ShinyShiny tech round up: Concern over live facial recognition mounts
The Information Commissioner has expressed deep concern about the potential misuse of live facial recognition (LFR) in public places, warning that “supercharged CCTV” could be used “inappropriately, excessively or even recklessly”. The controversial technology has been under the spotlight in recent years over fears it may invade people’s privacy, be used to create watchlists, as well as questions about algorithm bias and whether they could create unfair treatment of individuals. “We’re at a crossroads right now, we in the UK and other countries around the world see the deployment of live facial recognition and I think it’s still at an early enough stage that it’s not too late to put the genie back in the bottle,” Commissioner Elizabeth Denham told the PA news agency. Yahoo!
Police in the UK are being given new powers to crack down on people flying drones irresponsibly or illegally, with dedicated teams on the lookout for those breaking the rules. Last week a drone user was fined more than £5,000 for flying illegally over MI6’s building in central London. Police working for Operation Foreverwing can now confiscate drones being flown dangerously. They will also be able to issue on-the-spot fines. The Home Office, which worked closely with the police in setting up Operation Foreverwing in March, said that officers will be given “the tools needed to tackle drone misuse”. This will include specialist equipment, vehicles and training. BBC
Two women have told Sky News they were left feeling ashamed and suicidal after explicit videos of them were posted on the world’s biggest online porn website – they claim without their consent. In a legal case filed in the US, more than 30 women have accused MindGeek, the parent company of Pornhub, of profiting from non-consensual sex videos. Their lawyer says the women are suing for damages which could amount to “hundreds of millions of dollars” if successful, and he believes it is a moment of reckoning for the online porn industry. Sky News
ByteDance, the Chinese company behind the smash-hit video app TikTok, saw its earnings double last year. An internal memo released to staff showed that the firm’s total revenue jumped by 111% to $34.3bn (£24.7bn) for 2020. The figures underscore TikTok’s continued global popularity. It comes as ByteDance and several other Chinese technology giants have come under increasing pressure from governments around the world. ByteDance also saw its annual gross profit rise by 93% to to $19bn, while it recorded a net loss of $45bn for the same period. The net loss was attributed to a one-off accounting adjustment and not related to the company’s operations. BBC
Anyone who has had the AstraZeneca vaccine will be barred from attending Bruce Springsteen’s comeback shows in New York next week. The intimate five-night run at the St James theatre will be the first Broadway show to reopen since last March and will require attendees to show proof of vaccination, reports The Telegraph. However, the list will be limited only to jabs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration – Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson. Any potential concert-goers who received their Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine overseas will be left with the prospect of being turned away at the door should they book tickets. Evening Standard
A nuclear fusion start-up backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has picked Oxfordshire for its pilot nuclear plant in a bid to create a new source of abundant clean energy. General Fusion, a Canadian start-up, is hoping to crack the problem of using the power at the heart of stars to generate electricity. Nuclear fusion involves the binding of atoms together at temperatures 10 times hotter than the sun, rather than traditional fission, which involves splitting atoms. The process should release vast amounts of carbon-free energy without harmful nuclear waste. The UK Atomic Energy Authority said on Thursday it had reached an agreement with General Fusion allowing the start-up to build its first demonstration plant at the authority’s Culham campus near Oxford. Telegraph