ICO to investigate mass facial recognition at King’s Cross Central

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The Information Commissioner’s Office has launched a formal investigation into the use of mass facial recognition scanning in London’s King’s Cross, which is privately owned and operated but serves the general public as a thoroughfare and bustling transport and business hub (The Register). 

In a statement Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said Information Commissioner said: “Scanning people’s faces as they lawfully go about their daily lives, in order to identify them, is a potential threat to privacy that should concern us all. That is especially the case if it is done without people’s knowledge or understanding.”

Microsoft has updated its privacy statement, Skype Translator, Cortana and voice data FAQs to make it clear that, if you use its AI-powered voice services, Microsoft “employees and vendors” may listen to and process recordings of what you say (Ars Technica). 

Having private conversations listened to by strangers is potentially distressing, so it’s important – not to mention legally necessary – that companies stop hiding their activities from consumers. As it stands, training AIs to handle tasks such as translation and live transcription requires human involvement and it’s clear that the industry as a whole regards user voice sample annotation as part of that.

Huawei’s Mate X folding smartphone’s release date appears to be slipping. Although it was originally expected to have a September launch date Huawei has now confirmed to TechRadar that the Mate X is “scheduled for launch between September and November 2019.”

Proudly branded Amazon warehouse staff have been flooding Twitter – and the mentions of users who criticise the firm – with praise for the global megacorporation (Gizmodo). 

At least some of these “Amazon Fulfillment Center Ambassadors” are genuine, albeit anonymised, employees – given gift cards and some time out of the warehouse as a reward – while others appear to be more standardised social media marketing content. The pro-Amazon propaganda campaign’s general impression is cult-like at best and in some cases appears to be exploiting workers’ adverse mental health experiences.

Why get paid money each month, when you can earn in cryptocurrencies instead? (WIRED). New Zealand has become the latest country to lay out how cryptocurrencies would be taxed, making it easier for companies to pay salaries using such digital assets. But just because you can be paid this way, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

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