News Roundup: The GDPR lawsuits begin
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News Roundup: The GDPR lawsuits begin

A roundup of the week’s technology news including more trade wars, Autopilot crashes, and cryptocurrency addiction.

 

GDPR, one week in

It’s been a week since GDPR came into force. Planes haven’t fallen out of the sky. There have been no more droughts, famines, or riots than normal. Life has, shockingly, found a way to continue.

However, not everything has gone smoothly. The very same day GDPR came into force Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon and LinkedIn were all targeted with multi-billion dollar lawsuits by privacy activists and consumer rights groups for not complying with their reading of consent under the new regulations. Twitter meanwhile, is blocking any user it thinks was under 13 years old when they signed up to the service (no matter what age they are now) in an effort to be compliant.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said this week that the US needs “a national privacy law … that probably looks a lot like GDPR.” His stand is at odds with the likes of IBM, which has been pressing US lawmakers to definitely not adopt the regulations.

The state of California, meanwhile, is mulling its own privacy legislation. The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 hasn’t yet been certified for the November election, but would provide consumers with GDPR-like consent option and enable consumers to sue in light of any data breaches.

In Vermont, a new law was passed this week which requires data brokers to register with the state, take standard security measures and notify authorities of security breaches. It also gives consumers the right to take legal action if their data is used for discrimination purposes.

 

Trade wars getting messy

This week saw the White House say that it will impose a new 25% tariff on Chinese goods. Given the US tech industry’s reliance on Chinese manufacturing, this did not go down well.

“Tariffs do not work – point blank,” said Dean Garfield, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI). “Moving forward with tariffs on goods imported from China will harm U.S. consumers and businesses, and will fail to change China’s discriminatory and damaging trade practices.”

China has yet to respond in kind, but a new analysis by the CompTIA technology association warned that US technology exports accounted for an estimated $322 billion in 2017 – equivalent to approximately $1 out of every $4 generated in the U.S. tech industry.

ZTE’s troubles in the US continue but have a potentially expensive glimmer of hope on the horizon.  President Donald Trump tweeted this week that ZTE would be able to resume US operations with ‘change of management and board, and pay a $1.3 Billion fine’.

So far the embargo on the company has seen it lose around $3.1 billion. No official statement has been released by the company.

The fact that ZTE is currently barred from the US hasn’t stopped a judge ruling that a Texas company can sue the company for patent infringement. ZTE’s attempt to have a lawsuit from Seven Networks -- concerning patents on data transfer and batter management -- dismissed was denied by the judge.

“China's Ministry of Aerospace founded ZTE as a front to send officers abroad under non-diplomatic covers such as scientists, businessmen and executives for the purpose of collecting intelligence,” according to documents released in another court case in Texas between ZTE and Universal Telephone Exchange over its operations in Africa.

Kaspersky’s attempts to overcome bans preventing its products being used in the US government have also been denied by US courts.

 

Security

  • A proposed bill would require US companies to disclose whether they’ve allowed foreign governments access to their source code.
  • Softbank’s Pepper robot is full of security holes.
  • PornHub has released a VPN.
  • Hackers can now crash computers using sound.
  • Telegram says Apple has blocked updates since Russia requested the messaging app be removed from the App Store.
  • Though the ACDC ‘hack back’ bill was vetoed earlier this month, a fellow for cyber policy at the Council on Foreign Relations says the government should do the hacking on behalf of private companies.

Facebook claims it missed the Cambridge Analytics scandal because it was focused on ‘old threats’ such as spam and phishing. Meanwhile Papua New Guinea has banned Facebook for a month while the site roots out fake users in the country. Snap Inc CEO Evan Spiegel took a sideswipe at the company and said Facebook should also try to “copy our data protection practices”.

 

M&A

Malwarebytes has acquired BiniSoft, Box has bought workflow startup Progressly, private equity firm KKR & Co has snapped up BMC Software, and PayPal now owns predictive retail startup Jetlore. Bain has completed its acquisition of Toshiba’s chip unit.

Verint Systems is reportedly in talks to acquire Israeli maker of cyber surveillance company NSO Group.

Android creator Andy Rubin’s Essential company has reportedly cancelled its next phone and is looking to put itself up for sale. Yahoo has shut down its Tanda social savings app which only launched in January. StumbleUpon is shutting up shop on June 30th and will be migrating accounts to Mix.com.

 

 Yandex launches a smart speaker

Yandex, Russia’s answer to Google, has launched a new smart speaker powered by its own-grown Alice digital assistant. As well as the Yandex.Station speaker and the Russian-speaking assistant, the company launched a skills platform for third-party developers to add their own capabilities to Alice.

Elsewhere, researchers at the University of British Columbia have developed a way to make voice assistants more helpful for programmers. The team created a new assistant called Devy;  a conversational Developer Assistant (CDA) which can perform certain automated tasks on behalf of developers. Commands include running tests against new code, committing the code, pulling or pushing changes from remote repositories, and more.

 

Open Source

Facebook has open-sourced Katran, a new network load balancer.

 

Tesla crashes again

There’s been another self-driving car crash. A Tesla reportedly in Autopilot mode crashed into a stationary police vehicle in Laguna Beach, California. The officer was not in the vehicle at the time and the Tesla driver only sustained ‘minor injuries’, according to police.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, meanwhile, is unhappy about the negative coverage. “It’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the ~40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage,” he tweeted.

Musk here clearly shows he doesn’t understand what makes something newsworthy or the fact the main selling point of autonomous vehicles is that they are (or eventually will be) safer than human drivers. Until self-driving cars are the norm, such crashes will be newsworthy. And if the promised comes true and crashes become rare and unlikely events, they’ll still be newsworthy.

 

The long, slow end of film cameras

Remember when cameras were separate devices that required photos to be taken using film? This week Canon officially discontinued its last remaining film camera, the EOS-1V. Nikon still has two film cameras in its catalogue.

 

Totally addicted to crypto

Can you be addicted to Bitcoin? Apparently so. The UK-based Castle Craig addiction rehab clinic is expanding its gambling rehab treatment programme to include treatment for people addicted to cryptocurrency trading. According to Castle Craig gambling therapist Chris Burn, the high risk, fluctuating cryptocurrency market appeals to the problem gambler.

“It provides excitement and an escape from reality. Bitcoin, for example, has been heavily traded and huge gains & losses were made. It’s a classic bubble situation.”

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect. Writes about all manner of tech from driverless cars, AI, and Green IT to Cloudy stuff, security, and IoT. Dislikes autoplay ads/videos and garbage written about 'milliennials'.  

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