Tech Digest daily round up: Online harms bill announced in Queen’s Speech


Social media firms will have to remove harmful content quickly or potentially face multi-billion-pound fines under new legislation. The government’s Online Safety Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech yesterday, comes with a promise of protecting debate. It is “especially” geared at keeping children safe and says “democratically important” content should be preserved. But campaigners say the plans will lead to censorship, while others warn fines do not go far enough. The draft legislation, previously known as the Online Harms Bill, has been two years in the making. It covers a huge range of content to which children might fall victim – including grooming, revenge porn, hate speech, images of child abuse and posts relating to suicide and eating disorders. BBC 

HTC has unveiled two new versions of its Vive virtual reality headset, both of which now support 5K resolution and a wider, 120-degree field of view. The tech firm says the new Vive Pro 2 and Vive Focus 3 represent a new benchmark for virtual reality experiences. Unveiled at the company’s annual Vivecon event, the ultra-high-resolution display and wide viewing field found in both headsets are among the highest spec VR headsets available on the market. The Pro 2 is designed to connect to a user’s PC, while the Focus 3 is the firm’s latest all-in-one and, therefore, wireless headset, which HTC says is also aimed at business users. The Pro 2 also supports a 120Hz refresh rate, meaning moving images are more fluid and helps to create a more realistic experience, HTC says. Yahoo!

Americans can begin applying for $50 off their monthly internet bill on Wednesday as part of an emergency government program to keep people connected during the pandemic. The $3.2 billion program is part of the $900 billion December pandemic-relief package. The government is increasing spending on broadband as the pandemic made stark that millions of Americans did not have access to, and could not afford, broadband at a time when jobs, school and health care was moving online. It’s unclear how long the money will last but it’s expected to be several months. Tens of millions of people are eligible, although the Federal Communications Commission, which is administering the program, did not specify a number. AP News

Online retailer eBay is launching a new money-lending service for business sellers on its platform after finding many struggled to access Government loan schemes during the Covid-19 pandemic. Bosses have teamed up with fintech firm YouLend and will allow 300,000 small and medium-sized firms who use eBay to access loans of between £500 and £1 million. The loans can be approved within 24 hours and will then be paid back based on a percentage of revenues from each individual applicant, rather than with traditional fixed monthly payments. Yahoo!

A London-based Goldman Sachs director has quit after reportedly making millions from investing in Dogecoin, a meme cryptocurrency that has increased its price by some 10,000pc this year. Aziz McMahon, head of emerging market sales at the US investment bank, resigned after benefiting from the joke digital currency’s meteoric growth this year surpassing that of any other cryptocurrency. City sources claimed Mr McMahon was opening a hedge fund with his cash, according to efinancialcareers, which first reported on his departure. It is unclear how much money Mr Aziz, who had been with the bank for 14 years, had made. Telegraph 

Chris Price
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