Tech Digest daily round up: Top journalists ‘targeted with phone malware’, reports claim


Rights activists, journalists and lawyers around the world have been targeted with phone malware sold to authoritarian governments by an Israeli surveillance firm, media reports say. They are on a list of some 50,000 phone numbers of people believed to be of interest to clients of the company, NSO Group, leaked to major news outlets. It was not clear where the list came from – or how many phones had actually been hacked. NSO denies any wrongdoing. It says the software is intended for use against criminals and terrorists and is made available only to military, law enforcement and intelligence agencies from countries with good human rights records. BBC

The NHS Covid app is “pinging” some phones and not others despite them being exposed to the virus in the same location at the same time, a Telegraph investigation has revealed. Only one of two Apple iPhones received a self-isolate warning after both were carried by a reporter for almost a week and taken to a number of indoor venues. The findings have prompted a former government adviser for the app to call on ministers to make the self-isolation notifications less stringent for people who have had both vaccine doses. The investigation comes as the NHS app pinged a record number of people last week, with 530,126 being advised to isolate for up to 10 days. The mass alerts sparked chaos for businesses and public services. Telegraph 

We’re eagerly awaiting confirmation of when Samsung is going to show off the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the Galaxy Z Flip 3, the Galaxy Watch 4, the Galaxy Watch 4 Classic, and the Galaxy Buds 2 off to the world– and it now seems more likely that the big day is going to be August 11. That’s per a Twitter post from Evan Blass, one of the most reliable tipsters in the business. Blass seems to have got hold of an official promotional image for the next Samsung hardware event, which are usually given the Unpacked label (like the one in January). The picture includes a couple of shapes that could well be representing the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 foldables – one with a more conventional folding hinge running vertically, and the other with a folding hinge running horizontally across the display, creating a clamshell form factor. Tech Radar 

Thinking, maybe, that it brings some purifying wonder to the pointless exercise, space plutocrats like to emphasise that their wish as grown men to ride in a space rocket dates from more innocent times. “Ever since I was five years old I’ve dreamed of travelling to space,” Jeff Bezos says. Specifically to ride upwards for roughly as far as Huntingdon is from London, float for a few minutes, then come back again? It only increases your respect for the tots who settle for Disneyland. Beating Amazon’s founder to it last week, Richard Branson also aimed to bring to his somewhat shorter (turn back at Newport Pagnell) Virgin stunt, a flavour of Le Petit Prince. “I was once a child with a dream, looking up at the stars,” the author of Screw It, Let’s Do It offered as the origin myth behind a video of him bobbing about in his space suit. Guardian

Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, called this week on the administration of President Joe Biden to greenlight a plan to transmit the internet to people in Cuba via high-altitude balloons when their government has blocked access…For years, Alphabet — the parent company of Google — worked to perfect an internet-balloon division service called Loon. It shut down that project in January, saying it wasn’t commercially viable. Prior to the shutdown, Loon balloons had been providing service in mountainous areas in Kenya through a partnership with a local telecom, Telkom Kenya. The service also helped provide wireless communications in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which destroyed the island’s mobile network. Loon partnered with AT&T to make service available. AP News

Chris Price
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