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AI/Automation

Eurobites: Row grows over COVID-19 contact-tracing apps

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: UK broadcaster slammed for 5G-causes-coronavirus cobblers; Orange wants to keep AI inclusive; Brightstar buys "we come to you" device repair firm.

  • A German-led initiative focused on setting ground rules for contact-tracing apps that could help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has come under fire from a group of prominent scientists. As Reuters reports, the Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) was the subject of an open letter by the boffins' collective, which criticized PEPP-PT for being too centralized in the way it handles data related to people's movements and therefore open to abuse by the state.

  • UK communications regulator Ofcom has taken to task ITV, the UK's main commercial broadcaster, for the way in which one of its best-known presenters lent credence to the theory that 5G had in some way helped cause the coronavirus pandemic. As the BBC reports, Eamonn Holmes said on the program that he disagreed with "mainstream media immediately slapping that [the 5G-causes-COVID-19 theory] down as not true when they don't know it's not true." Ofcom condemned Holmes' comments as "ill-judged," adding that they "risked undermining viewers' trust in advice from public authorities and scientific evidence." In a separate ruling, bona fide nutjob David Icke also brought approbation on TV channel ESTV for being the conduit for his views on how an "electro-magnetic, technologically generated soup of radiation toxicity" was damaging old people's immune systems. (See Ofcom proves you can't reason with 5G conspiracy nuts and 5G malaise mounts as COVID-19 morons mangle masts.)

  • Orange has teamed up with gender equality organization Arborus to publish a charter that they hope will be used as a reference by companies wanting to use artificial intelligence in a non-discriminatory and inclusive way. The initiative, which has the backing of the French government, is available to be signed now by any companies wishing to follow its strictures.

  • WeFix, the UK-based mobile smartphone and tablet repairer, has been acquired by Brightstar, a device-protection software firm and SoftBank subsidiary. WeFix is Samsung-approved, employs 97 staff and has a fleet of 60 mobile workshops that go to people's homes to fix their malfunctioning devices. Brightstar plans to increase WeFix's UK fleet to around 150 mobile workshops by the end of 2020, whilst introducing the WeFix service to countries in mainland Europe, Canada and North America by the end of 2022. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

  • V-Nova, a London-based video compression outfit, is collaborating with Amazon Web Services on a "contribution solution" that offers an alternative to dedicated dark fiber backbones and is aimed at broadcasters of live sport. Live sport – anyone remember that?

  • Sweden's Net Insight has set up an online platform that it hopes will give prospective customers a better chance of assessing its media transport products without having to emerge from behind their laptops. Digital Experience will include access to webinars, videos, on-demand demos and downloadable digital resources.

  • Telia is the "most sustainable" telecom operator in Estonia and the sixth most sustainable of all 50 brands scrutinized in the country, according to the latest Sustainable Brand Index survey of 2020. Earlier this year, Telia was named Sweden's most sustainable telecom operator in the Index. Can this performance be sustained?

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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