Tech Digest daily roundup: Home Office secretly lobbied for facial recognition company


Senior officials at the Home Office secretly lobbied the UK’s independent privacy regulator to act “favourably” towards a private firm keen to roll out controversial facial recognition technology across the country, according to internal government emails seen by the Observer. Correspondence reveals that the Home Office wrote to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) warning that policing minister, Chris Philp, would “write to your commissioner” if the regulator’s investigation into Facewatch… was not positive towards the firm. The Guardian 

Social media companies have failed to stop “large-scale” Russian disinformation campaigns since the invasion of Ukraine, the EU has said. The EU Commission’s report said the “reach and influence of Kremlin-backed accounts” had grown further in 2023. Russian disinformation has increased on X, formerly Twitter, since Elon Musk bought the company, the report added. The study, published on Wednesday, looks at attempts to deal with Kremlin-backed disinformation and suggests the rise has been “driven in particular by the dismantling of Twitter’s safety standards”. BBC 

O2 will be the exclusive network provider for the Sony Xperia 5 V in the UK. The carrier hasn’t revealed details about contracts yet – that will happen as the phone launches on September 28 – but for reference the SIM-free price is £850. O2 offers split contracts, i.e. after you pay off the phone, your monthly bill will be reduced to cover only your voice/data plan. Speaking of data plans, they will include up to 25GB for roaming in the EU. GSM Arena 

Never have enough space to fit a phone in your handbag? Your troubles may be soon over thanks to a new invention by Chinese tech firm Honor. It has unveiled a foldable smartphone that doubles up as a purse, with a shoulder strap and customizable designs that can be changed at the click of a button. The design is aimed at giving both fashion brands, such as Prada and Luis Vuitton, as well as rival tech giants Apple and Samsung a run for their money. Honor revealed the concept device – called the Honor V Purse – during its keynote speech titled ‘Unfold Tomorrow’ at the technology show IFA 2023 in Berlin. Daily Mail

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been accused of trying to “hijack” the £5.5bn takeover of a British satellite company after demanding US authorities re-run an investigation into the deal. The Tesla billionaire’s space company has written to a US regulator demanding it “expeditiously review and rescind” a decision to green light a merger between American company Viasat and Britain’s Inmarsat. SpaceX, which has launched a vast satellite network called Starlink, has claimed Viasat is causing interference with its satellites and breaching its licensing conditions in a long-running row between the two companies. Telegraph 

Apple couldn’t release both an iPhone 15 Pro Max and an iPhone 15 Ultra later this month, could it? That’s a new rumor doing the rounds as we approach the date of Apple’s next special event, though it’s a move that doesn’t seem too likely right now. It’s been predicted by tipster Majin Bu (via AppleInsider), and it seems the two different phone models would have a similar set of specs, with the Ultra edition of the iPhone 15 offering more in the way of RAM and internal storage. Tech Radar

Ten days after India’s success in landing the first-ever spacecraft on the southern side of the moon, the country has launched ‘Aditya L1’, its first mission to study the sun. The spacecraft was launched on the polar satellite launch vehicle rocket, from Sriharikota on the eastern coast of India at 11.50am local time. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said: “The launch of Aditya-L1 by PSLV-C57 is accomplished successfully. Sky News 

Chris Price
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