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‘Amoral 21st-century mercenaries’: problems mount for NSO Group

Technology | The Guardian

Israeli spyware firm’s problems go from bad to worse as scathing Apple lawsuit follows US blacklisting

Shalev Hulio, the co-founder of Israel’s NSO Group, was in Washington DC on a mission to try to resuscitate the surveillance company’s battered reputation on Capitol Hill shortly before the news broke that he had probably arrived too late to make a difference.

With little advance warning to its allies in Israel, the Biden administration announced on 3 November that it was putting the spyware maker – one of the most sophisticated cyber-weapons companies in the world – on a US blacklist, citing use of the company’s software by regimes around the world for “transnational repression”.

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

What is it like trying to fix an iPhone yourself?

Technology | The Guardian

Apple is offering repair kits from next year so the Guardian spent a day in a specialist shop to see how it’s done

When fixing an iPhone screen, you have to be careful with the heat gun – the clue is in the name.

If you overheat the handset you can damage the insides even before you can lever off a cracked screen, let alone replace it with another. And then you have to remember which screw is which.

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

Extinction Rebellion blockades Amazon UK hubs on Black Friday

Technology | The Guardian

Activists target distribution network to highlight company’s treatment of workers and environmental impact

Climate activists have blockaded Amazon distribution centres across the UK to highlight the company’s treatment of its workforce and what they say are its “environmentally destructive and wasteful business practices”.

Scores of Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists locked themselves together and used bamboo structures in an attempt to disrupt the online retail company’s distribution network on Black Friday – one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

Battery power: five innovations for cleaner, greener electric vehicles

Technology | The Guardian

EVs are seen as key in transition to low-carbon economy, but as their human and environmental costs become clearer, can new tech help?

While the journey to a low-carbon economy is well under way, the best route to get there remains up for debate. But, amid the slew of “pathways” and “roadmaps”, one broad consensus exists: “clean” technology will play a vital role.

Nowhere is this truer than for transport. To cut vehicle emissions, an alternative to the combustion engine is required.

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

‘I am not gonna die on the internet for you!’: how game streaming went from dream job to a burnout n

Technology | The Guardian

Gamers are making millions by playing in front of audiences on platforms like Twitch. But when fame and money counts on you always being on, can you ever switch off?

It is June 2018, and I am sitting at a table in a needlessly fancy restaurant in LA with a bunch of teenagers. Well, some of them must be over 21 as they are able to order alcohol, but most are sticking to Coke or sparkling water with their overpriced steaks. These are some of the up-and-coming stars of Twitch, the livestreaming platform that now broadcasts about 2bn hours per month from more than 9m channels, most of which involve people filming themselves and chatting while playing video games. Later, there will be a lavish party in a similarly extravagant club, where the streamers with the most views and subscribers will be treated like celebrities in the VIP area.

And, well, they are celebrities. They have millions of followers. They are stopped in the street or at airports by people wanting a selfie and an autograph. Unlike pro gamers, whose job is to be good enough at video games to win tournaments, a streamer’s job is to be entertaining enough – while playing anything from first person shooters to racing games – to win fans. Back in 2018, streaming was already a huge deal; now, bolstered by the pandemic and an ever-growing audience that boosted Twitch’s viewership by 70% in 2020, it is even bigger. To draw a comparison that makes me feel about 4,000 years old, they are their generation’s rock stars.

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

Christmas gifts: the best tech gadgets for all the family

Technology | The Guardian

From smartphones to tablets and headphones to laptop bags, there is plenty to choose from

If you are stuck for ideas for Christmas gifts this year and looking for something more exciting than socks, here are some gadgets that might be just the ticket.

From folding phones, headphones and VR headsets to smart speakers and eco-friendly phone cases, all of these great gadgets are excellent, built to last and won’t end up languishing in a drawer or, worse, the bin.

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November 27th 2021, 3:26 pm

Cryptocurrency miners using hacked cloud accounts, Google warns

Technology | The Guardian

‘Threat horizon’ report by tech firm’s cybersecurity action team details hacking threats to cloud service

Cyberhackers are using compromised cloud accounts to mine cryptocurrency, Google has warned.

Details of the mining hack are contained in a report by Google’s cybersecurity action team, which spots hacking threats against its cloud service – a remote storage system where Google stores customers’ data and files off-site – and gives advice on how to tackle them.

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November 25th 2021, 2:47 pm

Samsung to build $17bn semiconductor factory in Texas

Technology | The Guardian

Group’s biggest single US investment comes amid global chip shortage and related national security concerns

Samsung has said it will build a $17bn (£12.7bn) semiconductor factory in Texas, amid a global shortage of chips used in cars, phones and other electronic devices.

The plant just outside Austin would be the South Korean company’s biggest US investment and is expected to be operational in the second half of 2024.

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November 24th 2021, 3:31 pm

India to ban private cryptocurrencies and launch official digital currency

Technology | The Guardian

Proposed legislation follows warning from Narendra Modi and crackdown in China

The Indian government is preparing to ban private cryptocurrencies and allow the country’s central bank to launch an official digital currency.

The proposed legislation follows a crackdown on cryptocurrencies in China, where financial regulators and the central bank have made all digital currency transactions illegal.

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November 24th 2021, 3:31 pm

TechScape: why Apple will now let you fix your own iPhone

Technology | The Guardian

Up for discussion in this week’s newsletter: the tech giant’s new at-home repair programme is good for customers – but there’s reason to be cynical


It’s risky for me to boldly state that technology news has quietened down in recent weeks. For one thing, confidently saying that nothing much is going on is the best way to summon up a news event breaking 15 seconds after I hit “send” on this email.

Also, though, I’m currently sitting at home up to my eyeballs in parental leave. While I’m still compulsively keeping up with every tiny news story that breaks in my sector (if I could simply switch off that instinct, I wouldn’t be doing this job), I’m aware that my connection to many of them is less vivid than it used to be when I was desperately trying to find a new angle to move the story on for that day’s paper.

Apple today announced Self Service Repair, which will allow customers who are comfortable with completing their own repairs access to Apple genuine parts and tools. Available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips, Self Service Repair will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022. Customers join more than 5,000 Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) and 2,800 Independent Repair Providers who have access to these parts, tools, and manuals.

The unnamed woman sent her iPhone for repair on 14 January 2016 to an Apple-approved repair contractor called Pegatron Technology Service in California. Technicians there then uploaded “extremely personal and private material” to the woman’s Facebook account and other internet locations, the documents said.

The videos were uploaded to appear as though the woman herself had shared them on purpose, according to the documents, causing the woman “severe emotional distress”. The woman was made aware of the incident when friends saw the videos and images on Facebook.

The document, one of 13 original copies dating from 1787, sold for almost three times its lower estimate of $15m, and more than 260 times the amount it achieved when it last sold for $165,000 in 1988. The bidding at Sotheby’s in New York took eight minutes.

“ConstitutionDAO” had amassed more than £47m, or 11,600 of the cryptocurrency ether, in a few days on its online crowdfunding page. The group, which had committed to putting the document on public display “in the hands of the people”, promised to refund its 17,437 contributors after deducting transaction fees.

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November 24th 2021, 3:31 pm

Apple sues Israeli spyware firm NSO Group for surveillance of users

Technology | The Guardian

iPhone-maker also seeks to ban firm behind Pegasus spyware from using any Apple software, services or devices

Apple has launched a lawsuit against NSO Group, the Israeli spyware company that was recently blacklisted by the Biden administration for acting “contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the US”.

The move marks a sharp turnaround for the technology giant, which previously downplayed the threat posed by the spyware, and underscores growing concern and frustration among technology companies about the proliferation of attacks against its customers.

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November 23rd 2021, 3:16 pm

Lush quits Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat over safety concerns

Technology | The Guardian

Beauty retailer says it has had enough of social media after allegations of whistleblower Frances Haugen

Lush has announced it is closing its accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok until the social media sites do a better job of protecting users from harmful content.

The campaigning beauty retailer said it had “had enough” after the allegations of the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who claims the company puts profit ahead of the public good.

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November 23rd 2021, 2:01 pm

‘Too good to be true’: the rapid rise and costly fall of Bulb Energy

Technology | The Guardian

Challenger company that hoped to win 100 million customers burned through cash as the complaints piled up

Bulb Energy was once the fastest-growing supplier in Britain’s energy market, and one of the UK’s most celebrated startups.

But the company may be best remembered as the biggest casualty of the energy market crisis after it handed the responsibility for supplying gas and electricity to 1.7m homes to a special administrator on Monday.

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November 23rd 2021, 9:17 am

AO World warns of product shortages as Black Friday nears

Technology | The Guardian

Electricals retailer has problems with supplies of items such as iPhones, PlayStations and Xboxes

AO World has warned of shortages of electrical products and delivery drivers before Christmas, as coronavirus disruption pushed one of the pandemic winners into a £10m loss between April and September.

Issuing its second profit warning in two months, the online retailer said shortages had been particularly acute in electronics such as Apple’s iPhone and games consoles including Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox.

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November 23rd 2021, 9:17 am

Elizabeth Holmes to resume testimony in Theranos fraud trial

Technology | The Guardian

Founder of controversial blood-testing startup is testifying in her own defense in widely followed Silicon Valley trial

The Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is set to begin a second day of testimony in her own defense, in a widely followed fraud trial that could have major implications for Silicon Valley.

Flanked by her mother and partner Billy Evans, Holmes brusquely walked into the federal courthouse in San Jose, California, on Monday, past throngs of journalists who had been waiting since the early morning hours to chronicle one of the most high-profile trials the tech world has seen in decades.

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November 22nd 2021, 1:32 pm

Police and banks tell shoppers to be vigilant for Black Friday scams

Technology | The Guardian

Online crime during Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2020 defrauded UK shoppers by £2.5m

Police and banks have warned consumers to be vigilant when shopping in this week’s Black Friday sales, with a rise in scams expected to cost shoppers milions.

Police said crime over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period last year defrauded online shoppers in Britain of £2.5m.

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November 22nd 2021, 4:47 am

Why you and I will pay the price for the next big cybersecurity crisis | John Naughton

Technology | The Guardian

As a former top civil servant has pointed out, private firms seem happy to let governments pick up the pieces when hackers strike

Ciaran Martin is what is known in Whitehall as “a safe pair of hands”. In the 23 years he spent working there he held a number of senior roles within the Cabinet Office, which included negotiating the basis of the Scottish referendum with the Scottish government and being director of security and intelligence. He was also responsible for (and I am not making this up) “spearheading the equalising of the royal succession laws between males and females in the line”. Before that, he had been private secretary to the permanent secretary at the Treasury and then principal private secretary to the cabinet secretary. When the government set up the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in 2016 he was appointed its first director. He now basks as a professor in the luxurious environs of the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University.

Folk with that kind of background generally don’t go in for hyperbole. And yet Martin has recently been all over the mainstream media warning that “nobody is safe from Russia’s digital pirates” (the Spectator), that the “sale of semiconductor factory to Chinese-owned firm presents a bigger UK risk than Huawei” (Daily Telegraph), that UK schools have been “held to ransom” by Russian hackers (BBC Radio 4) and so on. And now here he is in Prospect magazine under the headline “We have privatised our cyber security. The winners are the hackers”.

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November 22nd 2021, 4:47 am

Sky Glass review: streaming TV not quite ready for prime time

Technology | The Guardian

Promise of Sky without satellite dish held back by bugs, clunky catchup apps and content restrictions

Glass is Sky’s new voice-controlled streaming television – an ambitious attempt to ditch the satellite dish and provide pay TV straight to the screen, with no set top box required.

The television comes in three sizes starting at £649 for a 43in screen, or £13 a month over four years, which works out at £25 cheaper too. Sky’s service costs from £25 a month on top.

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November 22nd 2021, 4:47 am

The next giant leap: why Boris Johnson wants to ‘go big’ on quantum computing

Technology | The Guardian

Opportunities for business, health and the environment offered by superfast processors are huge – and so are the hurdles

The technology behind everyday computers such as smartphones and laptops has revolutionised modern life, to the extent that our day-to-day lives are unimaginable without it. But an alternative method of computing is advancing rapidly, and Boris Johnson is among the people who have noticed. He will need to push the boundaries of his linguistic dexterity to explain it.

Quantum computing is based on quantum physics, which looks at how the subatomic particles that make up the universe work. Last week, the prime minister promised the UK would “go big on quantum computing” by building a general-purpose quantum computer, and secure 50% of the global quantum computing market by 2040. The UK will need to get a move on though: big steps have been taken in the field this year by the technology superpowers of China and the US.

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November 21st 2021, 1:03 pm

Can big tech ever be reined in?

Technology | The Guardian

The Biden administration has shown an early determination to tackle the power of Amazon, Google, Facebook and co. But is it already too late?

When historians look back on this period, one of the things that they will find remarkable is that for a quarter of a century, the governments of western democracies slept peacefully while some of the most powerful (and profitable) corporations in history emerged and grew, without let or hindrance, at exponential speeds.

They will wonder at how a small number of these organisations, which came to be called “tech giants” (Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft), acquired, and began to wield, extraordinary powers. They logged and tracked everything we did online – every email, tweet, blog, photograph and social media post we sent, every “like” we registered, every website we visited, every Google search we made, every product we ordered online, every place we visited, which groups we belonged to and who our closest friends were.

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November 21st 2021, 1:03 pm

Meta delays encrypted messages on Facebook and Instagram to 2023

Technology | The Guardian

Move comes as child safety campaigners express concern plans could shield abusers from detection

The owner of Facebook and Instagram is delaying plans to encrypt users’ messages until 2023 amid warnings from child safety campaigners that its proposals would shield abusers from detection.

Mark Zuckerberg’s social media empire has been under pressure to abandon its encryption plans, which the UK home secretary, Priti Patel, has described as “simply not acceptable”.

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November 21st 2021, 7:28 am

App outage locks hundreds of Tesla drivers out of cars

Technology | The Guardian

Dozen of motorists report error as company’s CEO, Elon Musk, apologises on Twitter

Hundreds of Tesla drivers were locked out of their cars at the start of the weekend after the manufacturer’s mobile app suffered an outage – and dozens voiced their complaints on social media.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, said on Friday that the company’s mobile application was coming back online after the app server outage. Musk was responding to a Tesla owner’s tweet, who said that he was experiencing a “500 server error” to connect his Model 3 through the iOS app in Seoul, South Korea.

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November 20th 2021, 5:15 pm

We Morris drivers are on board with renewables | Letter

Technology | The Guardian

Owning a classic car doesn’t make you a little Englander or a climate change denier, writes Ian Allen

Martin Rowson’s insertion of a Morris Traveller into a fossil fuel nightmare scene sparked my interest (Political cartoon, 12 November). Nostalgia is a powerful thing, but it is clearly recognised that it is about the past. The ownership of a classic car of any sort is primarily about past memories, family, holidays and a love of simpler technologies.

It is not emblematic of a wish to reintroduce societal inequalities or to endorse a little Englander mentality. Most owners would recognise that the use of a Minor on a high mileage basis is definitely over, and some have already adopted plug-in electric as everyday transport. I am certain that most would support an economy that had repair and viable reuse at the core. Give us a break, Martin!
Ian Allen
Ely, Cambridgeshire

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November 20th 2021, 5:15 pm

Facebook tests tool to allow users to manage content they see

Technology | The Guardian

Social media platform has been accused of not doing enough to curb inflammatory posts

Facebook is testing a feature allowing users to control how much content they view from friends, groups and public figures, amid accusations that the social media platform is not doing enough to curb inflammatory posts.

Users will be able to reduce or increase the amount of content that they see from specific categories on their news feed, a customised scroll of content from friends, pages and groups that is a central plank of users’ experience of the platform.

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November 20th 2021, 12:42 am

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes testifies at trial in risky move

Technology | The Guardian

The former CEO testified about the early days of setting up her company in surprise decision by her defense team

In a surprise move, Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes took the stand in her own defense on Friday during a fraud trial that has held Silicon Valley in its grip.

The former CEO of the blood-testing company is charged with deceiving investors and customers about a supposedly revolutionary device that could perform hundreds of tests using just a drop of blood. She faces 11 counts of fraud and up to 20 years in prison.

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November 20th 2021, 12:42 am

US states investigate Instagram for ‘wreaking havoc’ on teens’ mental health

Technology | The Guardian

Attorneys general launch bipartisan inquiry after company’s own research showed platform harmed children

A bipartisan coalition of US state attorneys general has opened an investigation into Facebook for promoting Instagram to children despite the company’s own awareness of its potential harms.

The investigation, which involves at least eight states, comes as Facebook faces increasing scrutiny over its approach to children and young adults. Documents leaked by a former employee turned whistleblower recently revealed the company’s own internal research showed the platform negatively affected the mental health of teens, particularly regarding body image issues.

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November 19th 2021, 8:14 am

Facebook demands LAPD end social media surveillance and use of fake accounts

Technology | The Guardian

Company’s letter to LA police chief comes after the Guardian revealed that the department partnered with a tech firm that enables undercover spying

Facebook is demanding that the Los Angeles police department cease all use of “dummy” accounts on its platforms and stop collecting data on users for surveillance.

The letter, addressed to the LAPD chief, Michel Moore, on Thursday, comes after the Guardian contacted Facebook about two stories that revealed the department partnered in 2019 with Voyager Labs, a tech company that claims it can predict “emerging threats” and solve crime by analyzing social media information such as a person’s friends, posts and usernames.

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November 19th 2021, 8:14 am

Rio Tinto’s past casts a shadow over Serbia’s hopes of a lithium revolution

Technology | The Guardian

People in the Jadar valley fear environmental catastrophe as Europe presses for self-sufficiency in battery technology

Photographs by Vladimir Zivojinovic

A battery sign, flashing dangerously low, appears superimposed over a view of the globe as seen from space. “Green technologies, electric cars, clean air – all of these depend on one of the most significant lithium deposits in the world, which is located right here in Jadar, Serbia,” a gravel-voiced narrator announces. “We completely understand your concerns about the environment. Rio Tinto is carrying out detailed analyses, so as to make all of us sure that we develop the Jadar project in line with the highest environmental, security and health standards.”

Beamed into the country’s living rooms on the public service channel RTS, the slick television ad, shown just after the evening news, finishes with images of reassuring scientists and a comforted young couple walking into the sunset: “Rio Tinto: Together we have the chance to save the planet.”

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November 19th 2021, 8:14 am

Apple aims to launch self-driving electric car in 2025, says report

Technology | The Guardian

The vehicle is rumoured to have no steering wheel or pedals, and the interior has a U-shaped seating plan

Apple is stepping up its plans to enter the car market and aims to launch a self-driving electric vehicle in 2025, according to a report.

The tech company’s much-rumoured automotive project has bolstered its ambitions under new leadership and is pushing for a fully self-driving vehicle with no steering wheel or pedals, said Bloomberg. The car’s interior would be designed for hands-off driving, with one possible design featuring passengers sitting around a U-shaped seating formation.

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November 19th 2021, 8:14 am

Cryptographers are not happy with how you’re using the word ‘crypto’

Technology | The Guardian

The renamed Crypto.com Arena is a win for cryptocurrency fans but strikes a blow against the word’s original meaning

The stadium that is home to the Los Angeles Lakers is getting a new name: the Crypto.com Arena. The name reflects the arena’s new sponsorship agreement with a Singapore-based cryptocurrency trading platform. That may be good news for cryptocurrency fanatics – but perhaps not so much for another faction within the digital landscape: cryptographers.

Look up the word “crypto” in Webster’s dictionary, and you’ll see it refers to cryptography, which in turn is defined as “the computerized encoding and decoding of information”. Search “crypto” on Google, however, and you’ll see a host of top results pointing to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum.

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November 19th 2021, 8:14 am

Why are all my weather apps different? – video

Technology | The Guardian

Predicting what is going on with the weather is important. It impacts every aspect of our life: from deciding what to wear and when we go outside to predicting natural disasters and managing a public health crisis. In this digital age, we have a vast array of different apps that can predict the weather to a decent level of accuracy. But there is a frustrating anomaly with weather apps: often they cannot seem to agree. Josh Toussaint-Strauss explores why there are regular discrepancies between weather apps and how to get the best out of them

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November 18th 2021, 9:48 am

Environmentalists sound alarm at US politicians’ embrace of cryptocurrency

Technology | The Guardian

Bitcoin and similar blockchain-based currencies require huge amounts of power, predominantly generated from fossil fuels

The incoming mayor of New York City thinks cryptocurrency and blockchain technology are the future. Eric Adams has advocated to reshape the city into a crypto hotspot, with crypto being taught in schools. He also plans to take his first three paychecks in bitcoin payment.

Adams said in an interview that bitcoin was the “new way of paying for goods and services throughout the entire globe” and that schools “must” teach the technology behind it, as well as “this new way of thinking”.

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November 18th 2021, 2:12 am

Shareholders call on Activision Blizzard CEO to resign after employee walkout

Technology | The Guardian

Video game company faces shareholder rebellion after workers protest against the response to sexual misconduct allegations

The embattled boss of the video game company Activision Blizzard is facing a shareholder rebellion one day after employees staged a walkout to protest about the company’s response to sexual misconduct allegations at the firm.

“In contrast to past company statements, CEO Bobby Kotick was aware of many incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault and gender discrimination at Activision Blizzard, but failed either to ensure that the executives and managers responsible were terminated or to recognize and address the systematic nature of the company’s hostile workplace culture,” a group of shareholders, led by the Strategic Organizing Center (SOC) Investment Group and holding a total of 4.8m shares, wrote in a letter shared on Wednesday with the Washington Post.

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November 18th 2021, 2:12 am

Watchdog investigates tube adverts for Floki Inu cryptocurrency

Technology | The Guardian

Advertising Standards Authority receives complaints about ads for meme coin named after Elon Musk’s dog

The UK advertising watchdog has launched an investigation into a London bus and underground ad campaign for Floki Inu, a “meme coin” cryptocurrency named after a dog owned by Elon Musk, as pressure rises to ban the marketing of crypto products on public transport networks.

The Advertising Standards Authority launched the investigation after receiving complaints about Floki’s latest campaign.

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November 18th 2021, 2:12 am

Amazon to stop accepting UK-issued Visa credit cards

Technology | The Guardian

Company blames the move, which will start on 19 January, on the cost of processing payments

Amazon has told customers that it plans to stop accepting payments made with UK-issued Visa credit cards in January.

In an email to users of the site, it blamed the cost of processing the payments, telling them: “Starting 19 January 2022, we will unfortunately no longer accept Visa credit cards issued in the UK, due to the high fees Visa charges for processing credit card transactions.”

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November 18th 2021, 2:12 am

Apple to sell parts and tools for DIY iPhone repairs

Technology | The Guardian

Online order service to launch with sales of screen, battery and camera parts for iPhones 12 and 13

Cracked your iPhone screen but cannot find a repair shop or book a slot at the Apple store? Then try your kitchen table.

From next year phone owners can fix their handset at home after the tech company said it would make repair kits available to the public.

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November 18th 2021, 2:12 am

UK tackles record cyber incidents as Russian ransomware attacks increase

Technology | The Guardian

National Cyber Security Centre says cyberattacks at record high and urges businesses not to pay up

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said it tackled a record number of cyber incidents in the UK over the last year, with ransomware attacks originating from Russia dominating its activities.

The cybersecurity agency said it had helped deal with a 7.5% increase in cases in the year to August, fuelled by the surge of criminal hackers seizing control of corporate data and demanding payment in cryptocurrency for its return.

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November 17th 2021, 4:49 am

JPMorgan sues Tesla for $162m after Musk tweets soured share deal

Technology | The Guardian

Investment bank says it lost millions because of tweets by Elon Musk that he might take electric carmaker private

JPMorgan has sued Tesla for $162.2m, accusing Elon Musk’s electric car company of “flagrantly” breaching a 2014 contract relating to stock trading options that Tesla sold to the bank.

The options, or warrants, give the holder the right to buy a company’s stock at a set “strike” price and date. The suit, filed in a Manhattan federal court, centres on a dispute over how JPMorgan repriced its Tesla warrants as a result of Musk’s notorious 2018 tweet that he was considering taking the carmaker private.

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November 16th 2021, 10:26 pm

‘An egregious breach of public trust’: Ohio sues Meta over whistleblower revelations

Technology | The Guardian

Ohio attorney general says Facebook ‘was creating misery and divisiveness for profit’

Filing suit in response to whistleblower allegations which have rocked Facebook, the attorney general of Ohio, Dave Yost, accused the social media company of “creating misery and divisiveness for profit”.

Yost sued Meta – as Facebook was recently renamed – after revelations from the whistleblower Frances Haugen shocked consumers and sent stock prices tumbling.

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November 16th 2021, 6:43 pm

Israeli firm’s spyware linked to attacks on websites in UK and Middle East

Technology | The Guardian

Toronto-based researchers say new evidence suggests Candiru’s software used to target critics of autocratic regimes

Researchers have found new evidence that suggests spyware made by an Israeli company that was recently blacklisted in the US has been used to target critics of Saudi Arabia and other autocratic regimes, including some readers of a London-based news website.

A report by Montreal-based researchers from Slovakian company Eset, an internet security firm, found links between attacks against high-profile websites in the Middle East and UK, and the Israeli company Candiru, which has been called Israel’s “most mysterious cyberwarfare company”.

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November 16th 2021, 12:29 pm

Amazon to pay $500,000 fine for failing to notify workers of Covid cases

Technology | The Guardian

In a landmark US judgment, California official says the company failed to ‘adequately notify’ employees and local health agencies

Amazon has agreed to pay a $500,000 fine and be monitored by California officials after the state’s attorney general said the company failed to “adequately notify” workers and health authorities about new Covid-19 cases.

Amazon employs about 150,000 people in California, most of them at 100 “fulfillment centers” – sprawling warehouses where orders are packed and shipped. The agreement, which must be approved by a judge, requires the Seattle-based retailer to notify its workers within a day of new coronavirus cases in their workplaces.

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November 16th 2021, 12:29 pm

The executive suing Amazon Web Services: ‘I wouldn’t want my worst enemy working there’

Technology | The Guardian

Cindy Warner saw a promising career at the cloud computing company. What she found, she says, was ‘toxic’

When Cindy Warner joined Amazon Web Services in February 2020, she saw it as an opportunity to increase diversity and reshape the company’s strategy. She recalls how AWS “aggressively” recruited her, offering a quick path to higher-level roles and better pay.

But just over a year after she joined, the promising job had become a nightmare.

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November 16th 2021, 12:29 pm

Facebook and Instagram gathering browsing data from under-18s, study says

Technology | The Guardian

Parent company Meta denies data being used to target young users with ads based on their browsing activity

Facebook and Instagram are gathering data from under-18s by using software that tracks users’ web browsing activity, according to research.

The platforms’ parent company had announced in July that it would allow advertisers to target young users based on three categories only – age, gender and location – rather than a range of options including their personal interests.

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November 16th 2021, 12:29 pm

iPhone 13 Pro Max review: Apple’s heavyweight super phone

Technology | The Guardian

Top-priced, big screen, two-day battery life and cracking cameras – but just too heavy to beat the best

Apple’s latest super-sized smartphone is a beast in all directions, but is bigger really better?

The iPhone 13 Pro Max is Apple’s most expensive smartphone, starting at £1,049 ($1,099/A$1,849) – at least £100 more than other models. With the same chips, software, design and camera as the regular sized 13 Pro, size is the key differentiator.

Screen: 6.7in Super Retina XDR with ProMotion (120Hz OLED) (458ppi)

Processor: Apple A15 Bionic

RAM: 6GB

Storage: 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB

Operating system: iOS 15.1

Camera: Triple 12MP rear cameras with OIS, 12MP front-facing camera

Connectivity: 5G, wifi 6, NFC, Bluetooth 5, Lightning, ultra wideband and GNSS

Water resistance: IP68 (6 metres for 30 mins)

Dimensions: 160.8 x 78.1 x 7.7mm

Weight: 240g

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November 15th 2021, 7:12 am

Elon Musk targets Bernie Sanders over tax: ‘I keep forgetting you’re still alive’

Technology | The Guardian

Elon Musk waded into yet another Twitter controversy on Sunday, the Tesla owner and world’s richest person responding to a tweet about tax from Senator Bernie Sanders by writing: “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive.”

Sanders, 80, wrote: “We must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share. Period.”

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November 14th 2021, 2:26 pm

An exclusive type of club called ‘Dao’ is popping up online. What’s it all about? | Geoff Mak

Technology | The Guardian

We are told these members-only groups are the beginnings of Web 3.0. Are they all they are hyped up to be?

I have seen the light, and I was not convinced. This month, I was invited to a party hosted by Friends With Benefits, an exclusive club of artists and investors who have access to a private chatroom on Discord and parties in cities like Miami and New York. The image has a subversive sheen: techno DJs and venture capitalists in ripped designer jeans throwing secret raves. The club’s “manifesto” describes a “bright future” for the “ultimate cultural membership” where “prosperity is abundant” and “data and payments are fluid”, just like gender.

Friends With Benefits was founded in 2020 by Trever McFedries who, after bringing the VR popstar Lil Miquela into the world, had higher ambitions than animating a robot to make out with Bella Hadid in an underwear commercial. “Capital as a weapon is intriguing to me,” said McFedries in a YouTube speech. Having seen Occupy “fail miserably” while GameStop “toppled a hedge fund in four days”, he set his sights on creating a DAO.

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November 14th 2021, 2:26 pm

Battery failures like Johnson Matthey risk leaving British carmakers disconnected

Technology | The Guardian

The UK automotive industry will need a large local supply of battery capacity. If it does not get it, it could shrink quickly

The end of the internal combustion engine was one of the goals identified by Boris Johnson before Cop26.

The climate summit in Glasgow has delivered in part – some manufacturers and a few big countries said last week they would end sales of fossil fuel cars by 2040. Neither Volkswagen nor Toyota, the world’s two biggest carmakers, signed up, because of concerns over electric charger availability in poorer countries, but nevertheless the path is clear. Petrol and diesel are on their way out. Battery electric cars are on the way in.

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November 14th 2021, 6:56 am

Houses of tomorrow: A more hopeful vision of domesticity, or a dystopian nightmare?

Technology | The Guardian

In the future, will we find a better way to live, or will our homes be taken over by surveillance and despotic appliances?

Imagine, if you can, a small, bluish room. Wires, screens, sensors. A few keepsakes from the old world. The room’s fleshy inhabitant, confined indoors by a zoonotic pandemic, greenwashes a data-mining company from her bed. The government has made it illegal for her to step outside.

There is a communal kitchen down the corridor, which she shares with a few strangers she met online, but mostly she orders her meals via an interface and eats them here. Microphones record her interactions. A motion sensor on her wrist reminds her to optimise her performance. Filled with saudade for the dying world outside, she has bought a few rainforest plants to brighten the space. Her pocket surveillance device reminds her to water them. She catches the news: the world’s richest man has just left the Earth’s atmosphere.

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November 14th 2021, 6:56 am

Yes, DeepMind crunches the numbers – but is it really a magic bullet? | John Naughton

Technology | The Guardian

The machine learning outfit’s foray into pharmaceuticals could be very useful, but its grand claims should be taken with a pinch of salt

The most interesting development of the week had nothing to do with Facebook or even Google losing its appeal against a €2.4bn fine from the European commission for abusing its monopoly of search to the detriment of competitors to its shopping service. The bigger deal was that DeepMind, a London-based offshoot of Google (or, to be precise, its holding company, Alphabet) was moving into the pharmaceutical business via a new company called Isomorphic Labs, the goal of which is grandly described as “reimagining the entire drug discovery process from first principles with an AI-first approach”.

Since they’re interested in first principles, let us first clarify that reference to AI. What it means in this context is not anything that is artificially intelligent, but simply machine learning, a technology of which DeepMind is an acknowledged master. AI has become a classic example of Orwellian newspeak adopted by the tech industry to sanitise a data-gobbling, energy-intensive technology that, like most things digital, has both socially useful and dystopian applications.

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November 13th 2021, 1:43 pm

Fifteen times more child sexual abuse material found online than 10 years ago

Technology | The Guardian

Experts from Internet Watch Foundation demand UK uses online safety bill to protect children

Experts are finding fifteen times as much child sexual abuse material online as they were a decade ago, figures show.

The online safety organisation the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), said its analysts were facing a “tidal wave” of abuse material. It called on the government to ensure the online safety bill, intended to improve internet safety, was used to protect children.

IWF figures show that this year it has acted against a record amount of more than 200,000 websites containing child sexual abuse material. That is 15 times more than in 2011, when there were just over 13,000 reports of abusive content.

Susie Hargreaves, the charity’s chief executive, said while major improvements in detection technology and the hiring of more analysts had helped uncover more criminal material, it remained a growing problem.

“I took up my position as chief executive of the IWF in 2011 and, since then, we have seen a truly mammoth increase in the amount of this harmful, hurtful material available freely on the open web. We’ve more than tripled the number of analysts at the IWF in that time,” she said.

“In 2014 we were given the ability to proactively search for this material, which was a gamechanger for us, making us unique among non-law-enforcement bodies. But the sad fact is, the problem has outpaced the efforts around the world. We’re continuing to build world-class technology which helps us, and companies globally, to tackle this criminality, but it’s the work of our human analysts which really sets the IWF apart.”

She added that the figures highlighted why it was so important that the government placed the protection of children on the internet at the centre of the proposed online safety bill, its planned regulation for the tech sector.

“Our analysts, every day, are holding back a tidal wave of criminal material, preventing it from spreading even further online, and stopping criminals from sharing the horrendous abuse of innocent children. This is why the role we play in the online safety regulation is so important. We need to see real action now to halt this rise.

“The new online safety bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make sure children’s safety is front and centre, and that our digital future is built around a core of measures to protect children.”

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November 13th 2021, 7:11 am

Elon Musk sells $5bn in Tesla stock days after Twitter poll

Technology | The Guardian

Billionaire offloads around 3% of his holding – though £1bn was already in train before he asked Twitter users about reducing his stake

Elon Musk has sold about $5bn in shares amounting to roughly 3% of his Tesla holdings, the billionaire reported in filings on Wednesday, just days after he polled Twitter users about selling 10% of his stake.

About $4bn worth of the sale – 3.6m shares – could be considered as counting towards his 10% pledge on Twitter. Another $1.1bn worth, amounting to 934,000 shares, was sold under an options arrangement to acquire nearly 2.2m shares that was already in train before the poll.

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November 11th 2021, 7:12 am

Algorithmic tracking is ‘damaging mental health’ of UK workers

Technology | The Guardian

Report by MPs and peers says monitoring worker performance using AI should be regulated by law

Monitoring of workers and setting performance targets through algorithms is damaging employees’ mental health and needs to be controlled by new legislation, according to a group of MPs and peers.

An “accountability for algorithms act’” would ensure that companies evaluate the effect of performance-driven regimes such as queue monitoring in supermarkets or deliveries-per-hour guidelines for delivery drivers, said the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on the future of work.

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November 11th 2021, 7:12 am

Bezos-backed electric carmaker Rivian in biggest US float since Facebook

Technology | The Guardian

Company was briefly worth over £100bn after flotation, more than Ford or General Motors

The Jeff Bezos-backed electric carmaker Rivian has raised more than $11bn in a stock market sale that briefly valued the company at more than $100bn in one of the world’s biggest ever floats.

The share sale on Wednesday was the largest since Facebook in 2012 and valued Rivian higher than Ford or General Motors, even though before the sale the company revealed it had lost more than $2bn since the start of last year and had delivered just 53 vehicles by the end of last month. It plans to deliver 1,000 by the end of the year.

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November 11th 2021, 7:12 am

Uber raises London prices by 10% in effort to lure back drivers

Technology | The Guardian

Ride-hailing app says increase will provide better rider experience after lockdown led to driver departures

Uber is to increase its rates by 10% in London in an attempt to lure drivers back on to its platform, as cab companies across the UK struggle to meet booming demand.

Customers using the ride-hailing app have faced longer waits and more cancellations from drivers cherry-picking jobs in recent weeks, as well as more surge pricing as requests exceed the numbers of cars available.

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November 11th 2021, 7:12 am

Fresh scrutiny for Mexico after arrest of suspect in NSO spyware case

Technology | The Guardian

Businessman allegedly used surveillance tool to spy on journalist, raising questions about authorities’ links to Israeli company

Mexico’s use of spyware made by NSO Group is facing new scrutiny following the arrest of a businessman on allegations that he used the surveillance tool to spy on a journalist.

The arrest of the businessman – who has not formally been named by Mexican prosecutors – comes months after a consortium of media outlets, including the Guardian, published a series of reports detailing how the phone numbers of thousands of Mexicans, including 50 people linked to the country’s current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, appeared on a leaked list of numbers selected by government clients of the Israeli spyware company for possible surveillance.

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November 10th 2021, 2:11 pm

TechScape: what to expect from the online safety bill

Technology | The Guardian

Up for discussion in the Guardian tech newsletter: Facebook and Google will be targets for Ofcom if the government passes the proposed legislation

You wouldn’t blame Ofcom for feeling daunted. The world, or at least the bit of the planet that wants to clean up the internet, is watching the online safety bill and the UK communications regulator has to enforce it. Hearings into the draft bill by a joint committee came to an end last week and if you take a step back and look at what has come out of those sessions since September, it is clear that Ofcom has got a job on its hands.

Quick primer: the bill covers tech firms that allow users to post their own content or to interact with one another. So that means big fish such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat have to obey it but also commercial pornography sites like OnlyFans. Search engines such as Google are also included.

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November 10th 2021, 2:11 pm

Facebook bans ads targeting race, sexual orientation and religion

Technology | The Guardian

Platform says it is responding to feedback on preventing firms from abusing targeting options

Facebook and Instagram are to stop allowing advertisers to target users based on their history of posting, reading or liking content related to subjects such as sexual orientation, religion and political beliefs.

The social media networks’ parent company, Meta Platforms, said from January it would remove detailed targeting options that let advertisers seek out users based on their interactions with causes, organisations or public figures related to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation.

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November 10th 2021, 2:11 pm

Top UK court blocks legal action against Google over internet tracking

Technology | The Guardian

Campaigners sought to sue for £3bn damages on behalf of millions of iPhone users in England and Wales

A £3bn legal action against Google over claims it secretly tracked the internet activity of millions of iPhone users has been blocked by the UK supreme court.

Legal experts said the decision meant the “floodgates” remained closed to class actions on data privacy in England and Wales, although the ruling noted digital technology’s ability to cause “mass harm” to people.

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November 10th 2021, 2:11 pm

So that’s how you do an eating scene! How TikTok swallowed the movies

Technology | The Guardian

The film side of TikTok has plenty of spoofs. But our writer prefers the critics, the metal-jawed burger-biting machine – and the effects experts revealing how to make a camera crew vanish into thin air

Film TikTok is giving film an explosion of energy, a performative and democratised version of cinephilia that celebrates, imitates, teases, lip-syncs, mashes up and mocks – but all the time rubs up against – the movies. Susan Sontag, in Against Interpretation, called for a rich, intuitive kind of criticism that celebrates and reproduces the sensuous effect of art, instead of imposing a coldly pedagogic analysis. I think she’d have loved Film TikTok. And it’s happened over just a few years, propelled by people under the age of 25.

Apart from everything else, Film TikTok may be undermining one of the most fundamental tenets of cinema: that the screen has to be “landscape” style, since anything else looks amateurish and inauthentic. British film-maker Charlie Shackleton recently talked about mentoring a group of young Australian critics and finding how utterly steeped they were in the language of TikTok: asked to take a picture of them on his phone, he recalls his chagrin for turning it sideways – “Like a fucking Lumiere brother!”

Jean-Luc Godard collaged the movies in his epic essay project: Histoire(s) du Cinéma. And Film TikTok is doing something comparable, though without the conspicuous cultural weight and heft. It’s appropriating constituent elements and scenes then reshuffling them, or cutting in new goofy re-enactments. This juxtaposition is a critical act. Overwhelmingly, it’s driven by humour and comedy, and Film TikTok incidentally adores the key TikTok trope of the doppelganger — the shot-reverse-shot of the same people talking to themselves as different characters, shot slightly from below to underline the absurdity.

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November 10th 2021, 2:11 pm

Apple Watch Series 7 review: bigger screen, faster charging, still the best

Technology | The Guardian

Small updates keep Apple at top of smartwatch market, even if it’s not worth upgrading from recent models

The Apple Watch gets a bigger, better screen, faster charging and a small price cut for 2021, which is enough to keep it at the top of the smartwatch market.

The Series 7 version costs from £369 ($399/A$599) and, despite being £10 cheaper than last year’s Series 6, is Apple’s most expensive smartwatch, above the Watch SE costing from £249 ($279/A$429). It requires an iPhone 6S or newer and does not work with Android.

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November 10th 2021, 2:11 pm

Theranos lab chief says Elizabeth Holmes offered ‘implausible’ explanation for odd findings

Technology | The Guardian

Kingshuk Das testifies that former CEO was resistant to critiques of company’s devices

The former lab director of Theranos has testified that Elizabeth Holmes gave “implausible” excuses for apparent failures in the company’s tests and personally pushed back against his concerns about its signature blood testing machines.

Kingshuk Das testified on Tuesday in the high-profile case as the government heads into its 10th week of arguments against the former CEO, who faces accusations that Theranos knowingly defrauded clients and investors about its capabilities.

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November 10th 2021, 3:10 am

Bitcoin price surges to record high of more than $68,000

Technology | The Guardian

Other cryptocurrencies such as ethereum also reach records as investors hedge against inflation

The bitcoin price has reached a new record high, breaking through $68,000 (£50,000), and analysts predict that the world’s best-known cryptocurrency will rise further in the coming weeks.

This beats the previous record high set in late October, when bitcoin reached nearly $67,700 before falling back again when investors discovered a new cryptocurrency, shiba inu. Other cryptocurrencies have also risen to record highs, such as ethereum, which soared to $4,837.

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November 9th 2021, 7:12 am

Apple’s first computer, a collector’s dream, could fetch $500,000 at auction

Technology | The Guardian

Steve Wozniak, Steve and Patricia Jobs and Daniel Kottke built 200 Apple-1 units in Jobs’ home 45 years ago

One of the few remaining Apple-1 computers, the company’s first product, will go on sale this week at an auction that is expected to fetch as much as $600,000.

The 45-year-old computer is one of just 200 that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs tested and designed along with Patty Jobs and Daniel Kottke in the Jobs’ Los Altos home. It is considered a “holy grail” for vintage tech collectors.

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November 8th 2021, 11:57 pm

Girl rescued in US after using TikTok domestic violence hand signal – video

Technology | The Guardian

A 16-year-old girl was rescued in Kentucky after using a hand gesture described on the social media app TikTok to signal to motorists that she was in trouble. The signal – turning the palm outwards and closing the fingers around a tucked thumb – has been demonstrated by users on TikTok and by non-profit organisations like the Canadian Women's Foundation as a way for a person being abused to tell someone they are in trouble without alerting the abuser. 'That hand gesture was everything,' Gilbert Acciardo from the Laurel county sheriff's office said. 'Had that not been been transmitted by the young lady, had there not been someone out there that knew how to interpret what she was doing, then who knows? We might not have had a good resolution on this'

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November 8th 2021, 11:57 pm

Palestinian activists’ mobile phones hacked using NSO spyware, says report

Technology | The Guardian

Investigation finds rights activists working for groups accused by Israel of being terrorist were previously targeted by NSO spyware

The mobile phones of six Palestinian human rights defenders who work for organisations that were recently – and controversially – accused by Israel of being terrorist groups were previously hacked by sophisticated spyware made by NSO Group, according to a report.

An investigation by Front Line Defenders (FLD), a Dublin-based human rights group, found that the mobile phones of Salah Hammouri, a Palestinian rights defender and lawyer whose Jerusalem residency status has been revoked, and five others were hacked using Pegasus, NSO’s signature spyware. In one case, the hacking was found to have occurred as far back as July 2020.

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November 8th 2021, 9:56 am

Firms under fire for using UK influencers to push nicotine products

Technology | The Guardian

Companies accused of using social media influencers to entice young people to try nicotine products

Posing expertly for Instagram snaps, a parade of young and beautiful DJs, models and socialites line up to endorse Velo, a brand of flavoured nicotine pouches made by British American Tobacco (BAT).

Between them, the 26 social media influencers boast 2.2m followers, and an audience that skews young, meaning they are hard to reach through traditional advertising channels.

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November 8th 2021, 9:56 am

Will Elon Musk abide by Twitter poll and sell 10% of his Tesla shares?

Technology | The Guardian

World’s wealthiest person says proposed billionaires tax led to poll, the result of which sent price falling

Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and world’s richest person, asked his 62.8 million Twitter followers over the weekend whether he should sell $21bn (£15.5bn) worth of shares in the electric car company in order to pay tax. Tweeting he would “abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes”, 58% of those who responded said “yes”, he should sell the shares, sending Tesla’s share price down 5% in pre-market trading on Monday.

Why did he do it?
Musk, who is sitting on a paper fortune of more than $338bn in Tesla and Space-X shares, proposed selling 10% of his Tesla shares in order to generate enough money to pay a proposed “billionaires tax” on “unrealised capital gains”.

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November 8th 2021, 9:56 am

Senator behind billionaires tax denounces Elon Musk Twitter poll stunt

Technology | The Guardian

After Elon Musk asked his Twitter followers to vote on whether he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock, the architect of the proposed billionaires tax that prompted the move dismissed the tweet as a stunt.

“Whether or not the world’s wealthiest man pays any taxes at all shouldn’t depend on the results of a Twitter poll,” said Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat and chair of the Senate finance committee. “It’s time for the billionaires income tax.”

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November 7th 2021, 9:24 am

The dawn of tappigraphy: does your smartphone know how you feel before you do?

Technology | The Guardian

Tech companies are seeking to analyse data on the way we tap, scroll, text and call to monitor our mental health – with potential consequences for privacy and healthcare

We all fear our smartphones spy on us, and I’m subject to a new type of surveillance. An app called TapCounter records each time I touch my phone’s screen. My swipes and jabs are averaging about 1,000 a day, though I notice that’s falling as I steer shy of social media to meet my deadline. The European company behind it, QuantActions, promises that through capturing and analysing the data it will be able to “detect important indicators related to mental/neurological health”.

Arko Ghosh is the company’s cofounder and a neuroscientist at Leiden University in the Netherlands. “Tappigraphy patterns” – the time series of my touches – can, he says, confidently be used not only to infer slumber habits (tapping in the wee hours means you are not sleeping) but also mental performance level (the small intervals in a series of key-presses represent a proxy for reaction time), and he has published work to support it.

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November 7th 2021, 5:10 am

Elon Musk asks Twitter followers if he should sell 10% of Tesla stock

Technology | The Guardian

Elon Musk on Saturday asked his 62.5 million followers on Twitter if he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock.

“Much is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock,” Musk wrote in a tweet referring to a “billionaires’ tax” proposed by Democrats in the US Senate.

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November 6th 2021, 6:26 pm

Mark Zuckerberg and the tech bros are still on top – but their grip is loosening | Jane Martinson

Technology | The Guardian

Facebook’s woes cast a long shadow at a European tech summit this week, and it will take more than rebranding to mend them

It has been a bruising time for Facebook. The company is still absurdly profitable – Meta, its renamed parent company, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, generated $86bn (£63bn) in revenues last year, while Facebook’s own revenues grew by 56% in the second quarter. But away from the lucre, there is diminishing lustre. It stands condemned by critics and a widely feted whistleblower. And now it finds its standing diminishing among its peers.

I have been at the Web Summit in Portugal, a sort of Davos for the technology industry, which ended on Thursday with the sense that after years of talk about harm and regulation, the demands are increasing and change is finally in the air.

While it is true that most of the 40,000 startup founders, investors and other attendees still yearn to be the next $7tn company like Meta, there was also genuine discussion about the kind of tech and the kind of society that discovers children are being harmed and democracies undermined and yet does little or nothing about it.

The summit heard again from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who repeated her belief, already expressed to a US Senate subcommittee and backed up by leaked internal documents, that the company knew it was causing harm and carried on doing it anyway. She was unequivocal: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg should stand down, and possibly face trial.

Zuckerberg did not attend. Instead Nick Clegg, once Britain’s deputy prime minister, now Facebook and Zuckerberg’s mouthpiece, turned up virtually, his image beamed to delegates on a big screen. Even from this distance, it was unedifying. He said he has “worked at Meta for three years”. That set the tone. Meta is a new name unveiled just last month. Anything to avoid using the increasingly toxic F-word, it seems.

Clegg spoke of content; risible again. It’s “babies, barbecues and barmitzvahs”, he said. The key was what he didn’t say – no mention of bulimia and Brexit.

Roger McNamee, one of Facebook’s earliest investors and a former mentor to Zuckerberg turned vehement critic, said the stakes are high and warned that democracy “may never recover” if Facebook does not change. He said misuse of users’ data should be labelled as being unethical as child labour and compared the runaway trains of big tech to corporations controlling food and drugs at the turn of the century – essential industries that are out of control due to the lack of regulation. The answer, he said, was to make the buying and selling of data illegal – something that would crush the business model of all internet platforms.



In contrast with previous years, the tech masters of the universe looked different, post-Covid. There was more diversity: women made up 50% of the 40,000 attendees, if only one-third of the speakers. There were more people from minority groups present. A different crowd, seemingly with different expectations.

Martin Sorrell, the advertising guru, the sage of Soho whose economic forecasts are followed around the world, reported little sign yet of a consumer backlash but said the increasing pressure means companies such as Facebook (or Meta, as Zuckerberg would have us call it) may not be allowed to use their wealth – equal in some cases to the value of nation states – to snap up so many rivals as they have in the past.

And so at the close, they all departed, and after rubbing shoulders with the tech masters of the universe, what did I learn? That in some ways they are as they have always been, relatively young, whip-smart, overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male. The tech bros still dominate. They shape our world, and as ever, they seek to shape it in their image.

But there is also a sense that their grip is loosening, the landscape is changing, and my feeling is that the Zuckerberg generation of tech masters may lack the depth perception to navigate it.

If the rising anxiety we feel about the web, social media and big tech is so evident among practitioners at their own place of reflection and worship, the Davos of tech in Europe, it will take more than a new branding metamorphosis to assuage it.

Jane Martinson is a Guardian columnist

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November 6th 2021, 6:54 am

Upgrade or wait? Getting your gaming PC ready for Halo Infinite and more

Technology | The Guardian

Does your machine need an upgrade to get the most out of 2021’s games? Here’s what to consider

With the autumn video game release schedule now in full swing, the thoughts of many PC owners are turning to hardware upgrades. Blockbusters such as Halo Infinite, Battlefield 1942 and Forza Horizon 5 will all support demanding visual effects such as ray tracing, so it seems like the perfect time to invest in new kit.

There’s just one problem: this is probably the worst, most expensive time in recent memory to boost your processing power. Manufacturing and distribution problems, together with skyrocketing demand, have seen prices soar, especially for high-end graphics cards. “There are GTX 1080Ti cards listed on eBay for over £500 – that’s a four-year-old GPU for half a grand,” says Chris Wilson, design director at Cardboard Sword. “The suggestion for most people would probably be to wait it out. Intel is rumoured to have a serious GPU out early next year and they are likely to price it aggressively to try and gain some market share. Eventually the bottom has to fall out of this current disaster.”

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November 5th 2021, 1:53 pm

Twitter says any move by Australia to ban anonymous accounts would not reduce abuse

Technology | The Guardian

Company’s public policy director says crackdown would stifle speech for vulnerable people who need to remain unidentified

Any move by the Australian government to crack down on anonymous accounts on Twitter would be ineffective and fail to reduce the amount of abuse on the platform, the social media firm has said.

Last month prime minister Scott Morrison decried the “coward’s palace” of social media, and threatened more regulation of the companies in response.

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November 5th 2021, 2:19 am

BT scraps hunt for Openreach partner as fibre rollout costs fall

Technology | The Guardian

Company says cost of adding homes to new network has dropped 15%, and ‘we can fund it ourselves’

BT has scrapped plans to find a joint venture partner to help fund the rollout of its next-generation broadband network to an extra 5 million homes, ahead of a potential takeover move by billionaire investor Patrick Drahi next month.

The company said it had abandoned plans to find a partner for its subsidiary Openreach because the cost of rolling out the new network had dropped significantly, and takeup by homes and business had proved better than expected.

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November 4th 2021, 9:35 am

US blacklisting of NSO Group shows view of major technology company as a grave threat

Technology | The Guardian

Analysis: The question now is what effect the US move will have on Israel and on foreign governments who use NSO’s spyware

The US commerce department’s blacklist is usually reserved for America’s worst enemies, such as Chinese companies that have been accused of aiding human right abuses, and Russians who proliferate biological and chemical weapons programmes.

But on Wednesday, Israel’s NSO Group joined their ranks, marking a rare decision by the Biden administration to include a major technology company that is closely regulated by the Israeli government on its list of entities that threaten US national security.

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November 4th 2021, 9:35 am

Climate misinformation on Facebook ‘increasing substantially’, study says

Technology | The Guardian

A new analysis reveals that an estimated 818,000 climate misinformation posts received 1.36m views everyday

The scale of climate misinformation on Facebook is “staggering” and “increasing quite substantially”, a new analysis of hundreds of thousands of posts has found.

A report released on Thursday by the Real Facebook Oversight Board, an independent watchdog group, and environmental nonprofit Stop Funding Heat, analyzed a dataset of more than 195 Facebook pages and groups. Researchers found an estimated 818,000 posts downplaying or denying the climate crisis, which have received a combined 1.36m views every day.

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November 4th 2021, 9:35 am

What does tech take from us? Meet the writer who has counted 100 big losses

Technology | The Guardian

We have never been more reliant on the internet – yet Pamela Paul still gets DVDs in the post and buys CD players. Why? Because we have lost more to the digital era than we realise, she says

Pamela Paul must be one of the last subscribers to the branch of Netflix that allows its users to see films via the stone-age practice of receiving DVDs in the post. I know this because, two days after we talk, she sends me a blurry photograph of her last hire – The Anniversary Party, a 2001 comedy starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming – along with a Q&A she did for the New York Times, about the art of what she calls “sliding backward on tech”. Its basic point is summarised in one of Paul’s characteristic bits of aphoristic wisdom: “In general, when I hear the phrase ‘There’s an app for that’, my first question is: ‘Does there need to be?’”

Paul, 50, is the editor of the New York Times Book Review. She does not use any streaming services. As late as 2019, she bought – read this slowly – portable CD players for two of her children. As a matter of principle, she refuses to own or use anything resembling a tablet, except her phone. “I don’t want a tablet,” she says, her face adopting an expression of mild disgust. “People have tried to give me a tablet; I want nothing to do with that tablet. I would probably have to be paid a salary of, like, $250,000 a year to use a Kindle or an iPad to read on. It would be that unpleasant.”

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November 3rd 2021, 1:53 pm

TechScape: Xi Jinping’s ‘Little Red Book’ of tech regulation could lead the way

Technology | The Guardian

Up for discussion in the Guardian tech newsletter: The Jack Ma saga sheds light on wealth, politics and fame in today’s China

After a long hiatus and endless gossip, Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, has finally resurfaced. Last month, he was spotted meeting business partners in Hong Kong. More recently, he travelled to Spain on Zen, his luxury yacht, and was last week seen touring Dutch research institutes to “pursue his interests in agriculture technology”, according to the South China Morning Post, the paper he owns.

Ma’s reappearance is low-key, but is, nonetheless, significant. It reminds us of his place in the company he founded and in today’s tech scene in China. On the day his trip to Europe was reported the company’s share price went up by 9% in Hong Kong. And sightings of Ma abroad have fuelled recovery of Chinese tech stocks over the past month.

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November 3rd 2021, 1:53 pm

Israeli spyware company NSO Group placed on US blacklist

Technology | The Guardian

Decision against company at heart of Pegasus project reflects deep concern about impact of spyware on US national security interests

NSO Group has been placed on a US blacklist by the Biden administration after it determined the Israeli spyware maker has acted “contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the US”.

The finding by the commerce department represents a blow to the Israeli company and reveals a deep undercurrent of concern by the US about the impact of spyware on national security interests.

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November 3rd 2021, 1:53 pm

Why is Facebook shutting down its facial recognition system and deleting ‘faceprints’?

Technology | The Guardian

The social media giant is putting a stop to its technology that identifies people in photos. We look at what prompted the move and what it means for users

Facebook has announced it is deleting about 1bn “faceprints” it used as part of a facial recognition system for photo tagging, citing concerns with the technology.

Meta, the company formally known as Facebook, announced on Tuesday it would end its use of facial recognition technology in the coming weeks. A third of Facebook’s users, or about 1 billion people, had opted into the service, Meta’s vice-president of artificial intelligence Jerome Pesenti said.

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November 3rd 2021, 1:53 pm

Democracy at risk if Facebook does not change, says former Zuckerberg adviser

Technology | The Guardian

Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook, also calls misuse of user data as unethical as child labour

A former adviser to Mark Zuckerberg has said democracy “may never recover” if Facebook does not change and has called for misuse of users’ data to be labelled as unethical as child labour.

Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook who has become a staunch critic of the business, said revelations from whistleblower Frances Haugen have created an opportunity for change at Zuckerberg’s social media empire.

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November 3rd 2021, 1:53 pm

Facebook to shut facial recognition system and delete 1bn ‘faceprints’

Technology | The Guardian

Firm says decision is in response to growing concerns over software that identifies users in photos and videos

Facebook will delete the “faceprints” of more than a billion people after announcing that it is shutting down its facial recognition system due to the “many concerns” about using the technology.

The social media network has been under political, legal and regulatory pressure over its use of the software, which automatically identifies users in photos and videos – and let’s them know if a fellow user has posted a photo or video with them in it – if they have opted in to the feature. In a statement, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, said it would shut down facial recognition on the platform over the coming weeks and delete 1 billion facial recognition templates.

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November 3rd 2021, 12:36 am

Electric cars account for under 5% of miles driven by Uber in Europe

Technology | The Guardian

Firm must speed up drivers’ take-up of zero-emissions vehicles to meet green targets, says thinktank

Electric cars are used for fewer than one in every 20 miles driven by Uber drivers in major European cities, according to data that suggest the taxi app company must drastically accelerate its drivers’ take-up of zero-emissions vehicles to meet its environmental targets.

Uber pledged last year that 50% of miles driven in seven European capitals by the end of 2025 will be in battery electric cars. The vehicles produce zero exhaust emissions, helping to address the impacts on health and the climate caused by urban transport.

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November 3rd 2021, 12:36 am

‘Super polluters’: the top 10 publishers denying the climate crisis on Facebook

Technology | The Guardian

Ten US-based and Russian state media outlets responsible for 69% of content on Facebook, finds Center for Countering Digital Hate

Misinformation about the climate crisis runs rampant on Facebook, a new study has found, and comes mostly from a handful of “super polluter” publishers.

Ten publishers are responsible for 69% of digital climate change denial content on Facebook, a new study from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has found. The outlets, which the report labels the “toxic ten”, include several conservative websites in the US, as well as Russian state media.

Breitbart, a far-right news site once run by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon

Western Journal, a Conservative news site

Newsmax, which has previously been sued for promoting election fraud conspiracies

Townhall Media, founded by the Exxon-funded Heritage Foundation

Media Research Center, a “thinktank” that received funding from Exxon

Washington Times, founded by self-proclaimed messiah Sun Myung Moon

The Federalist Papers, a site that has promoted Covid misinformation

Daily Wire, a conservative news site that is of the most engaged-with publishers on Facebook

Russian state media, pushing disinformation via RT.com and Sputnik News

Patriot Post, a conservative site whose writers use pseudonyms

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November 2nd 2021, 12:34 pm

Yahoo withdraws from China as Beijing’s grip on tech firms tightens

Technology | The Guardian

Internet firm cites ‘increasingly challenging business and legal environment’ as reason for exit

Yahoo has announced its withdrawal from the Chinese market in the latest retreat by foreign technology firms responding to Beijing’s tightening control over the industry.

“In recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China, Yahoo’s suite of services will no longer be accessible from mainland China as of November 1,” the company said on Tuesday.

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November 2nd 2021, 12:34 pm

Tesla recalls nearly 12,000 US vehicles over software glitch

Technology | The Guardian

Communication error may cause a false forward-collision warning or unexpected activation of the emergency brakes

Tesla Inc is recalling nearly 12,000 US vehicles sold since 2017 because a communication error may cause a false forward-collision warning or unexpected activation of the emergency brakes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Tuesday.

The California automaker said the recall of 11,704 Model S, X, 3 and Y vehicles was prompted after a software update on 23 October to vehicles in its limited early access version 10.3 Full-Self Driving (FSD) (Beta) population.

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November 2nd 2021, 12:34 pm

Flight to space showed how 'fragile' planet is, Bezos tells Cop26 – video

Technology | The Guardian

Amazon's founder has told delegates at Cop26 that his trip to space made him realise how ‘finite and fragile’ the Earth is. Jeff Bezos said: 'I was told that seeing the Earth from space changes the lens from which you view the world. But I was not prepared for just how much that would be true.' It comes after Prince William, in the weeks leading up to the climate crisis summit, had criticised billionaires embroiled in a space tourism race, saying the world’s greatest minds needed to focus on fixing the Earth instead

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November 2nd 2021, 12:34 pm

Tesco website hit by hackers, leaving thousands of customers frustrated

Technology | The Guardian

Consumers unable to book or amend deliveries after ‘attempt made to interfere with systems’

Tesco has been hit by hackers, leaving thousands of frustrated shoppers unable to buy groceries online at Britain’s biggest supermarket.

The outage leaves its grocery website and app down for a second day, with people unable to book deliveries or amend existing orders. Tesco receives 1.3m online orders every week.

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November 2nd 2021, 12:34 pm

Parallel metaverses: Zuckerberg’s Meta might meet a trademark challenge from META PCs

Technology | The Guardian

A computer company for gamers says it filed to trademark the name a year ago

Meta PCs, an Arizona-based company that sells computers, laptops and software for gamers was an unremarkable retail outfit a week ago. Then on Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his company would be changing its name to Meta and it found itself in an IP war with tech’s biggest behemoth.

Lucky for Meta PCs, it’s already a few months ahead of Facebook in having the name trademarked. According to a document shared by TMZ, the company filed for its trademark in August, a little over a year after it was started.

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November 2nd 2021, 3:49 am

Tesla opens Superchargers to other electric cars for first time

Technology | The Guardian

Some BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen-group vehicles will be able plug into Tesla charging stations in Netherlands

Tesla is opening its charging network to other electric cars for the first time with a pilot programme in the Netherlands, as the world’s most valuable carmaker looks to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream.

The programme will be tested at 10 locations in the Netherlands, the company said on Monday, adding that Dutch non-Tesla electric vehicle drivers can access the Tesla stations, or Superchargers, through the Tesla app.

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November 2nd 2021, 3:49 am

Facebook failing to protect users from Covid misinformation, says monitor

Technology | The Guardian

Twenty accounts and groups tracked by NewsGuard gained more than 370,000 followers over past year

Misinformation and sceptical views about Covid-19 and vaccines has been allowed to spread on more than a dozen Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages and groups that together have gained 370,000 followers over the past year, according to a report.

The misinformation and promotion of vaccine hesitancy includes posts in Facebook groups claiming that children are being “murdered by the experimental jab they’re being pressured to take”, and an Instagram account promoting a documentary by Andrew Wakefield, one of the key figures in promoting discredited links between MMR inoculation and autism.

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November 2nd 2021, 3:49 am

Pixel 6 review: the cut-price Google flagship phone

Technology | The Guardian

Top camera, Android 12 and Tensor chip but competitive pricing makes for a bargain

The Pixel 6 is Google’s affordable flagship phone for 2021 and proves to be a leader in the field with a top-class camera and a new advanced chip at its heart – while undercutting most of the competition on price.

The phone costs £599 ($599/A$999), which is £250 less than the Pixel 6 Pro, while still offering 90% of what you get with Google’s top model.

Screen: 6.4in 90Hz FHD+ OLED (411ppi)

Processor: Google Tensor

RAM: 8GB of RAM

Storage: 128 or 256GB

Operating system: Android 12

Camera: 50MP + 12MP ultrawide, 8MP selfie

Connectivity: 5G, eSIM, wifi 5, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2 and GNSS

Water resistance: IP68 (1.5m for 30 minutes)

Dimensions: 158.6 x 74.8 x 8.9mm

Weight: 207g

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November 2nd 2021, 3:49 am

Squid Game cryptocurrency collapses in apparent scam

Technology | The Guardian

Squid token’s website and social accounts disappear after price jumped more than 310,000% in value and then crashed

The value of a cryptocurrency inspired by the popular Netflix series Squid Game collapsed on Monday less than two weeks after investors could start buying tokens.

After jumping more than 310,000% in value as of Sunday night, Squid lost all its value after Twitter flagged the cryptocurrency’s account and temporarily restricted it due to “suspicious activity”.

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November 1st 2021, 6:33 pm

Text anxiety: why too many messages make us want to throw our phones at the wall

Technology | The Guardian

The average American has 47 unread text messages and 1,602 unopened emails. No wonder it sometimes all gets too much

When Senait Lara, a 28-year-old video producer in Los Angeles, was confronted by her friends about her lack of communication in their group chat, the accusations were as follows: she only caught up every few days; when she did, it was barely an interaction – Lara spent time “hearting” messages instead of responding with words; and sometimes she would never respond at all. Lara did not deny it. She knew she sometimes preferred to throw her phone in a corner and completely avoid it rather than deal with the onslaught of requests.

It wasn’t until Lara addressed her behaviour in therapy that she realized she felt anxious from texting because of her tendency to please those around her. As her therapist described, people-pleasers are less likely to have boundaries around communication, which smartphones barely provide. “I never understood why I would be so difficult to communicate with, but then I realized it was all online,” she said.

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November 1st 2021, 1:04 pm

Prime_Time review – memorably unsettling Amazon takedown

Technology | The Guardian

Barbican, London
This anarchic discourse on the power of the e-commerce giant takes place behind a plastic curtain, as fresh produce gets annihilated

“Your package will arrive in 60 minutes,” announces the soothing voice of Alexa at the start of Prime_Time, a full-throttle, punk-techno disquisition on life in the age of Amazon. Two topless women in jeans and custard-coloured wigs shuffle furtively towards a transparent plastic curtain separating them from the audience. It is there ostensibly as protection: in smashing the patriarchy, Kat Cory and Dora Lynn will also smash, with baseball bats, the contents of an entire fresh produce section. Fruit rains from the ceiling, underlining the show’s argument: if life gives you lemons, what else can you do but kill Jeff Bezos?

Prime_Time, from the trio In Bed With My Brother (Nora Alexander is the off-stage third member), demonstrates that protest is rarely simple. The plastic barrier installed for health and safety reasons makes it seem as if the actors are swaddled inside Amazon’s own amniotic packaging, while the instruments of destruction, among them a drill and a chainsaw, are all produced from the Amazon boxes piled on either side of the stage. The e-commerce giant has co-opted even the tools of the women’s rebellion.

Prime_Time is at the Barbican, London, until 6 November.

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October 31st 2021, 8:19 pm

Alcohol monitor drinkaware app slammed for wiping users’ drinks tally

Technology | The Guardian

Drinkaware under fire after deleting booze-consumption history of some users following relaunch

One of Britain’s leading alcohol charities has been criticised over the relaunch of its popular lifestyle app that wiped the drinking history of its users along with red-flag warnings of harmful consumption.

Funded by the industry, Drinkaware promotes its alcohol consumption app to help curb excessive drinking and monitor consumption. The app, which was launched in 2014, has had more than 600,000 downloads.

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October 31st 2021, 10:03 am

Hertz’s supercharged Tesla deal could haul us into the electric vehicle age | John Naughton

Technology | The Guardian

The firm’s agreement to buy 100,000 cars from Elon Musk’s company could change people’s minds about EVs for good

On Tuesday, Hertz, the car-rental firm that recently emerged from bankruptcy, announced that it had made a deal to buy 100,000 cars from Tesla for what knowledgeable sources estimate to be worth $4bn. On learning this, my first thought was that if this is what insolvency is like, please direct me to the nearest bankruptcy court. My second thought, though, was that this could be a significant moment on the road to wider adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

The reason is, as anyone who has rented conventional cars will know, is that the best way of having a realistic test drive of a vehicle is to rent one for a week or two on holiday. As Teslas become available via Hertz, many more people will have a chance to experience what an EV is like. This is important because, generally, only geeks and masochists (like this columnist) are early adopters of novel technology and normal cautious consumers regard EVs as rather exotic and peculiar, not something you’d rely on for commuting or the school run.

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October 30th 2021, 4:18 pm

Do the Facebook papers spell doom for Meta – or is it too big to fail?

Technology | The Guardian

The explosive documents from Frances Haugen have renewed calls for legislation, but actually passing it is another story

It’s been a rocky few weeks for the company formerly known as Facebook.

First came the Facebook papers, a series of blockbuster reports in the Wall Street Journal based on a cache of internal documents leaked by Frances Haugen, a former employee turned whistleblower.

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October 30th 2021, 12:04 pm

Memory lanes: Google’s map of our lives

Technology | The Guardian

Google’s Street View helps us navigate the world, but it’s also a portal on forgotten places and secret moments

I am leaning against a wall outside my secondary school in my home town of Canterbury, waiting for my mother to pick me up. She is late, as usual. I rest my head on the stone wall, which is obsidian smooth with the occasional sharp edge. I can feel a flinty knuckle of rock pressing into the base of my skull. I shift uncomfortably in my non-regulation high heels and watch the other parents come and go. I am irritated and worried I won’t have enough time to finish my GCSE coursework that evening. And then she arrives, and I slam the car door shut with more force than is needed.

Only I am no longer a sullen teenager and I am not in Canterbury. I am on my sofa in south London, walking the streets of my former home town on Google Street View. I drag and drop Pegman, the Street View icon, outside my old school. He flails for a moment before freefalling feet-first, and then I am a teenager, walking the passageways of my youth. I can feel the cold stones under my hand as I trace my palm along the wall. I spent so many afternoons waiting for my mother in this spot that it feels as if there is an imprint of me forever leaning there, a ghostlike presence for today’s students to bustle past.

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October 30th 2021, 11:03 am

Metaverse, Mars, meditation retreats: billionaires want to escape the world they ruined | Sam Wolfso

Technology | The Guardian

Zuckerberg wants us to all turn our attention to a land of make-believe to distract from his PR disaster while Bezos and Musk are obsessed with leaving the planet

On Thursday Facebook announced a groundbreaking and innovative new distraction from their PR disaster. As journalists continue to pore over thousands of leaked documents that show the company is fully aware that it is degrading democratic societies, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook is changing its name to Meta, has a new logo that looks like a Na’vi bending over, and is going to pivot from spreading vaccine disinformation to creating a super-lame version of Second Life.

Zuckerberg promised that in the future we would all work, play and “organise surprise birthday parties” as avatars in Facebook’s virtual-reality “Metaverse”. His examples of how this might work had all the cultural awareness of a Kendall Roy social media strategy.

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October 30th 2021, 7:05 am
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