The government's data law - an attack on encryption?

The Queen

Overdue modernisation of the way the authorities monitor criminals and terrorists - or a Snooper's Charter eroding our basic liberties? The proposal outlined in the Queen's Speech to "modernise the law on communications data" will divide opinion. But prepare for another long battle over the way that law is framed and the balance it strikes between privacy and public safety.

The row over forcing internet service providers (ISPs) to hold on to far more data about their users' online activities has stretched over three parliaments. The idea first came up under the last Labour government, when it was quashed by Conservative and Liberal Democrat opposition. Then it was resurrected by the Coalition, with Theresa May's plans - immediately dubbed the Snooper's Charter - blocked by her Liberal Democrat partners.

Now we have in the Queen's Speech what looks like a much wider proposal for a new Investigatory Powers Bill. The government says this will "provide the police and intelligence agencies with the tools to keep you and your family safe", will "maintain the ability of our intelligence agencies to target the online communications of terrorists", and will "cover all investigatory powers including communications data, where the government has long maintained that the gap in capabilities are putting lives at risk".

So it is both sweeping and vague, promising to give the authorities the tools they need to track criminals in a complex online world without specifying as yet how far they will be allowed to go.

A man using a computer

The Open Rights Group (ORG), which campaigns against increased surveillance, is convinced this is the return of the so-called Snooper's Charter, with increased powers of data collection and retention aimed at the entire population, coupled with attacks on encryption.

Read full article The government's data law - an attack on encryption?

Jony Ive's promotion

Jony Ive

We learn this morning that the man behind the design ideas that made Apple the world's richest company has got a new job. Sir Jonathan - or Jony - Ive has been promoted to Chief Design Officer. Now this will be of huge interest to those Kremlinologists who follow every move at Apple's Cupertino headquarters - but should anyone else care?

Well yes, especially anyone who holds Apple's extremely valuable shares. Many investors have backed the company based on Jony Ive's continuing presence, and there have been hints in recent months that the design guru is tired, and perhaps considering stepping back from frontline duties.

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Will London's mayor put the brakes on Uber?

Uber app on the phone near London black cab

It is the new technology superpower, promising to transform the way we travel and much else, and London is one of its most important bases. But now the car service Uber is at the centre of a major political battle, and the new Conservative government has a tricky choice to make.

London's mayor Boris Johnson, who has until recently been seen by taxi drivers as far too kind to Uber, is now backing new laws which could put a stop to its growth. The newly elected MP for Uxbridge is pushing for the inclusion in next week's Queen's Speech of a proposal to cap the number of minicab licences in London.

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Will Britain's Chirp be drowned out by Google Tone?

Chirp logo
The Chirp logo

A few years ago I came across one of those rare inventions that make you sit up and go "wow".

Chirp was launched in 2012. It's an application that allows you to transfer files between devices simply using an audio signal. It was instantly appealing - and best of all it was the work of a British inventor, Patrick Bergel, from University College London.

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Will mobile firms really block ads?

Iphone 5

How much do you enjoy seeing adverts pop up as you browse the web on a computer, or increasingly on a mobile phone?

Not much, I bet, but advertising is all that keeps many online businesses afloat and on mobile phones it is turning into a multi-billion dollar industry.

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Facebook tightens its grip on news

Facebook on a laptop

Where do you get your online news? For millions, the answer is Facebook, and now the social media giant is moving to make it even easier to access news articles.

It's introducing something called Instant Articles, which will offer news organisations the chance to create interactive content that is much simpler and faster to read on Facebook via a mobile device.

Read full article Facebook tightens its grip on news

Election 2015: It wasn't social media 'wot won it'

Reporter live tweets a press conference by Michael Fallon during the election campaign

Five years ago, in the aftermath of the 2010 election, it became the received wisdom that next time things would be different.

Technology and in particular social media would play a key role in the 2015 campaign. Twitter and Facebook would become vastly more influential than newspapers in spreading election messages, and sentiment analysis - mining the big data of social media - would tell us exactly what was going on. How wrong that turned out to be.

Read full article Election 2015: It wasn't social media 'wot won it'

Twitter, Facebook - and the battle for advertising dollars

Facebook and Twitter logos

It's been a dismal week for social media companies that aren't Facebook.

Last night the professional networking site LinkedIn posted a disappointing revenue forecast, sending its shares plunging 25% in after-hours trading. Earlier in the week, Twitter had also shocked the market by missing revenue forecasts.

Read full article Twitter, Facebook - and the battle for advertising dollars

Secret fails fast - but did Silicon Valley fail too?

Secret app logo

Silicon Valley is applauding the founder of the Secret app, which allows people to share rumours anonymously. Which is strange because he's failed.

But what he's done is admit that the project has gone wrong, shut it down and return the remaining cash to investors. And in the West Coast start-up bible, failing fast and moving on has become one of the 10 commandments for all true entrepreneurs.

Read full article Secret fails fast - but did Silicon Valley fail too?

Brand/Miliband: Is this the real start of the 'social media election'?

Russell Brand and Ed Miliband

Was Ed Miliband right or wrong to agree to an interview for Russell Brand's YouTube channel?

I'll let you be the judge of that, but the strategy seems clear - reach an audience of young people who are more likely to watch online video and share news on Facebook than tune in to TV news or read a newspaper.

Read full article Brand/Miliband: Is this the real start of the 'social media election'?