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european union: EU must tighten rules on surveillance tech exports: Rights groups – Latest News

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Digital rights campaigners called on the EU on Monday to tighten export controls on surveillance tools such as facial recognition systems to prevent European technology being used in countries where it could fuel human rights abuses.

Sales of digital surveillance systems are not currently restricted by the European Union despite posing risks to privacy and other freedoms in countries that lack adequate safeguards, Amnesty International said in a report.

“These technologies can be exported freely to every buyer around the globe,” said the report, which was published as the European Parliament and EU member states prepare to review the bloc’s export rules.

“The EU exports regulation framework needs fixing, and it needs it fast.”

It called for the technology to be treated in the same way as goods with dual civilian and military use, meaning export deals could be blocked if judged to pose a significant threat to human rights.

Amnesty said it had conducted an investigation that found several European companies had sold digital monitoring systems to China.

China’s efforts to build one of the world’s most sophisticated surveillance technology networks, with hundreds of millions of cameras in public places, have drawn criticism from human rights advocates.

Morpho, a French company that later became part of IDEMIA, supplied facial recognition equipment to Shanghai police in 2015, the Amnesty report said.

IDEMIA said the sale had involved an old-generation system for the identification of faces on recorded footage rather than live surveillance, adding it “did not and does not sell facial recognition technologies to China”.

Amnesty’s probe also found Swedish company Axis Communications had been selling surveillance cameras to Chinese law enforcement agencies since 2012.

The Lund-based company said network video solutions were used all over the world to help increase security and safety, adding that it had “export control mechanisms” and a “systematic screening of customers”.

Meanwhile, Dutch company Noldus Information Technology sold emotion recognition systems to Chinese authorities and universities, according to Amnesty.

Noldus said it was technically impossible to use its software – designed for the study of human behaviour – for the purposes of mass surveillance.

“We have never come across a single instance where human rights were violated with the aid of our software,” it said in a statement, adding that Amnesty had not provided evidence to the contrary and had declined an offer to inspect the software.

Amnesty said individual member states were blocking proposals by the EU Parliament and EU Commission for tougher controls.

A spokeswoman for the Council of the European Union, which represents the member states, said negotiations to review the regulations were ongoing.

Ella Jakubowska, policy and campaigns officer at European digital rights group EDRi, welcomed Amnesty’s report, saying biometric mass surveillance technologies “run an enormous risk of fundamental rights violations”.

“EDRi is currently urging the EU to ban biometric mass surveillance technologies within the EU – and this certainly means that we are also against the use of these dystopian technologies elsewhere,” she said.



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Tech chief executives to defend key law in front of U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday- Technology News, Firstpost

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 Tech chief executives to defend key law in front of U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday

By David Shepardson and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chief executives of Twitter Inc, Facebook and Alphabet Inc will tell U.S. lawmakers at a hearing on Wednesday that a federal law protecting internet companies is crucial to free expression on the internet, according to written testimonies from the companies seen by Reuters.

Section 230, a provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, shields technology companies from liability for user-generated content and allows them to remove lawful but objectionable posts. It has come under heavy criticism from President Donald Trump and both Democratic and Republican lawmakers who have been concerned about Big Tech’s content-moderation decisions.

Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey will tell the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday that eroding the foundation of Section 230 “could collapse how we communicate on the Internet, leaving only a small number of giant and well-funded technology companies.”

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg warned that tech companies were likely to censor more to avoid legal risks if Section 230 is repealed.

“Without Section 230, platforms could potentially be held liable for everything people say,” he said.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Nandita Bose; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.



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Hats off to the UK for smartphone unlocking laws, and more tech news today

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Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Tuesday, 27 October 2020

1. UK bans locked phones, hooray!

The UK has announced a ban on the sale of network-locked phones, finally ending one of the vices that carriers try and use to keep you loyal to them.

  • The BBC reported that while it typically costs about £10 to get a locked smartphone unlocked, studies showed that’s not the full story, with half of all those who try to do so experience difficulties:
  • “These [difficulities] can include facing a long wait to receive the code needed to trigger the process, as well as then finding that the code does not work.”
  • “We know that lots of people can be put off from switching because their handset is locked. So we’re banning mobile companies from selling locked phones, which will save people time, money and effort — and help them unlock better deals,” Ofcom connectivity director Selina Chadha was quoted as saying on the regulator’s website.

Finally: 

  • This is a welcome change, with most reactions saying finally, this is long overdue, and so on.
  • While some carriers in the UK were already keeping phones unlocked, the likes of giants including Vodafone and BT were not, and will now need to comply by December, 2021. Which isn’t soon enough really, but at least it will come into place.
  • The whole practice was a great scheme for carriers but really made little sense in any other business model in the world, where consumers pay for devices they can only use while paying a certain company. Telecommunications is unique, and carriers will always wield power when they can get away with it.

Elsewhere?

  • In Europe, this is generally the case already, and in Singapore, for example, locked phones are banned.
  • In Australia phones are generally unlocked too, except in some cases with prepaid phones where phones are often affordable but made cheaper through locks.
  • In South Africa, major carrier Vodacom started adding locks as recently as a year ago, reversing previous unlocked phones.
  • And of course, there’s the US, where locked phones are much more common. Some devices may only be compatible with specific networks too. For example, some phones like the OnePlus 7T require a specific Verizon variant as the standard unlocked model doesn’t work on Verizon. Which is strange!
  • Verizon, for example, keeps a lock for 60 days after purchase before then unlocking. And it’s completely legal to unlock a phone, which leads to guides like ‘How to unlock a Verizon phone’ being popular, for Verizon’s pre-paid devices.
  • Otherwise, unlocking a phone locked to AT&T on a contract may require that you’ve paid out a 24-month plan already and jumping through various hoops.
  • It may be that moves like this commendable one from the UK regulator heaps pressure on other countries, too.

2. The OnePlus Nord N10 and N100 were announced yesterday with the leaks right on the money. They’re more affordable or budget phones with headphone jacks, and with microSD card slots for the first time for OnePlus phones. We don’t know pricing yet but it’s going to be in a battle with the likes of the Google Pixel 4a and iPhone SE for the N10 (Android Authority). And wait, wasn’t every OnePlus phone supposed to have a high refresh rate screen? (Android Authority).


3. Samsung Galaxy S30 Ultra specs leak: An S20 Ultra with a new coat? Oh, and don’t expect a charger or earphones in the Galaxy S30’s box (Android Authority).


4. Fairphone 3 Plus review: Sustainability comes with compromises (The Verge).


5. Facebook is the latest to jump into mobile cloud gaming. I had a look, the games on offer are …extremely Facebook. Plus, digs at Apple’s iOS policies (Android Authority).


6. Microsoft adds mouse and trackpad support to Office apps on iPad (Engadget).


7. iPhone 12 drop test confirms the new screen helps durability, to an extent (Engadget).


8. Roku Ultra 2020 review: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, which makes it a tough sell over the Roku Streaming Stick Plus which is half the cost (CNET).


9. AMD agrees to buy Xilinx for $35 billion in stock, which may open up 5G and automotive electronics as Xilinx invented the FGPA (NY Times)


10. “Sometimes I think of how cakes are a miracle.” (Twitter)


11. Moon holds more water in more places than ever thought — but don’t overdo it. “To be clear, this is not puddles of water,” stressed lead researcher Casey Honniball (AP).


The DGiT Daily delivers a daily email that keeps you ahead of the curve for all tech news, opinions, and links to what’s going down in the planet’s most important field. You get all the context and insight you need, and all with a touch of fun. Plus! Rotating daily fun for each day of the week, like Wednesday Weirdness. Join in!



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Apple to charge more for apps in India and five other countries

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By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

October 27, 2020 11:43:30 am


apple app store price hike, app store price hike india, app store prices revision, apple app store controversy, apple app store tax, app store tax on developersApple App Store prices set to be increased in six countries (File Photo)

Apple announced on Monday that it will charge more apps in India, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Russia, and South Africa in the next few days. This change will apply to in-app purchases as well and the developer will receive updated price tier charts informing them about the change in prices of their apps. Specifically for India, there will be an increase of two per cent in addition to the goods and services tax of 18 per cent which is already in place. On the other hand, in Indonesia foreign developers will have to bear the burden of an additional 10 per cent tax.

“When taxes or foreign exchange rates change, we sometimes need to update prices on the App Store,” the Cupertino-giant said in the announcement posted on its developer website.

There is no confirmation whether the increase in prices will be applicable or not for other services like Apple Music, Apple TV+ and iCloud. On the other hand, this increase will apply on auto-renewable subscriptions as well. Also, it is yet to be clarified as to when the App Store users will be able to see these changes.

The statement further mentioned, “You can download the updated price tier charts now. Once these changes go into effect, the Pricing and Availability section of My Apps will be updated, and your proceeds will be adjusted accordingly and calculated based on the tax-exclusive price. You can change the price of your apps and in-app purchases (including auto-renewable subscriptions) at any time in App Store Connect. If you offer subscriptions, you can choose to preserve prices for existing subscribers.”

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In the near future, the prices of Albania and Iceland as per the other markets with value-added tax selling in US dollars. However, this is not the first instance where Apple has made changes in App store prices for specific countries. The prices were revised in Japan last year. Also, the last time India prices were revised was in the first quarter of 2017.

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