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Bitesized Blighty: May 19, 2017

Immy Ransom

  • Ahead of the upcoming UK General Election, Theresa May has made clear her intentions for greater involvement of the government in regulating technology and the internet. The government intends to introduce huge restrictions on what people can post, share and publish online. This comes after recent legislation allowing the government to force internet companies to keep records on their customers' browsing histories, as well as giving ministers the power to break apps like WhatsApp so that messages can be read. The goal of the suggested increase in governmental power is to combat hate speech, pornography, or other sources of harm – however, naturally, there are concerns about the privacy implications of such power.
  • A BBC reporter decided to put HSBC’s voice recognition security system for online banking to the test. The system claims it is secure because each person's voice is "unique", but the reporter’s non-identical twin was able to access the account via the telephone on his eighth attempt after he mimicked his brother's voice. The breach did not allow his twin to withdraw money, but he was able to access balances and recent transactions, and could transfer money between accounts. HSBC’s response was: “Twins do have a similar voiceprint, but the introduction of this technology has seen a significant reduction in fraud, and has proven to be more secure than PINS, passwords and memorable phrases.”
  • In another story with a somewhat Black-Mirror vibe, London’s City airport is replacing its air traffic control tower with zoomable cameras which will be controlled from a base near London. From 2019, the airport will close down its tower’s visual control room and replace it with a 50m tall digital version. The new digital control room has the “augmented reality” ability to overlay the screens with live aircraft information. The digital control room, developed by Saab, has already been rolled out at two small airports in Sweden and has been trialed in the US, Australia and Ireland. 

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