The legislation comes as a federal panel is investigating the market power of Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google
New York state is introducing a bill that would make it easier to sue big tech companies for alleged abuses of their monopoly powers.
New York is America’s financial center and one of its most important tech hubs. If successfully passed, the law could serve as a model for future legislation across the country. It also comes as a federal committee is conducting an anti-trust investigation into tech giants amid concerns that their unmatched market power is suppressing competition.
Opposition MPs and former civilian servants demand to know exactly how UK-US trade dossier appeared online
Liam Fox is facing questions from opposition politicians, former civil servants and campaigners about how Russian hackers were apparently able to obtain government documents marked “official sensitive [UK eyes only]” from his personal email last year.
The former minister’s account is believed to have been accessed repeatedly between July and October, and 451 pages of emails and policy documents were subsequently posted on Reddit, prompting questions as to whether the dossier had come directly from Fox’s personal email.
Users will be able to check the truthfulness of messages that have come through five or more people by clicking on a magnifying glass icon
WhatsApp has introduced a feature to allow users to check the contents of viral messages in the latest move to root out disinformation and fake news being spread on the Facebook-owned messaging service.
The new feature, which is being piloted in six countries including the UK from today, allows users to perform a Google search on content they have been forwarded to factcheck claims and information.
It was all there on Saturday and gone by Monday without any warning
In late April my @virgin.net email account, which has been my main one for 20-plus years, disappeared. I used it on a Saturday but on Monday I could no longer log in and have been unable to do so ever since. Imagine all the links and contacts I have lost.
Despite spending, in total, a whole day on the phone to Virgin Media, and talking to a large number of people, no one has been able to resolve the matter. Can it really be that in 2020, an email account can just be “disappeared” by a provider without warning?
Donald Trump says the Treasury should receive a share of proceeds from the proposed sale of Chinese-owned video app TikTok. The president's plans come after he reversed his call to ban the popular app in the US due to privacy concerns. Speaking from the White House, Trump said the US would make any sale of the app possible – and should be in line for a share of the proceeds. 'It would come from the sale,' he said. 'Which no one else would be thinking about but me'
Guardian understands MP used insecure account for classified government business
A personal email account belonging to Liam Fox, the former trade minister, was repeatedly hacked into by Russians who stole classified documents relating to US-UK trade talks, the Guardian understands.
The security breaches last year, which are subject to an ongoing police investigation, pose serious questions for the Conservative MP who is currently the UK’s nominee to become director general of the World Trade Organization.
Video app’s owner ByteDance already has 800 of its European workforce in UK and Ireland
The Chinese firm behind the TikTok video app is weighing up plans to open a headquarters in London, with Boris Johnson reportedly prepared to risk Donald Trump’s anger by rolling out the red carpet for the company.
The US president has been openly hostile to TikTok, amid widespread concern in the country about Chinese companies’ ties to the Communist party and the risk posed to customers’ personal information.
Over the past two decades GRU spies have stolen classified information from numerous targets around the world. According to Reuters, last summer they broke into Fox’s email account. They made off with secret US-UK trade documents later dumped out before the 2019 election.
Action needs long-term commitments to be is more than ‘PR stunt’, employees say
Current and former Facebook moderators have called for the unprecedented advertiser boycott of the site to be extended to prove that the action is more than a “PR stunt”.
Speaking to the Guardian, one current moderator who asked to remain anonymous amid fears for their job, said that without long-term commitments, this was “PR stunt that will pass when they get enough of the reports that they want”.
Bishop from Togo among 1,400 individuals alerted by WhatsApp to malware attack
A prominent Catholic bishop and a priest in Togo have been told they were targeted by spyware made by the private surveillance firm NSO Group, in the first known case of its kind involving members of the clergy.
A joint investigation by the Guardian and the French newspaper Le Monde can reveal that Bishop Benoît Alowonou and five other critics of Togo’s repressive government were alerted by WhatsApp last year that their mobile phones had been targeted with the spying technology.
Chinese software companies are feeding data directly to Communist party, says secretary of state, as Microsoft confirms acquisition plans
Donald Trump will take action in coming days to tackle an array of national security risks presented by TikTok and other Chinese software companies, Mike Pompeo has said, as Microsoft revealed it was pursuing a deal after speaking to the US president.
Microsoft said late on Sunday that, after a conversation between Trump and its CEO, Satya Nadella, it would move quickly on acquisition talks with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, completing talks no later than 15 September. It pledged to ensure that all private data of American users is transferred to, and remains in, the US.
Congress grilled Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon last week, and their pitiful replies show Democrats may be set to curtail them at last
The most striking thing about Wednesday’s congressional interrogation of the leaders of Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon was the absence of deference to the four moguls. This was such a radical departure from previous practice – characterised by ignorance, grandstanding and fawning on these exemplars of the American Way – that it was initially breathtaking. “Our founders would not bow before a king,” said the House antitrust subcommittee chairman, David Cicilline, in his opening remarks. “Nor should we bow before the emperors of the online economy.”
If we wanted a radical departure from the legislative slumber of previous decades, this looked like it. And indeed, to a large extent, it was. One saw it, for example, in the aggressiveness of the questioning by the Democrats. At times, one was reminded of the proceedings of the US supreme court, where the justices constantly interrupt the lawyers before them to cut off any attempt at lawyerly exposition. The implicit message is: “We’ve done our homework. Now get to the point – if you have one.” It was like that on Wednesday.
The tech giants’ latest machine-learning system comes with both ethical and environmental costs
Unless you’ve been holidaying on Mars, or perhaps in Spain (alongside the transport secretary), you may have noticed some fuss on social media about something called GPT-3. The GPT bit stands for the “generative pre-training” of a language model that acquires knowledge of the world by “reading” enormous quantities of written text. The “3” indicates that this is the third generation of the system.
GPT-3 is a product of OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research lab based in San Francisco. In essence, it’s a machine-learning system that has been fed (trained on) 45 terabytes of text data. Given that a terabyte (TB) is a trillion bytes, that’s quite a lot. Having digested all that stuff, the system can then generate all sorts of written content – stories, code, legal jargon, poems – if you prime it with a few words or sentences.
Proposed deal would see Microsoft take over TikTok in US, insiders say, after president said he would ban video app
China’s ByteDance has agreed to divest the US operations of TikTok completely in a bid to save a deal with the White House, after Donald Trump said on Friday he had decided to ban the popular short-video app, two people familiar with the matter said on Saturday.
ByteDance was previously seeking to keep a minority stake in the US business of TikTok, which the White House had rejected. Under the new proposed deal, ByteDance would exit completely and Microsoft would take over TikTok in the United States, the sources said. Some ByteDance investors that are based in the United States may be given the opportunity to take minority stakes in the business, the sources added.
Whether you want good sound, the cheapest or an alarm clock replacement, here are the options
After almost six years on the market, smart speakers now come in a variety of sizes, shapes, capabilities and prices.
Whether you want a cheap speaker to keep the kids entertained, one that doubles as a digital photo frame or one that sounds so good you’ll want to yell “turn it up to 11”, here’s a quick guide to the best on the market.
Ten years ago, Silicon Valley had written off Zoom. Now it’s used by everyone from princes to piano teachers
On 6 January, a day after the World Heath Organization first reported a strange cluster of pneumonia-like cases in Wuhan, China, a party invitation dropped online. “Mark your calendars”, read the invite sent out by Zoom, a video-conferencing company based in California, “for Zoomtopia 2020!” Innocently enough, Zoom was announcing a real-world get-together for its most ardent clients and fans – at the time, these were mostly customers in enterprise and education, who chose to use Zoom over any number of video-chat competitors because of its easy interface and the relative smoothness of its connections.
But while it was well regarded in tech and business circles (and floated on the US stock exchange in 2019), Zoom was a marginal force in the world in January. This wasn’t Apple. This wasn’t Uber. Guests on their way to Zoomtopia would have to explain to cab drivers and hotel concierges what Zoom was. Then that strange cluster of Wuhan cases began its unstoppable global spread, and by the end of March about half the planet’s governments had locked their citizens indoors, leaving them to figure out how to work and socialise from home. Suddenly, we were all in Zoomtopia.
Three men charged in hack that saw accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Elon Musk compromised in bitcoin scam
Authorities have charged three men in a major Twitter breach this month that hacked the accounts of prominent politicians, celebrities and technology moguls to scam people around the globe out of more than $100,000 in bitcoin.
The suspects include a 19-year-old British man from Bognor Regis, a 22-year old man from Orlando, Florida, and a teenager from Tampa, Florida.
‘Ghostwriter’ campaign said to involve compromising news sites in Poland and Lithuania
Hackers “aligned with Russian security interests” have been engaged in a sustained campaign to compromise news websites in Poland and Lithuania to plant false stories aimed at discrediting Nato, according to a new report.
Part of the campaign – labelled “Ghostwriter” – involved gaining access to news sites publishing systems, deleting stories and replacing them with false news that sought to delegitimise the transatlantic alliance.
Top US tech bosses are told they are censoring political speech, spreading fake news and ‘killing’ the engines of the US economy in a combative and historic congressional hearing.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, appeared before members of the house judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee and faced intense questioning on everything from market dominance and data surveillance to military contracts and political censorship.
A Silicon Valley startup could offer a template for universities shifting their courses online due to coronavirus
No one could accuse CEO and businessman Ben Nelson of lacking ambition. “I wanted to create a university that serves as a model for other institutions, by being indisputably the best university in the world,” he says, bouncing up and down on a video call from his San Francisco office. “Unless you demonstrate that you are the absolute best, that you can provide an education that Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford cannot come close to, no one will listen. And we are doing exactly that.”
Analysis: heated exchanges raise concern over anticompetitive behavior as chair warns of companies’ ‘monopoly power’
After hours of grilling top tech executives in a historic antitrust hearing on Wednesday, US lawmakers suggested unprecedented antitrust enforcement might be on the horizon.
In his closing remarks, Representative David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, said evidence put forward in the investigations and testimony showed just how entrenched the tech companies were in the US economy and day-to-day life.
The US’s top tech bosses were told they have “too much power”, are censoring political speech, spreading fake news and “killing” the engines of the American economy, at a combative Congressional hearing on Wednesday.
The historic hearing in Washington saw Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google’s parent Alphabet appear before members of the House judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee, which has been investigating the companies’ dominance of the online world for over a year.
Part-time chief Jack Dorsey’s company is mired in high-profile hacks and concerns over leadership
A month of crisis at Twitter has reignited concerns that the company’s part-time chief executive and years of accumulated “technical debt” have left it dangerously vulnerable to malicious attackers and lacking the leadership required to take rapid action or controversial decisions.
In mid-July, Twitter suffered an unprecedented security breach, as hackers seized control of the accounts of major public figures and corporations, including Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.
Millions of homes and businesses located in rural areas, from the Scottish Highlands to the Welsh valleys, have suffered from poor internet service because providers have been reluctant to build faster networks due to prohibitive costs and low economic returns. Telecoms regulator Ofcom estimates that there are about 9.6 million homes and businesses situated in this so-called “final third” of the country.
Amid the anger over Wiley’s bigoted tirade, let’s not forget the newspapers that have been peddling prejudice for years
Twitter is simultaneously many things: a means of elevating otherwise ignored voices, a platform for facilitating debate, a portal to access a bewildering array of information – and a cesspit of hatred.
This weekend, the grime artist Wiley – with his half a million followers – unleashed a tirade of undiluted antisemitism on to the site over the course of two days, leading some to observe a 48-hour boycott of the social media platform to protest Twitter’s slowness to act. But it has not proved uncontroversial; some users have noted that the website has long hosted unapologetic neo-Nazis such as US white supremacist Richard Spencer, so why wait for a black celebrity to make antisemitic comments to take such action? It took Twitter years to remove inflammatory far-right personalities, such as Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins. With a range of Jewish organisations urging a boycott and antisemitic hate crimes at a record high, I’m among those who heeded the call, while respecting the views of others who believe this is not an effective means to challenge racism.
Chief executives of Amazon, Google and Apple will also testify as part of a high-powered investigation of the tech industry
“Companies aren’t bad just because they are big,” Facebook executive Mark Zuckerberg is set to tell Congress on Wednesday, as the world’s most powerful technology companies face a historic investigation into their size and power.
Zuckerberg plans to argue to Congress that Facebook became successful “the American way, by starting out with nothing and providing products that people find valuable”, according to a written testimony that was made public on Tuesday.
Growing number of companies withdraw advertising over social network’s failure to deal with hate and misinformation
An unprecedented boycott of Facebook is moving across the Atlantic, as the coalition of activist groups behind the Stop Hate for Profit campaign have called on companies in the UK and Europe to join in the action.
The campaign has already gained the support of more than a thousand brands in the US, including Coca-Cola, Unilever and Ford, some of which have extended their boycotts globally. Now, the coalition, coordinated in Europe by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, is calling on British and European companies to join in the movement.
Extraordinary hearing will see some of the richest men in history called to account for their firms’ market dominance
Some of the richest men in history representing the most valuable companies ever created will be grilled by Congress on Wednesday , as US authorities get increasingly serious about whether tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet have become too powerful.
Attack on Roger Torrent seen as possible act of domestic espionage
WhatsApp has confirmed that the mobile phone of a leading pro-independence politician in Catalonia was targeted over its messaging app in a 2019 attack that has been condemned as a possible case of domestic espionage in Europe.
In a letter to Roger Torrent, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, and obtained by the Guardian and El Pais, the company confirmed that his personal WhatsApp account was “targeted in an attempt to gain unauthorised access to data and communications on the device”.
Improved specs and faster release mechanism update still-novel laptop with detachable screen
Microsoft’s unique power-laptop with detachable tablet screen is back for its third iteration, and other than new chips nothing has changed.
Costing from £1,599, this isn’t your average laptop or tablet. The Surface Book 3 is Microsoft’s workhorse for those who need oodles of power, available in a 13.5in version (as reviewed here) and a larger 15in version.
Filings allege employees had to share equipment and were not allowed extra time to account for social distancing
Amazon is under investigation in California for failing to protect its warehouse employees from the new coronavirus.
California attorney general Xavier Becerra, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and the San Francisco Department of Public Health “have all opened investigations into Amazon’s practices” around the pandemic, San Francisco superior court judge Ethan Schulman wrote in a court filing on Monday.
Young people are getting information about protests, police actions and stay-at-home orders from their social media feeds – but the trend isn’t harmless
For many young people, clicking on to Instagram to get the latest news is now as second nature as picking up a daily newspaper once was to generations before. For a site that has traditionally been a platform for sharing lifestyle content rather than hard news, this is a shift in millennials and Gen Z, at a time when news updates seem more important than ever.
Recently published data exploring how people accessed news and information about the coronavirus pandemic found, in the US, for 18- to 24-year-olds (the age group most likely to use social media as a source), over a quarter of respondents used Instagram to access news content within the last week, while 19% used Snapchat and 6% turned to TikTok. In comparison, only 17% used newspapers to access information. Globally, figures reached even higher levels – in Germany, 38% of 18- to 24-year-olds used Instagram alone to access the news, and in Argentina, this reached as high as 49%.
Our leading technology writers discuss Facebook, the inexorable rise of misinformation, the success of Black Lives Matter … and the simple joys of a bird feeder
Julia Carrie Wong, senior technology reporter, Guardian US: Good morning from Oakland. To kick us off, I’d love to hear how tech reporting has changed for you since the lockdowns began?
Alex Hern, UK technology editor: Well, on the positive side, it’s got a lot more efficient. Stripped of the ability to invite me halfway across the city for a “friendly chat”, the largest companies in the world are now easier to get hold of on the phone, which saves everyone some time and me the cost of a tube fare.
Does Facebook have too much power? The scale of internet platforms such as Google and Facebook is unprecedented in the tech world and, I would argue, unprecedented since the Dutch East India Company. They are ubiquitous in almost every country that has an economy. And when you are ubiquitous, the political imperative is to align with power.
Way back in June, I wrote a column under the headline: “One man stands between Joe Biden and the US presidency – Mark Zuckerberg”. Trump, flailing against the pandemic at the time, was trailing Biden in the polls, just as at the same point in 2016 he had been trailing Hillary Clinton. And yet we know what happened that November: Trump’s team made inspired use of Facebook’s targeting engine to suppress Democratic turnout in key states – and it worked. What is perhaps less well known is that Facebook offered to “embed” employees for free in the campaign offices of both candidates to help them use the platform effectively. Clinton’s campaign refused the offer. Trump’s crowd accepted, and Facebook employees helped his campaign craft the messages that may have clinched the election.
So here we are in 2020, 100 days from the presidential election. Trump is still trailing Biden. But his base support has remained solid. So the point I made in June still stands: if he is to win a second term, Facebook will be his only hope – which is why his campaign is betting the ranch on it. And if Facebook were suddenly to decide that it would not allow its platform to be used by either campaign in the period from now until 3 November, Trump would be a one-term president, free to spend even more time with his golf buggy – and perhaps his lawyers.
In 2016, we didn’t know. We were innocent. We still believed social media connected us and that connections were good. That technology equalled progress. And progress equalled better.
Four years on, we know too much. And yet, it turns out, we understand nothing. We know social media is a bin fire and that the world is burning. But it’s like the pandemic. We understand in outline how bad things could get. But we remain hopelessly human. Relentlessly optimistic. Of course, we believe there’ll be a vaccine. Because there has to be, doesn’t there?
Our writer dons a headset and turns boxer, air guitarist and saber wielder in a bid to shake off his lockdown lassitude
Like many people, by May I was having a difficult time in lockdown: struggling with homeschooling; stressing about work; tired out by Zoom calls; comfort eating; drinking too much; and feeling nervous about venturing out for short walks, let alone exercise.
And then I strapped a computer to my face and gave thin air a damn good pummelling and everything improved a little. Virtual reality’s role in helping me to clamber out of the lockdown blues has changed the way I think about the technology and its potential to play a meaningful role in day-to-day life.
The ex-CIA officer on why she lasted only six months at the tech giant and her fears about its role in the forthcoming US election
Yaël Eisenstat was a CIA officer for 13 years and a national security adviser to vice president Joe Biden. Between June and November 2018, she was Facebook’s global head of elections integrity operations, business integrity.
Before you were hired by Facebook to investigate the company’s effect on the electoral process, what was your opinion of it? Early on, I was a big fan of Facebook. I had lived and worked all over the world, so I used it to stay connected to friends. But, in 2015, I started becoming incredibly concerned that it was becoming a real threat to democracy because of the role it was playing in the breakdown of civil discourse.
I’ve just been looking at the coronavirus death toll in various countries as tallied on the Johns Hopkins University Covid-19 tracker. At the time I checked, the UK had 45,407 deaths, Poland had 1,642, Ireland had 1,753, New Zealand had 1,555 and Greece had – wait for it – 197.
“Ah, yes,” you say, “but of course the UK has a much bigger population than most of those countries – 67.9 million compared to (respectively) 37.8 million, 4.9 million, 4.8 million and 10.4 million.” So, as a simple mathematical exercise over breakfast, why not work out the number of deaths per 100,000 for each country? And then try not to choke on your muesli, for these numbers tell an unambiguous story. It is that by the standards of a number of other comparable democratic states, the UK government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has been an unmitigated fiasco, second only, among developed countries, to the unfolding catastrophe in the United States.
Terror capitalism uses tools such as facial recognition to extract profits from marginalized people. Big tech and governments are collaborating
When Gulzira Aeulkhan finally fled China for Kazakhstan early last year, she still suffered debilitating headaches and nausea. She didn’t know if this was a result of the guards at an internment camp hitting her in the head with an electric baton for spending more than two minutes on the toilet, or from the enforced starvation diet.
Maybe it was simply the horror she had witnessed – the sounds of women screaming when they were beaten, their silence when they returned to the cell.
Garmin servers are offline but you can still share your runs, rides, swims and walks with Strava. Here’s how
Garmin Connect and Express have been taken offline by a reported ransomware attack, leaving runners, cyclists, walkers and others unable to sync their activities to Strava. But don’t worry – there is a manual way to upload your activities to Strava while Garmin is down. Here’s how:
Hack affected more than 100 accounts, including those of Elon Musk and Kanye West, and was primarily used to promote a bitcoin scam
The perpetrators of an unprecedented Twitter hack accessed the direct messages of up to 36 affected accounts, including an unnamed Dutch politician, the company has confirmed.
Although the internal investigation into last week’s hack, which affected more than 100 accounts and was primarily used to promote a bitcoin-based scam that raised less than $200,000 (£157,000), is ongoing, Twitter said on Thursday that the impact was greater than was publicly visible.
Expectations had been high following Tesla’s report that it had delivered slightly more than 90,000 vehicles in the second quarter
Tesla reported a profit for the fourth straight quarter on Wednesday, surpassing a key milestone for the perennially loss-making electric car company.
The company reported net income of $110m for the second quarter with a net profit of $104m, which it attributed to “fundamental operational improvement”. Revenue was down 4.9% from a year ago to $6.04bn for the quarter, but still beat estimates of $5.15bn.
Instead of worrying about looking good on Zoom (Bidisha, 20 July), try giving people something else worth looking at. If you are able to sit in front of a window looking out on to a tree, this has the edge on shelves full of books. And during the conversation, you too can watch the branches swaying in the breeze. A restful image need not reduce the quality of decision-making. Geoff Reid Bradford
• Re Saturday’s Money article on bank transfer scams, whenever I transfer large sums, I first transfer £1, then check with the recipient by phone if it has been received. Only then do I transfer the whole amount. Martin Burstyn London
‘Equity and inclusion’ teams to be assess Facebook and Instagram algorithms for bias
Facebook is launching an investigation into whether its algorithms discriminate against minority ethnic groups, after internal protests forced the company to reassess the possibility that its machine learning systems could have picked up on real-world bias.
The company’s new “equity and inclusion” teams will be tasked with assessing the algorithms that govern Instagram and Facebook and making sure that they are not biased against black, Hispanic and other minority ethnic users. The focus, Facebook said, would be “ensuring fairness and equitable product development are present in everything we do”.
An ongoing 2017 case found that discriminatory practices may be pushing women into lower-paying career tracks
Women at Google lose out on thousands of dollars each year compared to men as a result of discriminatory practices including pushing female employees into lower-paying career tracks, a lawsuit has alleged.
The findings stem from an ongoing lawsuit brought against Google in 2017, which accused the tech company of gender pay discrimination between female employees – from coders to teachers in its in-house childcare department – and their male counterparts. More details about the extent of the pay disparity emerged in a memorandum filed in court on Tuesday to classify that lawsuit as class action, which, if approved, would mean it applies to 10,800 women who have been employed by Google at any time since September 2013.
The company’s restrictions, which will affect about 150,000 accounts, will include blocking URLs and not recommending content
Twitter announced a broad crackdown on accounts and content related to the QAnon conspiracy theory on Tuesday, citing its policies against “behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm”.
The company said it would block URLs associated with QAnon from being shared on the platform, and would no longer recommend content and accounts associated with QAnon or highlight them in search and conversations. These restrictions will affect approximately 150,000 accounts, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed. NBC News first reported the crackdown.
As Amazon thrives under Covid-19, critics say its founder’s wealth – he could buy the UK’s four big banks – is ‘obscene’
He was already by far the world’s richest person, but Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has set a fresh record increasing his fortune by an additional $13bn (£10bn) in a single day to take his personal wealth to an unprecedented $189bn.
The huge increase in Bezos’s wealth on Monday alone is equivalent of adding nearly 30 times times the Queen’s £350m fortune . His total wealth now makes him worth more than Britain’s biggest company, the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca which is valued on the stock exchange at £121bn.
Tech giant says its commitment covers entire supply chain of all its products
Apple has pledged to become a carbon neutral operation by 2030, with a commitment that covers its entire supply chain and the life cycle of all its products, including the electricity consumed in their use.
The company is aiming to achieve the goal through a number of means, including:
Intelligence and security committee finds Kremlin’s reach in UK politics - especially in ‘Londongrad’ - is ‘new normal’
It has been beset by a nine-month delay, with heightened speculation about its contents amid Downing Street’s attempts to downplay its significance. But now the Russia report by parliament’s intelligence and security committee, which shines a light on the Kremlin’s reach in UK politics, has finally been published. So just what does it say? Here are some of the key points:
Trump isn’t the only one to fire off shots at other world leaders; Twitter can amplify misunderstandings and spread disinformation
Just because Twitter is predominantly filled with quips and kvetching doesn’t mean what’s said on the platform can’t have far-reaching consequences, according to a new study from the Centre for Science and Security Studies at King’s College London on how government officials and agencies use Twitter during global crises.
In Escalation by Tweet: Managing the New Nuclear Diplomacy, authors Dr Heather Williams and Dr Alexi Drew report that while “tweets from government officials may help shape the American public narrative and provide greater insights into US decision-making”, they can also create confusion, upend diplomatic communications and escalate global tensions.
Firm could have to pay out millions if it loses case, with implications across entire gig economy
A five-year battle over the status and rights of Uber drivers reaches the supreme court in a case that lawyers believe has the potential to transform the gig economy in Britain.
Uber wants seven of the UK’s most senior judges to overturn a 2018 appeal court ruling that drivers for the ride-hailing giant are workers and entitled to workers’ rights including the national minimum wage and paid holiday.
Prime minister’s comments about previous attack ‘incredibly useful’, but messaging needs to be consistent, advisory panel says
Countries which launch cyberattacks against Australia should be named and face serious consequences, an industry panel advising the federal government on cybersecurity has said.
The advisory panel’s report, released on Tuesday, comes ahead of the government’s widely-anticipated 2020 cybersecurity strategy, which is due to be made public in the coming months. The previous strategy expired in April.
21 July 1937 The Italian physicist and inventor of a successful wireless telegraph dies in Rome at the age of 63
Guglielmo Marconi (whose death is reported on another page) may be said with truth to have been not only the originator of radio-telegraphy but the most successful worker in its development. He was born at Bologna in 1874, his father being an Italian and his mother an Irish-woman; he was educated at Leghorn Technical School and at the University of Bologna. At an early age he showed inventive powers, and whilst still a boy he had acquired much knowledge of the results of researches on electro-magnetic waves by Hertz and others and had formed the idea of using them to communicate over a distance. On his father’s estate at the Villa Griffone, near Bologna, he began experimenting in June, 1894, with an ordinary spark induction coil and home-made coherers and other appliances.
Video-sharing app continues to generate unease about its potential for harvesting user data
At first glance, TikTok is an unusual geopolitical flashpoint. The app, which offers creators a set of tools which make producing video fun and easy and in turn provides viewers with an endless stream of entertaining sub-minute clips, has more than half a billion users, with the majority aged under 30.
It is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance, but unlike peers such as Huawei and ZTC, it has little to do with critical national infrastructure, and has so far managed to avoid the accusations of intellectual property theft and state aid which are often the first step to sanctions. If anything, with Facebook this week launching a pitch-perfect TikTok clone, Reels, the company can make a case that it is a genuine innovator, oft-followed, never beaten.
Russia’s ambassador to London has denied accusations by Britain and its allies of helping hackers target labs conducting coronavirus vaccine research, in a UK television interview to be broadcast on Sunday.
Andrei Kelin said Thursday’s allegations by Britain, the US and Canada that a hacking group called APT29 was behind the online attacks, and was “almost certainly” linked to Russian intelligence, made “no sense”.
The UK government broke the law in rolling out its test-and-trace programme without a full assessment of the privacy implications, the Department of Health and Social Care has admitted after a legal challenge.
The Guardian can reveal the programme has already led to three data breaches involving email mishaps and unredacted personal information being shared in training materials.
Good sound, battery life, case and design, with instant translation and different silicone tip with open-air-like fit
Google’s AirPods competitor is finally ready. The Pixel Buds are true wireless earbuds that aim to be all things to all people with a hybrid design that’s neither fully open nor isolating.
The £179 earphones are Google’s second attempt at Bluetooth earbuds, the first being not great. The new version dispense with the wire and adopt a tried-and-tested approach: earbuds that slot into a small and pocketable case.
Union wants ride-sharing firm to increase transparency and disclose how data is used
Minicab drivers will launch a legal bid to uncover secret computer algorithms used by Uber to manage their work in a test case that could increase transparency for millions of gig economy workers across Europe.
Two UK drivers are demanding to see the huge amounts of data the ride-sharing company collects on them and how this is used to exert management control, including through automated decision-making that invisibly shapes their jobs.
Video-sharing app suspends plans for expansion in the wake of diplomatic rows between both countries
The Chinese social media firm TikTok has pulled back from talks to site the headquarters for its non-China business in the UK, threatening the creation of 3,000 jobs, as fears grow of a tit-for-tat trade war between London and Beijing.
Parent company, ByteDance, which is based in Beijing, had spent months in negotiations with the Department for International Trade and No 10 officials to expand operations in addition to the near 800 employed by TikTok.
Fifty years on, Marion Morrison tells how she followed the return to Bristol of SS Great Britain for the Observer
As it made its slow way up the Avon in July 1970, people lined the riverbanks to see the 127-year-old incredible hulk return home. After an 8,000-mile, 87-day journey, SS Great Britain was back in its place of birth.
Approaching the port of Bristol, the extraordinary ship built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel passed under the Clifton suspension bridge, another of the great engineer’s masterpieces. “Flags were flying, people were roaring and clapping,” recalled one witness. “Something took hold of the people of Bristol,” said another.
‘Geopolitical’ factors were behind the move, the company was told, with hints that the decision could be reversed in future
The British government privately told the Chinese technology giant Huawei that it was being banned from Britain’s 5G telecoms network partly for “geopolitical” reasons following huge pressure from President Donald Trump, the Observer has learned.
In the days leading up to the controversial announcement on Tuesday last week, intensive discussions were held and confidential communications exchanged between the government and Whitehall officials on one side and Huawei executives on the other.
The platform’s advertising software is beautifully engineered but it often produces ugly results
Earlier this month Anne Borden King posted news on her Facebook page that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, she reports, “my Facebook feed has featured ads for ‘alternative cancer care’. The ads, which were new to my timeline, promote everything from cumin seeds to colloidal silver as cancer treatments. Some ads promise luxury clinics – or even ‘nontoxic cancer therapies’ on a beach in Mexico.”
The irony is that King is the last person likely to fall for this crap. She’s a consultant for the watchdog group Bad Science Watch and a co-founder of the Campaign Against Phony Autism Cures. So she effortlessly recognised the telltale indicators of pseudoscience marketing – unproven and sometimes dangerous treatments, promising simplistic solutions and support. In that sense she is the polar opposite of, say, Donald Trump.
Elon Musk’s company is the world’s most valuable carmaker, but it has never made a profit
When Elon Musk tweeted in May that the share price of Tesla was “too high” at $780 (£622), it caused a brief moment of panicked selling by investors in the electric carmaker. Yet two months later Tesla had overtaken Toyota as the world’s most valuable carmaker in a remarkable rally in which its market value briefly topped $300bn this week.
Tesla has never made an annual profit but the company has a market value equivalent to a third of the combined US, EU and Japanese auto indices – despite an expected share of only 0.8% of the global auto market this year. That disconnect has prompted re-evaluation from some investors and euphoria for others as they try to work out if the carmaker can ever justify the heady valuation.
Move has enraged drivers and labor organizers who say company should provide protective gear to workers for free
The ride hailing platform Lyft has opened an online store to sell masks and other protective gear as the Covid-19 pandemic intensifies, enraging drivers and labor organizers who say the company should be providing these for free.
The tech company’s move to sell drivers protective gear rather than provide itresurfaces the debate of whether drivers are employees or independent contractors, and to what extent the tech giants carry responsibility for the work conditions of gig workers.
An Israeli company whose spyware has been used to target journalists in India, politicians in Spain, and human rights activists in Morocco may soon be forced to divulge information about its government clients and practices after a judge in California ruled that a lawsuit against the company could proceed.
NSO Group was sued by WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, last year, after the popular messaging app accused the company of sending malware to 1,400 of its users over a two-week period for the purpose of targeting their mobile phones.
Social network investigating whether users’ private data was compromised
More than a hundred high-profile Twitter accounts have been hacked, the social network confirmed, as fresh evidence emerged linking the attack to a small group of petty hackers.
One hundred and 30 accounts were affected in the unprecedented attack, Twitter said in a statement on Friday morning, adding that “for a small subset of these accounts, the attackers were able to gain control of the accounts and then send Tweets from those accounts”.
Vow comes despite app’s own transparency reports revealing that it complies with requests
As TikTok claims it would never hand over user information on Australian users to foreign governments, the company’s own transparency reporting reveals hundreds of instances where user data has been handed over to governments.
The short video app popular with a younger demographic and used by some 1 billion people worldwide has been the subject of intense scrutiny over concerns its Beijing-based company ByteDance could be handing over data about its users to the Chinese government.
Larry Kudlow suggests that the popular video-sharing app could survive as an independent company
TikTok, the social media platform popular with young people around the world, could break away from its Chinese parent to evade being banned in the US, a White House adviser has said.
“We haven’t made final decisions [on the ban] but as has been reported in some places, I think TikTok is going to pull out of the holding company which is China-run and operate as independent company,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Thursday.
The FBI has launched an investigation into the attack, saying the motivation appeared to be ‘cryptocurrency fraud’
Twenty-four hours after a major security breach at Twitter saw the verified accounts of world leaders, celebrities, and corporate brands hijacked to publish fraudulent messages, few things were clear about the hack except this: it could have been much, much worse.
“Imagine this happening the night before the election,” said Bruce Schneier, a prominent security technologist and fellow at Harvard Kennedy School. “It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to go, ‘Wow!’”
Europeans’ data privacy rights have been backed by a new ruling, the latest twist in a nine-year campaign to limit surveillance by US agencies
A ruling of the court of justice of the European Union (CJEU) could prevent tech companies like Facebook from sending data from the trading bloc to the US, after finding that there are not enough protections against snooping by American intelligence agencies. It is the latest ruling in a long-running European legal saga.
July 2000: EU and US develop the Safe Harbour Privacy Principles, which allow personal information to be transferred between the two without breaching the EU’s data protection rules. Under the principles, US companies can self-certify that they comply with the EU data protection directive.
Long-running legal saga finds inadequate protections against snooping on personal data by US intelligence agencies
Tech companies like Facebook could be prevented from sending data back to the US, after the latest ruling in a long-running European legal saga found that there are not enough protections against snooping by US intelligence agencies.
The ruling of the court of justice of the European Union (CJEU) does not immediately end such transfers, but requires data protection authorities (DPAs) in individual member states to vet the sending of any new data to make sure people’s personal information remains protected according to the EU’s data protection laws (GDPR).
Accounts of Uber and Apple also appear to have been compromised as part of scam instructing followers to transfer cryptocurrency
The Twitter accounts of major public figures and corporations, including Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Apple appear to have been hacked as part of a bitcoin scam Wednesday. Twitter said it was aware of “a security incident” and “taking steps to fix it”.
The compromised accounts, which count tens of millions of followers, sent a series of tweets proposing a classic scam: followers were told that if they transferred cryptocurrency to a specific bitcoin wallet, they would receive double the money in return.