Friday Five: UK plans customised rules for tech giants

Welcome to the 400th edition of the Friday Five! Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best new stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. UK plans customised rules for tech giants

The UK is planning to issue Facebook, Google and other tech giants sets of rules customised to each company. The tailored codes of conduct are part of a plan unveiled by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will take over responsibilities at a local level from the European Commission due to Brexit.

The CMA intends to set up a Digital Markets Unit to draw up the rules and govern compliance. The watchdog wants the new unit to be able to fine the tech companies up to 10% of their global turnover if they do not comply with the remedies to anti-competitive behaviour it demands. For Google that would amount to a cool £12bn!

2. Co-op scans shoppers with facial recognition

Branches of Co-op in the south of England are using real-time facial recognitioncameras to scan shoppers entering stores. The tech is being trialled at 18 shops in the Southern Co-op franchise in a bid to reduce abuse against staff and shoplifting (look, I didn’t mean to scan those mangos as potatoes at the self-checkout, OK?).

While shops with face-recognising cameras displayed signs telling customers about its operation, no public announcement was made before the trials started. And privacy advocates are asking whether the shops can justify their use under data protection laws, not to mention the creep of surveillance tech in the private sector.

3. Santa’s putting bank cards on the naughty list

Employing Father Christmas to do the voice at the Poundland self-service tills is a lovely festive touch, right? Well, maybe not if your card gets declined and a booming voice (think Brian Blessed) announces to the entire store that “card not accepted, is it on the naughty list?” before launching into ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’.

Mortified shoppers vented on social media, with one saying “I was humiliated. Imagine Santa telling everyone you’re broke.” A Poundland spokesman said: “How can anyone be a grinch about Santa? We haven’t lost our sense of humour despite it being an unusual year.” Yep, having no money is an absolute sackful of laughs…

4. YouTube to remove election ‘fraud’ videos

More than a month after Joe Biden’s victory, YouTube has announced it will begin removing any content that alleges widespread voter fraud influenced the outcome of the US presidential election. YouTube had come under fire for allowing channels such as One America News Network to publish videos declaring that Trump won.

YouTube says now that “enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect” (surely that was weeks ago?), it will begin removing misleading videos. It is also including election information panels on its videos, linking to trusted sources that debunk election integrity misinformation.

5. Wimborne Militia back after Facebook battle

If I were to tell you that the Wimborne Militia had their Facebook page disabled, you’d probably think that was a good thing. But this particular group are actually a harmless bunch from a town in Dorset who recreate historical events and are a popular attraction at events such as the switching on of the town’s Christmas lights.

However, it’s understandable that Facebook’s algorithm picked them out in its bid to restrict accounts backing right-wing conspiracies and US militia groups. Fortunately for the Wimborne Militia, their account was unfrozen following media coverage of the incident. Still, might be a good idea to consider a name change, eh lads?

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