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Updated 2018-01-17 21:32
Digital dystopia: tech slavery and the death of privacy – podcast
In the first episode of our four-part series, Jordan Erica Webber asks whether our digital selves are owned by tech firms in a new form of slavery?Subscribe and review on iTunes, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast or on your favourite podcasting app and join the discussion on Facebook and TwitterIs the internet broken? And has the utopian 90s net been replaced by digital feudalism, where a few powerful entities wield control over all of us digital serfs? In this series, Jordan Erica Webber looks at internet-enabled dystopia, and how even the technology designed to do good can end up causing harm. Continue reading...
Kodak leads surge of companies exploiting bitcoin buzz
Companies pivoting to, or just showing an interest in, cryptocurrencies and associated technologies have resulted in a sudden burst in share priceKodak hit headlines this week when the company announced a plan to launch “photo-centric cryptocurrency to empower photographers and agencies to take greater control in image rights management”. In other words, the venerable camera company is getting in on the bitcoin hype.Shares in Kodak, which had been largely flat for the previous three months and steadily declining for the five years before that, more than doubled in the following 24 hours, as the company insisted that it was not simply pumping out “hot buzzwords”. Continue reading...
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies 'will come to bad end', says Warren Buffett
The billionaire investor and his longtime manager Charlie Munger, two of the world’s most successful investors, say they’d never invest in cryptocurrenciesBillionaire investor Warren Buffett said Wednesday that he would never invest in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, and predicted the wildly popular assets are in for a fall.Related: World's richest 500 see their wealth increase by $1tn this year Continue reading...
CES blackout: rain stops play at hi-tech trade show
The irony of the partial power cut at an event designed to showcase the latest electronic advances did not escape social or industry mediaThe digital economy’s big annual trade show, CES, suffered a brief, disruptive plunge into darkness on Wednesday because of a power outage that the event’s organisers blamed on heavy rain.
Russian bid to influence Brexit vote detailed in new US Senate report
UK political system vulnerable to anti-democratic meddling via social media and ‘possibly illicit’ campaign funding, report saysRussia’s attempts to influence British democracy and the potential vulnerability of parts of the UK political system to anti-democratic meddling during the EU referendum have been detailed in a report prepared by the US Senate.The report by Democrats on the Senate foreign relations committee, titled Putin’s asymmetric assault on democracy in Russia and Europe: implications for US national security, pinpoints the way in which UK campaign finance laws do not require disclosure of political donations if they are from “the beneficial owners of non-British companies that are incorporated in the EU and carry out business in the UK”. Continue reading...
Carphone Warehouse fined for 'striking' number of failures that led to data breach
Information Commissioner’s Office fines company £400,000 for ‘concerning’ security issues following investigation of hack of 3m customers’ dataCarphone Warehouse has been fined £400,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office for a series of “systemic failures” uncovered following a data breach in 2015.The ICO described the “number of distinct and significant inadequacies in the security arrangements” of Carphone Warehouse as “striking”, and said that it was “ particularly concerning that a number of the inadequacies related to basic, commonplace measures”. Continue reading...
Data protection bill amended to protect security researchers
Exemption added after researchers said efforts to demonstrate inadequate anonymisation could fall foul of lawThe government is to amend the data protection bill to protect security researchers who work to uncover abuses of personal data, quelling fears that the bill could accidentally criminalise legitimate research.The move follows a Guardian report on the concerns, and has been welcomed by one of the researchers who raised the alarm. “I am very happy with the amendments,” said Lukasz Olejnik, an independent cybersecurity and privacy researcher. Continue reading...
Insurance firm and two senior figures handed record data breach fines
Fines totalling more than £150,000 handed down over use of private detectives to illegally obtain private banking recordsAn insurance firm and two senior figures connected with the company have been given record fines for using private detectives to illegally obtain the private banking records of a businessman they were investigating.The fines, totalling more than £150,000, were described by an official watchdog as the highest ever imposed under the Data Protection Act for unlawfully acquiring personal information. Continue reading...
The Guardian view on hardware bugs: more security, less speed | Editorial
A hacking takedown of computer systems that capture and organise our lives is made possible because we applauded technology’s potential without adequately assessing the pitfallsThe discovery of hardware bugs in almost every computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone is evidence of the imperfect foresight human actions are apt to have. The flaws – nicknamed Meltdown and Spectre – are so fundamental that they could allow hackers to steal computers’ most secure secrets. In seeking to speed up microprocessors and diffuse them into every part of modern life, chipmakers wanted to exploit the potential of technology but paid too little heed to the pitfalls.The problems are rooted in the trade-off between speed and security. Computing capacity has doubled every 18 months, in line with Moore’s law. This has allowed the digitisation of everything: every second today 2.6m emails are sent, 64,533 Google searches made and 7,885 opinions tweeted. Processors were optimised for performance, without basic questions being asked about whether their design was secure. It turns out they are not. One error can be “patched” – but will slow down machines by up to 30%, which makes a mockery of the need for speed. The other is so foundational that a complete re-imagining of processors will be needed. In the meantime we have to live with the risk of a hacking takedown of computer systems we let capture, organise and optimise our lives. Continue reading...
Google faces new discrimination charge: paying female teachers less than men
Exclusive: former employee alleges that women hired to work as preschool teachers in the company’s childcare center were paid lower salaries than men with fewer qualifications doing same jobGoogle, which has been accused of systematically underpaying female engineers and other workers, is now facing allegations that it discriminated against women who taught employees’ children at the company’s childcare center.A former employee, Heidi Lamar, is alleging in a complaint that female teachers were paid lower salaries than men with fewer qualifications doing the same job. Continue reading...
Major security flaw found in Intel processors
Developers scramble to fix bug within chips made in the last decade that will affect millions of computers running Windows, macOS and LinuxA security flaw has been found in virtually all Intel processors that will require fixes within Windows, macOS and Linux, according to reports.Developers are currently scrambling behind the scenes to fix the significant security hole within the Intel chips, with patches already available within some versions of Linux and some testing versions of Windows, although the fixes are expected to significantly slow down computers. Continue reading...
Sky pirates, preachers and prison breaks: the best video games of 2018
Here be dragons … and grog-swilling pirates, armed cultists, dino-beasts and a teenage supersleuth called Jenny LeClue. We preview spring’s biggest releases, from Ni no Kuni 2 to the return of Red Dead Redemption Continue reading...
Christmas sounds a clanging chime of doom | Stewart Lee
As the arctic ice melts, smartphones eat our brains and the ghost of Brexit future stalks the land, it’s getting harder and harder to believe in SantaThere is much we can learn from the ancient traditions of Winterval, each culture’s festive myths and rituals being equally valid, and equally instructive, irrespective of their veracity or worth.Upon the solstice night in Latveria, for example, Pappy Puffklap leaves a dried clump of donkey excrement on the breakfast table of each home. Is this so very different from the wise kings bringing the infant Christ sealed flagons of foul-smelling gas, the divine in harmony with the physical at its most pungent? Continue reading...
Santa without the stress: last-minute digital Christmas gift guide
Instant delivery ideas for those in need of emergency gifts, from Netflix and Spotify subscriptions to games, apps, movies and vanity URLsThe time has probably passed for Christmas delivery, and the shops are going to be rammed, so here’s a list of gifts that can be bought and delivered instantly from the comfort of the sofa in case you’ve forgotten someone on Christmas Eve.
Eric Schmidt steps down as executive chairman of Google's parent Alphabet
Schmidt, who played an integral role in Google’s rise to power, will remain on Alphabet’s board and serve as a technical adviserEric Schmidt will step down as the executive chairman of Alphabet’s board of directors, the company announced on Thursday.Schmidt will remain on Alphabet’s board and serve as a technical adviser to the company, whose holdings include Google, YouTube, Nest and Waymo. Continue reading...
Facebook signs deal with Universal to give users access to licensed music
Under ‘unprecedented’ partnership, users will be able to upload videos containing licensed music on Facebook, Instagram and OculusUniversal Music Group is to become the first major music company to license its recorded music and publishing catalogues for use on Facebook, Instagram and virtual reality platform Oculus in a global, multi-year agreement.The deal, described as “unprecedented” in a statement from Universal, will license the content for video and “other social experiences”. Continue reading...
Move over, Mario Kart – the best multiplayer games to play at Christmas
From competitive cow-milking to DJ battles, here are six great options for keeping the whole family entertained on Boxing Day and beyondPretty much anyone who plays video games has fond memories of childhood Christmases; the weeks spent gazing at the coveted new game or console under the tree, awaiting the moment where you could finally unwrap it, escape the family and run away to play. As adults, Christmas becomes a time to share the joy of video games with non-gaming friends (and parents, aunts and cousins). Festive Mario Kart has been a staple in my own household since I was about eight, starting out with me and my brother; now it’s my nieces, nephews and little cousins who lead the fun.This year has yielded a few new games to play together, all of which are miles better than charades and none of which will make you resent your Christmas companions as much as Monopoly. If you want to refresh the selection of multiplayer games you’ll be playing this year, try one of these.
Apple reduces speed of iPhones as batteries wear out, report suggests
New data supports claims that iPhone 6S performance is poor until old battery is replaced, sparking fresh speculation that Apple intentionally slows down phonesA new analysis of performance data has reignited the debate over whether Apple intentionally slows down older iPhones.
Singers from Google, Facebook and more take the stage at Techapella – video
Every year, a capella groups from technology companies across the San Francisco Bay Area gather to perform in a sold-out event called Techapella. Groups performing include Google, Facebook, Twitter and many more. Continue reading...
Twitter suspends Britain First leaders as it enforces new anti-abuse rules
Jayda Fransen and Paul Golding suspended as social media platform takes steps to protect those targeted by abuseTwitter has suspended the accounts of the leader and deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right group recently retweeted by Donald Trump, under the terms of its revised anti-abuse rules.Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen’s accounts were unavailable on Monday afternoon hours after the social network’s new rules came into effect. The organisation’s main account was also suspended. Continue reading...
End of the smashed phone screen? Self-healing glass discovered by accident
New type of polymer glass that can mend itself when pressed together is in development by University of Tokyo after a student discovered itJapanese researchers say they have developed a new type of glass that can heal itself from cracks and breaks.Glass made from a low weight polymer called “polyether-thioureas” can heal breaks when pressed together by hand without the need for high heat to melt the material. Continue reading...
Suzuki Swift review: ‘A proper terrier’ | Martin Love
The new Swift from Suzuki proves that just because you look like a small car, it doesn’t mean you have to act like one, tooPrice: from £11,499
The new cold war: how our focus on Russia obscures social media's real threat
We should welcome politicians’ growing skepticism about Silicon Valley – but not if it means authoritarian interventions into our digital livesWashington used to worship Silicon Valley. Few things made politicians’ hearts beat faster than the bipartisan love for big tech. Silicon Valley was building the future. Government’s role was to offer compliments and get out of the way.Recently, however, the mood has shifted. Both sides of the political divide seem to be awakening to the possibility that letting the tech industry do whatever it wants hasn’t produced the best of all possible worlds. “I have found a flaw,” Alan Greenspan famously said in 2008 of his free-market worldview, as the global financial system imploded. A similar discovery may be dawning on our political class when it comes to its hands-off approach to Silicon Valley. Continue reading...
Former Facebook executive: social media is ripping society apart
Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president of user growth, expressed regret for his part in building tools that destroy ‘the social fabric of how society works’A former Facebook executive has said he feels “tremendous guilt” over his work on “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”, joining a growing chorus of critics of the social media giant.Chamath Palihapitiya, who was vice-president for user growth at Facebook before he left the company in 2011, said: “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth.” Continue reading...
Bitcoin buyer beware: US SEC warns 'extreme caution' over cryptocurrency investments
Head of US financial regulator concerned by lack of protections saying there are ‘substantial risks of theft or loss, including from hacking’The head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission has warned bitcoin and other cryptocurrency investors to beware of scams and criminal activity in the sector.In the financial regulator’s strongest statement yet, SEC chair Jay Clayton said: “If a promoter guarantees returns, if an opportunity sounds too good to be true, or if you are pressured to act quickly, please exercise extreme caution and be aware of the risk that your investment may be lost.” Continue reading...
Poppy is a disturbing internet meme seen by millions. Can she become a pop sensation?
The character played by 22-year-old Moriah Pereira is a childlike, robotic-sounding woman with friends who include a basil plant. Now she’s trying to become the first pop megastar to be born on YouTubeI’m Poppy,” says Poppy, often. In one of her hundreds of videos on YouTube, she repeats those two words in her childlike monotone for 10 minutes. This has been viewed more than 12.6m times.Poppy has about 300 videos on her channel, which have received a combined 235m views, increasing by 250,000 a day; YouTube says her subscribers have grown 260% in the past year. Her videos are the sort you stumble upon while following links blindly down an online rabbit hole: portals to a pastel-washed parallel universe populated by platinum-blond Poppy and her fellow characters – a basil plant and a mannequin called Charlotte. Continue reading...
‘Tsunami of data’ could consume one fifth of global electricity by 2025
Billions of internet-connected devices could produce 3.5% of global emissions within 10 years and 14% by 2040, according to new research, reports Climate Home NewsThe communications industry could use 20% of all the world’s electricity by 2025, hampering attempts to meet climate change targets and straining grids as demand by power-hungry server farms storing digital data from billions of smartphones, tablets and internet-connected devices grows exponentially.The industry has long argued that it can considerably reduce carbon emissions by increasing efficiency and reducing waste, but academics are challenging industry assumptions. A new paper, due to be published by US researchers later this month, will forecast that information and communications technology could create up to 3.5% of global emissions by 2020 – surpassing aviation and shipping – and up to 14% 2040, around the same proportion as the US today. Continue reading...
Games reviews roundup: Dimension Drive; Xenoblade Chronicles 2; Oh My Godheads
A sophisticated space arcade experience, a Xenoblade instalment pushing the Switch to great things, and head-rolling fun in an unlikely multiplayer mashupSwitch, Linux, Mac, PC, 2Awesome Studio, cert: 7
Traders brace for bitcoin futures launch after wild week for currency
While some welcome regulated way to bet on or hedge against bitcoin, others warn risks remain to more than just investorsThe newest way to bet on bitcoin will be available later on Sunday when futures in the wildly fluctuating cryptocurrency start trading.The first bitcoin future trades are set to kick off at 6 pm local time on a Chicago exchange. Continue reading...
The man who could doom net neutrality: Ajit Pai ignores outcry from all sides
Donald Trump’s pick to lead Federal Communications Commission accused of ‘dismissing democratic engagement’ amid plans to end Obama-era safeguardsOver the last few weeks, critics have attacked Ajit Pai online, protesters have covered his house in cardboard signs and he has publicly squabbled with celebrities including Alyssa Milano, Mark Ruffalo and Cher.
Jeremy Hunt attacks Facebook over app aimed at children
‘Stay away from my kids,’ health secretary tells US social media platform after trial of new service designed for under 13sJeremy Hunt has publicly attacked Facebook for releasing a version of its Messenger app aimed at children, and called on the social media company to “stay away from my kids”.The health secretary accused the company of “targeting younger children” after Facebook announced on Monday that it was conducting trials of an app called Messenger Kids in the US, which is designed to be used by pre-teens. Continue reading...
Facebook launches Messenger Kids app – but parents vet chat contacts
New video and text messenger aims to make connecting with friends and family safe for under 13s, with strict parental approval and screened contentFacebook is launching a new version of its chat app targeting children under 13 with strict parental controls including contact approvals.
Bitcoin: UK and EU plan crackdown amid crime and tax evasion fears
Cryptocurrency close to record high despite news Treasury plans to end traders’ anonymityThe UK and other EU governments are planning a crackdown on bitcoin amid growing concerns that the digital currency is being used for money laundering and tax evasion.The Treasury plans to regulate bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to bring them in line with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financial legislation. Traders will be forced to disclose their identities, ending the anonymity that has made the currency attractive for drug dealing and other illegal activities. Continue reading...
How white engineers built racist code – and why it's dangerous for black people
As facial recognition tools play a bigger role in fighting crime, inbuilt racial biases raise troubling questions about the systems that create them“You good?” a man asked two narcotics detectives late in the summer of 2015.The detectives had just finished an undercover drug deal in Brentwood, a predominately black neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida, that is among the poorest in the country, when the man unexpectedly approached them. One of the detectives responded that he was looking for $50 worth of “hard”– slang for crack cocaine. The man disappeared into a nearby apartment and came back out to fulfill the detective’s request, swapping the drugs for money. Continue reading...
Google Pixel Buds review: Bluetooth earbuds are a missed opportunity
Google enters the headphone market with interesting but flawed earbuds that don’t match Apple’s AirPods – and translation doesn’t live up to the hypeThe Google Pixel Buds are a set of wireless neckband-style Bluetooth earbuds that have a few fancy tricks up their sleeve, including the ability to near real-time translation. But are they really that good?
Ex-Twitter worker who 'admires' Trump says he was behind account deactivation
Bahtiyar Duysak of Germany tells CNN he made ‘a mistake’ in temporarily deactivating the president’s account, but the details remain murkyA German man who says he “admires” Donald Trump has claimed responsibility for the deactivation of the president’s Twitter account for 11 minutes on 2 November, though questions remain about how and why he did it.Twitter said at the time that the temporary outage was caused by “a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day”. Many Trump opponents hailed the unknown employee as a hero. Continue reading...
Lauri Love would be at high risk of killing himself in US, court told
Lawyers for British student accused of hacking US government sites tell high court he should be tried in UK, not extraditedLauri Love, the British student accused of hacking into US government websites, would be at high risk of killing himself if extradited to the US, the high court has heard.Love, who lives in Suffolk and has Asperger’s syndrome and severe depression, should be tried in Britain for his alleged offences, his counsel, Edward Fitzgerald QC, told the court. Continue reading...
NBN delay to 250,000 households a 'teething problem', minister says
Mitch Fifield concedes there are issues to work through in early rollout period of any NBN technology, but they are ‘very fixable’The government and Telstra have defended NBN Co’s suspension of its rollout of the HFC network. About 250,000 households that were to receive the NBN over the next six months will now have to wait after the company halted the rollout of services through pay TV cables.The news sparked complaints from Australians who were scheduled to get the new service, and commiserations from people who already had it but weren’t that impressed anyway. Continue reading...
Bitcoin nears $10,000 mark as hedge funds plough in
Cryptocurrency now worth seven times an ounce of gold, with market cap higher than IBM, McDonald’s or Disney – but analysts warn of ‘a huge bubble’
NBN Co warns of delays after suspending rollout of HFC network
Hundreds of thousands face six to nine-month delays as company improves national broadband networkHundreds of thousands of Australians could be forced to wait months longer than expected to be connected to the national broadband network via pay television cables.NBN Co on Monday announced it was temporarily suspending the rollout of the hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network to “improve customer experience”. It warned of delays of six to nine months in new areas. Continue reading...
Honda Civic Type R: ‘A monster disguised as a family hatch’ | Martin Love
The menacing Type R hides a secret deep within its body armour… It’s also docile enough to drive your granny inPrice: £30,995
Amazon Echo Show review: smart speaker with a screen has great potential
Alexa’s latest home works as a digital photo frame, a small TV, a video-calling hub and is smart in the kitchen, making it more than just a novelty deviceThe Amazon Echo Show takes the Alexa voice assistant and squeezes it into a cross between a digital photo frame, small TV and smart speaker for something that’s more than just an interesting novelty.
Data breach hits Department of Social Services credit card system
Exclusive: Data includes employees’ names, user names, work phone numbers, work emails and system passwordsThe Department of Social Services has written to 8,500 current and former employees warning them their personal data held by a contractor has been breached.In letters sent in early November the department alerted the employees to “a data compromise relating to staff profiles within the department’s credit card management system prior to 2016”. Continue reading...
Which Windows laptop should I buy for £500?
Stuart is looking for a high-spec laptop at a low price. There are some good options, and Black Friday may reveal a few moreIf you were in the market for a new laptop, what would you buy if your absolute maximum budget was £500?I’ve always liked 17in widescreen laptops but will switch to 15in, preferably with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard disk. StuartMy first thought was that your best bet was a refurbished ThinkPad from Tier1Online, but it turns out that you really can buy new laptops with your preferred specification for less than £500, especially if they are older models at discounted prices. There may be even more examples around tomorrow, which is Black Friday, and over the weekend. Continue reading...
Net neutrality: why are Americans so worried about it being scrapped?
Most of the world won’t be affected by the changes, so are they a problem? No, if you are a tech monopoly – but yes if you don’t want a two-tier internetAjit Pai, head of the US telecoms regulator, revealed sweeping changes on Tuesday to overturn rules designed to protect an open internet.The regulations, put in place by the Obama administration in 2015, enshrined the principle of “net neutrality” in US law. Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers should not interfere in the information they transmit to consumers, but should instead simply act as “dumb pipes” that treat all uses, from streaming video to sending tweets, interchangeably. Continue reading...
US telecoms regulator unveils sweeping plans to dismantle net neutrality
Google plans to 'de-rank' Russia Today and Sputnik to combat misinformation
Alphabet chief executive Eric Schmidt says Google and other tech companies must act against state-run Russian news agencies to stop spread of falsehoodsEric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has said the search engine is preparing to take action against state-run Russian news agencies, including Russia Today and Sputnik, which are accused of spreading propaganda by US intelligence agencies.“We’re working on detecting this kind of scenario ... and de-ranking those kinds of sites,” Schmidt said, in response to a question at an event in Halifax, Canada. “It’s basically RT and Sputnik. We’re well aware and we’re trying to engineer the systems to prevent it.” Continue reading...
Uber plans to buy 24,000 autonomous Volvo SUVs in self-driving push
‘It only becomes a commercial business when you can remove the vehicle operator from the equation,’ says ride-hailing firm battling Lyft and WaymoUber is planning to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo, the company has announced, moving from its current model of ride-sharing using freelance drivers to owning a fleet of autonomous cars.Following the three-year self-driving partnership with Volvo, the non-binding framework could give Uber a boost in its ambitions to perfect self-driving systems to replace human drivers, following setbacks and lawsuits over trade secrets and talent. Continue reading...
Disruption games: why are libertarians lining up with autocrats to undermine democracy?
In the era of digital politics, an odd alliance has sprung up: anti-state campaigners and Moscow-backed nationalists are combining to disrupt liberal institutionsAt a time when strange alliances are disrupting previously stable democracies, the Catalan independence referendum was a perfect reflection of a weird age. Along with the flag-waving and calls for “freedom” from Madrid, the furore that followed the vote unleashed some of the darker elements that have haunted recent turbulent episodes in Europe and America: fake news, Russian mischief and, marching oddly in step, libertarian activism.From his residence of more than five years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Assange tweeted 80 times in support of Catalan secession, and his views were amplified by the state-run Russian news agency, Sputnik, making him the most quoted English-language voice on Twitter, according to independent research and the Sydney Morning Herald. Continue reading...
The 20 best apps to improve your smartphone
Whether you want an alarm that syncs with your body clock or a to-do list you can speak to, these are the apps you’ll need to make your smartphone smarterThe latest generation of smartphones comes with a panoply of apps to get you started, from email and photography to navigation, weather and video-calling services. But every one of those default apps has at least one alternative on the app stores, and there are often dozens more that can represent a big upgrade.Here are 20 examples that will improve your smartphone’s stock features, and in some cases provide the functionality that is puzzlingly missing from apps in 2017’s starter packs. A number of them also have smartwatch extensions, providing an upgrade on your Apple Watch or Android Wear timepiece’s features too. Continue reading...
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