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#TechTop3 – Our top three technology stories of the week

By the London technology team

Cooking up some forbidden fruit

Following Apple’s refusal to create a custom crack of the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the terrorists involved San Bernardino shooting, other technology companies, as well as civil liberties campaigners, have rallied behind the company.

Both Facebook and Twitter have got behind Apple in its privacy dispute with messages of solidarity, whilst privacy advocates stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the downtown San Francisco Apple store on Wednesday to show their support for the company. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed this week that the company will appeal a California judge’s order to unlock Farook’s iPhone arguing that it would threaten the security of their customers. This news emphasises the important role that technology companies play as the gatekeeper of information in cases of national security and legal proceedings.

Three to introduce ad blocking

This week saw perhaps the most significant development to date in the growing controversy over ad blocking. The Telegraph’s Christopher Williams revealed that mobile giant Three is set to announce a partnership with mobile ad blocking firm Shine at Mobile World Congress on Tuesday.

Ad blocking on desktop web browsers has long been common, and Apple’s decision in September to allow iOS users to download ad blocking apps was widely expected to make the practice more widespread on mobile devices. However, with no ad blocking apps in the App Store’s top 100, this doesn’t appear to have happened.

Three’s move to network level blocking is of much greater significance with advertisers fearing a severe loss of revenue if the MNO’s nine million customers do not see advertising alongside their content.

Furthermore, with EE stating last year that they were looking at clamping down on intrusive mobile advertising, other network operators may follow Three’s lead.

Five Eyes partners urged to follow UK approach to extremism online

The Home Secretary Theresa May has called for the Five Eyes alliance to mimic the UK’s online counter-terrorism policy and force communications service providers to help purge “extremist messages” when they appear online. Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising the UK, the USA, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Speaking about the need for “greater joint resolve” in dealing with terrorist threats, May called for more free flows of intelligence and information between alliance members.

The Home Secretary also cited the European Union Internet Referral Unit, established in 2015 to crack down on terrorist content on the internet and social media, and commented that sharing intelligence needed to be matched by the ability to act on it effectively.


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