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Google Pixel 4a 5G review: cheaper with two-day battery

Technology | The Guardian

Bigger screen, longer battery life and great camera make the 4a 5G the best Pixel this year

The new Pixel 4a 5G is Google’s cheaper but larger 5G phone, and might just be the best.

It is available in black and costs £499, fitting in between the £599 Pixel 5 and the £349 Pixel 4a.

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October 21st 2020, 2:19 am

Washington's crackdown on Google is the greatest threat yet to Big Tech

Technology | The Guardian

The justice department brought antitrust charges against the company, but experts say that’s just a start

For decades, companies like Google have enjoyed exponential growth and an almost unobstructed rise to power. But the tide appears to be turning, as US lawmakers crack down on alleged monopolistic practices and public sentiment sours on the former wunderkinds of Silicon Valley.

Antitrust charges brought against Google on Tuesday by the US justice department mark the latest – and most significant – legal challenge yet for big tech.

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October 20th 2020, 7:31 pm

Charities in a bind after cybercriminals donate $10,000 in bitcoin

Technology | The Guardian

Children International and The Water Project have no way of refunding Darkside group

No charity wants to turn down donations, particularly in the middle of a funding crunch. But what if donations come from a surprising source – hackers?

While it may sound like a modern-day version of Robin Hood – electronically stealing money from companies and corporations, and giving it back digitally via bitcoin to charities – when the money comes from the proceeds of crime, the law is clear: it must be rejected.

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October 20th 2020, 12:43 pm

iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro review roundup: fresh design and future-proofing

Technology | The Guardian

Early reviews of new Apple phones suggest lots of little upgrades but 5G not yet a killer feature

The first reviews of Apple’s new 5G-enabled smartphones, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, are in from publications with early access to two of the four new models.

The £999 iPhone 12 Pro has an extra telephoto camera and Lidar-based depth sensor not present on the cheaper £799 iPhone 12, which just has a regular and an ultrawide camera on the back. Neither the smaller and cheaper iPhone 12 Mini nor the largest and most expensive iPhone 12 Pro Max are yet available.

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October 20th 2020, 11:42 am

US justice department expected to sue Google over accusation of illegal monopoly

Technology | The Guardian

Lawsuit will accuse tech company of abusing its position to dominate search and search advertising

The US justice department is expected to file a lawsuit against Google on Tuesday, accusing the tech company of abusing its position to maintain an illegal monopoly over search and search advertising.

The antitrust suit would be the most significant legal challenge to a major tech company in decades and comes as US authorities are increasingly critical of the business practices of the major tech companies.

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October 20th 2020, 9:41 am

Far-right online forum 8chan loses internet after protection services are cut

Technology | The Guardian

Site was back online Monday morning with a Russian company enlisted to protect it from DDoS attacks

The latest incarnation of the hate-filled online forum 8chan was temporarily kicked off the internet on Sunday, after a company protecting the site from DDoS attacks cut its services.

The site, which is now called 8kun but was formerly known as 8chan, was back online on Monday morning, security researcher Brian Krebs reported, with a Russian company freshly enlisted to provide the protection services.

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October 19th 2020, 9:15 pm

Russian cyber-attack spree shows what unrestrained internet warfare looks like

Technology | The Guardian

US indictment of operatives, accused of launching several attacks, gives a detailed account of how they went about their business

The Sandworm team of Russian military intelligence, alleged to have unleashed computer chaos against the Kremlin’s enemies around the world, is said to operate out of a blue-tinted glass skyscraper known simply as “the tower”.

From that address, 22 Kirova Street in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, the Sandworm hackers, also known more prosaically as the unit 74455 and “the main centre for special technologies”, launched attacks on the Ukrainian power system, Emmanuel Macron’s presidential bid in France in 2017, the South Korean Olympics in 2018 and the UK investigation into the 2018 Russian nerve agent attack in Salisbury.

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October 19th 2020, 7:32 pm

Uber pledges £5m toward electric vehicle charging points in London

Technology | The Guardian

Firm will install public chargers in poorer boroughs to persuade its drivers to switch to electric cars

Uber has pledged to invest more than £5m in public electric vehicle charging infrastructure in some of the poorest boroughs in London, to help persuade its reluctant drivers to switch to electric cars.

The global ride-hailing firm will announce the investment, which it admits is only a fraction of the money needed, as it seeks to highlight the imbalance across the capital in the installation of charge points.

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October 19th 2020, 1:47 pm

Instagram censored one of these photos but not the other. We must ask why

Technology | The Guardian

Celeste Barber’s latest parody was flagged by the platform, but its algorithm’s prejudices aren’t a new problem

Last week brought an issue to the attention of millions of Instagram users – one that we in marginalised communities have been aware of for years: the Instagram algorithm favours thin, white, cisgendered people and effectively censors the rest of us.

On Friday, Australian comedic juggernaut Celeste Barber posted the latest in her #CelesteChallengeAccepted series of parody images to her audience of 7.3 million: a side-by-side photo of her imitating a post from former Victoria’s Secret model Candice Swanepoel, clutching her bare breast and exposing side boob.

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October 19th 2020, 12:47 pm

Alexa, Siri... Elsa? Children drive boom in smart speakers

Technology | The Guardian

Coronavirus has accelerated the use of voice assistants, but there are concerns about unregulated online ‘playgrounds’

Voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri will become common in children’s bedrooms, according to a new report from Internet Matters, the online safety body, which says it is critical for parents to spend more time understanding new technology.

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new technology at home by “three or four years”, the researchers said, and families in the UK will become much more reliant on voice-enabled devices over the next five years.

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October 18th 2020, 6:17 am

Europe and America are taking on the tech giants. Britain needs to join the fight | Will Hutton

Technology | The Guardian

The government is a bystander to attempts to break up the Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple monopolies

It’s time to address monopoly capitalism and, in particular, monopoly data capitalism, which has been turbo-charged by Covid-19, forcing the world to live and work online. A Joe Biden presidency – increasingly likely – and an EU unhampered by British reluctance to do anything bold to reform or even tax a monopolistic private sector are set to make common cause. They will act in sync to attack the now bewildering monopoly power of the hi-tech giants by tackling its foundation – the simultaneous owning of pivotal digital platforms and the unbridled provision of the services on them.

Together, they will go on to reclaim the operation of the internet and enlarge individual control of personal data. Moreover, Biden, if he fulfils his campaign pledges to challenge shareholder-value-driven US business, act on climate crisis and enlarge union rights, will Europeanise the US economy to make it more friendly to this reform agenda. It will be a sea change – with Britain a marginalised bystander.

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October 18th 2020, 4:32 am

Facebook says it rejected 2.2m ads seeking to obstruct voting in US election

Technology | The Guardian

Nick Clegg, Facebook vice president, says social media giant also attached false information warnings to 150m posts

A total of 2.2m ads on Facebook and Instagram have been rejected and 120,000 posts withdrawn for attempting to “obstruct voting” in the upcoming US presidential election, Facebook’s vice president Nick Clegg has said.

In addition, warnings were posted on 150m examples of false information posted online, the former British deputy prime minister told French weekly Journal du Dimanche on Sunday.

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October 17th 2020, 10:14 pm

NHS using drones to deliver coronavirus kit between hospitals

Technology | The Guardian

Trials in Essex using GPS-enabled remote-controlled aircraft to carry blood tests and PPE

An NHS drone is being used to courier Covid-19 samples, blood tests and personal protective equipment between hospitals in England.

It is hoped that the trials, backed by a £1.3m grant from the UK Space Agency, can establish a network of air corridors for electric drones to navigate using GPS.

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October 17th 2020, 11:08 am

The Guardian view on Amazon's dominance: we have to make different choices | Editorial

Technology | The Guardian

Amazon has helped many in lockdown, and reaped soaring profits. But the company must be held to account

It was hard to miss the fact that Amazon Prime had a sale this week. Newspapers and magazines covered the event as a celebration of consumption. This on top of a coronavirus pandemic that has accelerated the collapse of already struggling bricks-and-mortar retailers.

It is not surprising that so many of us shop with Amazon. The prices seem low. Purchases arrive promptly. But an examination of this gift horse’s mouth also raises serious concerns. Even before the pandemic Amazon’s aggressive pricing strategies made it difficult for smaller companies to compete. This is exacerbated by the fact that the company does not pay enough back to the state. In 2018 it paid £14.3m in corporation tax on £13.7bn in UK revenues. Without shops on the high street, it pays less in business rates than more traditional competitors such as Tesco.

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October 17th 2020, 5:07 am

UK bans any use of mobile phones while driving

Technology | The Guardian

Government updates law to ban drivers from using phone in any way, not just calling and texting

Drivers who use hand-held phones in any way behind the wheel will face £200 fines and possible bans when changes in the law take account of smartphones.

While making calls or texting on a hand-held mobile while driving is already illegal, taking photos, scrolling through a playlist or even playing games on phones has not been outlawed until now – allowing drivers to escape charges when spotted with a phone.

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October 17th 2020, 1:19 am

BA fined record £20m for customer data breach

Technology | The Guardian

Personal details of more than 400,000 customers accessed by hackers in 2018

British Airways has been fined a record £20m for a data breach in which more than 400,000 customers’ personal details were compromised by hackers in 2018.

The fine is the biggest ever issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), but a fraction of the £183m fine initially announced last year. This was reduced after investigators accepted BA’s representations about the circumstances of the attack; and was reduced further to take into account the dire financial position of BA since the onset of Covid-19.

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October 16th 2020, 7:27 am

Instagram to crack down on 'hidden advertising' in UK

Technology | The Guardian

CMA investigation found social media was not doing enough to tackle problem

Facebook-owned Instagram is to crackdown on social media influencers and celebrities who make posts without telling followers when they have been paid to do so, following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority.

The CMA said it has been investigating the issue of “hidden advertising” by social media influencers and has been concerned that Instagram has not been doing enough to tackle the problem.

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October 16th 2020, 5:57 am

Pixel 5 review: Google gets back to basics

Technology | The Guardian

The 4a’s big brother is simple to use and has a great camera, but can’t compete with rivals in terms of processing power

The Pixel 5 is Google’s top smartphone for 2020. It comes with 5G and a simplified design that’s very similar to the excellent, cheaper Pixel 4a.

It’s available in either black or green and costs £599, fitting in above the larger but cheaper £499 Pixel 4a 5G and the smaller £349 Pixel 4a.

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October 16th 2020, 2:21 am

Twitter changes policy on hacking after backlash over block on New York Post story

Technology | The Guardian

Criticism from Republicans and non-conservatives prompted the change – although the controversial story is still blocked

Twitter has staged a partial u-turn on its policy of blocking a New York Post story about Joe Biden after a wave of criticism from Republicans and also from some non-conservative voices.

Twitter, along with Facebook, blocked dissemination of the article on their sites on Wednesday on the grounds that it was based on material allegedly hacked from a laptop owned by the Democratic presidential candidate’s son, Hunter Biden.

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October 16th 2020, 1:39 am

Twitter down: social media platform suffers global outage with users unable to post

Technology | The Guardian

Millions of users left unable to tweet or share stories for more than an hour

Twitter has suffered an outage in many countries across the world, leaving millions of users unable to post to its platform.

The entire social media site went down for a number of minutes and, although it was quickly brought back online, users were unable to tweet or retweet anything for more than an hour.

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October 15th 2020, 7:34 pm

YouTube announces plans to ban content related to QAnon

Technology | The Guardian

The company says it will remove conspiracy theory content used to justify real-world violence after Facebook announced a similar move

YouTube said Thursday it will begin banning some content related to QAnon, a massive and baseless online conspiracy theory movement that has been tied to real-life violence.

The online video service said in a blogpost it would remove conspiracy theory content used to justify real-world violence from its network. It comes after Facebook announced similar but more extensive measures, banning all QAnon content outright.

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October 15th 2020, 4:04 pm

Behind Cambridge Analytica lay a bigger threat to our democracy: Facebook | Jennifer Cobbe

Technology | The Guardian

More needs to be done to clamp down on big tech’s nefarious methods of influencing our politics and culture

The information commissioner (ICO), the UK’s data protection regulator, has concluded its long-running investigation into Cambridge Analytica. As had been expected by many, this found no smoking gun. Despite concerns about its data practices, the short-lived political consultancy ended up functioning as a distraction. But there are still real reasons to be concerned about the impact of tech companies – notably Facebook – on our democracy. We need to confront their surveillance business models, their increasingly central position in digital society, and the power they now hold as a result.

In the 2016 US elections, Cambridge Analytica used commonplace data science techniques to predict voters’ political views and target them with adverts on Facebook. Its involvement in the UK’s EU referendum, the ICO concludes, extended to limited work with Leave.EU analysing Ukip membership data. It did, the ICO found, have shoddy data practices, but there were seemingly no significant breaches of the law. Despite the temptation to see the hidden hand of nefarious actors, there is, so far, little evidence to suggest any Russian connection.

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October 15th 2020, 9:01 am

Twitter suspends accounts for posing as Black Trump supporters

Technology | The Guardian

Company reports spam and platform manipulation by accounts containing identical language

Twitter has suspended a network of accounts claiming to be owned by Black supporters of Donald Trump and his re-election campaign due to spam and platform manipulation, it said Tuesday.

The company is investigating the activity and may suspend additional similar accounts if they are found to be violating its policies, a spokesperson said.

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October 15th 2020, 5:29 am

OnePlus 8T review: slick phone fully charges in just 37 minutes

Technology | The Guardian

Top phone with great screen, good battery life and software undercuts competition

The OnePlus 8T replaces the OnePlus 8 released just six months ago, with a flatter and faster screen and incredibly quick charging.

The smartphone costs £549 or £649 depending on storage and sits between the mid-range £379 OnePlus Nord and top-end £799 OnePlus 8 Pro.

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October 15th 2020, 2:26 am

Facebook and Twitter restrict controversial New York Post story, sparking ire on the right

Technology | The Guardian

Social media platforms move to limit spread of article on Hunter Biden amid questions over its veracity

Facebook and Twitter took steps on Wednesday to limit the spread of a controversial New York Post article critical of Joe Biden, sparking outrage among conservatives and stoking debate over how social media platforms should tackle misinformation ahead of the US election.

In an unprecedented step against a major news publication, Twitter blocked users from posting links to the Post story or photos from the unconfirmed report. Users attempting to share the story were shown a notice saying: “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.” Users clicking or retweeting a link already posted to Twitter are shown a warning the “link may be unsafe”.

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October 14th 2020, 9:07 pm

Apple's iPhone 12 Mini could mark the end of the giant smartphone era

Technology | The Guardian

Analysts expect rivals to follow as Apple addresses gender-bias cricitisms with smaller handset

Apple unveiled its new range of iPhones on Tuesday and analysts suggested its biggest success of the season could be its smallest new product: the iPhone 12 Mini.

The new mini is Apple’s smallest flagship iPhone since the iPhone 6 was introduced in 2014 and tech experts said it could mark an about-turn in the trend for ever-larger phones – and be a particularly big hit with women.

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October 14th 2020, 12:49 pm

YouTube bans misinformation about Covid vaccinations

Technology | The Guardian

Any claims about Covid vaccinations that contradict the WHO will be removed, says YouTube

YouTube has banned misinformation about Covid vaccinations, just days after Facebook took similar action on its own platform.

The company says that the fact that such a vaccine is imminent makes it the right time to take action, and expand its pre-existing policies against Covid-19 medical misinformation.

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October 14th 2020, 12:49 pm

Amazon employees in the UK: share your experiences

Technology | The Guardian

We’d like to hear from employees at Amazon about what its like to work at the company

Trade unions called on the UK government this week to use the influence it has over Amazon, through hundreds of millions in state contracts, to force the firm to improve its working conditions.

The company has long been criticised for its treatment of workers, with staff members describing unreachable targets and high surveillance.

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October 14th 2020, 10:47 am

Amazon to escape UK digital services tax that will hit smaller traders

Technology | The Guardian

US tech company’s third-party sellers face a 2% rise in the amount they pay

Amazon will not have to pay the UK’s new digital services tax on products it sells directly to consumers but small traders who sell products on its site will face increased charges.

The government’s new digital services tax, which aims to get tech companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook to pay more tax in the UK, is forecast to eventually bring in about £500m annually to the exchequer.

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October 14th 2020, 4:45 am

Facebook greatest source of Covid-19 disinformation, journalists say

Technology | The Guardian

International survey nominates social media giant as worst offender, ahead of elected officials

The majority of journalists covering the pandemic say Facebook is the biggest spreader of disinformation, outstripping elected officials who are also a top source, according to an international survey of journalism and Covid-19.

The social media platform, which announced this week it was updating its hate speech policy to ban content that denies or distorts the Holocaust, was identified by 66% of journalists surveyed as the main source of “prolific disinformation”.

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October 13th 2020, 5:25 pm

Facebook to ban ads discouraging vaccination

Technology | The Guardian

Site will still allow ads focused on vaccine policy as it launches campaign to provide flu vaccine information

Facebook will ban ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated, the social media company announced Tuesday, as it launches a new public health campaign aimed at spreading flu vaccine information.

The changes are a departure from Facebook’s previous policy, which prohibited ads with vaccine misinformation but allowed ads expressing opposition to vaccines if they did not contain false claims.

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October 13th 2020, 4:09 pm

Apple unveils new 5G iPhone 12 line in multiple sizes

Technology | The Guardian

New designs and cameras revealed alongside smaller HomePod smart speaker

Apple has unveiled its delayed iPhone 12 line of smartphones in a range of sizes with new designs and 5G connectivity.

Unveiled as part of a online-only event, which was pushed back by more than a month due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the new iPhones mark some of the biggest changes to Apple’s smartphones since the iPhone X in 2017.

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October 13th 2020, 4:09 pm

iPhone 12 launch: Apple introduces 5G phones – live updates

Technology | The Guardian

Four new iPhones expected, including Apple’s first 5G devices, as well as new headphones, HomePods and more

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live blog of Apple’s latest press event. We’ll be kicking off at 10am Pacific Time – that’s 6pm UK time, and 4am in New South Wales if you’re staying up for all the latest news.

We’re expecting to see no less than four new iPhones today, as well as a grab-bag of other products including, potentially, the launch of Apple’s first own-brand over-ear headphones.

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October 13th 2020, 12:36 pm

PS5 – a complete guide to the launch games

Technology | The Guardian

From Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales to Demon’s Souls and Destruction AllStars, we look at the games lineup for those lucky enough to secure Sony’s new PlayStation 5 console

With a month to go until the launch of Sony’s 4K gaming machine, there is now a clear picture of which titles will be available from 12 November (at least for those lucky enough to successfully pre-order a console) and what’s in store over the coming year. If you’ve missed all the hype so far, here’s everything we know about the PS5 software line-up, from day one to 2021.

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October 13th 2020, 4:34 am

UK shoppers urged to shun Amazon Prime Day to support small businesses

Technology | The Guardian

Campaigners ask consumers to consider plight of retailers struggling due to Covid

Campaign groups and small business representatives have called on consumers to shun this week’s Amazon Prime extravaganza and support small retailers instead.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the tech giant will host its annual Prime Day event, with thousands of tempting bargains – many at up to half price.

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October 13th 2020, 1:34 am

Screen time is as addictive as junk food – how do we wean children off? | Belinda Parmar

Technology | The Guardian

Social media addiction isn’t a failure of parenting. It’s a feature of the tech industry

“Chill out, Mum, you’re overreacting. Watching TV is just as bad,” my daughter yells as I beg her and her brother to put down their devices for just five minutes. My daughter can see me getting agitated and gives me the “you are a loser” eye-roll that all 12-year-olds seem to master.

I’m trying to convince her that mindlessly scrolling Instagram for hours is not good for her. I explain that unlimited social media is dangerous – a bit like being able to have as many Big Macs as you like, at any time you want: you end up feeling sick and empty inside. In the same way my daughter is mindful of what food she puts in her body, I want her to be mindful of what she feeds her brain. I call it “junk tech”. No brain required.

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October 12th 2020, 1:00 pm

Facebook to ban content that denies or distorts the Holocaust

Technology | The Guardian

Mark Zuckerberg says his thinking has evolved after increase in antisemitic violence

Facebook says it is updating its hate speech policy to ban content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.

The decision comes two years after its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said in an interview with the tech website Recode said that while he found Holocaust denial deeply offensive, he did not believe Facebook should delete such content.

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October 12th 2020, 12:13 pm

Google Nest Audio review: smart speaker gets music upgrade

Technology | The Guardian

Louder, more bass and better sound for Google Assistant speaker made of recycled plastic bottles

Google’s first smart speaker has finally got a much-needed upgrade in sound with the new Nest Audio.

The speaker replaces the Google Home and costs £89.99, fitting in between the £49 Nest Mini and £299 Google Home Max.

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October 12th 2020, 2:11 am

UK must compel Amazon to improve worker conditions, say unions

Technology | The Guardian

Government urged to use influence it has through £630m of state contracts with firm

The UK government should use the influence it has over Amazon through £630m of state contracts to compel the company to improve conditions for workers, trade unions have said.

The TUC issued a report criticising Amazon’s employment practices on Monday the eve of Prime Day – an annual event when the online retailer offers deals but that unions have said pushes hardworking staff to their limit and beyond.

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October 11th 2020, 7:56 pm

YouTube more representative of Britain than BBC, says UK boss

Technology | The Guardian

Site offers diverse material that traditional media do not, says Ben McOwen Wilson

YouTube’s UK boss has said his platform is more representative of modern Britain than the BBC, saying that television channels are falling behind because they do not provide material that speaks directly to all parts of the country.

The Google-owned video service is on the cusp of overtaking the BBC as the dominant media source for 16- to 34-year-olds in the UK, with the average adult internet user watching 46 minutes of YouTube per day.

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October 11th 2020, 10:05 am

Michigan terror plot: why rightwing extremists are thriving on Facebook

Technology | The Guardian

The platform provides tools for radicalization and coordinated violence, and critics say it’s been slow to ban dangerous groups

In a year of escalating political violence in the United States, Facebook has served as a key organizing tool for violent extremists.

An alleged plot to kidnap the Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer, was planned in part on Facebook, with one leader of the scheme broadcasting a video of his frustrations with Whitmer to a private Facebook group, and participants later sharing footage of their paramilitary exercises and bomb-making training, according to an FBI affidavit.

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October 10th 2020, 1:18 am

From ball launchers to activity trackers: the new breed of pet tech

Technology | The Guardian

We review some of the popular gadgets helping to keep dogs and cats healthy and occupied

Technology for pets is increasingly popular, with gadgets entering the market that promise to keep our dogs and cats in trim, healthy and occupied, and we pet owners in sync with their needs.

The increasing humanisation of pets means more and more of us are treating them as fluffy family members. Spending on cats and dogs has increased hand in hand with this trend. Total spending on pets in the UK reached a record high of £6.9bn in 2019, an increase of about £3.5bn since 2009, according to the Office for National Statistics.

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October 9th 2020, 11:13 am

'Smart' male chastity device can be controlled by hackers, users warned

Technology | The Guardian

Chinese firm advises owners to break open device with screwdriver ‘when nothing else works’

The maker of a “smart” male chastity device has recommended using a screwdriver to break it open after warnings they can be locked remotely by hackers.

The Bluetooth-controlled Cellmate device can only be unlocked via an app. Its maanufacturer, the Chinese company Qiui, issued a video titled “When nothing else works”, showing the screwdriver fix.

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October 9th 2020, 8:11 am

Facebook removes hundreds of fake profiles tied to pro-Trump group

Technology | The Guardian

Social network says accounts tied to Turning Point USA sought to influence conversations by flooding news articles with comments

Facebook has removed hundreds of fake profiles it has linked to the conservative group Turning Point USA for carrying out organized attacks on the site, including attempts to influence public conversations by flooding news articles with pro-Trump comments and misinformation.

The move was prompted by reporting last month in the Washington Post that found Turning Point Action, an affiliated pro-Trump group, was paying teenagers to post coordinated messages on the site, a violation of Facebook’s rules.

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October 8th 2020, 7:06 pm

Apple Watch SE review: an almost great cheaper option

Technology | The Guardian

Absence of ECG and blood oxygen features saves you £110, but lack of always-on display likely to disappoint

The Apple Watch SE is a cheaper version of Apple’s smartwatch that offers most of what makes it good while cutting out some key features.

The Watch SE comes in two sizes, 40mm or 44mm, and is made of aluminium. Prices start at £269 – £100 less than the top Apple Watch Series 6 – and tested here in the 44mm space grey version with 4G and costing £349. It requires an iPhone and cannot be used with Android.

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October 8th 2020, 2:29 am

Facebook announces plan to stop political ads after 3 November

Technology | The Guardian

The policy change is intended to ‘reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse’ and did not give a timeline for advertising to return

Facebook has announced significant changes to its advertising and misinformation policies, saying it will stop running political ads in the United States after polls close on 3 November for an undetermined period of time.

The changes, announced Wednesday, come in an effort to “protect the integrity” of the upcoming election “by fighting foreign interference, misinformation and voter suppression”, the company said in a blog post.

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October 7th 2020, 8:43 pm

I got irritated by my dad’s cluelessness with gadgets - but maybe it is the technology that’s to bla

Technology | The Guardian

No one needs 45 buttons on the TV remote, but phones, computers and ovens have all become overly complicated. And it’s excluding the people who would get the most out of the latest advances

About 10 years ago, I moved into a fancy flat. I was looking forward to my dad coming to stay for the first time. He arrived at lunchtime, before I went off to present The One Show. He is really into music, so I enjoyed showing him the audio system, which could play more or less every radio station in the world and just about every piece of music ever made. I could even summon up a specialist jazz station in Los Angeles. Then there was the lighting, which could be selected to come on in different places at selected levels. Finally, there was the television and associated apparatus which, for convenience, could be operated by a single remote control sporting a little touchscreen. With a cheery wave, I bade him farewell, encouraging him to relax and enjoy himself.

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October 7th 2020, 12:07 pm

EU lawmakers ask Jeff Bezos whether Amazon spies on politicians

Technology | The Guardian

Concern over job ads referring to monitoring of ‘hostile leaders’ and union ‘threats’

A cross-party group of MEPs has written to Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, demanding information on the online retailer’s monitoring of trade union activists and politicians in response to deleted job postings that described unions as “threats”.

The letter, from 37 members of the European parliament, said they were concerned Amazon deliberately targeted workers seeking to organise, and also questioned whether the company had “spied” on politicians.

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October 7th 2020, 1:20 am

Congress should rein in top US tech companies, lawmakers' inquiry finds

Technology | The Guardian

A report after a 16-month inquiry into Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple was critical of CEOs’ testimony during the hearings

Companies including Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple have amassed too much power and should be reined in with new legislation, US lawmakers concluded in a major report resulting from a 16-month inquiry into America’s largest tech platforms.

These companies “wield their dominance in ways that erode entrepreneurship, degrade Americans’ privacy online, and undermine the vibrancy of the free and diverse press,” the House judiciary committee concluded in its nearly 500-page report.

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October 6th 2020, 7:01 pm

Facebook to ban QAnon-themed groups, pages and accounts in crackdown

Technology | The Guardian

Policy update comes after the company’s initial attempt failed to stem misinformation and harm from the conspiracy movement

Facebook will ban any groups, pages or Instagram accounts that “represent” QAnon, the company announced Tuesday, in a sharp escalation of its attempt to crack down on the antisemitic conspiracy movement that has thrived on its platform.

The policy will apply to groups, pages or Instagram accounts whose names or descriptions suggest that they are dedicated to the QAnon movement, a Facebook spokesperson explained. It will not apply to individual content.

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October 6th 2020, 5:47 pm

Government 'likely to miss' 2025 target for fibre broadband in every home

Technology | The Guardian

Social Market Foundation report says problems over pricing and remote areas must be addressed

The government’s ambition to “level up” the nation by providing next-generation fibre broadband to every home by 2025 is likely to be missed, unless issues including pricing and concrete plans on reaching remote towns and villages are addressed, according to a new report.

Addressing the UK’s status as a global laggard in rolling out gigabit speed broadband was a key promise of Boris Johnson’s election manifesto. The huge demand for reliable, high-speed internet connections as millions moved to home working during the coronavirus pandemic has added further impetus to hit that target. Only 14% of UK homes have access to full-fibre broadband, compared with up to 80% in many developed countries.

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October 6th 2020, 5:47 pm

Covid: how Excel may have caused loss of 16,000 test results in England

Technology | The Guardian

Public Health England data error blamed on limitations of Microsoft spreadsheet

A million-row limit on Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software may have led to Public Health England misplacing nearly 16,000 Covid test results, it is understood.

The data error, which led to 15,841 positive tests being left off the official daily figures, means than 50,000 potentially infectious people may have been missed by contact tracers and not told to self-isolate.

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October 6th 2020, 7:31 am

Apple Watch Series 6 review: faster, cheaper, still the best

Technology | The Guardian

Slick with great health and fitness tracking but sleep and blood oxygen monitor aren’t yet useful

The new top-end Apple Watch Series 6 is slightly faster, brighter and cheaper with a new sensor – and does just enough to stay the king of smartwatches.

Available in two sizes, 40 or 44mm, and in a variety of case materials and colours, it starts at £379 in aluminium. Our test watch is in 44mm graphite stainless steel costing £699. It requires an iPhone and cannot be used with Android.

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October 5th 2020, 2:20 am

Rebels within: the Facebook staff openly challenging Zuckerberg

Technology | The Guardian

A developer’s powerful resignation letter is the latest condemnation of the social network’s attitude to hate speech

At the beginning of last month, a Facebook software engineer, Ashok Chandwaney, resigned and published a blistering public letter, excoriating the company for its failure to tackle hate.

“Facebook is choosing to be on the wrong side of history,” warned Chandwaney in the letter, which was posted on the company’s internal message board. “I can no longer stomach contributing to an organisation that is profiting off hate in the US and globally.”

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October 4th 2020, 5:55 am

Twitter faces backlash over abuse policy in wake of Trump illness

Technology | The Guardian

Ava DuVernay among those accusing firm of double standards over abusive tweets

Twitter is facing a growing backlash in the wake of Donald Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis as users accuse it of double standards in the way it polices those who wish death on others.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay and former children’s laureate Malorie Blackman OBE are among thousands of Twitter users accusing the platform of failing to protect women and minority users from abuse.

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October 3rd 2020, 10:25 am

Tweets wishing for Trump's death violate Twitter policy, company says

Technology | The Guardian

Platform says abusive tweets about the president, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 this week, could result in suspension

Twitter has said that tweets wishing for Donald Trump’s death in the wake of the president’s diagnosis with Covid-19 violate its policies and could result in suspension.

As Trump made his way to Walter Reed medical center for treatment on Friday, many people on Twitter, including his opponent Joe Biden, wished him a speedy recovery. However many others did the opposite, saying they hope he dies from the virus, which has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States under his leadership while he repeatedly downplayed the severity of the disease.

Related: Trump taken to hospital by helicopter after Covid diagnosis

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October 2nd 2020, 10:18 pm

Rishi Sunak: UK needs to protect tech secrets from foreign investors

Technology | The Guardian

New state aid rules required to stop hostile countries getting access to firms, says chancellor

Britain needs new state aid rules in order to be able to protect itself against hostile states intent on stealing technological secrets and jobs, Rishi Sunak has said.

The chancellor said the UK had benefited from foreign investment but the government had to keep its eyes wide open to possible threats.

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October 2nd 2020, 1:03 pm

Almost 20,000 Amazon workers in US test positive for Covid-19

Technology | The Guardian

Tech company has faced criticism for keeping warehouses open

Amazon has revealed that almost 20,000 of its workers in the US have contracted Covid-19 after months of demands for public disclosure from activists.

The US tech company has been one of the biggest corporate winners during the pandemic, with people across the world switching to online shopping during lockdowns. However, Amazon has faced criticism from some labour campaigners who alleged that the company put employees in danger by keeping warehouses open.

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October 2nd 2020, 4:12 am

The rise of the Covid robots – in pictures

Technology | The Guardian

In an age of social distancing, machines are being used for everything from cleaning to taking temperatures

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October 2nd 2020, 2:11 am

Twitter bots have limited success spreading anti-vaccination messages

Technology | The Guardian

A study of millions of tweets finds Twitter users rarely see or retweet vaccine misinformation generated by bots

Twitter users rarely see or retweet anti-vaccination content generated by bots, a study of millions of tweets found, suggesting the role of bots in spreading vaccine misinformation is limited.

The study was led by the University of Sydney’s associate professor Adam Dunn, who said despite growing concern about the influence of bots in spreading misinformation, they appeared to be ineffective when it came to influencing discourse around vaccines.

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October 1st 2020, 4:37 pm

Google launches AI secretary that waits on hold for phone users

Technology | The Guardian

‘Hold for me’ notifies users when call is picked up, leaving them free to put phone down

Hold music could one day be a thing of the past, thanks to a service coming to Google’s smartphones.

“Hold For Me”, which launches on Thursday in the US for owners of Google’s Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a phones, involves Google’s AI tools taking over as an automatic secretary when on hold to a call centre, leaving the user free to put the phone down and carry on with their life.

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October 1st 2020, 10:20 am

Microsoft launches cheaper Surface Laptop Go

Technology | The Guardian

Lower-cost Windows 10 PC announced, plus faster chips for Surface Pro X tablet

Microsoft has launched a cheaper version of its popular notebook Windows 10 PC, the Surface Laptop Go, alongside a faster Surface Pro X tablet.

Announced via blogpost rather than a press event because of the pandemic, the Surface Laptop Go is a smaller, lighter and lower-cost version of the excellent Surface Laptop 3 and seeks to offer the same premium Windows 10 experience but starting at just over half the cost at $549 in the US.

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October 1st 2020, 9:36 am

Facebook removes Trump campaign ads with misleading claims about refugees

Technology | The Guardian

The rejected ads claimed, without evidence, that Biden’s policies would allow more refugees, which would increase Americans’ risk of Covid-19

Facebook has removed a number of ads from the Trump campaign for making misleading and inaccurate claims about Covid-19 and immigration.

On Wednesday the social media platform took down the Trump-sponsored advertisements which claimed, without evidence, that accepting refugees would increase Americans’ risk of Covid-19. The ad, which featured a video of Joe Biden talking about the border and asylum seekers, claimed, also without evidence, that the Democratic candidate’s policies would increase the number of refugees from Syria, Somalia, and Yemen by “700%”. More than 38 versions of the ad were run on Facebook and were seen by hundreds of thousands of people before the company removed them.

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September 30th 2020, 8:16 pm

Google unveils Pixel 5, Chromecast and Nest Audio smart speaker

Technology | The Guardian

New Chromecast with Google TV alongside Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G smartphones

Google has announced four new additions to its own-brand hardware line including two new Pixel smartphones, a new Chromecast and Nest Audio smart speaker.

The Pixel 5 is Google’s new top phone, which slots in above the well received but heavily delayed Pixel 4a and the new Pixel 4a 5G, which also launches today.

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September 30th 2020, 3:30 pm

Russia spreading lies about Covid vaccines, says UK military chief

Technology | The Guardian

Head of armed forces says both China and Russia trying to undermine cohesion in west

Russia is seeking to destabilise countries around the world by sowing disinformation about coronavirus vaccines that is shared rapidly across social media, the head of the armed forces has warned.

Gen Sir Nick Carter, the chief of defence staff, said the propaganda tactic reflected a strategy of “political warfare” aggressively undertaken by Beijing as well as Moscow “designed to undermine cohesion” across the west.

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September 30th 2020, 2:45 pm

Howard Davies obituary

Technology | The Guardian

My husband, Howard Davies, who has died aged 81, knew from a young age that he wanted to become a scientist and as a boy engineering was his passion. However, during his studies he became increasingly interested in computing and went on to play a key role in establishing academic computer networks in Europe.

Born in Bradford, where his parents, Eddie Davies and Margaret (nee Hunter), owned a small grocer’s shop, Howard attended Bradford grammar school and excelled in maths and science. In 1958 he was awarded a scholarship to study engineering science at Balliol College, Oxford. He achieved a first-class degree in just two years and went on to complete a doctorate in engineering and computing.

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September 30th 2020, 1:45 pm

Trade unions urge EU to investigate Amazon effort to spy on workers

Technology | The Guardian

Three UK unions among signatories to letter calling for action against tech giant

European trade union leaders, including three UK unions, have called on the European commission to open an investigation into Amazon’s “potentially illegal” effort to spy on workers for union activities.

The heads of some of Europe’s biggest unions representing more than 12 million workers wrote to the commission to demand an investigation into Amazon’s work practices across the continent. The move comes after the US tech giant advertised jobs for which part of the description was investigating the threat of organised labour against the company.

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September 30th 2020, 12:59 pm

Farmville foreclosure! Why Facebook is canning its most popular game

Technology | The Guardian

After 11 years of digital ploughing, planting and harvesting, the most famous social network game of all time is being consigned to the scrapheap

Name: FarmVille.

Appearance: Cute, colourful agricultural community filled with innocent, wide-eyed people and animals who are never slaughtered.

Is that somewhere in the midwest of the United States? If you want it to be.

How long has it been around? Eleven years.

And how is FarmVille doing? Not well. In fact, it’s about to be closed down.

That’s terrible. What’s the reason? Covid, the recession, Trump, the rise of veganism? Declining popularity and the fact that Flash games will no longer be supported on Facebook from the end of the year.

I’m not with you. I gather that. FarmVille is an award-winning game made by US-based developer Zynga; a digital simulation of a farming community, a computerised Ambridge. At one point, it was the most popular game on Facebook with more than 80 million players. But times change.

What did you have to do to play the game? Invest a lot of time; devote yourself to ploughing, planting and harvesting; earn farm coins to buy equipment and seeds. But above all badger your Facebook friends to come and help out on the farm – a quick way to grow it.

That’s annoying. Intensely. All those Facebook friends quickly got sick of requests to come and help with the lambing, milking and harvesting.

Was there no other way to grow? This being the US, raw capitalism also worked. Instead of farm coins you could use farm cash – real money – to buy stuff as a shortcut to commercial success. Clever, eh?

Who played it? That was the beauty of the game. It didn’t appeal to spotty teenagers in smelly bedrooms. They didn’t think it was much of a game at all, since no one was annihilated by androids. Even the turkeys were made ready for Thanksgiving by gently plucking their feathers rather than violence. This was a dreamworld, and it appealed to mums who could play the game at home with their children.

How sweet. Because of its unusual demographic, it became huge. Zynga partnered with big brands to promote merchandise and Lady Gaga even had her own farm, GagaVille, where players could hear an exclusive set of songs.

Sounds like fun, actually. Some games aficionados didn’t think much of it. They said that because all you needed to do was invest time in menial labouring tasks it was both tedious and, for some players, potentially addictive.

Do say: “Personally, I’m not too sorry to see it go.”

Don’t say: “You do realise you can still play later iterations of the game on your mobile?”

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September 30th 2020, 11:59 am

Facebook merges Messenger chat service with Instagram

Technology | The Guardian

Users will be able to send chats, photos and videos between the two platforms for first time

Facebook Messenger and Instagram have merged, more than 18 months after the Facebook chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, announced his intention to integrate the two platforms.

Instagram’s old direct messaging service, Instagram Direct, has been replaced by Messenger, allowed users to send chats, photos and videos between the two platforms for the first time.

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September 30th 2020, 10:54 am

Apple iPad 2020 review: all the iPad you need, none of the tablet you don’t

Technology | The Guardian

Cheapest iPad gets faster, offering most of what makes Apple’s top tablets great for half the cost

Apple’s cheapest iPad just got faster with revamped chips to keep it ahead of the competition.

The eighth-generation iPad costs from £329, slotting in under the iPad Mini, iPad Air and iPad Pro lines, yet offering much of the same experience.

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September 30th 2020, 2:11 am

Google to lease extra 70,000 sq ft in UK offices despite remote working

Technology | The Guardian

New offices will reportedly be near to the under-construction ‘landscraper’ HQ in London’s King’s Cross

Google is to lease an additional 70,000 sq ft in office buildings close to its £1bn new UK headquarters in London, despite telling all of its 4,500 UK staff that they will be working from home until at least July 2021.

The US tech giant, which is in the process of building a 330 metre-long office building nicknamed the “landscraper” next to King’s Cross railway station, is reportedly in advanced talks to lease more space in nearby offices.

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September 29th 2020, 3:18 pm

Airbnb stumps up £1.8m extra tax after investigation

Technology | The Guardian

Holiday rental giant is also cooperating with HMRC over details of hosts’ incomes

Airbnb has paid an additional £1.8m in tax following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs into its UK tax arrangements.

It also said it was cooperating with HMRC to share data on the money made by Airbnb hosts – who are believed to number around 225,000 in the UK alone – in the tax years 2017-18 and 2018-19

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September 29th 2020, 1:16 pm

Trump's bid to ban TikTok and WeChat: where are we now?

Technology | The Guardian

It’s been a confusing few weeks for the Chinese social media apps targeted by Trump – so where do things currently stand?

It’s been a dizzying few weeks for TikTok and WeChat, the Chinese social media apps caught up in a trade war between the US and China.

Related: Trump and Biden head to Ohio for first presidential TV debate – US politics live

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September 29th 2020, 9:16 am

How Taiwan's 'civic hackers' helped find a new way to run the country

Technology | The Guardian

New social media platform Polis cuts through noise and trolling to establish consensus – and create new laws

The origin of one world always begins with its feet in another. And so it was in March 2014.

It came to be known as the Sunflower movement, a sudden three-week stand-off in 2014 between the government and Taiwanese protesters occupying parliament over a trade bill purporting to bring their country closer to China.

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September 29th 2020, 3:59 am

Global Microsoft outage brings down Office 365, Outlook and Teams

Technology | The Guardian

Microsoft says a recent update has affected the processing of authentication requests, making cloud-based services inaccessible

Microsoft has said it is investigating an outage that has brought down Microsoft’s cloud-based office services including the meetings software, Teams, worldwide.

Microsoft reported issues with authentication for its cloud services at around 9.25pm UTC, meaning people were having issues logging into the online services Teams, Outlook and Office.

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September 28th 2020, 9:59 pm

Uber granted London licence as court rules it is 'no longer a risk'

Technology | The Guardian

Ride-hailing service wins appeal a year after TfL refused extension over safety concerns

Uber has been granted a fresh licence to continue operating in London, after an appeal found it was now a “fit and proper” firm to run private hire car services.

Westminster magistrates court ruled in favour of Uber almost a year after Transport for London refused the global ride-hailing firm a licence extension over safety concerns.

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September 28th 2020, 6:07 am

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ review: Android tablet to rival the iPad Pro

Technology | The Guardian

Powerful Android tablet has fantastic screen, great speakers and long battery life for work and play

The Galaxy Tab S7+ is Samsung’s unreserved attempt to beat Apple’s iPad Pro with an Android tablet designed just as much for work as it is for play.

The new tablet comes in two sizes: the 11in Tab S7 costing £619 and the 12.4in Tab S7+ costing £799, as reviewed here.

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September 28th 2020, 2:04 am

US judge temporarily blocks Trump order banning TikTok app store downloads

Technology | The Guardian

Judge grants injunction sought by video sharing app’s owner ByteDance to allow it to remain available at US app stores

A judge in Washington has temporarily blocked a Trump administration order banning Apple and Google from offering Chinese-owned app TikTok for download that was set to take effect at 11:59pm on Sunday.

US district judge Carl Nichols granted a preliminary injunction sought by TikTok’s owner ByteDance to allow the app to remain available at US app stores, but declined “at this time” to block additional commerce department restrictions that are set to take effect on 12 November that TikTok has said would have the impact of making the app impossible to use in the United States.

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September 27th 2020, 8:47 pm

We need to rethink social media before it's too late. We've accepted a Faustian bargain | Jeff Orlow

Technology | The Guardian

A business model that alters the way we think, act, and live our lives has us heading toward dystopia

When people envision technology overtaking society, many think of The Terminator and bulletproof robots. Or Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984, a symbol of external, omnipotent oppression.

But in all likelihood, dystopian technology will not strong-arm us. Instead, we’ll unwittingly submit ourselves to a devil’s bargain: freely trade our subconscious preferences for memes, our social cohesion for instant connection, and the truth for what we want to hear.

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September 27th 2020, 6:58 am

20 best apps to get you organised

Technology | The Guardian

From improving work productivity to managing shopping lists and family commitments, these apps will help you stay in control

During the Covid-19 lockdown, students and homeworkers alike have been discovering how apps from the likes of Zoom, Slack and Google have made collaboration and remote working possible.

When it comes to work and personal productivity, every little improvement can make a difference, which is why productivity is one of the busiest categories on Google and Apple’s app stores.

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September 27th 2020, 6:22 am

Shirking from home? Staff feel the heat as bosses ramp up remote surveillance

Technology | The Guardian

As management seeks more oversight of workers away from the office, campaigners fight for privacy to be respected

For many, one of the silver linings of lockdown was the shift to remote working: a chance to avoid the crushing commute, supermarket meal deals and an overbearing boss breathing down your neck.

But as the Covid crisis continues, and more and more employers postpone or cancel plans for a return to the office, some managers are deploying increasing levels of surveillance in an attempt to recreate the oversight of the office at home.

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September 27th 2020, 6:11 am

NHS Covid app in England now able to log all test results after flaw fixed

Technology | The Guardian

Issue revealed on Twitter meant results from hospitals or PHE labs could not be registered

People tested for Covid-19 in NHS hospitals and Public Health England labs were unable to share their results with the NHS’s contact-tracing app in England, it has emerged.

The Department of Health and Social Care said on Saturday evening that the issue, which was was revealed on Friday by the app’s official Twitter account as it responded to a complaint from someone unable to log their result, has now been fixed.

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September 27th 2020, 6:11 am

TikTok: US judge set to rule on ban preventing new downloads of app

Technology | The Guardian

The Chinese-owned app is seeking an injunction against Trump administration order that would ban downloads from 11.59pm on Sunday

A US judge is expected to rule on Sunday whether to allow a Trump administration ban on downloads of the popular video-sharing app TikTok, which is seeking an injunction to prevent what it said could be a devastating blow.

The US district court judge Carl Nichols has promised to consider TikTok’s request to block the president’s order before it takes effect at 11:59 pm on Sunday.

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September 27th 2020, 12:55 am

Can democracies stand up to Facebook? Ireland may have the answer | John Naughton

Technology | The Guardian

Governments struggle to tackle the might of the tech giants when it comes to protecting users’ data

Last month, the Irish data protection commissioner (DPC) sent Facebook a preliminary order ordering it to stop sending the data of its European users to the US. This was a big deal, because in order to comply with the ruling, Facebook would have to embark on a comprehensive re-engineering of its European operations, or to shut down those operations entirely, at least for a time.

Such a shutdown would of course be traumatic for the poor souls who are addicted to Facebook and Instagram, but it would be even worse for the company – for two reasons. The first is that it makes more money from European users’ data – an average of $13.21 (£10.19) per user in 2019 – than from any other territory except the US (where it earns $41.41 per user); the second is that failure to comply could land it with a fine of up to 4% of its global revenue, which in Facebook’s case would come to about $3bn. Given the scale of its revenues, that’s not a showstopper, but it would nevertheless be annoying.

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September 26th 2020, 11:18 am

Ring the changes: the best mid-price smartphones

Technology | The Guardian

Lower cost doesn’t have to mean lower quality: these mobiles can give high-end models a run for their money

It used to be the case that you had to spend at least £700 to get a really good phone. But in 2020, that’s no longer true. With fantastic smartphones costing as little as half as much as an iPhone 11, here’s a quick guide to the best mid-priced phones.

Many of these smartphones will also be available on mobile phone contracts with no, or little, upfront cost. Just be sure to compare the total monthly fees over the 18- or 24-month contract against the cost of buying the phone outright, and using a cheaper sim-only or pay-as-you-go plan, to make sure you are getting a good deal.

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September 26th 2020, 7:14 am

Britain has offensive cyberwar capability, top general admits

Technology | The Guardian

Gen Sir Patrick Sanders says Boris Johnson has told him to ensure UK is major cyber power

Britain’s most senior cyber general has said the UK possesses the capacity to “degrade, disrupt and destroy” its enemies’ critical infrastructure in a future cyber conflict, in a rare acknowledgement of the military’s offensive hacking capability.

Gen Sir Patrick Sanders, who heads the UK’s strategic command, said that he been told by Boris Johnson to ensure Britain is a “leading, full-spectrum cyber power” able both to defend against – and carry out – hacking attacks.

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September 25th 2020, 1:55 pm

Palantir expected to be valued as much as $22bn in market debut next week

Technology | The Guardian

Company’s shares could start trading at $10 each when it goes public, bankers say

Controversial data-mining-software company Palantir Technologies could be valued at as much as $22bn when it goes public next week.

Bankers told the Wall Street Journal that the company’s shares could start trading at $10 each when it begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, giving the company a value of $22bn.

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September 25th 2020, 1:09 pm

European commission to appeal against €13bn Apple tax ruling

Technology | The Guardian

Brussels seeks to overturn decision over alleged unpaid taxes to Irish government

The European commission is appealing against a court ruling that said Apple did not have to pay €13bn (£11.9bn) in alleged back taxes to the Irish government, reopening a landmark battle in the EU’s campaign to stop sweetheart deals for multinationals.

The bloc’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, said on Friday she would appeal to the EU court of justice to try to oblige Ireland to collect the alleged unpaid taxes and interest from the tech giant.

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September 25th 2020, 9:54 am

The meme-fication of US politics: two films reveal the faces behind the posts

Technology | The Guardian

Feels Good Man and TFW No GF trace the impact of Pepe the Frog, lonely men, and the far right

On 13 October 2015, Donald Trump, who had recently announced his run for president, tweeted an image of himself standing at the presidential lectern, his face transmogrified into a green, smug-looking frog, known to certain corners of the internet as Pepe. With hindsight, this strange moment offers a stake in the ground, marking out the point when the meme was invited into mainstream political culture.

This collapse of the virtual and the real seems to have only accelerated since then. Online phenomena are no longer cordoned off in their virtual barriers but regularly pass through the screen to play mischief in the so-called “real world”. Two recent documentaries attempt to explain how this all happened, from two very different perspectives.

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September 25th 2020, 6:25 am

Amazon launches spherical Echo and flying camera drone

Technology | The Guardian

Firm shows new motorised display, car alarm, Luna game-streaming service and more

Amazon has announced a full range of new spherical Echo devices, new motorised smart display, a camera drone that flies around your house, a game-streaming service and more.

In a streaming presentation, the firm showed off a smorgasbord of new devices from its various brands, including Ring, Eero Fire and Echo.

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September 24th 2020, 4:19 pm

Users report issues as Covid-19 app launches in England and Wales

Technology | The Guardian

Problems on Android and iPhone leave some unable to use the software at all

The launch of the NHS Covid-19 app in England and Wales has exposed problems with the programme, some of which were known about in advance, and some of which will come as a surprise to both the government and users.

Although there were hundreds of thousands of downloads of the app in the first few hours on iPhones from the App Store and Android from the Google Play Store, simply accessing it caused a problem for many.

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September 24th 2020, 12:02 pm

Facebook's long-awaited oversight board to launch before US election

Technology | The Guardian

Body will be able to overrule some content moderation decisions and plans to be ready to hear user appeals next month

The long-awaited Facebook Oversight Board, empowered to overrule some of the platform’s content moderation decisions, plans to launch in October, just in time for the US election.

The board will be ready to hear appeals from Facebook users as well as cases referred by the company itself “as soon as mid- or late-October at the very latest, unless there are some major technical issues that come up”, said Julie Owono, one of the 20 initial members of the committee who were named in May, in an interview on Wednesday.

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September 24th 2020, 9:44 am

How to download the NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app

Technology | The Guardian

Contract-tracing app for England and Wales for Android and iPhone is now available, here’s how to get it

Now that the UK government has released the NHS’s Covid-19 contact-tracing app for England and Wales, here’s what you need and how to download it.

To use the new NHS Covid-19 app you need an Apple iPhone 6S or newer, or an Android phone running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or newer with Google Play.

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September 24th 2020, 6:13 am

The disruption con: why big tech’s favourite buzzword is nonsense

Technology | The Guardian

How one magic word became a way of justifying Silicon Valley’s unconstrained power

There are certain phrases that are central to the sway the tech industry holds over our collective imagination: they do not simply reflect our experience, they frame how we experience it in the first place. They sweep aside certain parts of the status quo, and leave other parts mysteriously untouched. They implicitly cast you as a stick-in-the-mud if you ask how much revolution someone is capable of when that person represents billions in venture capital investment. Among the most influential of these phrases is undoubtedly “disruption”.

The concept of disruption is a way for companies, the press or simply individuals to think about questions of continuity and discontinuity – what lasts and what doesn’t, what is genuinely new and what is just the next version of something older. There is a lot at stake in how we think about these issues. Are the changes the tech industry brings about, or claims to bring about, fundamental transformations of how capitalism functions, or are they an extension of how it has always functioned? The answers to such questions will determine what regulatory oversight we believe is necessary or desirable, what role we think the government or unions should play in a new industry such as tech, and even how the industry and its titans ought to be discussed.

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September 24th 2020, 4:26 am

Take-up of NHS contact-tracing app could be only 10%

Technology | The Guardian

Pilot studies show low download rate as app launches in England and Wales

Take-up of the NHS Covid contact-tracing app being launched in England and Wales on Thursday – and once touted as key to controlling the pandemic – could be as low as 10% in some places, government sources believe.

International examples show take-up rates of similar apps at between 10% and 30%, a far cry from the NHS app target in April of 80% of smartphone users. Oxford University’s Big Data unit, which advised the government on its development, said that would be the equivalent of 56% of the population.

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September 24th 2020, 4:26 am

Arrival of NHS contact-tracing app heralds return of QR codes

Technology | The Guardian

Simplicity and lack of need for physical contact make scanning QR codes the perfect solution for the app

As people across England and Wales download the long-awaited NHS contact-tracing app on Thursday, they’ll also contribute to one of the most unlikely revivals of the Covid era: the humble QR code.

The app, which has been substantially rebuilt from the version first tested in the Isle of Wight in May, has had two significant changes. The first is a new underpinning, based on a framework created by Apple and Google, which allows it to work in a “decentralised” manner, sharing little data with the NHS about individuals’ movements.

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September 24th 2020, 2:10 am

Tesla sues Trump administration over 'unlawful' tariffs on Chinese parts

Technology | The Guardian

Elon Musk’s electric car manufacturer says the levies imposed last year on crucial components were ‘arbitrary’

Tesla has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, aiming to end what it calls “unlawful” tariffs imposed on certain parts imported from China.

The lawsuit, filed in New York, says the 25% tariffs imposed by the US trade representative on a list of products including spare parts such as terminals the electric car manufacturer uses in its vehicles are “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion”.

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September 23rd 2020, 8:23 pm

TikTok hits back at 'misinformation' about its ties to China in submission to Senate inquiry

Technology | The Guardian

The social media platform says it has ‘strict controls’ around its data security and has never censored Australian content at China’s request

Video messaging app TikTok has hit back at what it says is “misinformation” about its connection to China, characterising itself as a global platform with “strict controls around security and data access”.

The hugely popular platform has used a submission to the Senate inquiry into foreign interference through social media to note “and welcome” Scott Morrison’s recent commentary after a “reported investigation by security agencies”.

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September 23rd 2020, 1:51 pm

Nina Wedderburn obituary

Technology | The Guardian

My mother, Nina Wedderburn, who has died at 91, was an authority on how viruses affect the immune system. At the Royal College of Surgeons, where she became dean of the Hunterian Institute, 1990-93, she led a successful research group investigating the effects of malaria and viruses on the immune system.

Her early work was on how malaria alters the immune system’s ability to control cancer. She then developed a model to understand how viruses can suppress immunity and in particular the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), linked to a childhood cancer common in Africa. Many of her PhD students and fellows went on to establish successful careers all over the world, and remained lifelong friends.

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September 23rd 2020, 12:51 pm

Facebook removes fake accounts with links to China and Philippines

Technology | The Guardian

Facebook says accounts were interfering in politics of US and Philippines

Facebook says it has removed hundreds of coordinated fake accounts with links to individuals in China and in the Filipino military that were interfering in the politics of the Philippines and the US.

The company said all the accounts – in two distinct networks based in China and the Philippines – were removed for violating its policy against foreign or government interference, which it defines as “coordinated inauthentic behaviour on behalf of a foreign or government entity”.

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September 23rd 2020, 8:01 am
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