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Google becomes latest tech firm to delay reopening as Delta variant spreads

Technology | The Guardian

The company also announced a vaccine mandate for employees who return in person for the new mid-October target date

Google has backtracked on plans to welcome most workers back to its sprawling campus in September, becoming the latest Silicon Valley company to delay reopening amid a surge in Covid cases.

The company announced Wednesday it is postponing a return to the office until mid-October and rolling out a policy that will eventually require everyone who returns in person to be vaccinated.

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July 29th 2021, 7:59 pm

Amazon sales top $100bn for third quarter running as profits hit $7.8bn

Technology | The Guardian

• Tech and retail giant continues to ride pandemic boom

• Share price falls 5% in after-hours trading

Amazon’s sales topped $100bn for the third quarter in a row as its profits for the three months surged to $7.8bn.

The Seattle-based tech and online retail giant reported sales of $113bn for the three months between April and June – over $1.4bn a day. The figure was up from $88.9bn in the second quarter of 2020 but slightly lower than Wall Street had expected, and triggered a 5% slide in its share price in after-hours trading.

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July 29th 2021, 7:59 pm

Israeli authorities inspect NSO Group offices after Pegasus revelations

Technology | The Guardian

Officials visit offices near Tel Aviv as Israeli defence minister meets French counterpart in Paris

Israeli authorities have inspected the offices of the surveillance outfit NSO Group in response to the Pegasus project investigation into abuses of the company’s spyware by several government clients.

Officials from the defence ministry visited the company’s offices near Tel Aviv on Wednesday, at the same time as the defence minister, Benny Gantz, arrived for a pre-arranged visit to Paris in which the Pegasus revelations were discussed with his French counterpart.

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July 29th 2021, 3:17 pm

CEOs told to ‘think before they tweet’ after Just Eat spat with Uber

Technology | The Guardian

Boss’s Twitter rant against Uber Eats risks backfiring, as experts warn online outbursts can damage companies’ reputation

Chief executives are being warned to “think twice before they tweet” after the boss of takeaway company Just Eat Takeaway was told his Twitter spat with Uber threatened to undermine the firm’s reputation.

Jitse Groen this week became the latest in a growing list of chief executives to be rebuked by customers, investors and even regulators over ill-judged tweets.

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July 29th 2021, 4:11 am

Leading the charge! Can I make it from Land’s End to John o’Groats in an electric car?

Technology | The Guardian

New petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the UK from 2030, and sales of electric vehicles are rising fast. But with drivers reliant on charging points how practical is the greener option? One writer finds out

Range anxiety hits hard on the A9 in the Highlands of Scotland. For the uninitiated, this is the fear that an electric vehicle (EV) won’t reach its destination before running out of power. I’m driving through some of Britain’s loveliest landscape – mountains, rivers, lochs and firths – but I hardly notice. I’m focused hard – on the road in front, but mainly on two numbers on the dashboard. One is how far it is in miles to where I’m going; the other is the range in miles remaining in the battery. Sometimes, especially on downhill stretches when what is known as “regenerative braking” means the battery is getting charged, I tell myself it’s going to be OK, I’ll make it. But going uphill the range plummets. Squeaky bum time.

Plus, I’ve read Michel Faber’s Under the Skin. I know what happens to men stranded on the A9. To range anxiety add the fear of being processed and eaten by aliens.

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July 29th 2021, 4:11 am

Facebook reports fastest quarterly growth in five years

Technology | The Guardian

Facebook saw its fastest growth this quarter since 2016, the company revealed in its earnings report on Wednesday, despite regulatory concerns and criticisms surrounding misinformation on the platform.

Related: Remington offers $33m to settle lawsuit by families of Sandy Hook massacre

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July 29th 2021, 4:11 am

Call for Hungarian ministers to resign in wake of Pegasus revelations

Technology | The Guardian

Orbán’s likely challenger demands action over claims journalists and politicians were potential targets

Hungary’s opposition has called for ministerial resignations from Viktor Orbán’s far-right government over allegations it selected journalists, media owners and opposition political figures as potential targets for invasive Pegasus spyware.

The allegations, published last week by the Guardian and other members of the Pegasus project consortium, were backed up in a number of cases with forensic analysis of mobile devices carried out by Amnesty International, which showed phones had been infected with Pegasus, sold by the Israeli company NSO Group.

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July 29th 2021, 4:11 am

‘Disinfo kills’: protesters demand Facebook act to stop vaccine falsehoods

Technology | The Guardian

Activists are to descend on Facebook’s Washington headquarters on Wednesday to demand the company take stronger action against vaccine falsehoods spreading on its platform.

Protesters are planning to cover the lawn in front of Facebook’s office with body bags that read “disinfo kills” as a symbol of the harm caused by online disinformation, as Covid cases surge in the US.

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July 28th 2021, 10:54 am

TechScape: Facebook’s biggest problem? Mark Zuckerberg

Technology | The Guardian

Up for discussion in the Guardian tech newsletter: Scandalous revelations in An Ugly Truth … the relentless march of the silicon transistor … and the dangers of link smut

What makes Facebook Facebook? I’m not talking about the technology here, or the app, but the company itself: why is Facebook so scandal-prone, so controversial, and so aggressive? That was the question I had going in to An Ugly Truth, a new book from the New York Times reporters Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang.

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July 28th 2021, 10:54 am

Google, Apple and Microsoft report record-breaking profits

Technology | The Guardian

‘Perfect positive storm’ for big tech as pandemic fuels huge quarterly sales and stock market gains

Google, Apple and Microsoft reported record-breaking quarterly sales and profits on Tuesday night as the firms continue to benefit from a pandemic that has created a “perfect positive storm” for big tech.

Apple made a $21.7bn (£15.6bn) profit for the three-month period that ended in June, its best fiscal third quarter in its 45-year history, boosted by strong sales of the iPhone 12 and growth in its services business.

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July 27th 2021, 8:26 pm

Facebook to limit ads children see after revelations Australian alcohol companies can reach teens

Technology | The Guardian

Advertisers on Instagram, Facebook and Messenger will no longer be able to market to under 18s based on their interests

Facebook will impose more control on the types of ads that children as young as 13 are exposed to on Instagram and other platforms, as new research finds Australian alcohol companies are not restricting their social media content from reaching younger users.

Facebook announced on Wednesday that, starting in a few weeks, Instagram will stop advertisers marketing to teens under 18 based on their interests. Only their age, gender and location will be able to be used to target ads to them.

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July 27th 2021, 8:26 pm

Wanted: browsers to help uncover the truth about online search result bias

Technology | The Guardian

Researchers are looking for volunteers for a study into whether search results really are influenced by previous browsing history

Australians are being asked to share their internet browsers with a new research project that aims to find out whether people’s search results on hot button topics vary wildly depending on who they are.

Amid ongoing concern that the personalisation of search results leads to people only being presented results that align with their existing views on everything from politics to vaccines and lockdowns, researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society have launched a new project to collect search results from thousands of Australians to see how they differ.

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July 27th 2021, 8:26 pm

Virtual contact worse than no contact for over-60s in lockdown, says study

Technology | The Guardian

Staying in touch with friends and family via technology made many older people feel more lonely, research finds

Virtual contact during the pandemic made many over-60s feel lonelier and more depressed than no contact at all, new research has found.

Many older people stayed in touch with family and friends during lockdown using the phone, video calls, and other forms of virtual contact. Zoom choirs, online book clubs and virtual bedtime stories with grandchildren helped many stave off isolation.

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July 27th 2021, 8:26 pm

Tesla second-quarter profits top $1bn even as it struggles to handle demand

Technology | The Guardian

A global shortfall of semiconductors has affected the Tesla supply chain as well as car manufacturers across the world

Tesla made a profit of more than $1bn in the last three months even as it struggled to keep up with demand for electric cars in the face of a global chip shortage.

The company announced Monday that it has made a profit of $1.14bn in its second quarter, 10 times what it made a year ago and its eighth quarter of back-to-back profits.

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July 27th 2021, 1:26 am

Emmanuel Macron ‘pushes for Israeli inquiry’ into NSO spyware concerns

Technology | The Guardian

French president reportedly spoke to Naftali Bennett to ensure ‘proper investigation’ after Pegasus project

Emmanuel Macron has reportedly spoken to the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, to ensure that the Israeli government is “properly investigating” allegations that the French president could have been targeted with Israeli-made spyware by Morocco’s security services.

In a phone call, Macron expressed concern that his phone and those of most of his cabinet could have been infected with Pegasus, hacking software developed by the Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group, which enables operators of the tool to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones from infected devices.

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July 25th 2021, 4:39 pm

Cryptocurrencies could lead to ‘limitless’ losses for UK government

Technology | The Guardian

Experts warn of danger of untraceable funds if companies accepting payments in cryptos go bust

The government could face “limitless” losses as a result of businesses that accept payments in untaxed and untraceable cryptocurrencies going bust, an insolvency expert has warned.

A growing number of companies, including the ethical cosmetics firm Lush and office-sharing firm WeWork, have begun taking payments for goods and services in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, alongside debt, credit or cash.

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July 25th 2021, 4:39 pm

2021 iPhone photography awards – in pictures

Technology | The Guardian

The 14th annual iPhone photography awards offer glimpses of beauty, hope and the endurance of the human spirit. Out of thousands of submissions, photojournalist Istvan Kerekes of Hungary was named the grand prize winner for his image Transylvanian Shepherds. In it, two rugged shepherds traverse an equally rugged industrial landscape, bearing a pair of lambs in their arms.

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July 24th 2021, 7:54 pm

Smart security: how to keep your home safe while you’re away

Technology | The Guardian

Tech options to deter would-be intruders, and let you monitor your house from anywhere

With the prospect of trips out and holidays finally on the cards, over the next few weeks many of us will be leaving our houses unattended for the first time in months. So now is the time to think about making your home a bit more secure.

In addition to the basics, there is a range of DIY tech that may help to deter would-be intruders and allow you to keep an eye on your home from almost anywhere in the world.

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July 24th 2021, 10:39 am

Demonstrations and inquiries: the global impact of the Pegasus project

Technology | The Guardian

Worldwide concern over the use of invasive spyware sold to autocratic regimes

The Pegasus project investigation has reverberated across the world; claims about the use of invasive spyware, and the governments that use the technology, have provoked demonstrations, political outrage and calls for industry regulation.

Here, Guardian reporters pull together the impact of the investigation, which has put a spotlight on the government customers of the Israeli company NSO Group.

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July 24th 2021, 6:25 am

12 Bytes by Jeanette Winterson review – how we got here and where we might go next

Technology | The Guardian

Twelve essays drawing on years of research into artificial intelligence ask challenging questions about humanity, art, religion and the way we live and love

In Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein, a scientist creates life and is horrified by what he has done. Two centuries on, synthetic life, albeit in a far simpler form, has been created in a dish. What Shelley imagined has only now become possible. But as Jeanette Winterson points out in this essay collection, the achievements of science and technology always start out as fiction. Not everything that can be imagined can be realised, but nothing can be realised if it hasn’t been imagined first.

Take artificial intelligence. For now AI is a tool that we train to address specific tasks such as predicting the next Covid wave, but plenty of people have imagined that it could be something categorically different: a multitasking problem-solver whose capacity to understand and learn is equal or superior to ours. Many labs are working on this concept, which is called artificial general intelligence (AGI), and it could be a reality within decades. That’s how far imagination in technology has brought us. What can the artistic imagination add?

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July 23rd 2021, 5:53 am

Tech firm hit by giant ransomware hack gets key to unlock victims’ data

Technology | The Guardian

Kaseya’s universal key can free the files of hundreds of organizations, ending the worst of the attack’s fallout

The software company at the center of a huge ransomware attack this month has obtained a universal key to unlock files of the hundreds of businesses and public organizations crippled by the hack.

Nineteen days after the initial attack over the Fourth of July weekend, the Florida-based IT management provider, Kaseya, has received the universal key that can unlock the scrambled data of all the attack’s victims, bringing the worst of the fallout to a close.

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July 22nd 2021, 8:07 pm

AI firm DeepMind puts database of the building blocks of life online

Technology | The Guardian

AlphaFold program’s prediction of nearly 20,000 human protein structures now free for researchers

Last year the artificial intelligence group DeepMind cracked a mystery that has flummoxed scientists for decades: stripping bare the structure of proteins, the building blocks of life. Now, having amassed a database of nearly all human protein structures, the company is making the resource available online free for researchers to use.

The key to understanding our basic biological machinery is its architecture. The chains of amino acids that comprise proteins twist and turn to make the most confounding of 3D shapes. It is this elaborate form that explains protein function; from enzymes that are crucial to metabolism to antibodies that fight infectious attacks.

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July 22nd 2021, 7:53 pm

Israel to examine whether spyware export rules should be tightened

Technology | The Guardian

Commission to review claims NSO’s Pegasus was misused by customers to target journalists and activists

An Israeli commission reviewing allegations that NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware was misused by its customers to target journalists and human rights activists will examine whether rules on Israel’s export of cyberweapons such as Pegasus should be tightened, a senior MP has said.

The move came as the French president, Emmanuel Macron, convened an emergency cybersecurity meeting after reports his mobile phone and those of government ministers appeared in the leaked list. An official in Macron’s Elysee Palace said that the president’s phone and phone numbers had been changed.

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July 22nd 2021, 7:53 pm

Burner phones, fake sources and ‘evil twin’ attacks: journalism in the surveillance age | Bradley Ho

Technology | The Guardian

When I heard my number was on a leaked data list, I wasn’t surprised. Reporters have never been more vulnerable

What does the new age of surveillance mean for the work of investigative journalists? Last year, I was preparing to fly from London to a country in the Middle East for a sensitive reporting trip. I wasn’t worried about my own safety – but now I have to take extraordinary measures to protect the security of my data.

Bringing my own laptop or personal phone was out of the question. Instead I bought a completely new phone. I made sure not to sign into any of my accounts from the phone, and I did not save any numbers in the blank address book. Before I left, I created a temporary email address specifically for this trip, where sources could reach me.

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July 22nd 2021, 7:53 pm

New device could help visually impaired avoid obstacles, research suggests

Technology | The Guardian

Chest-mounted video camera and vibrating wristbands developed by US team reduce collisions by 37% in small study

Vibrating wristbands could help visually impaired people to avoid collisions when out and about, a study indicates.

According to the NHS, about 360,000 people in the UK alone are registered as blind or partially sighted, with long canes and guide dogs among the methods used to help individuals avoid obstacles.

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July 22nd 2021, 7:53 pm

Online banking and gaming services hit by internet outage

Technology | The Guardian

HSBC, PlayStation and others affected on Thursday in issue possibly related to Akamai Edge DNS

The websites of HSBC, ITV and Waitrose were among those hit by a widespread outage that briefly caused disruption on Thursday afternoon.

Major online banking services – including Barclays, TSB, the Bank of Scotland, Tesco Bank and Sainsbury’s Bank – were either entirely or partially inaccessible for a short period.

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July 22nd 2021, 7:53 pm

Uber and Lyft drivers join day-long strike over working conditions

Technology | The Guardian

Workers for app companies call for better wages and protections for those seeking to unionize

Hundreds of Uber and Lyft drivers have joined other app-based workers across the US for a day-long strike to protest against poor working conditions and demand the right to organize.

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July 22nd 2021, 4:33 am

Magacoin: pro-Trump cryptocurrency attracts over 1,000 people to sign up

Technology | The Guardian

Magacoin bills itself as the ‘digital currency for the MAGA community’ but data from the site shows most of the cryptocurrency is allocated to its self-style creator

More than 1,000 people have so far signed up to the pro-Trump cryptocurrency magacoin, including conservative media personalities and Republican figures, the Guardian can reveal.

The news comes after poor security configuration in a website associated with magacoin exposed the email addresses, passwords, cryptocurrency wallet addresses and IP addresses of users who have bought in to what its promoters describe as the “digital currency for the MAGA community”.

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July 22nd 2021, 4:33 am

Briton arrested over high-profile Twitter account hacks

Technology | The Guardian

22-year-old faces multiple charges in connection with attacks on accounts of politicians and celebrities

A 22-year-old British citizen has been arrested in Spain in connection with a July 2020 Twitter hack that compromised the accounts of high-profile politicians and celebrities, the US Justice Department said on Wednesday.

It named the British man as Joseph James O’Connor and said he faced multiple charges. He was also accused in a criminal complaint of computer intrusions related to takeovers of TikTok and Snapchat accounts, including one incident involving sextortion, as well as cyberstalking a 16-year-old juvenile.

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July 21st 2021, 11:31 pm

‘A systemic failure’: vaccine misinformation remains rampant on Facebook, experts say

Technology | The Guardian

Misinformation ‘superspreader’ accounts found still active even as vaccination rates flag and cases rise in US

Facebook is under fire once again over the proliferation of vaccine misinformation on its platform, after Joe Biden said tech giants such as Facebook are “killing people” for failing to tackle the problem.

The White House has also zeroed in on the “disinformation dozen”: accounts that have been shown to be responsible for the bulk of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media platforms.

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July 21st 2021, 11:31 pm

How to photograph the July full moon on your phone or camera, and the best settings to use

Technology | The Guardian

Guardian Australia picture editor Carly Earl explains the dos and don’ts of taking pictures of the July 2021 full moon, which is also known as the buck or thunder moon.

When a full moon rises, many people will pull out their mobile phones to try and get an Instagram-worthy photograph, but unfortunately the moon is really challenging to get a great photo of.

Two reasons: it is very far away and unless you have a telephoto lens (which makes the moon appear closer than it is) it will always appear as a very small glowing dot in the frame.

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July 21st 2021, 11:31 pm

Why Apple’s walled garden is no match for Pegasus spyware

Technology | The Guardian

Up for discussion in the Guardian tech newsletter: Spotlight on Apple security … shake-up in the video game market … online age verification … and space tourism

You will, by now, have heard about Pegasus. It’s the brand name for a family of spyware tools sold by the NSO Group, an Israeli outfit of hackers-for-hire who sell their wares to intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and militaries around the world.

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July 21st 2021, 11:31 pm

Tesla likely to start accepting bitcoin as payment again, says Elon Musk

Technology | The Guardian

The founder of the electric carmaker says coins are mined using at least 50% renewable power, sending the price up sharply

Tesla will most likely restart accepting bitcoin as payment once it conducts due diligence on the amount of renewable energy used to mine the currency, the founder and boss of the electric carmaker, Elon Musk, has said.

Musk sent the price of bitcoin into freefall in May when he said that Tesla would stop accepting the cryptocurrency for payment because it the so-called mining of the coins used too much fossil fuel-generated electricity.

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July 21st 2021, 11:31 pm

Airbnb suspends Victorian host who rejected couple for receiving Covid vaccine

Technology | The Guardian

Host repeated false claim coronavirus vaccine ‘transmitting to unvaccinated people’

Airbnb has suspended a host in Victoria who refused to provide accomodation to a couple because they had received their first shots of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Just before the latest Melbourne outbreak, Steve Carey tried to book a holiday in regional Victoria with his partner.

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July 21st 2021, 5:47 am

Why the Bank of England has it head in the cloud over data security

Technology | The Guardian

Rapid digitalisation of banking services and increasing reliance on just three tech giants has made the Bank uneasy

The Bank of England is at risk of moving too slow, according to experts, who say it needs to get a grip on the financial sector’s plans to outsource customer data storage to a handful of unregulated US tech giants.

Last week, the central bank raised fresh concerns about the use of cloud services, where data is held on remote servers run by another company. It said the fact the services were dominated by just a few companies – such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft – posed a potential threat to financial stability.

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July 21st 2021, 5:47 am

Bitcoin price slides amid EU call to make transfers traceable, and rise of ‘stablecoins’

Technology | The Guardian

European regulator want banks to hold personal details of cryptocurrency clients, while US wants swift work to establish less volatile ‘stablecoins’

Bitcoin has slipped below $30,000 as calls grew among regulators in the US, Europe and Asia for tighter checks on cryptocurrencies, and the less volatile digi-currency known as “stablecoins”.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency fell as much as 5% to $29,300, its lowest since 22 June, and investors said it was likely to test the $28,600 level touched last month, its lowest since early January, as it faced a variety of regulatory headwinds. Smaller cryptocurrencies such as ether and XRP also lost around 5%.

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July 21st 2021, 5:47 am

Jeff Bezos successfully completes space flight – video

Technology | The Guardian

Jeff Bezos has completed his pioneering foray into space. The Amazon founder and three crewmates touching down in the Texas desert early on Tuesday after a sub-orbital flight lasting 11 minutes.

Bezos, 57, one of the world’s richest people with an estimated net worth of $206bn (£151bn), has attracted criticism for investing his fortune into space tourism amid concerns over working conditions at Amazon, and 'aggressive tax avoidance'

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July 20th 2021, 2:33 pm

Jeff Bezos hails ‘best day ever’ after successful Blue Origin space flight

Technology | The Guardian

The Amazon founder Jeff Bezos hailed “the best day ever” after completing his pioneering foray into space on Tuesday with three crewmates, among them his brother Mark.

Related: Why is Bezos flying to space? Because billionaires think Earth is a sinking ship | Hamilton Nolan

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July 20th 2021, 2:33 pm

Steam Deck: is it the Nintendo Switch for nerds?

Technology | The Guardian

Valve’s newly announced handheld console promises to put the latest PC games in your pocket. But do they belong there?

It looks like Valve has done it again. The company that surprised everyone by pivoting from game developer to digital shopkeeper with the launch of Steam, then leapt into virtual reality with the HTC Vive and Valve Index headsets, is now taking on Nintendo with a powerful handheld games console.

Announced on 16 July and due to launch in December, the Steam Deck features a 7in LCD touchscreen, an array of analogue and touch-pad controls, a gyroscope for motion detection, wifi connectivity and a base station so it can be hooked up to a monitor. Tech-wise, it’s built around a custom Zen 2 AMD processor, AMD RDNA 2 GPU and 16GB of memory. In a recent deep dive on the machine’s specs, Eurogamer found it compared to the Xbox Series S console in terms of performance.

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July 20th 2021, 2:33 pm

Biden calls on Facebook to tackle misinformation after saying it’s ‘killing people’

Technology | The Guardian

President says he hopes platform won’t take his earlier remark ‘personally’ and instead act to save lives

Joe Biden has tempered his assessment that social media platforms are “killing people” by hosting misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines, saying Monday that he hoped they would not take it “personally” and instead would act to save lives.

While companies like Facebook defend their practices and say they are helping people around the world access verified information about the shots, the White House says they haven’t done enough to stop misinformation that has helped to slow the pace of new vaccinations in the US to a trickle. It comes as the US sees a rise in virus cases and deaths among those who haven’t gotten a shot, in what officials call an emerging “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

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July 20th 2021, 5:33 am

Uber charged me £332 for a 1.75-mile trip home

Technology | The Guardian

I can’t persuade the ride-hailing company something is wrong even though its bill is absurd

Last week I booked an Uber from our favourite pub to my home in north London – a trip of 1.75 miles I have taken several hundred times.

I was riding with two friends whom I regularly drop off on the way. I asked the driver to use my preferred route, he refused and a row ensued, to the point where he ejected us from the cab in the rain.

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July 20th 2021, 5:33 am

Government sets up £375m fund for ‘gamechanging’ UK tech firms

Technology | The Guardian

Future fund scheme will see the Treasury co-invest with private enterprise in bid to make UK a ‘science superpower’

Fast-growing firms working on “gamechanging” technology, including in areas such as life sciences and clean energy, are being invited to apply for a slice of a £375m fund aimed at fostering innovation in the UK.

The future fund: breakthrough scheme will involve the government committing to co-invest alongside private enterprise to give extra impetus to businesses looking for cash to take nascent technologies to the next step.

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July 19th 2021, 11:34 pm

US says Microsoft Exchange hack shows ‘aggressive behavior’ by China

Technology | The Guardian

Announcement highlights cyberthreat posed by Chinese government hackers as US trying to curb Russia-based hacks

The Biden administration has blamed China for a hack of Microsoft Exchange email server software that compromised tens of thousands of computers around the world earlier this year.

Related: UK and allies accuse Chinese state-backed group of Microsoft hack

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July 19th 2021, 10:49 am

Bezos to attempt his most ambitious delivery yet with Blue Origin spaceflight

Technology | The Guardian

First human spaceflight of Blue Origin’s sub-orbital New Shepard rocket to launch in Texas

The billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will attempt his most ambitious delivery on Tuesday, when he accompanies an octogenarian aviation pioneer, a college student and his own brother Mark into space on a rocket that he funded and built himself.

Related: Trump supporter who took part in Capitol riot to be sentenced for felony

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July 19th 2021, 10:49 am

‘Lightbulb moment’: the battery technology invented in a Brisbane garage that is going global

Technology | The Guardian

Dominic Spooner’s startup Vaulta is working on a reusable battery casing to create less waste and a lighter product

As some of the world’s largest companies invest billions to advance battery technology, Dominic Spooner has been working at solving the next problem: the impact of unwieldy – and environmentally unfriendly – battery casings.

Spooner runs his lightweight battery casing technology firm Vaulta from a shared garage in Brisbane’s north. “Batteries will change our lives in ways that we’re maybe not even totally aware of, but … we can create our own new group of problems if we’re not careful,” he says.

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July 18th 2021, 5:30 am

The BBC’s interviewer found himself on a sticky wicket with Google’s CEO

Technology | The Guardian

Amol Rajan’s questioning failed to get behind the defences of Sundar Pichai’s ‘nice guy’ media image

Last weekend, in what the BBC clearly regarded as important news, the corporation announced that its media editor, Amol Rajan, had been granted an interview with Sundar Pichai, the current CEO of Alphabet (which basically means Google). It was billed as “the first of a series of interviews with global figures”. If the boss of Google counts as a global figure, one wonders who else is on the list, the CEO of ExxonMobil?

And the takeaway from watching this encounter? Simply this: Mr Pichai is a nice guy. He comes from a modest background in India, dropped out of Stanford in the time-honoured manner, has an MBA from Wharton and has worked for Google since 2004. He’s been CEO of Google (and Alphabet, its holding company) since 2015.

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July 17th 2021, 2:01 pm

Social Warming by Charles Arthur review – a coolly prosecutorial look at social media

Technology | The Guardian

Social media giants contribute to global conflicts and allow misinformation. How have they gained so much control, and what is that doing to our lives?

It’s good to remember that every time Mark Zuckerberg claims that he founded Facebook in order to connect people or build communities, he is somehow forgetting that he first created the site in order to enable himself and his fellow dorm-dwellers to rate Harvard’s young women on their looks. But then, Zuckerberg has never been the sharpest tool in the box. He once said that Facebook wouldn’t interfere with Holocaust-denial on its service, because it was hard to impugn people’s motives for denying the Holocaust, before a couple of years later announcing that his “thinking” on the matter had “evolved” and Holocaust denial was now frowned upon. Well, evolution does work slowly.

But as Charles Arthur’s coolly prosecutorial book shows, social-media algorithms don’t just allow people with nefarious interests to get together: they perform as active matchmakers. “Facebook was hothousing extremism by putting extremists in touch with each other,” concluded Facebook’s own internal investigations in 2016. Not only that, Facebook was “auto-generating terrorist content”: its “machine learning” systems created a “Local Business” page for “al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula”.

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July 17th 2021, 2:01 pm

Biden says Covid-19 misinformation is 'killing people' – video

Technology | The Guardian

Joe Biden says social media platforms such as Facebook 'are killing people' for allowing misinformation about coronavirus vaccines to be posted.

'Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people,' the US president told reporters at the White House on Friday.

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July 17th 2021, 7:30 am

Pregnant man and multiracial handshake emojis approved for launch

Technology | The Guardian

Additional emojis will complete Unicode’s drive to offer more variety and gender-neutral options

A pregnant man, a multiracial handshake and a face that cannot bear to watch are some of the emojis that will hit devices over the next year, according to a draft list published by the Unicode Consortium, which approves icons for use.

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July 16th 2021, 7:01 am

Google Maps suggests ‘potentially fatal’ routes up Ben Nevis, say mountain charities

Technology | The Guardian

Organisations in Scotland say they have tried to contact Google about the dangers but received no reply

Scottish mountaineering charities have criticised Google for suggesting routes up Ben Nevis and other mountains they say are “potentially fatal” and direct people over a cliff.

The John Muir Trust, which looks after the upper reaches of the UK’s highest mountain, said attempts to contact the company over the issue had been met with silence.

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July 15th 2021, 7:44 pm

Winner who paid $30m for space flight with Bezos drops plan due to ‘scheduling conflicts’

Technology | The Guardian

Anonymous person will be replaced by 18-year-old recent high school graduate on New Shepard spacecraft

The anonymous winner of a ticket to join billionaire Jeff Bezos in space next week will no longer board the New Shepard spacecraft due to “scheduling conflicts”, Bezos’s Blue Origin company announced Thursday.

The winner, who paid $29.7m in a bid to join one of the world’s richest men in space, will instead be replaced by Oliver Daemen, a recent high school graduate. The 18-year old took a gap year in 2020 to obtain his private pilot’s license and plans to study physics and innovation management at the Netherlands-based University of Utrecht in September.

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July 15th 2021, 5:45 pm

Facebook says Iran-based hackers used site to target US military personnel

Technology | The Guardian

• Social media company takes down 200 accounts

• ‘Hallmarks of a well-resourced and persistent operation’

Facebook said on Thursday it had taken down about 200 accounts run by a group of hackers in Iran as part of a cyber-spying operation that targeted mostly US military personnel and people working at defense and aerospace companies.

The social media company said the group, dubbed “Tortoiseshell’”by security experts, used fake online personas to connect with targets, build trust sometimes over the course of several months and drive them on to other sites where they were tricked into clicking malicious links that would infect their devices with spying malware.

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July 15th 2021, 3:57 pm

The person to ‘weaken’ America: what the Kremlin papers said about Trump

Technology | The Guardian

Documents appear to show how Russian intelligence worked to install their preferred candidate as president

Papers appear to show Putin’s plot to put Trump in White House

In January 2016, America was coming to terms with what had previously seemed incredible. Barring an unforeseen event, Donald J Trump was on course to become the Republican party’s presidential candidate. Some welcomed this giddy prospect, while others in the Republican establishment recoiled in horror.

The man himself oozed confidence. “I have a feeling it’s going to work out, actually,” he told his rival Ted Cruz, at a Fox News debate. By 22 January, the polls had Trump well ahead, as a snowstorm nudged towards Washington.

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July 15th 2021, 2:05 pm

Israeli spyware firm linked to fake Black Lives Matter and Amnesty websites – report

Technology | The Guardian

Researchers say web domains masquerading as activist, health and media groups are used by governments to hack targets

An Israeli company that sells spyware to governments is linked to fake Black Lives Matter and Amnesty International websites that are used to hack targets, according to a new report.

Researchers from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, who worked with Microsoft, issued a report on Thursday about the potential targets of Candiru, a Tel Aviv-based firm marketing “untraceable” spyware that can infect and monitor computers and phones.

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July 15th 2021, 2:05 pm

Aladdin Bahrani obituary

Technology | The Guardian

My father, Aladdin Bahrani, who has died aged 91, spent many years working as a senior engineer in his birthplace, Iraq, before becoming professor of manufacturing engineering at Queen’s University in Belfast, where he had trained just after the second world war.

The eldest of 10 children, he was born in Baghdad, to Mohammed Saleem Bahrani, a landowner and farmer, and Bahija Abdul Hussan Al Shamma, a housewife. Once he had finished his schooling at Baghdad College, he left Iraq on a government scholarship to study engineering at Queen’s University from 1948 to 1953, graduating with a science master’s and meeting a young Belfast woman, Margaret Sawrey, who became his wife in 1952.

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July 15th 2021, 9:36 am

Sony WF-1000XM4 review: the best-sounding noise-cancelling earbuds

Technology | The Guardian

Comfortable and long lasting with good case and brilliant audio but ultimately disposable

Sony’s latest top-of-the-range noise-cancelling earbuds are a cut above the previous generation and the competition.

Costing £250 ($279.99/A$449.99), the WF-1000XM4 are premium true wireless earbuds that go toe to toe with the likes of the Apple AirPods Pro, Jabra Elite 85t and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.

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July 15th 2021, 5:02 am

Welcome to TechScape: will AI make centaurs of us all?

Technology | The Guardian

Up for discussion in the first Guardian tech newsletter: can artificial intelligence enhance rather than replace us … internet age verification … plus Google’s €500m French fine

Hello and welcome to the debut issue of TechScape, the Guardian’s newsletter on all things tech, and sometimes things not-tech if they’re interesting enough. I can’t tell you how excited I am to have you here with me, and I hope between us we can build not just a newsletter, but a news community.

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July 14th 2021, 8:31 am

New Zealand Uber drivers launch class action against ride share company

Technology | The Guardian

Legal fight hopes to override previous ruling that drivers are not employees

New Zealand Uber drivers are taking the global ride-share company to court, in the hopes of being legally determined as employees instead of contractors.

It is the latest in a string of cases taken against the company and other ride-share apps, and the second such case in New Zealand.

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July 14th 2021, 5:46 am

Silicon Valley before the silicon: a boy’s own story – in pictures

Technology | The Guardian

For his eighth birthday in 1959 David Pace was given a Brownie Hawkeye camera. The young boy photographed family, church, work, and school in the region of California that would become the tech giants’ home

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July 14th 2021, 5:46 am

Reddit defends how it tackles misinformation as it opens Australian office

Technology | The Guardian

Social news aggregator has had to grapple with growing calls to deal with misinformation and conspiracy theories on platform

The head of social news aggregator Reddit has argued its own community and administrators are the best moderator against misinformation, as the company plans to open an office in Australia for the first time.

In the past year since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, misinformation on social media platforms has been under close scrutiny. Much of the focus has been on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, while Reddit has escaped the spotlight.

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July 14th 2021, 5:46 am

Tech chiefs called in to No 10 over racist posts to England players

Technology | The Guardian

Boris Johnson to demand that tech firms do more to tackle online abuse

Boris Johnson has summoned tech companies to Downing Street to order them to do more to tackle online abuse, amid mounting criticism of the government after black England players were deluged with racist posts in the aftermath of their Euro 2020 defeat.

The England footballer Tyrone Mings has criticised the home secretary, Priti Patel, for her condemnation of the racist abuse faced by his teammates, after she called players taking the knee “gesture politics”.

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July 13th 2021, 5:16 pm

Ransomware gang REvil's websites become unreachable

Technology | The Guardian

Outage means victims of Russia-linked cybercrime ring cannot pay ransom and can remain unnamed

Websites run by the ransomware gang REvil suddenly became unreachable on Tuesday.

Ransomware gang websites can be unreliable, and it was unclear whether the site’s disappearance was a momentary fluke or whether the hackers had been taken offline.

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July 13th 2021, 5:16 pm

Google fined €500m by France’s antitrust watchdog over copyright

Technology | The Guardian

Tech company must come up with proposals for how it would compensate agencies for use of their news

France’s antitrust watchdog has fined Google €500m (£428m) for failing to comply with the regulator’s orders on how to conduct talks with the country’s news publishers in a row over copyright.

The fine comes amid international pressure on online platforms such as Google and Facebook to share more revenue with news outlets.

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July 13th 2021, 5:16 pm

Phil Spencer on the future of Xbox: we still want to take risks with games

Technology | The Guardian

While developing traditional narrative games is harder than it has ever been, Microsoft’s Xbox chief sees an opportunity in using modern platforms and tech to tell new stories

Over the last decade, the concept of “games as a service” has revolutionised the way the interactive entertainment industry works. From the subscriptions introduced by massively multiplayer online adventures such as World of Warcraft to the seasonal battle passes of current online shooters, we’re seeing a huge amount of focus on games that can sustain a lucrative community of players over several years.

But where does that leave more offbeat ideas and concepts that couldn’t support years’ worth of play? Where does it leave the single-player narrative adventure – the blockbusting genre that brought us titles such as Metal Gear Solid, Red Dead Redemption and Mass Effect? It’s a genre Sony has supported through funding the studios that make games such as The Last of Us, Spider-Man and God of War. But Microsoft has focused its efforts on cross-platform, connected games, as symbolised by the mammoth Minecraft industry. Is there still room for traditional forms of narrative games on the Xbox Series X?

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July 13th 2021, 7:29 am

Met police seize nearly £180m of bitcoin in money laundering investigation

Technology | The Guardian

Seizure follows confiscation of £114m of the cryptocurrency in June

Metropolitan police detectives investigating international money laundering have seized nearly £180m of bitcoin.

The seizure by the Met’s economic crime command follows a confiscation of £114m of the cryptocurrency in June.

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July 13th 2021, 7:29 am

A third of Britons fear TikTok would share data with Chinese state

Technology | The Guardian

Video-sharing app’s reputation problem isn’t holding back its phenomenal growth, says author

Almost a third of Britons are concerned that TikTok might share their personal data with the Chinese government, according to a book on the social network, despite the app’s popularity across the nation.

And a third of Britons aged between 18 and 34, the key demographic for the app, are more than just worried: they believe TikTok would hand over their data on request from China.

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July 13th 2021, 3:00 am

How to photograph the moon on your phone or camera, and the best settings to use

Technology | The Guardian

Guardian Australia picture editor Carly Earl explains the dos and don’ts of taking pictures of the moon and night sky

When a full moon rises, many people will pull out their mobile phones to try and get an Instagram-worthy photograph, but unfortunately the moon is really challenging to get a great photo of.

Two reasons: it is very far away and unless you have a telephoto lens (which makes the moon appear closer than it is) it will always appear as a very small glowing dot in the frame.

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July 13th 2021, 3:00 am

Investigate Amazon over pandemic ‘price gouging’, says Unite

Technology | The Guardian

UK union complains to competition watchdog that retailer profited from high prices on hand sanitiser and masks

The Unite union has lodged an official competition complaint against Amazon, alleging the online retailer profited from pandemic-related “price gouging” on products such as hand sanitiser and face masks.

In a 41-page letter, seen by the Guardian, lawyers for Unite accuse Amazon of “exploitative abuse of its dominance” and call on the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to launch an investigation.

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July 12th 2021, 4:29 pm

‘An attractive market’: policy vacuum on ransomware attacks leaves Australia vulnerable

Technology | The Guardian

Experts are urging the federal government to develop a mandatory reporting regime for such cyber-attacks

Australian organisations are seen as soft and lucrative targets for ransomware attacks, according to cybersecurity experts who warn the problem will get worse unless the Morrison government fills the “current policy vacuum”.

A report published on Tuesday cites a raft of attacks over the past 18 months, including one that brought Nine Entertainment “to its knees” in March and left it struggling to televise news bulletins and produce newspapers.

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July 12th 2021, 4:29 pm

Elon Musk defends SolarCity deal against shareholder lawsuit

Technology | The Guardian

Shareholders want Musk to refund Tesla the $2.6bn the company paid for the ailing solar energy company

Elon Musk took the stand on Monday to defend Tesla’s 2016 acquisition of SolarCity against a lawsuit by shareholders seeking to recoup the $2.6bn the company paid for the ailing solar panel maker.

Related: Elon Musk leads Tesla effort to build house roofs entirely out of solar panels

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July 12th 2021, 4:29 pm

TikTok opens first pop-up venue in UK at Westfield London

Technology | The Guardian

Influencers including Kyle Thomas, Ehiz Ufuah and Poppy O’Toole will offer sessions on creating content

TikTok has opened its first pop-up venue in the UK, allowing fans to interact with influencers who have found success via the social media app and try to create their own mini-films.

The app, which allows users to create and share short videos soundtracked with music, has partnered with the Westfield shopping centre in west London to create the first TikTok For You House. The design of the pop-up venue, which will be open until 8 August, is inspired by TikTok’s homepage, which highlights trending clips.

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July 12th 2021, 1:00 pm

‘Cyber-attack’ hits Iran’s transport ministry and railways

Technology | The Guardian

Message boards in train stations show cancellations though rail operator denies disruptions

Websites of Iran’s transport and urbanisation ministry went out of service on Saturday after a “cyber-disruption” in computer systems, the official IRNA news agency reported.

On Friday, Iran’s railways also appeared to come under cyber-attack, with messages about alleged train delays or cancellations posted on display boards at stations across the country. Electronic tracking of trains across Iran reportedly failed.

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July 11th 2021, 10:30 am

Can facial analysis technology create a child-safe internet?

Technology | The Guardian

Determining a person’s age online seems like an intractable problem. But new technology and laws could be on the brink of solving it

Suppose you pulled out your phone this morning to post a pic to your favourite social network – let’s call it Twinstabooktok – and were asked for a selfie before you could log on. The picture you submitted wouldn’t be sent anywhere, the service assured you: instead, it would use state-of-the-art machine-learning techniques to work out your age. In all likelihood, once you’ve submitted the scan, you can continue on your merry way. If the service guessed wrong, you could appeal, though that might take a bit longer.

The upside of all of this? The social network would be able to know that you were an adult user and provide you with an experience largely free of parental controls and paternalist moderation, while children who tried to sign up would be given a restricted version of the same experience.

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July 11th 2021, 4:15 am

How bitcoin and Putin are enabling the ransomware crime spree | John Naughton

Technology | The Guardian

A combination of cyber attackers’ increased sophistication, the availability of cryptocurrencies and the activities of Russian security agencies has created a perfect storm

I’ve just visited the Kaseya website. “We Are Kaseya,” it burbles cheerfully. “Providing you with best-in-breed technologies that allow you to efficiently manage, secure and back up IT under a single pane of glass.

“Technology,” it continues, “is the backbone of all modern business. Small to mid-size businesses deserve powerful security and IT management tools that are efficient, cost-effective, and secure. Enter Kaseya. We exist to help multi-function IT professionals get the most out of their IT tool stack.”

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July 10th 2021, 11:59 am

Vancouver judge’s decision over Huawei finance chief may deepen US-China row

Technology | The Guardian

Judge refuses to admit new evidence that might have helped Meng Wanzhou avoid extradition to US

The prospect of a deepening diplomatic row between the US and China has grown after a Canadian judge refused to admit new evidence that might have helped the Huawei chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, avoid extradition to the US.

The arrest of Meng, the daughter of the Chinese telecommunication company’s billionaire founder, has prompted a sharp deterioration in relations between Canada, the US and China. Soon after Meng’s detention in Vancouver in December 2018, China arrested two Canadians in China: Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

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July 10th 2021, 7:14 am

FinTok: how TikTok is helping young people use cash wisely

Technology | The Guardian

It’s not just jokes and emojis – the video-sharing platform can help users learn how to manage money

Sea shanties and viral dance trends have helped make TikTok a hit since the start of the pandemic. In 2020, the social media app, which allows users to create and share one or more 60-second films soundtracked with music clips, surpassed 2bn global downloads.

In the financial world, TikTok has a reputation for promoting volatile cryptocurrencies and activist investing – interest in Dogecoin and GameStop has been fuelled by the platform. But, beyond the jokes and rocket emojis being shared by some users, there is a wealth of practical personal finance videos that are teaching young people how to use their money better.

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July 10th 2021, 7:14 am

Currency and control: why China wants to undermine bitcoin

Technology | The Guardian

Beijing’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies has captured headlines, while behind the scenes its reserve bank set up its own digital currency

Few would dispute that China’s recent crackdown on cryptocurrency trading and mining has contributed to the recent plunge in the value of bitcoin and other cryptos.

But while the argument rages about whether the volatility of cryptos is a sign of fundamental weakness or merely a bump along the road, the initiatives coming out of Beijing are being seen by experts as a sign of China’s attempts to incubate its own fledgling e-currency and reboot the international financial system.

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July 10th 2021, 5:44 am

‘We expect them to act’: Biden presses Putin on ransomware groups, hints at retaliation

Technology | The Guardian

Joe Biden’s hour-long phone call with the Russian leader suggests growing impatience over attacks disrupting US sectors

Joe Biden has increased pressure on Vladimir Putin to move against ransomware groups operating from Russia, warning the United States is prepared to respond if cyberhacks are not stopped.

The two leaders held an hour-long phone call on Friday, their first since they discussed ransomware attacks at a summit in Geneva on 16 June. Biden’s message to Putin in the call was direct, suggesting a growing impatience over attacks that have disrupted key US sectors.

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July 10th 2021, 5:44 am

Huawei finance chief faces setback in fight against US extradition

Technology | The Guardian

Vancouver judge denies bid by Meng Wanzhou to add over 300 HSBC documents to her legal battle

A Canadian judge has denied an application by Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei chief financial officer, to add documents her legal team received from HSBC as evidence to her US extradition case, the judge announced on Friday.

Meng, 49, is facing extradition from Canada to the US on charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, potentially causing the bank to break US sanctions. She has been held under house arrest in Vancouver since December 2018, when she was first detained.

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July 9th 2021, 7:14 pm

Didi the latest casualty as China tackles tech’s ‘barbaric growth’

Technology | The Guardian

Analysis: multiple state agencies have been drafting rules to regulate China’s booming, anarchic tech sector

China’s biggest ride-hailing company, Didi, is the latest casualty of Beijing’s effort to rein in upstart tech companies that had been left to their own devices in the absence of proper regulation.

The Cyberspace Administration of China’s ban on Didi listing its app on mobile app stores in China, only days after the company floated on the New York stock exchange, prompted a sharp selloff of Didi’s shares. The debacle has angered investors after it was reported that Chinese authorities had for months cautioned Didi against rushing into a US listing owing to data security concerns.

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July 9th 2021, 2:44 pm

Cryptocurrency firm Circle to float in US in $4.5bn merger deal

Technology | The Guardian

Operator behind USD Coin will merge with company chaired by former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond

Circle, the company behind digital currency USD Coin, is to float in the US in a $4.5bn (£3.27bn) merger deal with a company chaired by former Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond.

It will merge with Concord Acquisition Corp, which is chaired by Diamond, with the combined business to be taken over by a newly formed Irish holding company that will then list on the New York Stock Exchange.

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July 8th 2021, 7:57 pm

Montaigne: the 10 funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet)

Technology | The Guardian

We ask Australian comedians to tell us where the funny stuff is online. Montaigne is not a comedian, but she does spent a lot of time on the internet

Hello! I’m Montaigne and I’m a singer-songwriter. I represented Australia at Eurovision this year (and, technically, last year as well). I’m currently writing songs for an indie video game and preparing to release new music, and I have just announced a tour.

When I’m not doing these sorts of things, I’m on the internet. That’s right. I’m a little internet grub. More than anything, I love things that make me laugh. The internet: it makes me laugh. Here are some things that have made me bust my frickin’ guts.

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July 8th 2021, 7:57 pm

Will Trump’s big tech lawsuits succeed? Experts say chances are slim

Technology | The Guardian

Legal scholars suggest former president’s complaint may bring the attention he craves but doesn’t present a serious legal argument

Donald Trump may have filed lawsuits against Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, claiming he and other conservatives have been censored – but legal scholars say his case is probably doomed to fail.

The former president was suspended from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube after the 6 January Capitol attack over fears he would incite further violence. Trump on Wednesday filed class-action lawsuits in federal court in Miami against the three companies, arguing these suspensions violated the first amendment, despite the fact that the companies are private and therefore subject to different rules.

“Trump has the first amendment argument exactly wrong,” said Paul Barrett, the deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights. “The first amendment applies to government censorship or speech regulation. It does not stop private sector corporations from regulating content on their platforms.”

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July 8th 2021, 7:57 pm

New Nintendo Switch model announced for October

Technology | The Guardian

The upgraded OLED model will have a bigger screen and more storage for games

Nintendo has announced a new version of the Nintendo Switch, due out on 8 October this year. The Nintendo Switch OLED model will have a larger and brighter 7in screen, a wide kickstand for tabletop play, enhanced audio in handheld mode and 64GB of storage for games. Like the 2017 Nintendo Switch, it can be slotted into a dock for playing on a TV at home, or taken out and played as a handheld console. The TV dock will also have a wired LAN port, an important addition for those who like to play competitively online.

An upgraded model of Nintendo’s successful console has been rumoured for the past year, and was at one point expected to be announced during E3 last June. It will be available on the same day as Metroid Dread, the most anticipated game in Nintendo’s 2021 lineup.

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July 7th 2021, 12:42 pm

Japanese fax fans rally to defence of much-maligned machine

Technology | The Guardian

Ministers back down after hundreds of government offices insist banishing fax would be impossible

Most bureaucrats might be expected to welcome the chance to be freed from the tyranny of the fax machine. But in Japan, government plans to send the must-have item of 1980s office equipment the way of telex have in effect been scrapped after they encountered resistance from “faxophile” officials.

A cabinet body that promotes administrative reform said in June it had decided to abolish the use of fax machines “as a rule” by the end of the month and switch to emails at ministries and agencies in the Tokyo district of Kasumigaseki, Japan’s bureaucratic nerve centre.

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July 7th 2021, 12:42 pm

US urged to investigate deceptive Facebook ads tied to rightwing group

Technology | The Guardian

Watchdog calls for inquiry after Guardian investigation reveals ‘Green party’ ads were placed by conservative marketing firm

A campaign finance watchdog group has requested that the justice department open a criminal investigation into the figures behind a series of deceptive Facebook ads that promoted Green party candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.

A Guardian investigation recently revealed that the ads were placed by a major conservative marketing firm, contradicting an inquiry by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which accepted the statement of Evan Muhlstein that he was responsible for the ads and had failed to comply with FEC reporting requirements due to “inexperience”.

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July 7th 2021, 7:57 am

Who’s behind the Kaseya ransomware attack – and why is it so dangerous?

Technology | The Guardian

The breach has affected hundreds of businesses around the world, and experts fear the worst is yet to come

Hackers last week infiltrated a Florida-based information technology firm and deployed a ransomware attack, seizing troves of data and demanding $70m in payment for its return.

The hack of the Kaseya firm, which is already being called “the biggest ransomware attack on record”, has affected hundreds of businesses globally, including supermarkets in Sweden and schools in New Zealand.

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July 7th 2021, 1:09 am

UK supercomputer Cambridge-1 to hunt for medical breakthroughs

Technology | The Guardian

Computer – the most powerful in Britain – will use AI to find new cures and deepen understanding of diseases

The UK’s most powerful supercomputer, which its creators hope will make the process of preventing, diagnosing and treating disease better, faster and cheaper, is operational.

Christened Cambridge-1, the supercomputer represents a $100m investment by US-based computing company Nvidia. The idea capitalises on artificial intelligence (AI) – which combines big data with computer science to facilitate problem-solving – in healthcare.

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July 6th 2021, 7:25 pm

Chinese-owned firm acquires UK’s largest semiconductor manufacturer

Technology | The Guardian

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat raises concerns about deal in light of global computer chip shortage

The UK’s largest producer of semiconductors has been acquired by the Chinese-owned manufacturer Nexperia, prompting a senior Tory MP to call for the government to review the sale to a foreign owner during an increasingly severe global shortage of computer chips.

Nexperia, a Dutch firm owned by China’s Wingtech, said on Monday that it had taken full control of Newport Wafer Fab (NWF), the UK’s largest producer of silicon chips, which are vital in products from TVs and mobile phones to cars and games consoles.

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July 6th 2021, 3:23 pm

In defence of email, the tech marvel we couldn’t do without | Joanne McNeil

Technology | The Guardian

Don’t blame the medium for our inbox anxiety. The more fundamental issue is how work dominates our lives

I am about to defend the seemingly indefensible: email, the inbox, all of it. And yes, I’m offering this case at a time when it might sound especially unlikely. This is the season of holiday responder messages and out-of-office replies. The back-and-forth of delayed communications makes email an especially draining project during the summer.

I’m not unfamiliar with the paralysing anxiety that settles in when I see a notification that my unread messages total some ungodly number. I probably owe an email to a percentage of people reading this. (Sorry! Things are a bit busy!) And I’d love to never see the words “hope this message finds you well” again in my life. But the decentralised wonder that is email isn’t the cause of my stress; the real problem is work and too much of it, as relayed through these messages. When it comes to communications systems, email – a technology that’s 50 years old this year – is hard to beat.

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July 6th 2021, 3:23 pm

Ransomware hackers demand $70m after attack on US software firm Kaseya

Technology | The Guardian

Between 800 and 1,500 businesses around the world, including supermarkets and dentists’ offices, affected by attack

Between 800 and 1,500 businesses around the world have been affected by a ransomware attack centered on the US information technology firm Kaseya, its chief executive said on Monday.

Related: Republicans’ effort to deny the Capitol attack is working – and it’s dangerous

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July 6th 2021, 3:23 pm

Google, Facebook and other tech companies threaten to quit Hong Kong over privacy law

Technology | The Guardian

Asia Internet Coalition, including Twitter and Apple, sounds warning over amendments to laws that could see individuals hit with ‘severe sanctions’

Tech giants including Google, Facebook, and Twitter could stop offering services to Hong Kong if the city moves forward with laws to impose penalties on users who publicly release identifying information about individual or organisations,an Asian industry group has warned.

The Asia Internet Coalition, which counts the three major companies as well as Apple Inc and LinkedIn as members, wrote to Hong Kong’s Privacy Commissioner to warn that privacy laws which could see undefined “severe sanctions” against individuals for so-called doxing were “not aligned with global norms and trends”.

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July 6th 2021, 3:23 pm

Welcome to dystopia: getting fired from your job as an Amazon worker by an app | Jessa Crispin

Technology | The Guardian

This is the most boring possible Terminator sequel - the robots are here to text you snidely that you won’t need to come into work ever again

We were initially anxious about the introduction of robots into our workforce because of the potential disappearance of manual labor jobs. Robots would take over factories, we were told, they’d drive our cars and trucks, and they would do all of the cleaning that janitorial and domestic workers are currently hired to do. But it turns out auto-pilots drive cars about as well as my cat when he’s drunk, and the way my friend’s Roomba always gets lost under the kitchen table, spinning uselessly, unable to find his way out, suggests we’ll still need people with brooms for a while now.

Related: Stressed-out Amazon workers can now access ‘mindfulness’ training. Gee, thanks | Jessa Crispin

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July 5th 2021, 8:53 pm

Venu 2 review: can Garmin make a good smartwatch?

Technology | The Guardian

Fitness firm’s new Apple Watch-rival looks the part and tracks loads of data but lacks some real smarts

Garmin’s latest device aims to beat the Apple Watch and rivals at their own game, offering longer battery life and better fitness tracking in a more traditional touchscreen smartwatch body.

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July 5th 2021, 8:53 pm

Deep sea robots will let us find millions of shipwrecks, says man who discovered Titanic

Technology | The Guardian

A revolutionary new class of amphibious vehicle will transform the search for lost vessels on the ocean floor, says marine archaeologist Dr Robert Ballard

He is the celebrated deep-sea explorer who discovered the Titanic, as well as the German battleship Bismarck and other historic sunken vessels around the world.

Now Dr Robert Ballard is pioneering cutting-edge technology – autonomous underwater vehicles that will “revolutionise” the search for more than three million shipwrecks that lie scattered across ocean floors, according to a Unesco estimate. Many will offer new insights into life on board at the time of sinking, hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

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July 5th 2021, 8:53 pm

Tom Barker obituary

Technology | The Guardian

My grandfather Tom Barker, who has died of cancer aged 84, was a pivotal figure in mechanical engineering. He collaborated with some of the world’s best architects, putting heat, sound, light and air at the forefront of design. As director of Ove Arup & Partners (now Arup Group), the global engineering company, he was known for his work on the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Lloyd’s building in London, among many others.

Tom led Arup’s engineering group for 26 years, designing for key projects such as the Menil Collection museum in Houston, Texas, and Kansai international airport in Osaka, Japan, with Peter Rice.

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July 5th 2021, 8:53 pm

This space race has its downside… Rocketwoman Wally Funk joins crew for Jeff Bezos’s ego trip

Technology | The Guardian

The veteran US pilot is set to become the oldest woman in space – the only snag is she has to go with the Amazon billionaire

You have to feel for the American pilot Wally Funk. You would sympathise with anyone with that name, but she has had a particularly mixed week. On one hand, at 82, she is set to finally fulfil her life’s ambition and travel into space. Funk was one of the most promising female candidates for the Mercury 13 programme in the 1960s, but was denied a spot because of her gender. Right stuff, wrong parts. On Thursday, the Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, announced on Instagram that Wally would become the oldest person in space as one of the four passengers on New Shepard, the rocket being launched by his company Blue Origin on 20 July. “I didn’t think I’d ever get to go up,” Funk said in an interview.

The obvious downside, which she was too polite to mention, is that she has to ride with Bezos, his brother and one other, in a kind of UberPool from hell. She ought to have been more specific to the genie. Midlife does strange things to men, and so does being a billionaire. The combination leads to some odd outcomes. Not content with building his own rockets, Jeff, as he approaches 60, has decided to start riding them as well. Towers and yachts are so passé. Private space travel is the thing. Elon Musk is at it, too, and presumably a load of guys in China.

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July 4th 2021, 5:06 am

US companies scramble to contain international ransomware attack

Technology | The Guardian

Hack closes Swedish grocery stores as head of targeted software supplier Kaseya says it is preparing a patch

Businesses across the US rushed on Saturday to contain a ransomware attack that paralyzed computer networks around the world, a situation complicated in the US by offices being lightly staffed at the start of the Fourth of July weekend.

In Sweden, most of the grocery chain Coop’s 800 stores were unable to open because cash registers weren’t working, according to the public broadcaster. State railways and a major pharmacy chain were also affected.

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July 3rd 2021, 5:53 pm

Enjoy the restored Night Watch, but don’t ignore the machine behind the Rembrandt

Technology | The Guardian

The computer restoration of this masterpiece illustrates both the benefits and the dangers of AI

In the late 1970s I lived and worked briefly in the Netherlands. Often, on Sundays, I would travel to Amsterdam, go to the morning concert in the Spiegelzaal of the Concertgebouw, and afterwards walk over to the Rijksmuseum, Holland’s national gallery, and spend a couple of hours there. The museum is a wonderful storehouse of Dutch art and there was always much to explore. But on nearly every visit I found myself being drawn back to one of Rembrandt’s most famous pictures – The Night Watch – which I guess is to the Rijksmuseum what the Mona Lisa is to the Louvre.

Its official title is Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq. It came to be called The Night Watch because by the end of the 18th century it had darkened considerably through the accumulation of layers of dirt and varnish, leading to the belief that the painted scene had occurred after dusk.

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July 3rd 2021, 5:53 pm

Latest ransomware attack appears to hit hundreds of American businesses

Technology | The Guardian

The US cybersecurity agency said it was investigating the attack after an incident at the Miami-based IT firm Kaseya

Hundreds of American businesses have been hit by a ransomware attack ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend, according to the cybersecurity company Huntress Labs.

Huntress Labs said on Friday that 200 American businesses were hit after an incident at the Miami-based IT firm Kaseya, potentially marking the latest in a line of hacks destabilizing US companies.

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July 3rd 2021, 5:22 am
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