#1 | US security officials mull measures to outlaw end-to-end encryption
Senior US government officials that took part in a recent National Security Council meeting have discussed whether to ask Congress for legislation that would prohibit tech companies from using end-to-end encryption. The goal is to prevent people from “going dark”, as government officials describe the situation in which law enforcement agencies are unable to access encrypted data and messages. FBI and the Department of Justice have long argued that encryption hinders numerous investigations into terrorism, drug trafficking, and child pornography crimes. But the Commerce and State Departments point out that mandating encryption ‘backdoors’ would pose substantial economic, security, and diplomatic consequences. And citizens wouldn’t take this issue lightly either. Tech companies such as Apple and Google are also staunchly opposed to watering down the encryption as that would make messaging apps susceptible to cybersecurity attacks.
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#2 | Google’s internet balloon spinoff Loon to launch commercial trials
Google-owned tech startup Loon is soon launching its first commercial trial in Kenya. The test is conducted with Telkom Kenya, the nation’s third-largest carrier, and involves using stratospheric balloons to bring internet connectivity to rural and remote areas. The high-flying balloons are powered by solar cells and create an aerial wireless network that communicates with a ground-based antenna system, enabling mountain villagers to buy 4G services. The Loon project, however, faces a number of challenges including the deterioration of balloons after only a few months of usage. Also, a number of companies are developing technologies that make it possible to provide broadband connectivity from space. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2L6hw5B https://reut.rs/2JjkEsL
#3 | Non-travellers flock to airports giving rise to terminal tourism
A number of US airports consider enabling non-travellers to access post-security zones. It as a potential money-making move as it brings new customers to restaurants, shops, wine bars, playgrounds, and various other facilities located at airports. Also, it enables people to meet arriving relatives sooner. Pittsburgh International Airport was one of the very first to adopt this policy in 2017 and others have followed. Tampa International Airport, for instance, allows 100 non-travellers in on Saturdays and the available slots have already been booked through July and August. But if airports are to continue hosting more and more non-travellers, then they’ll have to expand screening stations capacity as the number of standard passengers increases. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2KtS4qq
#4 | Unless deleted by users, Alexa voice records are kept indefinitely
In a response to a letter sent by Chris Coons, a Democrat Senator, Amazon has confirmed that it keeps voice recordings and transcripts of customer interactions with Alexa smart assistant forever unless users manually remove them. And even then, the tech giant might still keep other records of customers’ Alexa interactions such as reminders or alarms. Also, Amazon uses transcripts to train its smart assistant to better understand commands and how they relate to factors like age, environment, and speech impairments. Coons says that many details on this topic are still unclear, including the extent to which the company shares data with third-party platforms.
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#5 | Working moms driving growth in telemedicine
The US telemedicine market is set to reach $64 billion by 2025 fuelled by growing customer demand. Major companies in this industry such as Teladoc, MDLIVE, and Doctor on Demand recognise that the key to their success is in motivating mothers to use the service and to spread the word. In fact, Teladoc reported that mothers over age 25 represent almost half of general medicine and behavioural health visits and that they are “the chief medical officers of the family.” Doctor on Demand CEO Hill Ferguson says that 65 per cent of its app’s users are female. And this trend is likely to continue as telemedicine enables users to get the care without taking hours out of a busy daily schedule. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2L3hHOl