Friday roundup: A week in tech

Hack

Hello, digital fans. Expecting World Cup-related tech news? I was, too – but I can’t find any, so you’ll have to settle for the below. Maybe next week.

A man has been fired by a machine!

The unfortunate Ibrahim Diallo tumbled into a digital Kafkaesque nightmare when the computer system that is apparently in charge of the Los Angeles skyscraper he works at decided to terminate him.

Mr Diallo has documented his unpleasant experience in this long and interesting blog, which is well worth a read.

It’s particularly concerning how the real humans who worked with the luckless employee seemed powerless to moderate the whims of the machine.

Daft glitch, or chilling forecast of the diabolical world awaiting us? Keep tuning into the Friday roundup to find out!

***

The reasonably affable and harmless Matt Hancock MP reckons schoolchildren should be prohibited from using mobile phones during school time, which sounds pretty level-headed to me.

Writing in The Telegraph, naturally, the digital minister praised headmasters that ‘take a firm approach, and do not allow mobiles to be used during the school day’.

Remembering that he stands for all things digital, minister Hancock astutely added that he ‘enthusiastically supports using technology for teaching,’ but that children can be harmed by the abundant tech we have crammed our lives with.

He wrote: ‘If a child is being bullied during the day and they have access to social media, the bullying doesn’t necessarily stop when they walk out of the school gate. I want bullying to be as unacceptable on online platforms as it is in the playground.’

Sensible stuff. He also asked ‘Why do young children need phones in schools?’ – an excellent question for which I’m sure Apple and Samsung have excellent answers.

Now, in my day, when I was a lad at school blah blah blah…

***

A Chinese telecommunications firm has hit out at the Australian government and denied that it is under the control of the Chinese government, as you do.

The Australian government is expected to ban Huawei from bidding for 5G licenses over concerns that the firm’s true masters are the Communist party of China.

However, Huawei reckons such a move would be ‘ill-advised and not based on facts’ – but as the Chinese Communist party have a turbulent relationship with facts, perhaps it’s all starting to add up?

Anyway, in an open letter, Huawei Australia chairman John Lord insists that the firm is clean and is owned by its ‘employees, with no other shareholders’.

The Chinese government-haunted company faces similar issues in the US, where the highly trustworthy American government is also suspicious of Huawei.

So, there you go.

***

Talking of tech firms involved in espionage-esque imbroglios with western powers, the beleaguered Kaspersky has decided to take a little revenge.

The Russian antivirus outfit has stopped collaborating with European agencies on cybercrime in response to a recent EU Parliament cybersecurity defence motion that labelled its software ‘malicious’.

The firm is already deep in the mire after the US, UK and Holland banned its software from government systems, citing concerns with Kaspersky’s supposed ties to Putin & Putin Associates Ltd, or the Russian government as it is also known.

Though it has no legislative power, the European parliament’s motion is part of a plan to sniff out ‘potentially dangerous programmes and devices’ that could aid state-sponsored hacking of all things European.

Kaspersky is furious, claiming that the motion ‘welcomes cybercrime in Europe’. To prove the point, the firm has (messy and inaccurate mixed metaphor alert) packed its cybercrime-fighting toys into its little knapsack and trotted back to Moscow.

In a final desperate bleat, which almost brought a tear to my eye, the company said: ‘Kaspersky Lab has only ever tried to rid the world of cybercrime.’ Aw.

Friday roundup: A week in tech

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