No technical reason to exclude Huawei as 5G supplier, says UK committee


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A UK parliamentary committee has concluded there are no technical grounds for excluding Chinese network kit vendor Huawei from the country’s 5G networks.

In a letter from the chair of the Science & Technology Committee to the UK’s digital minister Jeremy Wright, the committee says: “We have found no evidence from our work to suggest that the complete exclusion of Huawei from the UK’s telecommunications networks would, from a technical point of view, constitute a proportionate response to the potential security threat posed by foreign suppliers.”

Though the committee does go on to recommend the government mandate the exclusion of Huawei from the core of 5G networks, noting that UK mobile network operators have “mostly” done so already — but on a voluntary basis.

If it places a formal requirement on operators not to use Huawei for core supply the committee urges the government to provide “clear criteria” for

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Canal+ acquires Nollywood studio ROK from IROKOtv to grow African film


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French television company Canal+ has acquired the ROK film studio from VOD company IROKOtv for an undisclosed amount.

Founded by Jason Njoku in 2010—and backed by $45 million  in VC—IROKOtv boasts the largest online catalog of Nollywood film content in the world.

Nollywood is a movie genre popularized in Nigeria that has become Africa’s de facto film industry and one of the largest globally, by production volume.

Based in Lagos, ROK film studios was incubated to create original content for IROKOtv, which can be accessed online anywhere in the world.

Actress and producer Mary Njoku—IROKOtv CEO Jason Njoku’s wife—founded ROK studios and will stay on as Director General under the Canal+ acquisition.

Owned by media conglomerate Vivendi, Canal+ looks to give Mary more production resources, without disrupting ROK’s creative chemistry.

“We are acquiring the talent of Mary,” Canal+ Chief Content Officer Fabrice Faux told TechCrunch on a call.

“We

Mary Njoku ROK Irokotv
Ojukwu ROK IROKOtv

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Cambridge Uni graphene spin-out bags $16M to get its first product to market


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Cambridge, UK based graphene startup, Paragraf, has closed a £12.8 million (~$16M) Series A round of funding led by early stage VC  Parkwalk. Also investing this round: IQ Capital Partners, Amadeus Capital Partners and Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge, plus several unnamed angel investors. 

The funding will be used to bring the 2015-founded Cambridge University spin out’s first graphene-based electronics products to market — transitioning the startup into a commercial, revenue-generating phase.

When we covered Paragraf’s $3.9M seed raise just over a year ago CEO and co-founder Dr Simon Thomas told us it was looking to raise a Series A ahead of Q3 2019 so the business looks to be right on track at this stage.

During the seed phase Paragraf says it was able to deliver a manufacturing facility, graphene layer production and first device prototypes “significantly” ahead of

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Negative? How a Navy veteran refused to accept a ‘no’ to his battery invention


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Decades ago, a young naval engineer on a British nuclear submarine started taking an interest in the electric batteries helping to run his vessel. Silently running under the frozen polar ice-cap during the Cold War, little did this sub-mariner know that, in the 21st Century, batteries would become one of the biggest single sectors in technology. Even the planet. But his curiosity stayed with him, and almost 20 years ago he decided to pursue that dream, borne many years beneath the waves.

The journey for Trevor Jackson started, as many things do in tech, with research. He’d become fascinated by the experiments done, not with lithium batteries, which had come to dominate the battery industry, but with so-called ‘Aluminum-air’ batteries.

Technically described at “(Al)/air” batteries, these are the – almost – untold story from the battery world. For starters, an Aluminum-air battery system can generate enough energy and power for

trevor battery 2
trevor battery 1
PHOTO 2019 06 18 19 35 52

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‘World’s first Bluetooth hair straighteners’ can be easily hacked


This post is by Zack Whittaker from TechCrunch


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Here’s a thing that should have never been a thing: Bluetooth-connected hair straighteners.

Glamoriser, a U.K. firm that bills itself as the maker of the “world’s first Bluetooth hair straighteners“, allows users to link the device to an app, which lets the owner set certain heat and style settings. The app can also be used to remotely switch off the straighteners within Bluetooth range.

Big problem, though. These straighteners can be hacked.

Security researchers at Pen Test Partners bought a pair and tested them out. They found that it was easy to send malicious Bluetooth commands within range to remotely control an owner’s straighteners.

The researchers demonstrated that they could send one of several commands over Bluetooth, such as the upper and lower temperature limit of the device — 122°F and 455°F respectively — as well as the shut-down time. Because the straighteners have no authentication, an

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Remitly raises $220M to expand from money transfers to financial services, now at $900M+ valuation


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When it comes to financial services in emerging markets, remittances — people sending money to each other across international borders, often not to established bank accounts — continues to be one of the biggest, with the World Bank estimating that $529 billion was sent in and out of lower-income countries in 2018, up 9% over 2017. And today, Remitly, one of the bigger startups providing these services, is announcing that it has raised $220 million in funding to ride that wave.

CEO and founder Matt Oppenheimer said in an interview that the startup will use the money both to help it continue to keep growing that money transfer business, and to catch new opportunities as they appear, in the form of new financial services for the immigrants and migrants that make up the majority of its customer base.

The money is coming in the form of equity and debt,

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Marriott to face $123 million fine by UK authorities over data breach


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The U.K. data protection authority said it will serve hotel giant Marriott with a £99 million ($123M) fine for a data breach that exposed up to 383 million guests.

Marriott revealed last year that its acquired Starwood properties had its central reservation database hacked, including five million unencrypted passport numbers and eight million credit card records. The breach dated back to 2014 but was not discovered until November 2018. Marriott later pulled the hacked reservation system from its operations.

The U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said its investigation found that Marriott “failed to undertake sufficient due diligence when it bought Starwood and should also have done more to secure its systems.”

The breach affected about 30 million residents of European Union, according to the ICO, which confirmed the proposed fine in a statement Tuesday.

But Marriott said it “has the right to respond” before a

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Italy stings Facebook with $1.1M fine for Cambridge Analytica data misuse


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Italy’s data protection watchdog has issued Facebook with a €1 million (~$1.1M) fine for violations of local privacy law attached to the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal.

Last year it emerged that up to 87 million Facebook users had had their data siphoned out of the social media giant’s platform by an app developer working for the controversial (and now defunct) political data company, Cambridge Analytica.

The offences in question occurred prior to Europe’s tough new data protection framework, GDPR, coming into force — hence the relatively small size of the fine in this case, which has been calculated under Italy’s prior data protection regime. (Whereas fines under GDPR can scale as high as 4% of a company’s annual global turnover.)

We’ve reached out to Facebook for comment.

Last year the UK’s DPA similarly issued Facebook with a £500k penalty for the Cambridge Analytica breach, although Facebook

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A Boston startup developing a nuclear fusion reactor just got a roughly $50 million boost


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After twenty five years of research, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology think that they have finally cracked the code for the commercialization for nuclear fusion reactions.

Commonwealth Fusion Systems is the fruit of that research. It’s a startup building on decades of research and development that plans to harness the power of the sun to create a cleaner, stable source of energy for consumers. And the company just raised another $50 million in funding from some of the country’s deepest pocketed private investors to continue on its path to commercialization.

The company unveiled its technology and a first $64 million in financing from investors including the Italian energy company, Eni; Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the investment consortium established by the world’s richest men and women, and The Engine, MIT’s own investment vehicle for frontier technologies.

Now Future Ventures, the investment firm created by Steve Jurvetson, Khosla Ventures, Chris Sacca’s

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Assistive technologies will be a $26 billion dollar market, and investors are only now addressing it


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Rohan Silva is obsessed with social mobility and why certain groups are so under-represented in the technology industry.

He co-founded Second Home, a coworking space looking to bring together disparate civic-minded, cultural, creative and commercial entrepreneurs at sites in Lisbon, London and (now) Los Angeles, and he has spent years examining how gender, race and class impact access to technology as a now-reformed politician. Throughout that work though, one area that he says he overlooked was accessibility and entrepreneurship focused on people with disabilities.

“At Second Home, we pride ourselves on having a diverse community. I can count on one hand the number of founders with disabilities we have in our community, so there is definitely something going profoundly wrong,” Silva says.

Enlisting the help of the European venture capital fund Atomico, Silva has set up a micro-investment fund of £100,000 to tackle the problem.

“It’s a large amount

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Pavegen, which harvests energy and data from footsteps, secures crowd and Hinduja Group funding


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Pavegen, a UK startup which harvests energy from people’s footsteps and also tracks that data, has raised £2.6m on its crowdfunding push having doubled its initial £950k target.

The campaign secured funds from over 1,400 investors, including partnership and anchor investment from major global engineering conglomerate Hinduja Group and family investment firm Tamar Capital.

The Hinduja Group, whose Co-Chairmen topped the UK 2019 Rich List, aims to use the technology to reduce the cost of manufacturing and provide access to fast-growing markets in India and South East Asia.

The funding round follows expansion into 36 countries worldwide, and £1.8m in revenues in 2018, with installations including smart city developments, retail destinations, transport hubs and education institutions in Hong Kong, India, Korea, Thailand, UAE, UK & USA.

In 2018, Pavegen also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with global engineering and technology giant, Siemens, to develop smart city projects

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Laundrapp and Zipjet merge to form largest on-demand laundry service in UK, seal new funding


This post is by Mike Butcher from TechCrunch


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Two of Europe’s biggest on-demand laundry startups are merging today. Laundrapp from London and Zipjet from Berlin are confirming the completion of a previously-rumored merger through which the combined business will become the largest on-demand laundry business in the UK.

Alongside this, the combined business has completed a funding round from existing investors including Toscafund, Hargreave Hale VCT, Henkel, Rocket Internet and further minority shareholders. The amount involved has not been disclosed. News of a planned merger was broken by Sky News back in April this year.

The European on-demand laundry and dry-cleaning market is estimated to be worth around €20bn per annum. Both Laundrapp and Zipjet have benefitted from this demand, with revenues, they say, rising more than 30% yoy. Together, the businesses currently process over 150,000 items of washing each month, with the ‘Wash & Fold’ service representing approximately 25% of volumes. The business says customers tend to

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TransferWise’s new debit card for the US fires the starting gun on a new war for travelers


This post is by Mike Butcher from TechCrunch


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International money transfer service TransferWise, has made a significant incursion into the US market today, launching a MasterCard debit card alongside a multicurrency account. Mirroring the card it has already launched in the UK and Europe last year, the card will work in over 40 currencies without balance limits, and conversion fees will be competitive with current exchange rates. A similar card aimed at businesses will follow the consumer launch.

Co-founder Taavet Hinrikus told me that the card effectively makes the average person able to act like a millionaire when they are traveling. “Alternative ‘travel’ cards are four times more expensive for every dollar spent and are only available to the top 10% of people who pass credit checks and also pay hundreds of dollars per year,” he said.

He believes this card will democratize the whole market. That means it’s likely that US tourists in Europe or elsewhere

Continue reading “TransferWise’s new debit card for the US fires the starting gun on a new war for travelers”

TransferWise’s new debit card for the US fires the starting gun on a new war for travelers


This post is by Mike Butcher from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




International money transfer service TransferWise, has made a significant incursion into the US market today, launching a MasterCard debit card alongside a multicurrency account. Mirroring the card it has already launched in the UK and Europe last year, the card will work in over 40 currencies without balance limits, and conversion fees will be competitive with current exchange rates. A similar card aimed at businesses will follow the consumer launch.

Co-founder Taavet Hinrikus told me that the card effectively makes the average person able to act like a millionaire when they are traveling. “Alternative ‘travel’ cards are four times more expensive for every dollar spent and are only available to the top 10% of people who pass credit checks and also pay hundreds of dollars per year,” he said.

He believes this card will democratize the whole market. That means it’s likely that US tourists in Europe or elsewhere

Continue reading “TransferWise’s new debit card for the US fires the starting gun on a new war for travelers”

Europe should ban AI for mass surveillance and social credit scoring, says advisory group


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An independent expert group tasked with advising the European Commission to inform its regulatory response to artificial intelligence — to underpin EU lawmakers’ stated aim of ensuring AI developments are “human centric” — has published its policy and investment recommendations.

This follows earlier ethics guidelines for “trustworthy AI”, put out by the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) for AI back in April, when the Commission also called for participants to test the draft rules.

The AI HLEG’s full policy recommendations comprise a highly detailed 50-page document — which can be downloaded from this web page. The group, which was set up in June 2018, is made up of a mix of industry AI experts, civic society representatives, political advisers and policy wonks, academics and legal experts.

The document includes warnings on the use of AI for mass surveillance and scoring of EU citizens, such as China’s social credit system

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UK law review eyes abusive trends like deepfaked porn and cyber flashing


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The UK government has announced the next phase of a review of the law around the making and sharing of non-consensual intimate images, with ministers saying they want to ensure it keeps pace with evolving digital tech trends.

The review is being initiated in response to concerns that abusive and offensive communications are on the rise, as a result of it becoming easier to create and distribute sexual images of people online without their permission.

Among the issues the Law Commission will consider are so-called ‘revenge porn’, where intimate images of a person are shared without their consent; deepfaked porn, which refers to superimposing a real photograph of a person’s face onto a pornographic image or video without their consent; and cyber flashing, the unpleasant practice of sending unsolicited sexual images to a person’s phone by exploiting technologies such as Bluetooth that allow for proximity-based file sharing.

On the latter

cyber flashing

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Huawei says two-thirds of 5G networks outside China now use its gear


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As 5G networks begin rolling out and commercializing around the world, telecoms vendors are rushing to get a headstart. Huawei equipment is now behind two-thirds of the commercially launched 5G networks outside China, said president of Huawei’s carrier business group Ryan Ding on Tuesday at an industry conference.

Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecoms gear, has nabbed 50 commercial 5G contracts outside its home base from countries including South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Finland and more. In all, the Shenzhen-based firm has shipped more than 150,000 base stations, according to Ding.

It’s worth noting that network carriers can work with more than one providers to deploy different parts of their 5G base stations. Huawei offers what it calls an end-to-end network solution or a full system of hardware, but whether a carrier plans to buy from multiple suppliers is contingent on their needs and local regulations, a Huawei

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Facebook makes another push to shape and define its own oversight


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Facebook’s head of global spin and policy, former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, will give a speech later today providing more detail of the company’s plan to set up an ‘independent’ external oversight board to which people can appeal content decisions so that Facebook itself is not the sole entity making such decisions.

In the speech in Berlin, Clegg will apparently admit to Facebook having made mistakes. Albeit, it would be pretty awkward if he came on stage claiming Facebook is flawless and humanity needs to take a really long hard look at itself.

“I don’t think it’s in any way conceivable, and I don’t think it’s right, for private companies to set the rules of the road for something which is as profoundly important as how technology serves society,” Clegg told BBC Radio 4’s Today program this morning, discussing his talking points ahead of the speech. “In

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eBay and Facebook told to tackle trade in fake reviews


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Facebook and eBay have been warned by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to do more to tackle the sale of fake reviews on their platforms.

Fake reviews are illegal under UK consumer protection law.

The CMA said today it has found “trouble evidence” of a “thriving marketplace for fake and misleading online reviews”. Though it also writes that it does not believe the platforms themselves are intentionally allowing such content to appear on their sites.

The regulator says it crawled content on eBay and Facebook between November 2018 and June 2019 — finding more than 100 eBay listings offering fake reviews for sale during that time.

Over the same period it also identified 26 Facebook groups where people offered to write fake reviews or where businesses recruited people to write fake and misleading reviews on popular shopping and review sites.

The CMA cites estimates that more than three-quarters

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Behavioural advertising is out of control, warns UK watchdog


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The online behavioural advertising industry is illegally profiling Internet users.

That’s the damning assessment of the UK’s data protection regulator in an update report published today, in which it sets out major concerns about the programmatic advertising process known as real-time bidding (RTB) which makes up a large chunk of online advertising.

In what sounds like a knock-out blow for highly invasive data-driven ads, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) concludes that systematic profiling of web users via invasive tracking technologies such as cookies is in breach of UK and pan-EU privacy laws.

“The adtech industry appears immature in its understanding of data protection requirements,” it writes. “Whilst the automated delivery of ad impressions is here to stay, we have general, systemic concerns around the level of compliance of RTB.”

As we’ve previously reported, multiple complaints have been filed with European regulators arguing that RTB is in breach of the

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