This Week In Tech And Telco: No Rest For The Wicked

Hey all, it’s that time again! As always, I’m Tasmin and I’m delivering your tech and telco weekly round up.

There has been a lot going on this week. If you’re UK-based like us, you’re probably thankful for the distraction from Brexit. Read on to find out the latest news.

Amazon workers listen to what you tell Alexa

A global team of thousands, both employees and contractors at Amazon, are listening to your interactions with Alexa and transcribing them for analysis. This is to improve the AI and help her respond to commands and queries.

Once transcribed, audio clips from Amazon’s line of Echo speakers are annotated and fed back into the voice assistant in an effort to bridge gaps in Alexa’s knowledge and understanding of human speech.

Bloomberg reported that teams use internal chat rooms to share files when they need help parsing a muddled word—or come across an amusing recording.

The news is just the latest in a long line of bad press that ‘big tech’ experiences due to the morally grey use of user data. Tens of millions of people use smart speakers and their voice software to play games and find music, but a large proportion of society also avoids AI-enabled products for this very reason. To protect their privacy.

I’ve wanted one of these for ages, managed to find one for a decent price from Japan - practicing some shots with my new lightbox.
People are shocked that recording are not just fed through a faceless algorithm | Source: Unsplash

Julian Assange arrest and potential US extradition

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested by the Metropolitan Police after nearly seven years inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London in political asylum.

His arrest is for evading a warrant for his extradition to Sweden on rape charges, though later the US government also requested his extradition for Wikileaks’ hand in publishing 750,000 classified US documents, including the Iraq War Logs.

Many have deemed the arrest as a dark day for journalism and press freedoms, as a mere publisher of documents. There is an expected backlash for whistleblowers around the world.

However, the Department of Justice also announced Assange has been charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion as he allegedly aided Chelsea Manning in cracking military passwords to access such documents ahead of the leak.

Microsoft and Amazon battle for US military contract

Microsoft and Amazon are the last two standing in a battle to win the US military's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract to provide all military cloud services for up to a decade.

The race tightens as IBM and Oracle drop out, while other contenders were dismissed.

JEDI has proven controversial since the Pentagon revealed its plans to hand the deal to one vendor.

In October last year, Oracle sued the Pentagon because the cloud contract seeks a single vendor, and as a result, believes the deal is unfairly tailor-made for Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Big Blue also launched a bid protest last year, which has since been dismissed. The firm claimed the contract was uncompetitive and risked damaging innovation and the Pentagon's long-term security.

There's a new telco deal every week
Photographer: Cytonn Photography | Source: Unsplash

Accenture to buy Paris-based Google Cloud specialist

Systems integrator Accenture says it is in exclusive negotiations to buy Cirruseo, French company that offers Google Cloud services.

Accenture, which is not saying how much it is paying, said the acquisition would strengthen its expertise in Google Cloud in the French market and more broadly across Europe.

Bhaskar Ghosh (pictured), group chief executive of Accenture Technology Services, said: “At a global level, the acquisition of Cirruseo would demonstrate Accenture’s commitment to investing in the skills and capabilities needed to help our clients apply new technologies to accelerate innovation and achieve business outcomes.”

It’s one those moment when you look at something and get the impression that something’s wrong. Like you look at the sky and see your web browser on the screen of your computer ;)
Photographer: Paweł Czerwiński | Source: Unsplash

HFW and Equinix to deploy digital edge

If a law firm is doing it, why aren’t you? Edge computing is proving more than just a buzzword, with companies opting to distribute their data processing efforts closer to the end user to reduce latency from uncessisary packet travel.

The latest example of such is law firm HFW is working with Equinix to build out a digital edge in key global markets including Dubai, London, Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Paris.

As part of HFWs digital transformation plans, it has distributed its IT to be closer to customers and employees.

Using Equinix for its data center needs, HFW has been able to free up internal resources and redirect it towards the development of value-added services on top of its platform.

"It is great to see a forward-thinking firm like HFW strategically thinking about the way IT can add value to the customer experience and become a true differentiator for its businesses, said Karl Strohmeyer, chief customer and revenue officer.

“HFW placed control points within Equinix colocation hubs to locally interconnect clouds and networks and to redefine its digital capabilities—reducing costs and latency while significantly improving speed, user experience, and capacity."

Still got time?

  • The first privately-funded attempt to land on the Moon has ended with the Beresheet lunar lander crashing into the dirt. Hopes were high after the little robot was expected to becpme the first Israeli craft and fourth country to land softly on the moon. (
  • BBC News has launched a chatbot to help people learn about climate change. Every Wednesday users will be promted, through Facebook Messenger, to explore topics relating to climate change. The can also send questions on to a human journalist to answer. (BBC News)
  • Ericsson has found a new customer for its VoLTE services. Bharti Airtel is using the company's cloud-based technology to scale its VoLTE capabilities across India. The move also prepares Bharti Airtel's infrastructure for 5G voice down the road. (Telecom Ramblings)
  • China hopes to ban bitcoin mining according to a draft list of industrial activities from the country’s state planner, marking growing government pressure on the cryptocurrency sector. (Reuters)
  • Coinbase has launched a crypto Visa debit card in the UK. The digital currency exchange says the Coinbase Card makes it easier for customers who want to use cryptocurrencies — like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin — in retail stores and online. (CNBC)
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