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Irish data protection authority rules Ireland's ID card scheme to be unlawful from data protection perspective.

The Irish data protection Commission (DPC) has ordered the Irish government to delete 3.2 million citizens' personal data, after ruling that its national ID scheme was unlawful. According to the Irish Times, in a highly critical report on its investigation into the card, the privacy authority found there was no legal reason to make individuals obtain the card in order to access State services. The commission’s report represents a major blow to the scope of the project, which has faced strong opposition from digital rights campaigners. According to the Register, the DPC stated that in practical terms, a person's capacity to access public services both offline and online is now contingent, in an ever-increasing range of contexts, on obtaining and producing a Public Services Card.

National Chinese cyber agency expresses concerns over apps' over collection of users' data

According to TechWire Asia, China's National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team expressed to app developers the need to reevaluate the amount of data collected from their users. In its half-yearly report, the agency identified a significant number of mobile apps that need to rectify the issue of over-collection, and called for a national response to address the problem, as the country’s 800 million mobile users migrate to online platforms for their shopping needs. According to IAPP, the report of the agency states that "a large number of apps exhibit abnormal behavior, such as detecting other apps or reading and writing user device files, posing a potential security threat to the user’s information security".

Study shows that the “Internet is unavailable” to visually impaired users

A study published by Deque Systems - a digital accessibility company and conducted by Nucleus Research shows that 70% of Internet websites in certain industries such as e-commerce, e-government, news and information, etc. are unavailable to visually impaired users. According to the report, 7 out of 10 blind persons cannot access e-government services whereas 8 out of 10 users experience difficulty accessing news websites.The research therefore highlights the existing digital divide despite measures taken to make the Internet more accessible to visually-impaired users, and emphasises a missed market opportunity for the concerned websites given that they lose roughly USD 6.9 billion to accessible e-commerce competitors annually. 

The report found that well-known e-commerce actors including Amazon, Target and Best Buy lead the way in addressing accessibility issues in the e-commerce space. 

UK's data protection authority launches investigations over the use of facial recognition software at King's Cross

The UK' Information Commissioner's Office has launched an investigation into the use of facial recognition in King's Cross area in London. The authority indicated being deeply concerned about the growing use of facial recognition technology in public spaces, and seeking detailed information about how it is used. According to the Guardian, ICO's announcement came two days ago the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wrote to the development’s owner demanding to know whether the company believed its use of facial recognition software in its CCTV systems was legal. The developers includes a consortium of Argent, a property developer, Hermes Investment Management, on behalf of BT Pensioners, and AustralianSuper, an Australian pension scheme. According to IAPP, the consortium said the facial-recognition tech has been implemented “in the interest of public safety and to ensure that everyone who visits has the best possible experience.

The Connecting Europe Facility - CEF implementation brochure

Published by the European Commission, a brochure titled ‘The Connecting Europe Facility - Five years supporting European infrastructure’ offers a comprehensive overview of the achievements of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme over the past 5 years with a brief look at the challenges up to 2020. In the 5 year period since the launch of the programme, the European Commission has allocated €26.4 billion in grants for actions in the Transport, Energy and Telecom sectors.

CEF contributes to strengthening the competitiveness of the EU economy and its transition to climate neutrality and plays a key role in implementing the Commission 's priorities concerning smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

The effects of India’s shutdown of Kashmir’s Internet access. 

A news report has documented the effect of the Indian government’s shutdown of Internet and telecommunication services which has entered its 11thday in the contested region of Kashmir.

The report specifically highlights the case of one Masroor Nazir, a pharmacist in Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar, who claims he is unable to stock medicines, since he no longer has access to the Internet which is needed to order new drugs. He is also unable to meet requests from smaller pharmacies in the rural parts of Kashmir. The report continues with the impact on other critical services such as banking, where most ATMs are not working since they rely on the Internet to operate.


Google works on improving speech recognition for people with impaired speech

Earlier this year, Google announced it was working on Project Euphonia, an initiative aimed to use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve computers' abilities to understand diverse speech patterns, such as the speech of people with speech impairments. In a recent blog post, the company has provided details about its work on Project Euphonia, outlining a two-phase approach designed to improve automatic speech recognition (ASR) for people suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that can negatively affect a person's speech. Google's team has created a high-quality ASR model which was initially trained on thousands of hours of standard speech. The training was then fine-tuned with a personalised non-standards speech dataset. Google notes that the new approach resulted in 'significant improvements' in speech recognition for speakers with atypical speech over current models.

UK NHS will offer wearable medical tech to battle diabetes

According to publication, the UK National Health System (NHS) will offer wearable tech to help people monitor their health habits in order to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, using apps, the participants will have 24-hour access to health coaches and educational content; online peer support groups; and the ability to set and monitor health goals electronically. The decision to implement such a program comes following the results of a successful pilot, in which access to online information increased the number of people becoming involved in the national Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP).

High cost of internet access leaving low-income families behind, report finds

A Canada based organization, ACORN Canada, is calling on the government to act to save the situation since their research findings are showing that the cost of internet access in the country is posing a threat of leaving low-income families without the means of taking part in the digital economy.

news report that gave the main highlight of ACORN Canada’s report dubbed “Barriers to Digital Equity in Canada” captured the need of making “digital equity” federal priority by the government.  According to the report, online access has become critical to “apply for jobs, complete school work, download government forms, pay bills and connect with family and friends.”   This makes the case for internet access as a basic human right that must be protected.

Among other things, the report suggested that the government should expand the
Connecting Families program, which was launched in 2017 to deal with the widening digital inequality in Canada

Malta launches public consultation on ethical AI framework

Malta launched a public consultation on an Ethical AI Framework, consisting of a set of ethical principles for artificial intelligence (AI) and an overview of requirements for trustworthy AI. Developed by the Malta.AI Taskforce, the framework is intended to 'establish a set of guiding principles and trustworthy AI governance and control practices'. The document outlines four ethical principles aimed at establishing trustworthy AI: human autonomy for humans interacting with AI systems; preventing any harm that AI system could cause to humans, the environment of other living beings; fairness in the development, use and operation of AI systems; and explicability, so that end-users can understand and challenge the operation of AI systems. These principles, the document notes, need to be translated into requirements for AI systems, such as human agency, explainability and transparency, fairness, accountability, and privacy and data governance.

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