Tech Digest daily round up: TikTok settles facial recognition lawsuit
TikTok has agreed to pay $92m (£66m) to settle a lawsuit accusing it of misusing artificial intelligence to track and store users’ data, writes the BBC. A group challenge alleged it breached laws by using software to recognise facial features in user videos and algorithms to identify age, gender and ethnicity. It also alleged that user data was sent to China. TikTok denied any wrongdoing but said it wanted to avoid a court case. The case alleged that facial-recognition data collected by TikTok was used to track and profile users for the purpose of ad targeting, among other things. TikTok said in a statement: “While we disagree with the assertions, rather than go through lengthy litigation, we’d like to focus our efforts on building a safe and joyful experience for the TikTok community.”
Thousands of homes in Kingston could soon take advantage of energy captured from sewage in a pioneering low carbon district heating trial that will channel heat recovered from a local sewage plant to a nearby council estate, it was announced today. Thames Water and Kingston Council announced this morning they have applied for capital funding from the government for the ‘poo power’ scheme, which they said would be able to supply up to 7GWh of low carbon heat annually to 2,000 homes. See story on Business Green.
Twitter has announced it will launch a “super follow” feature, which will let users charge followers for access to exclusive content, later this year. The move comes as Twitter is branching out from advertising to find more ways to make money — both for itself and for its most prolific users. In an investor presentation, the social media company announced the new feature that will let users charge for extra, exclusive material not shown to their regular followers. This can include subscriber-only newsletters, videos, deals and discounts. Users would pay a monthly subscription fee to access the extra content. See The Guardian.
Huawei is finally ditching Android from all upcoming smartphones, starting in April, as the US trade ban continues to prevent the Chinese firm from doing business with any US companies, including Californian company Google. Instead of running Android 11, new devices from Huawei will now be powered by its own-brand Harmony OS software. The news of this update was revealed during the launch of the latest Mate X2 foldable phone announced earlier this week. See https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/1402799/Huawei-Android-remove-April-HarmonyOS
Dominic Cummings, the former chief adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has established a new tech consultancy firm. Mr Cummings founded a company called Siwah Ltd on Thursday, according to filings made to Companies House that were first reported by Bloomberg. The move comes three months after he left Downing Street after a bitter power struggle that also led to Lee Cain, a former Government communications director, departing the administration. See story here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2021/02/26/dominic-cummings-sets-tech-consultancy/
Bots on major social media platforms may have been hyping up GameStop Corp and other “meme” stocks, according to an analysis by Massachusetts-based cybersecurity company PiiQ Media, suggesting organized economic or foreign actors may have played a role in the Reddit-driven trading frenzy. PiiQ Media’s analysis said it examined patterns of keywords such as “Hold the Line” and GameStop’s stock symbol, “GME,” across conversations, identifying very similar daily “start and stop patterns” in the GameStop-related posts. Such patterns are indicative of bots, said Aaron Barr, co-founder and chief technology officer of PiiQ.
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