This Week In Tech And Telco: Tech's In Trouble

Welcome back to This Week In Tech And Telco. For a company often in the news for the good deeds of its founder Bill Gates, Microsoft is dominating this week's round-up. So just what has been going on?

UK privacy watchdog to investigate facial recognition at Kings Cross

The use of facial recognition technology at King's Cross Station, London, is to be investigated by the UK's data protection regulator the Information Commissioner's Office.

It is not currently known how long the tech has been used, but recent coverage of it in action has proved controversial.

While the system’s developer Argent said it used the technology to ensure public safety, claiming it is just one of a number of detection and tracking methods in place at the train station, the ICO is investigating whether or not its use breaches protection laws.

In a statement Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “Scanning people’s faces as they lawfully go about their daily lives, in order to identify them, is a potential threat to privacy that should concern us all. That is especially the case if it is done without people’s knowledge or understanding.”

Microsoft will continue to let humans listen to conversations

While the rest of big tech is scrambling to avoid the next big privacy scandal, following across-the-board criticism for allowing human workers and contractors to listen to and transcribe private conversations with AI assistants, Microsoft has announced it will not stop using humans for the task.

  • Facebook has also been letting humans listen to your audio from Messenger, however paused the programme last week following such controversy. The revelation, as a result of a Bloomberg investigation, found contract employees were not told where the audio was recorded or how it was obtained, only to transcribe it.
telco listen to your messenger audio
Microsoft will continue to let humans listen to your conversations. Photographer: Tadas Sar | Source: Unsplash

WannaCry-scale attack possible without Windows patch

Users with new versions of Windows should update their systems as soon as possible to protect against four wormable bugs that pose a threat risk on the scale of WannaCry. However, patches are not yet available.

Wormable means they can be exploited to spread malware from one vulnerable device to the next without any user action, similarly to the self-replicating WannaCry in 2017.

The bugs affect newer versions, specifically Windows 7, 8, and 10 and Server 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2019.

Patches are needed for windows - tech and telco
Update your Windows devices as soon as you can. Photographer: Jefferson Santos | Source: Unsplash

What else are we reading?

  • One of the most difficult thing about living with robots will be teaching them how to live with us. We’re wildly indecisive and emotional, unlike them. Computer scientist Anca Dragan is developing robots that understand how we get things wrong, allowing them to predict our actions better. Check out this Q&A with her. (New Scientist)
  • Is America spying on UK citizens through their outpost in Yorkshire? All roads in US cable biz GTT's Brit cable network seem to lead to Menwith Hill, linking Europe and back to the States. (The Register)
  • While the UK is still waiting for judgment on whether or not Huawei tech can or cannot be used in 5G infrastructure, the company’s founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei has said he is confident Boris Johnson will allow the company to supply 5G equipment. (Capacity Media)
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