News Roundup: Human Rights, iDonors, and selfie elbows

A roundup of the week’s tech news including OpenCelluar, Megaupload, and lies.

Human rights

The United Nations has decided internet access is a Human Right. The UN this week passed a resolution [PDF] for the “promotion, protection, and enjoyment of human rights on the internet”. The resolutions says “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression”.


Google has acquired French image recognition startup Moodstocks and video startup Anvato, Avast has bought fellow anti-virus firm AVG, Alibaba has snapped up Chinese Android app store Wandoujia, Siri Capital has outbid Mitel for Polycom, Telstra has purchased Readify, Noosphere now owns, and Lenovo has fully acquired the joint venture it had going with NEC Corp.

Tech tax

San Francisco is mulling over a potential “tech tax” on companies that have enabled the gentrification of the city. The proposal would see the likes of Google, Twitter, Uber, Airbnb and Salesforce to pay a 1.5% payroll tax, and is predicted to bring around $120 million. The money would then be used to affordable housing and services for the homeless.

“The rapid tech boom in our city and region threatens our city’s ability to thrive and prosper,” said supervisor Eric Mar, who authored the bill. “Five years after the boom, it’s time for San Francisco to ask the tech companies to pay their fair share.”

A way for technology companies to give back, or a way for a city to milk its money machines? Depends on your point of view. Remember, however, that Dropbox spend $100,000 on a chrome panda.


You will soon be able to donate your organs via your iPhone. Apple has announced that iOS10 will allows users to sign up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor using the Health app. While most people are in favour of organ donation, less than half of people in the US are registered organ donors. Last year Wales adopted an opt-out organ donation system.


Facebook this week announced a new part of its plan to get everyone in the world online and on using the world’s most popular social network™.  The OpenCellular access platform is a low cost project designed to improve connectivity to remote areas. The plan is to provide 2G cell-phone networks, LTE cellular networks, or Wi-Fi networks to areas where traditional communications infrastructure isn’t viable or cost effective.

“Despite the widespread global adoption of mobile phones over the last 20 years, the cellular infrastructure required to support basic connectivity and more advanced capabilities like broadband is still unavailable or unaffordable in many parts of the world,” said Facebook engineer and Endaga co-founder Kashif Ali in statement. “At Facebook, we want to help solve this problem.”

The company says it will open source the hardware design, firmware and control software so telecom operators, entrepreneurs, researchers and OEMs can further the Facebook cause.

Blackberry a step closer to ditching phones

It’s the end of the line for the Blackberry we all know and love. The company announced this week that it would no longer be manufacturing the BlackBerry Classic. “For many years, Classic (and its BBOS predecessors) … has been an incredible workhorse device for customers, exceeding all expectations,” said COO Ralph Pini. “But, the Classic has long surpassed the average lifespan for a smartphone in today’s market. We are ready for this change so we can give our customers something better.”

If you like keyboards but think the Priv is an abomination, the next best thing is the Blackberry Passport I’m afraid.

Tesla fallout

Could Tesla be sued over the fatal crash involving a car driving on Autopilot? Possibly, according to one lawyer.

There was another incident involving a Tesla driving in Autopilot this week. Although no one was killed, the owner of the vehicle says the car was in Autopilot when it crashed and rolled outside Pittsburgh. Tesla is arguing the car was not in Autopilot mode.

Meanwhile, there was no mention of Tesla’s troubles in Google’s latest driverless car report [PDF]. The report instead talks about sharing the road with cyclists, and details two more low-speed fender benders involving the company’s own pod designs.


-          Hilary Clinton won’t face prosecution over her private email server. Donald Trump wasn’t happy.

-          The US senate is to stop giving out Blackberrys.

-          Bulgaria has announced a plan to go Open Source for its government software.

-          UK police has been accessing data on civilians for fun and profit, according to Big Brother Watch [PDF]. The police also suffer large amounts of data breaches. 

Megaupload to Mega and back again

Kim Dotcom is back…with another cloud storage service. The pro-Brexit man behind Megaupload and Mega is now promising a new site, featuring “100gb free cloud storage, On-the-fly encryption, Sync all your devices, NO TRANSFER LIMITS”. Apparently the new version of Megaupload will “much better than Mega. Many improvements and much easier to use. You'll love it.”

Lies Lies Lies

There’s already software that’s learning to tell when someone is lying in court, now researchers at the Cass Business School which can tell when you’re lying in emails. By “identifying linguistic cues of deception”, the researchers found liars over-structure their communications and include more flattery, but avoid personal pronouns or unnecessary adjectives.

Microsoft’s newest, most essential app

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said this week that Excel was his favourite MS product and it would be impossible to imagine life without it. That might all change with the company’s latest app.  lets users clip objects out of digital photos and then arrange them on virtual shelves for easy sharing online. Finally you will be able to digitise your stamp/action man/comic/My Little Pony collection and never again accidently double up. Bound to be popular with obsessives.

Selfie Elbow

Our technology addiction has lead to a host terribly-named afflictions: tech neck, Nintendinitis, Google Glass eyes etc etc. Apparently the latest ailment caused by technology is the “Selfie elbow”; essentially the same as tennis elbow, but caused from the vanity of taking hundreds of selfies. Expect the sales of selfie drones that follow you around to skyrocket.


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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