Author: Natasha Lomas

Fairphone ends support for first repairable-by-design smartphone

TECHCRUNCH Fairphone, the European mobile phone maker and social enterprise that has made it its mission is to build and sell fairer smartphone hardware, has announced it is ending support for its first handset, the Fairphone 1 (spotted earlier by The Register). Blogging about the decision last week, founder Bas van Abel described it as “bittersweet”. “Over time, the possibilities for continuing to support the Fairphone 1 have steadily decreased,” he wrote. “It is now clear that we can’t keep spending resources on finding new options and loopholes without negatively impacting our company’s future.” Fairphone has always described device longevity...

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Uber faces unfair competition probe over Madrid airport service pricing

TECHCRUNCH An airport transfer service which Uber offers in the Spanish capital Madrid has been referred by the city council to the country’s national antitrust watchdog, the CNMC, for review, Reuters reports. Madrid council is concerned Uber’s pricing for the airport transfer does not cover the costs of running the service and thus could constitute unfair competition. Uber charges from €15 to €29 for the transfer from Madrid’s Barajas international airport and the city centre, depending on the vehicle used. Standard taxi fares for the same trip are fixed at €30. Uber also offers a discount of 50 per cent on...

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Drone registration coming to the UK

TECHCRUNCH The UK government has announced a plan to require drone owners to register their devices. It says the incoming rules are aimed at ensuring safer use of the technology. Under the planned regulations, owners of drones weighing more than 250 grams will, in future, be required to register their devices — with the stated aim being to “improve accountability and encourage owners to act responsibly”. A similar plan in the US to require drone owners register their devices with the Federal Aviation Authority was struck down by an appeals court in May. Though Congress could still legislate on...

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Graphcore’s AI chips now backed by Atomico, DeepMind’s Hassabis

TECHCRUNCH Is AI chipmaker Graphcore out to eat Nvidia’s lunch? Co-founder and CEO Nigel Toon laughs at that interview opener — perhaps because he sold his previous company to the chipmaker back in 2011. “I’m sure Nvidia will be successful as well,” he ventures. “They’re already being very successful in this market… And being a viable competitor and standing alongside them, I think that would be a worthy aim for ourselves.” Toon also flags what he couches an “interesting absence” in the competitive landscape vis-a-vis other major players “that you’d expect to be there” — e.g. Intel. (Though clearly...

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Wire launches e2e encrypted team messaging in beta

TECHCRUNCH End-to-end encrypted messaging platform Wire is targeting Slack’s territory with a new messaging for teams product, called Teams. It announced a beta launch yesterday, and is offering teams a 30-day free trial — with pricing starting at €5 per user per month thereafter, or custom pricing for enterprise installations offering extras such as self-hosted servers and an integration API. Co-founder Alan Duric tells TechCrunch that demand for the team messaging launch is being driven “primarily” by Wire’s existing user base. Alex, a TC reader and Wire user who tipped us to the beta launch, is one of those existing users with an interest in the new team messaging feature — although he says his team won’t be signing up until the product exits beta. Explaining how his team originally started using Wire, Alex says: “One of the team was traveling and visited China where we found the firewall was blocking basically everything. Skype would randomly keep crashing / lagging under a VPN, though Wire simply worked there. We decided just to stick with it.” The Wire Teams product supports logging in with multiple accounts, so users can maintain a personal Wire messaging account separate from a Wire work account, for example. There’s also support for adding guests to projects to allow for collaboration with outsiders who don’t have full Wire accounts of their own. And, in future, Teams users will be able...

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US lifts laptop ban for all remaining airlines and airports

TECHCRUNCH The U.S. has now lifted entirely a controversial ban on laptops in hand luggage for passengers flying to the country from the Middle East or via certain Middle Eastern airlines, with the Department of Homeland Security professing itself satisfied with “enhanced security measures in place”. It had already lifted the ban for three major airlines, earlier this month. But late yesterday an official tweeted that all restrictions had been lifted for remaining airlines and airports. With enhanced security measures in place, all restrictions on large PEDs announced in March for 10 airports/9 airlines have been lifted. — David Lapan (@SpoxDHS)...

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Google’s right to be forgotten appeal heading to Europe’s top court

TECHCRUNCH Europe’s ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, which allows private citizens in the region to make requests that search engines delist incorrect, irrelevant or out of date information returned by an online search for their full name, is set to return to the region’s top court to settle an ongoing dispute between Google and the French data protection agency, CNIL. The latter has pushed for Google to make these delistings apply globally, i.e. across all web domains, rather than geo-limiting delistings to the person’s home territory (as Google prefers to) — arguing that for Google not to do this...

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AI data-monopoly risks to be probed by UK parliamentarians

TECHCRUNCH The UK’s upper house of parliament is asking for contributions to an enquiry into the socioeconomic and ethical impacts of artificial intelligence technology. Among the questions the House of Lords committee will consider as part of the enquiry are: Is the current level of excitement surrounding artificial intelligence warranted? How can the general public best be prepared for more widespread use of artificial intelligence? Who in society is gaining the most from the development and use of artificial intelligence? Who is gaining the least? Should the public’s understanding of, and engagement with, artificial intelligence be improved? What are...

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