Tech Digest daily round up: NHS Covid app update blocked


An update to England and Wales’s contact tracing app has been blocked for breaking the terms of an agreement made with Apple and Google. The plan had been to ask users to upload logs of venue check-ins – carried out via poster barcode scans – if they tested positive for the virus. This could be used to warn others. The update had been timed to coincide with the relaxation of lockdown rules. But the two firms had explicitly banned such a function from the start. Under the terms that all health authorities signed up to in order to use Apple and Google’s privacy-centric contact-tracing tech, they had to agree not to collect any location data via the software. As a result, Apple and Google refused to make the update available for download from their app stores last week, and have instead kept the old version live. BBC

Google has been accused of insider trading in the digital advertising market in court documents which claim it ran a programme that allegedly gave it an advantage over rivals.  The tech firm – which is battling a US antitrust case over its alleged dominant position – is said to have run a scheme called “Project Bernanke” in which it used access to publishers’ servers to gain the upper hand in price negotiations with advertisers. Lawyers for the state of Texas alleged that this amounted to Google engaging in insider trading in digital advertising markets and gave it an unfair advantage over rival ad-buying tools, according to the Wall Street Journal. The claims were made in court documents released online, which were later removed from the internet and replaced by a redacted version with references to the project scrubbed out. Telegraph 

Image: Reuters

Hoping to capitalise on a surge in demand for home deliveries, a Singapore technology company has deployed a pair of robots to bring residents their groceries in one part of the city state. Developed by OTSAW Digital and both named “Camello”, the robots’ services have been offered to 700 households in a one-year trial. Users can book delivery slots for their milk and eggs, and an app notifies them when the robot is about to reach a pick-up point – usually the lobby of an apartment building. The robots, which are equipped with 3D sensors, a camera and two compartments each able to carry up to 20 kg (44 lb) of food or parcels ordered online, make four or five deliveries per day on weekdays and are on call for half day on Saturday. They use ultraviolet light to disinfect themselves after every trip, said OTSAW Digital’s chief executive, Ling Ting Ming. Reuters

Paul Davidson, the chief executive of the panel-discussion app Clubhouse, has denied that the company was hacked following reports that user data was circulating online. Instead, Mr Davidson suggested that the data trove – covering the names and other information of 1.3 million users – was cobbled together from public sources. It follows Facebook confirming the authenticity of another trove of scraped data – this time including phone numbers, and belonging to 500 million users – after reports that it was being leaked online. People can now search the independent and widely respected Have I Been Pwned? site – which monitors hacking forums for dumps – to see if their numbers are among those listed in the enormous dataset. Sky News 

Russia on Monday celebrated the 60th anniversary of the legendary flight that made Yuri Gagarin the first man in space, a major source of national pride for millions of his countrymen. Russia’s space industry has struggled in recent years and been hit by a series of mishaps, but the sending of the first human into space on April 12, 1961 remains a crowning achievement of the Soviet space programme. President Vladimir Putin was to travel Monday to the southern city of Engels on the banks of the Volga River, to the site of the cosmonaut’s landing where a memorial stands to honour the historic flight. The day of Gagarin’s flight is celebrated every year in Russia as Cosmonautics Day, and this year authorities are pulling out all the stops to mark the 60th anniversary, with museum exhibitions, round-the-clock television coverage and events across the country. Yahoo! News 


Chris Price
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