access adult content online. However, industry watchers widely panned the initiative, and claimed it could pave the way for wider censorship of the UK web space.

Then, in November, both Google and Microsoft confirmed plans to tweak the algorithms of their search sites to make images depicting child abuse harder to uncover online.

Once again, the reaction to this news wasn't wholly positive, as critics pointed out that very few criminals use the searchable web to look for and distribute illegal content.

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