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Saturday, December 3, 2022 | 10:40 am

The Tech Weekender: Top News From the World of Technology Last Week

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The Tech Weekender: Top News From the World of Technology Last Week
The Tech Weekender: Top News From the World of Technology Last Week

ExpressVPN removed its virtual private network (VPN) servers in India. The move was in response to an order to a new government mandate that made it mandatory for VPN service providers to keep user data for at least five years and share records with authorities when required. Under the new directions, service providers will have to store users’ names, IP addresses assigned to them, usage patterns and other data. ExpressVPN said that the directions are “incompatible with the purpose of VPNs, which are designed to keep users’ online activity private”.

Apple recently told staff that it would make work schedules for retail staff flexible amid a push towards unionisation, according to reporting by Bloomberg News. The changes will include extending the minimum period between shifts to 12 hours from 10 hours. Apple also told Reuters that it would raise the pay for its employees in the US to $22 per hour or more. Apple’s Atlanta store recently filed a petition to hold a union election, which could make it the first Apple Store in the US to unionise. The move comes amid a wave of unionisation in the US as major firms are scrambling to thwart labour organisers as the current support for labour unions in the country has reached an all-time high since 1965. According to Gallup polling, 90 per cent of Democrats and 47 per cent of Republicans approve of unions, with an overall 68 per cent approval. Microsoft recently announced that it would not resist unionisation efforts by its employees as it recognises their legal right to choose to form or join a union.

Elon Musk’s deal to acquire Twitter came one step closer this week as the US antitrust waiting period for the acquisition ended. The completion of the deal is now subject to remaining customary closing conditions, which include approval by Twitter stockholders and any other regulatory approvals. However, Musk might face another hurdle as advocacy groups launched a campaign to stop the Tesla CEO from purchasing Twitter. Accountable Tech executive director Nicole Gill said in a release, “Elon Musk is a wolf in expensive sheep’s clothing whose Twitter takeover is motivated by ego and grievance. If we don’t stop this deal, he’ll hand a megaphone to demagogues and extremists, who will cheer him as they incite more hate, harm, and harassment.”

Google recently confirmed plans that it was planning on merging its Duo and Meet apps into a single video calling platform. In the following weeks, Google Meet will incorporate most of the features from the Duo app, while the Duo app will be renamed Google Meet later this year. Google Meet features will be available to Google Workspace customers and legacy G Suite Basic and Business customers as well as all personal Google accounts.

There has been a rise of around 82 per cent in hate speech on social media platform Facebook and an 86 per cent jump in violent and inciting content on Instagram, according to a monthly report released by Meta. The majority of the content in the report is based on detection by social media platforms before users report them. According to the report released on May 31, Facebook detected 53,200 hate speech in April, which is 82 per cent higher compared to the 38,600 detected in March, on which the platform took action. The report showed that Instagram acted on 77,000 violence and incitement related content in April compared to 41,300 in March.

Cydia’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple will now be moving forward after Apple unsuccessfully appealed to the California Federal Court in the US to dismiss the case. As reported by Reuters, Apple was sued by the creator of alternative app store Cydia in late 2020. Jay Freeman, the creator, had accused Apple of maintaining an unlawful monopoly on software distribution on its platform.

Xiaomi has announced an organisational reshuffle for Indian operations that it hopes will lead it into the next era of growth in the country. After seven years at the helm, Manu Kumar Jain transitioned into a new global role as group vice president last year. He will also be responsible for international strategy and international marketing and PR. In his absence, chief operating officer Muralikrishnan B, chief business officer Raghu Reddy, and chief financial officer Sameer BS Rao looked over the Indian business and will continue to do so independently.

Check Point Research recently published findings on several vulnerabilities that can jeopardize the modems and other chip-related weaknesses that can put Android mobile users at risk. Researchers at the firm reverse-engineered the implementation of the LTE protocol stack and found a vulnerability that could be used to deny modem services, and potentially even block communications by a threat actor, remotely. Exploiting the vulnerability results in the disruption of a device’s radio communication through a malformed packet.

Blizzard’s Diablo spin-off, Diablo Immortal has begun rolling out for iOS and Android, with the PC release following soon after. Players playing on PC and mobile will be able to play with each other with cross-play, and the game supports cross-save, which means you can play on one platform and then continue on another, with all of your progress carried over. The game has been somewhat controversial due to the way it was revealed at BlizzCon 2018. A lot of fans were angry at the reveal, given most of the fanbase were PC players.

Instagram is offering creators more flexibility by increasing the duration of Reels to 90 seconds from 60 seconds. The Meta-owned platform is also making interactive stickers available for Reels that were previously only limited to Instagram Stories. Instagram also confirmed the launch of Amber Alerts on the social media platform to help find missing children. The Amber Alerts introduced by Instagram will allow people to see and share notices of missing children in their area and were first introduced on Facebook in 2015. Instagram users can now also import their audio to Reels to add commentary and background noise.

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