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Digital Digest – 01 October

By Andre Francois McKenzie for Unsplash

In this week’s Digital Digest, we look at the Met Police’s investment in facial recognition tech, and the UK Governments plans to launch a digital currency. 

We then look at big tech as Facebook comes under fire following an internal leak, TikTok hits 1 billion users, and iPhone users are urged to remove Visa from Apple Pay due to a payment flaw.

Closer To Home

London to invest in facial recognition technology

In a move to enable the police force to analyse a wide range of sources and track suspects, the Met is set to increase its facial recognition capacity. The decision seems to be under-publicised, potentially due to controversy in the public arena regarding the use of such technology, particularly relating to the potential for abuse and privacy concerns.

In the past we have written about the use of social surveillance mechanisms, and its disproportionately negative impact on minority groups. A major argument against the use of such technologies is that it can perpetuate and facilitate racial discrimination in the absence of strict regulatory safeguards. However, the Mayor of London has defended the use of surveillance technology, saying it will speed up the time taken to identify potential criminals and thus reduce crime.

UK government announces industry group to lead digital pound debate

Details have emerged of joint forums set up by HM Treasury and the Bank of England to debate a Central Bank Digital Currency. Members include representatives from Big Tech, fintech, and incumbent banks who will be responsible for leading the debate around a digital version of the pound. Although discussions over a digital currency in the UK are not new, the creation of such forums does bring us a step closer to an official ‘Britcoin’. 

Big Tech

Facebook leaks reveal how company views children as ‘untapped’ wealth

Internal Facebook documents leaked this week reveal how the tech giant formed a special research team to create new methods, tools and programs to target children. The leaked documents talk about 10 to 12 year olds as a ‘valuable but untapped audience’, and pondered ways in which the company could ‘leverage playdates’. Given the negative reaction to this, and other related stories, it should come as no surprise that this week Facebook officially announced that it was pausing efforts to launch a kids version of their Instagram app.

TikTok hits 1 billion users Chinese company TikTok has announced in a blog post this Monday that more than one billion people from around the world now come to TikTok every month. No doubt the platform has benefitted hugely from the increase in phone usage throughout the pandemic, as people sought distractions and excitement in equal measure. This impressive milestone will only strengthen the resolve of TikTok’s rivals to eat into a greater chunk of this key audience, building on the recent launches of copycat products including Instagram’s Reels and YouTube’s Shorts. Clearly, the creator community is only set to continue growing in the months and years ahead.  iPhone users urged to remove Visa from Apple Pay due to dangerous contactless payments flaw Experts say that fraudsters have developed a method whereby they can bypass security measures and make unlimited contactless payments when a Visa card is used as a transport card via Apple Pay. It is believed this only occurs when a Visa card is used in Express Transit mode.  It works by tricking an iPhone into thinking it is connecting with a transit gate, when in reality it is engaging with a payment reader, such as those used in shops. This is referred to as a “man-in-the-middle” attack. As of now, Apple and Visa have acknowledged the vulnerability but have yet to come up with a plan to fix it. 

Also In The News

  1. Facebook Portal teams up with ITV for Grandparents’ Day campaign. Read here.

  2. Coke’s new tagline ‘Real Magic’ marks the company’s shift from broadcast to experiences. Read here.

  3. Google announces the upcoming redesign of its search engine. Read here.

  4. Bezos vs Musk: The growing rivalry between two giants. Read here.

  5. Microsoft says its failed TikTok acquisition was the ‘strangest thing’. Read here

Worth A Read:

  1. The Drum: Will Roald Dahl’s IP prove to be a golden ticket for Netflix?

  2. BBC News: AI can predict if it will rain in two hours’ time

  3. The Financial Times: Time to turn off Facebook’s digital fire hose


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