This was the last working week in the European Parliament before a long summer break and quite a lot happened, but let’s speak about cybersecurity for a change. Security is not the sexiest topic, but it is one of the most important topics discussed today. Without cybersecurity, there’d be no real data protection or privacy, no full trust in e-gov or e-health services, no smart cities, energy or transport. So this week’s vote on the Cybersecurity Act in the ITRE Committee after the Council approved its position in June is good news. Starting trilogue discussions ASAP after summer would surely be a step in the right direction.
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Time to proceed to checkout [Quartz]
15 minutes of profit. This is the amount the UK’s data privacy watchdog has fined Facebook for failing to protect the data of 87 million users. £500,000 is the maximum fine the regulator can impose. Facebook will need just a few minutes to earn the money to cover the fine, as the tech company is expected to generate $22.6 billion in profit this year, according to analysts. One may wonder about such a fine’s impact on incentivising better compliance. Still, let’s see if this decision will set a precedent and encourage other national authorities to sue internet giants on data protection grounds.
And not in the way you might think… Have you noticed that across the many voice assistants on the market today, the default setting is a female voice? The Equal AI initiative, with members including Arianna Huffington and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, believes the male-dominated AI industry is injecting its bias into the creation of voice assistants, and it starts with choosing the sound of the voice. Before our brains start to make assumptions about the “gender” of our subservient virtual assistant friends, should we be pushing for a re-boot?
Virtual reality is already used to treat phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder. Now therapists are hoping it can help with issues like addiction and anxiety. By putting patients into a virtual situation where they might feel cravings for alcohol or drugs, therapists are able to identify triggers and help patients work through them. Limbix, a startup that created a virtual reality programme for therapy, thinks it could even help prevent addiction in the future. The mental health crisis won’t be solved in virtual reality, but it could be a step in the right direction.
Its name is Black Swan and it is the first aeroplane – if you agree drones are also aeroplanes – designed in Bulgaria in 70 years. It promises to revolutionise air shipping by being able to haul nearly 400 kilos of cargo up to 2,500 kilometres, a major improvement compared to the 20-30 kilometres current drone delivery is aiming for. The company behind it, Dronamics, has spent the last four years working on this fixed-wing aircraft to be able to carry a payload similar to a small cargo van. This can open the doors to a lot more domestic air cargo shipping – something that rarely happens today – with the possibility to land in small airports and hence significantly expand the number of towns it can connect. Will this also help reducing traffic in our congested roads?
What’s more tedious than filing tax returns? [TechCrunch]
… Anyone? We’re still wondering, but the TransferWise and MarketInvoice alumni who founded TaxScouts are not. The London startup combines automation with human accountants to help Brits with their tax fun, for a flat fee of £99. “Our customers get both the benefits of getting a personal accountant and having a simple tool to manage it all, without the huge costs,” says co-founder Mart Abramov. TaxScouts has just raised some extra £300,000 to further develop the automation functionality, including plugging into more data sources than just Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs , like for instance with other fintech friends.
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