Central banks explore digital currency

Central banks ponder the introduction of digital currencyThe successful transition of crypto-currency bitcoin from experimental concept to globally accepted currency with a market value of more than $10 billion, is causing central banks to start exploring the potential of digital currencies for themselves. Research is at an early stage, but central banks – including those in Russia, Canada, the UK, Australia and China are assessing the risks and benefits of adopting a digital currency of their own. Further analysis needs to be done into how digital could affect a country’s economy and financial stability, and how systems could be put in place to defeat hackers, at the same time serving the needs of tens of millions of people. Read more…

Yahoo under pressure over hacking and privacy fears

Yahoo under pressure from EU regulators over hacking and alleged email privacy breachYahoo under pressure from EU regulators over hacking and email privacy

It’s not been a great year for Yahoo. Following news of a large-scale account hack, perpetrated two years ago but only recently announced to the public, the company is now in hot water over its decision to scan clients’ email accounts on behalf of US authorities. European politicians have called on the European Commission (EC) to investigate the incident which could interrupt the progress of the transatlantic data sharing deal agreed earlier this year and is likely to touch a nerve with Europeans who fear mass surveillance by US. Read more…

Uber drivers win landmark case in UK

Tech firm Uber forced to review employment contractsTech firm Uber forced to review employment contracts

The gig economy in the UK has just been dealt a blow after an employment tribunal ruled that two workers for Uber had the right to be considered as employees and should be paid the national living wage as well as holiday and sick pay. The ride-hailing company had defended the case on the grounds that it was a tech platform and that its drivers were self-employed contractors. The case leaves Uber open to further claims and could pressure other companies to review the way staff are contracted and paid. Read more…

Apple hit with tax penalty after EU ruling

Tech giant Apple to pay billions of euro in back taxes after EU rulingTech giant Apple to pay billions of euro in back taxes after EU ruling

Tech leviathan Apple is on the receiving end of Europe’s biggest-ever tax penalty after Brussels handed down a ruling that the company had benefited from what amounted to illegal state aid from Ireland. The judgement follows a lengthy investigation into claims that Dublin gave Apple an uncompetitive advantage in violation of EU law. Apple will be asked to pay billions of euro in back taxes as part of the European Commission’s initiative to combat multinationals’ aggressive tax avoidance strategies. Read more…

Airbnb’s Samara project targets new buildings

Airbnb is extending its reach into architecture and city planning with its new Samara projectAirbnb extends its reach into architecture and city planning with Samara

Space-sharing disrupter Airbnb has encountered as much opposition as it has inspired budget-conscious travellers across the world. Its business model of owners renting out living spaces – anything from a single room to an entire house – has offered an opportunity for owners and renters alike to benefit. But the San Francisco-based company has drawn criticism from hoteliers who are losing business and from city dwellers who claim that Airbnb is reducing the availability of long-term rentals. Read more…

Microsoft wins privacy tug-of-war with US government

Appeals court overturns earlier ruling forcing Microsoft to hand over customer dataAppeals court overturns ruling forcing Microsoft to hand over customer data

Cooperation between tech companies and the US government has soured recently over a series of showdowns over law enforcement and customer privacy issues. Most recently, a US appeal court has judged that the government can’t compel Microsoft to comply with a demand for information, overturning an earlier ruling that found the tech giant in contempt for failing to aid a narcotics prosecution. This is because the data at the centre of the story is stored overseas and would breach the company’s terms. Read more…

Japan’s SoftBank acquires British tech company

Japanese telecoms company SoftBank acquires UK’s ARM Holdings for close to $33 billionSoftBank snaps up UK’s ARM Holdings for $32 billion

Japanese telecoms business SoftBank has made a high-speed deal to buy British smartphone chip company ARM Holdings for $32 billion, as the company targets the ‘internet of things’ technology market. Negotiations were incredibly swift, resulting in a $22-cash-per-share offer – significantly above ARM’s previous closing price – following hard on the heels of a brief round of talks. Larger-than-life CEO of the Japanese group, Masayoshi Son, approached ARM bosses Simon Segars and Stuart Chambers informally for discussions, before concluding the final offer within just two weeks. Read more…

Verizon acquires Yahoo in $5 billion deal

US mobile network Verizon has bought Yahoo in a $5 billion dealUS mobile network Verizon has bought Yahoo in a $5 billion deal

For many millennials, Yahoo was their first introduction to the worldwide web – a portal to an exciting new experience. But more recently, it’s become an anachronism, lagging behind the competition, and is struggling to maintain its place in a fast-moving field. Once valued at $125 billion, it has now been sold for less than $5 billion to US mobile network Verizon. In last quarter alone, the company lost half a billion dollars but Verizon wants it not for its existing business model, but for its billion-a-month visitors. Read more…

Telephone data surveillance may pose a threat to citizens

Stanford University researchers highlight threat to the privacy of ordinary citizensStanford University researchers highlight threat to the privacy of ordinary citizens

Stanford University researchers have released a study that shows how details obtained from telephone calls under routine surveillance programs by the National Security Agency (NSA) may pose a threat to privacy. The report explains how despite only having access to anonymous ‘metadata’ – and without seeing the contents of any of the emails and calls – the scientists were able to ascertain names and addresses, as well as potentially sensitive information, including medical diagnoses. The metadata is widely used by the security services. Read more…

Is the honeymoon period over for tech companies?

Tech companies forced to face up to responsibilitiesTech companies forced to face up to responsibilities

For a long time, technology companies have basked at the top of the commercial hierarchy. Software giants such as Microsoft who’ve come to prominence as a result of the innovation of their geeky founders, making money as if they were printing it and pushing their tech agenda to number one position on the cool list. The workaday compliance issues, environmental problems and industry regulations that hound other, less glamorous, sectors haven’t wiped the gloss of this one, until now. Read more…