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Technology 

Budget 2017: Funding for AI, 5G and digital skills

Chancellor Philip Hammond said he wanted to secure Britain’s position as a world leader in technology and innovation as he delivered his Budget. It included more money for artificial intelligence and the development of 5G networks. There will also be funding to put driverless cars on UK roads by 2021. The chancellor also pledged to boost digital skills, including tripling the number of trained computer science teachers to 12,000. “A new tech business is founded in Britain every hour, and I want that to be every half hour,” said Mr…

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Android phones 'betray' user location to Google

A majority of Android smartphones collect location data and send it back to Google, even when location services are switched off. News website Quartz reported Android phones gathered information about nearby mobile phone masts and shared those details with Google. One privacy advocate described the finding as a “betrayal” of users. Google told Quartz the information was never stored and it said Android would be updated to stop the practice. The issue affected Android phones with Google Play Services running in the background. Google Play Services are required to access…

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Technology 

UK regulator has 'huge concerns' over Uber breach

The UK’s information commissioner has “huge concerns about Uber’s data policies and ethics” following a breach that exposed the details of 57 million customers and drivers. Uber did not tell anyone about the breach and paid a ransom to hackers to delete the data. Deputy commissioner James Dipple-Johnson said these actions were unacceptable. The ride-sharing company has a resource page for those who may be affected. “It’s always the company’s responsibility to identify when UK citizens have been affected as part of a data breach and take steps to reduce…

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Water firms still using 'magic sticks'

Water companies are using divining rods to find underground pipes despite there being no scientific evidence they work, an Oxford University scientist found. Sally Le Page said her parents were surprised when a technician used two “bent tent pegs” to find a mains pipe. She contacted all the UK’s water companies, and a majority confirmed engineers still use the centuries-old technique. However, a number said the equipment was not standard-issue equipment. The process of using divining rods, also known as dowsing, has been in use for hundreds of years. ‘No…

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Drones scatter mosquitoes to fight diseases

Drones that scatter swarms of sterile mosquitoes over wide areas are being developed to help stop the spread of diseases such as malaria. Sterile male mosquitoes cannot produce offspring when they mate with females. By crowding out other males, they reduce the mosquito population. But spreading them is difficult in areas without roads, so technology organisation WeRobotics has been developing drones to do the job. It will trial the idea in 2018. “Mosquitoes carry many diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and Zika virus. It makes them one of the…

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Skype removed from China Apple and Android app stores

Skype’s call and messaging service has been removed from app stores in China, including the Apple app store. Apple says it is one of several apps to have been removed after the government said it does not comply with local law. Skype owner Microsoft told the BBC the app had been “temporarily removed” and the company was “working to reinstate the app as soon as possible”. The app is also no longer available for download on Android app stores in China. Media reports suggest the disruption to Skype started in…

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Technology 

Regulator repeals US net neutrality rules

US regulators have rolled back the net neutrality rules enshrined in law under President Barack Obama. The change is seen as a major victory for the telecoms industry but a blow to those who favour an internet that offers equal access to all. It could pave the way for net providers to offer “fast lanes” – where only wealthy companies can afford the best connections to consumers. Some 21 million comments were submitted in a public debate about the proposals. In a statement, chairman Ajit Pai said the Federal Communications…

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