Archive for September, 2018

How a lesbian love story is bypassing censors online

Scene from Maaya 2 How a lesbian love story is bypassing censors online How a lesbian love story is bypassing censors online cc3ba54c66Image copyrightJioCinema/Loneranger Productions
Image caption Lesbian love story Maaya 2 would have struggled to make it on to Indian TV

Low-cost smartphones and cheap mobile data mean Indians are now hungrily consuming content over the small screen. And this is opening up a new world of creative freedom for the country’s entertainment industry.

Film director Krishna Bhatt says the internet has given her “the power to show exactly the story I want to tell”.

She has made two web-based shows. One of them, Maaya 2, centres around a lesbian love story – a subject that would have been very difficult to get into cinemas or on television in India.

“To show lovemaking in a theatre I will have to go through 10,000 censor rules,” says Ms Bhatt.

“My kisses will get cut based on very stupid things. You’re not allowed to show something like that even on TV.”

While films and television series are governed by strict censorship rules in India, web-based shows have been largely unregulated – so far at least.

Image caption Director Krishna Bhatt says digital has given her a “new sense of freedom”

“If you can give everything you want to give without anybody breathing down your neck, it’s like a new sense of freedom, it’s like independence,” says Ms Bhatt.

“That’s what digital does for you.”

Indian prime-time TV is largely dominated by family dramas that often go on for years, featuring thousands of episodes.

This not only limits opportunities for other shows to get on air, but also restricts the kind of stories that can be told.

So actors, writers and directors are enjoying new-found freedoms that online gives them.

How a lesbian love story is bypassing censors online How a lesbian love story is bypassing censors online 0377842764
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBollywood talent finds new audiences on phones

At Chandivali Studio in north Mumbai, for example, they’re filming a Hindi language show called Apharan (Kidnapping).

It will be a long day – filming began early in the morning and will go on until late in the evening. The race is on to complete the 11 episodes that are scheduled for release in November over ALTBalaji, a web-based video-on-demand platform available in 96 countries.

On an open-air set, built to look like a street market in a small Indian town, Arunoday Singh is playing the lead character in a plot about a former policeman caught in a kidnapping gone wrong.

He has appeared in several mainstream Bollywood movies, but always in smaller roles.

“I’ve gotten a bit pigeonholed in the Bollywood system for the last four to five years,” he says. “I didn’t become a big star, but neither am I unknown.

Image caption Actor Arunoday Singh says he got pigeonholed in Bollywood

“So casting directors feel like they know what I’m capable of and they don’t even give me an audition.”

Online entertainment has opened new doors for him.

Apharan is just one of dozens of web series being made in India this year, as focus has turned to the opportunities presented by web-based entertainment.

“For actors, for writers especially, there’s a lot more opportunity now, which is always nice, because it’s a very cut-throat kind of a business,” says Mr Singh.

Foreign companies see the potential as well, with Netflix and Amazon investing heavily in the Indian market.

Image caption Apharan is due for release in November

But how do any of them hope to make money?

In a mass market like India, where there are more than 300 million smartphone users, subscriptions could be a big revenue source.

“Unlike television, digital is an over-the-top or OTT business, which means it eliminates the distributor or the middle man,” says Nachiket Pantvaidya, chief executive of ALTBalaji.

“So you get the entire amount that a viewer pays to subscribe to your content. That is something that is really attractive about the digital business for content producers.”

ALTBalaji hopes to reach as many as 200 million viewers. But there are many challenges – getting the pricing right is one of them.

Image copyrightALTBalaji
Image caption ALTBalaji says it has to get its pricing and its content right for its subscribers

“What is extremely important is that we want to keep our net pricing to the consumer at less than a rupee a day (1p; 1.4 cents),” says Mr Pantvaidya.

“I think that’s the point at which individuals will buy into this phenomenon.”

Then, it’s about making the right content.

“Ninety-five per cent of Indian homes have only one television, so individual choice is restricted. We are not catering to someone who’s dropped off television. We are catering to a person who likes to watch something different when he or she is watching it with their family, and something different when the consumption is individual,” Mr Pantvaidya explains.

“To define that content and to target it has been a challenge.”

More Technology of Business

But this boom depends heavily on mobile data rates remaining low in India.

That’s the result of an intense price war in the country’s consolidating telecoms industry, with companies like Vodafone Idea, Airtel, Jio and BSNL, fighting hard to attract subscribers. No-one is quite sure how long the mobile operators will be able to sustain such low prices.

But while they do, web-based entertainment continues to give hope to the tens of thousands of actors, directors and writers waiting around in Mumbai for their big break.

  • Follow Technology of Business editor Matthew Wall on Twitter and Facebook

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How a lesbian love story is bypassing the Indian censors

Scene from Maaya 2 How a lesbian love story is bypassing the Indian censors How a lesbian love story is bypassing the Indian censors cc3ba54c66Image copyrightJioCinema/Loneranger Productions
Image caption Lesbian love story Maaya 2 would have struggled to make it on to Indian TV

Low-cost smartphones and cheap mobile data mean Indians are now hungrily consuming content over the small screen. And this is opening up a new world of creative freedom for the country’s entertainment industry.

Film director Krishna Bhatt says the internet has given her “the power to show exactly the story I want to tell”.

She has made two web-based shows. One of them, Maaya 2, centres around a lesbian love story – a subject that would have been very difficult to get into cinemas or on television in India.

“To show lovemaking in a theatre I will have to go through 10,000 censor rules,” says Ms Bhatt.

“My kisses will get cut based on very stupid things. You’re not allowed to show something like that even on TV.”

While films and television series are governed by strict censorship rules in India, web-based shows have been largely unregulated – so far at least.

Image caption Director Krishna Bhatt says digital has given her a “new sense of freedom”

“If you can give everything you want to give without anybody breathing down your neck, it’s like a new sense of freedom, it’s like independence,” says Ms Bhatt.

“That’s what digital does for you.”

Indian prime-time TV is largely dominated by family dramas that often go on for years, featuring thousands of episodes.

This not only limits opportunities for other shows to get on air, but also restricts the kind of stories that can be told.

So actors, writers and directors are enjoying new-found freedoms that online gives them.

How a lesbian love story is bypassing the Indian censors How a lesbian love story is bypassing the Indian censors 0377842764
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBollywood talent finds new audiences on phones

At Chandivali Studio in north Mumbai, for example, they’re filming a Hindi language show called Apharan (Kidnapping).

It will be a long day – filming began early in the morning and will go on until late in the evening. The race is on to complete the 11 episodes that are scheduled for release in November over ALTBalaji, a web-based video-on-demand platform available in 96 countries.

On an open-air set, built to look like a street market in a small Indian town, Arunoday Singh is playing the lead character in a plot about a former policeman caught in a kidnapping gone wrong.

He has appeared in several mainstream Bollywood movies, but always in smaller roles.

“I’ve gotten a bit pigeonholed in the Bollywood system for the last four to five years,” he says. “I didn’t become a big star, but neither am I unknown.

Image caption Actor Arunoday Singh says he got pigeonholed in Bollywood

“So casting directors feel like they know what I’m capable of and they don’t even give me an audition.”

Online entertainment has opened new doors for him.

Apharan is just one of dozens of web series being made in India this year, as focus has turned to the opportunities presented by web-based entertainment.

“For actors, for writers especially, there’s a lot more opportunity now, which is always nice, because it’s a very cut-throat kind of a business,” says Mr Singh.

Foreign companies see the potential as well, with Netflix and Amazon investing heavily in the Indian market.

Image caption Apharan is due for release in November

But how do any of them hope to make money?

In a mass market like India, where there are more than 300 million smartphone users, subscriptions could be a big revenue source.

“Unlike television, digital is an over-the-top or OTT business, which means it eliminates the distributor or the middle man,” says Nachiket Pantvaidya, chief executive of ALTBalaji.

“So you get the entire amount that a viewer pays to subscribe to your content. That is something that is really attractive about the digital business for content producers.”

ALTBalaji hopes to reach as many as 200 million viewers. But there are many challenges – getting the pricing right is one of them.

Image copyrightALTBalaji
Image caption ALTBalaji says it has to get its pricing and its content right for its subscribers

“What is extremely important is that we want to keep our net pricing to the consumer at less than a rupee a day (1p; 1.4 cents),” says Mr Pantvaidya.

“I think that’s the point at which individuals will buy into this phenomenon.”

Then, it’s about making the right content.

“Ninety-five per cent of Indian homes have only one television, so individual choice is restricted. We are not catering to someone who’s dropped off television. We are catering to a person who likes to watch something different when he or she is watching it with their family, and something different when the consumption is individual,” Mr Pantvaidya explains.

“To define that content and to target it has been a challenge.”

More Technology of Business

But this boom depends heavily on mobile data rates remaining low in India.

That’s the result of an intense price war in the country’s consolidating telecoms industry, with companies like Vodafone Idea, Airtel, Jio and BSNL, fighting hard to attract subscribers. No-one is quite sure how long the mobile operators will be able to sustain such low prices.

But while they do, web-based entertainment continues to give hope to the tens of thousands of actors, directors and writers waiting around in Mumbai for their big break.

  • Follow Technology of Business editor Matthew Wall on Twitter and Facebook

Original Source

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Gaza: Coding in a conflict zone

IT workers at Gaza Sky Geeks Gaza: Coding in a conflict zone Gaza: Coding in a conflict zone 933b1890e4
Image caption Gaza Sky Geeks is a tech hub set up by Google and NGO Mercy Corps, and backed by other big names in IT

On his laptop keyboard, Farah Zaquot taps out a string of computer code. He opens another browser window to show off the mobile app he has been working on.

“For a beginner, I think I’m really good,” says Farah, smiling. “I’ve always been obsessed with problem-solving and technology.”

The 26-year-old studied business administration at university, but with Gaza suffering one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, it was hard to find a job when he graduated.

Then, six months ago, he took a coding course at Gaza Sky Geeks. Now, he has already built one app for a British start-up, and is looking for more freelance work.

This tech hub was set up by Google and the NGO, Mercy Corps and is now backed by other big names in IT, like Microsoft, as well as international donors and regional businesses.

“Once you’re into programming, you’re essentially not bound by the boundaries of Gaza,” Farah says.

Gaza: Coding in a conflict zone Gaza: Coding in a conflict zone 53afda2df4
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThere are severe water and power shortages in Gaza

With its bombed-out buildings and severe power and water shortages, Gaza seems a long way from the information superhighway.

Haggling in the market is the norm here, not e-commerce.

But that does not stop some young people from dreaming that they can turn this strip into the Arab world’s Silicon Valley, or at least an outsourcing hub. Arabic is one of the fastest growing languages on the internet.

Image caption Shams Abu Hassanein now makes a living from infographics and says the training has given her new opportunities

Shams Abu Hassanein did workshops on freelancing at Gaza Sky Geeks and now makes a living from infographics. She designs flyers, brochures and social media posts in English and Arabic.

“This job has brought light to my future and my family’s,” Shams says. “Daily, I learn something new. Freelancing is a way into the wide and enormous world.”

‘Wasted generation’

Two-thirds of the nearly two million residents of Gaza are under 25. Most have never left this tiny territory just 41km (25 miles) long and 10km wide.

For more than a decade, since the Islamist movement Hamas took full control, Gaza has been kept under a tight blockade by Israel and Egypt, for what they say is their own security. There are controls on goods allowed in and out and on travel.

Israel, like the US and EU, sees Hamas as a terrorist group and says it acts to stop weapons getting to it.

“Gaza’s educated youth are often referred to as a ‘wasted generation’ due to the lack of opportunities,” says Wafa Ulliyan, director of programmes at Gaza Sky Geeks.

Its brightly decorated workspace in Gaza City has high-speed internet and constant electricity.

Already, the coding classes here have led to remote work for employers in the US and Europe. Dozens of freelancer training graduates have earned more than $400,000 (£305,000; €340,000) altogether.

It has helped nearly 30 start-ups to attract seed money and investment.

New entrepreneurs are now pitching online services for the local market – such as Palestinian wedding planning – and the region, with a platform for tourism in the United Arab Emirates, for example.

“Our international mentors are amazed at the great talent, passion and skills that our youth have,” Wafa Ulliyan says.

“Many say they could run our start-up acceleration programmes in London or San Francisco given the quality of the products. This is the real image that needs to be tagged to Gaza.”

‘Bringing hope’

During the past six months, violent demonstrations on the Gaza-Israel border have been the focus of global attention.

At least 190 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire and one Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper. Israel says its troops defend the border and stop the fence being breached.

Image copyrightAFP
Image caption Economist Omar Shaban says economic factors have been key in this year’s unrest

The protests began with a demand for Palestinians to return to their ancestral land that now lies in Israel, but many believe they have been fuelled by the desperate situation.

“The economy was a key decisive element in ‘the Great March’ and this turmoil,” says economist Omar Shaban.

Recent steps taken by Palestinian leaders in the occupied West Bank to try to pressure Hamas to give up power over Gaza are squeezing people’s finances even more and there are new fears about the impact of cuts in US aid.

“To fix Gaza, it’s about bringing hope to people, more jobs, lifting the siege and allowing exports to get out,” Omar Shaban says.

The UN and Egypt have been trying to broker a long-term ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas that could lead to an easing of the blockade.

The deep rift between the main Palestinian political groups is a big obstacle.

Another block is Israel wanting Hamas to return two of its citizens held in Gaza and the remains of two soldiers killed in fighting in 2014. Hamas demands a release of Palestinians jailed in Israel in return.

Young adults in Gaza have grown up with constant hardships and three full-scale armed conflicts between Israel and Hamas militants.

While life remains extremely difficult, there are many who are determinedly using technology to work their way around the problems.

“I think the future is programming, you can find any job in programming,” says 25-year-old, Marwa Hassanein, another coder.

“I told myself I can learn and nothing’s impossible”.

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Web creator works to liberate personal data

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Web creator works to liberate personal data Web creator works to liberate personal data 316b2d00c5Image copyrightPHILIPPE DESMAZES
Image caption People should have more control over their data, says Sir Tim

Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has created a technology he says will give people more control over their data.

Called Solid, the technology puts personal information in one place so people can decide what is shared with which service or site.

Sir Tim said Solid was needed because the current model of handing over lots of data to many different online services did not serve people well.

Solid has been set up as an open source project to which anyone can contribute.

In addition, Sir Tim has created a company called Inrupt to build Solid’s basic infrastructure.

Data silos

“The web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division, swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas,” wrote Sir Tim, on a blog on the Medium website.

Solid would restore balance to the web because it meant people never lost control of their data, he said.

“People want apps that help them do what they want and need to do – without spying on them,” wrote Sir Tim.

“Apps that don’t have an ulterior motive of distracting them with propositions to buy this or that.”

Solid involves secure silos called pods into which people deposit data such as contact information, images and video.

This data always remains in its pod and online services would request access to it rather than expect it to be lodged on their sites and servers.

The pods could be thought of as a secure USB stick or personal website, Sir Tim said, and it was up to users to decide to whom to give access to the different types of data they were storing.

People could have more than one pod for different purposes or types of data, he said.

“With Solid, you will have far more personal agency over data – you decide which apps can access it,” Sir Tim said.

Gathering data into one silo should also make it easier for apps to analyse it and deliver benefits to individuals, he said.

Solid could help to make the web closer to the way it was originally envisioned, said Sir Tim.

Skip Twitter post by @BryanLunduke

I think Solid / Inrupt is overblown and is being over-hyped.

It’s a website developed in Node.js that lets you store data.https://t.co/vSs7OFEnYw

It does a small fraction of what things like Dropbox or Nextcloud do, written in Javascript, and is overly complex. It will fail. https://t.co/7AvHgiORka

— The Lunduke Abides (@BryanLunduke) September 30, 2018

End of Twitter post by @BryanLunduke

But tech journalist and commentator Bryan Lunduke is sceptical about Solid’s chances, saying the technology is “overblown”.

He added: “It does a small fraction of what things like Dropbox or Nextcloud do, written in Javascript, and is overly complex. It will fail.”

And identity and privacy researcher Steve Wilson asked: “Even if people could control their personal data, what does Solid do about all the data created about us behind our backs?

“Do we know what proportion of personal data is generated without the individual’s involvement?”

Skip Twitter post by @Steve_Lockstep

Question @inrupt_inc: Even if people could control their Personal Data, what does #Solid do about all the data created about us behind our backs? Do we know what proportion of Personal Data is generated without the individual’s involvement?

— Steve Wilson (@Steve_Lockstep) October 1, 2018

End of Twitter post by @Steve_Lockstep

Sir Tim is taking a sabbatical from his work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a step back from involvement in the World Wide Web Consortium to free more time to develop Solid.

Inrupt is now looking for app developers and other online services to adopt Solid and start doing more serious tests of the idea.

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Will Facebook be fined after hack attack?

Facebook page Will Facebook be fined after hack attack? Will Facebook be fined after hack attack? 6486169826Image copyrightGetty Images

Following the revelation that up to 50 million Facebook accounts may have been accessed in an attack due to a weakness in the platform’s code, many questions remain about the breach.

In theory Facebook could be fined if it is found to be in breach of GDPR, Europe’s data protection rules.

It has not revealed whether other services which people use their Facebook log-ins for – such as Tinder and Spotify – have also been affected.

Facebook has now fixed the issue.

People potentially affected were logged out of their accounts on Friday and those definitely affected were notified.

Facebook says it has identified 50 million accounts which were certainly involved in the breach, with an extra 40 million also warned as a precautionary measure.

It is also unknown whether networks of friends were also affected, as their data would have been visible to anyone with access to an individual’s account.

Will Facebook be fined?

The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook could face a fine of up to $1.63bn (£1.25bn) – 4% of its annual global turnover – which is the absolute maximum that could be imposed by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner if the firm is found to be in breach of Europe’s GDPR privacy legislation.

Image Copyright @DPCIreland@DPCIreland
Twitter post by @DPCIreland: .@DPCIreland is awaiting from Facebook further urgent details of the security breach impacting some 50m users, including details of EU users which have been affected, so that we can properly assess the nature of the breach and risk to users. #dataprotection #GDPR #eudatap  Will Facebook be fined after hack attack? Will Facebook be fined after hack attack? 5edef9ca63Image Copyright @DPCIreland@DPCIreland

As Facebook Europe is based in Ireland, this is the authority it will deal with.

There are rules regarding the reporting of such a breach and so far Facebook has stuck to them.

An information breach is supposed to be reported within 72 hours of discovery and this is what Facebook appears to have done – it says it discovered the breach on Tuesday, notified the commissioner on Thursday and alerted the public on Friday after fixing the vulnerability.

The Information Commissioner says it recognises that firms may not have all the answers regarding an incident within 72 hours, and that information can be shared as it is discovered – and Facebook has admitted it is “at the very start” of its investigation.

Data protection adviser Jon Baines from the law firm Mishcon de Reya LLP told the BBC it was impossible to know how likely a fine is at this early stage.

“No matter how good an organisation’s response is to a personal data breach, it is what went before that will count against it,” he said.

“So, if Facebook is found not to have taken sufficiently robust measures [to prevent the vulnerability], it may be held to have infringed GDPR, even if its response since has been exemplary.”

Could it face legal action from its two billion members?

Image copyrightGetty Images/Facebook

A class action lawsuit has already been filed in California by two Facebook users who claim the firm was negligent in allowing accounts to be compromised, reports Bloomberg.

The action represents all Facebook users in the US, the paperwork says.

It accuses Facebook of a “continuing and absolute disregard” in its treatment of account holders’ personal information.

Who did it?

Facebook said it doesn’t know who was behind the attacks or where they are based.

It also said it doesn’t know what – if any – personal information was accessed.

However it did acknowledge that the weakness in its code dates back to a change that was made in July 2017, meaning the accounts were vulnerable from that time.

While it was quite a complex process, it has been reported that there were videos on YouTube explaining how to hack the platform.

Are other platforms affected?

The BBC has asked Spotify and Tinder, both of which can be accessed via a Facebook log-in, whether their services have been affected as a result of the breach.

Image copyrightGetty Images

“It appears it could very well affect other platforms if you have used Facebook as your means of logging in,” said prof Alan Woodward, a cyber-security expert from Surrey University.

“Some password managers have been issuing warnings today to go change your passwords for that very reason.”

Prof Woodward advised creating individual log-ins for each service.

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Chancellor warns over ‘stalling’ digital tax talks

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond Chancellor warns over 'stalling' digital tax talks Chancellor warns over 'stalling' digital tax talks 8a061a9cdaImage copyrightGetty Images

Urgency is needed in talks to reform the way big technology firms are taxed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, has warned.

Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon have been criticised for paying only modest amounts of tax in the UK on huge sales.

The chancellor said international agreements were needed to tackle the problem, but “the time for talking is coming to an end”.

The next step would be a Digital Services Tax, he said.

Technology firms have argued they follow tax rules and have an obligation to shareholders to be tax efficient.

Their tax affairs sometimes involve complicated, but legal, arrangements that divert sales and profits to lower tax nations.

The OECD, which co-ordinates economic policy among rich nations, is trying to tackle the problem, but is struggling to reach a consensus among its 36 members.

The European Commission is also trying to come up with a common policy and has proposed an EU-wide 3% digital tax, but has faced opposition from some member states.

‘Stop stalling’

Smaller EU states have argued that the EU measures should be part of a global reform.

However, during his speech at the Conservative Party Conference, the chancellor said action was needed.

“The time for talking is coming to an end,” he said.

“The stalling has to stop. If we cannot reach agreement the UK will go it alone with a ‘Digital Services Tax’ of its own.”

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Apple silent amid iPhone ‘chargegate’ complaints

iPhones Apple silent amid iPhone 'chargegate' complaints Apple silent amid iPhone 'chargegate' complaints 813c65ca71Image copyrightReuters
Image caption Customers have reported problems charging the iPhone XS and XS Max

Apple has remained silent amid complaints that its new iPhone XS and XS Max smartphones fail to charge consistently when plugged in.

Several users have reported that their device refuses to charge if it has been idle for a while. Some charge only if the display is “woken up”.

Video blogger Lewis Hilsenteger dubbed the issue “chargegate” in a video demonstrating the problem.

However, Apple has not yet commented on the issue.

Mr Hilsenteger presents the Unbox Therapy channel on YouTube, which has more than 12 million subscribers.

In a video published on Saturday, he tested nine iPhones by plugging them into an official Apple power supply.

Image copyrightYouTube/Unbox Therapy

While the 2017 iPhone X charged without problem, many of the new XS and XS Max phones refused to charge when plugged in.

Most of the phones would charge only when the display was activated to wake up the device. However, one of them would not charge at all.

Mr Hilsenteger said he had been alerted to the problem when a viewer had emailed him describing their troubles.

He had not noticed the issue himself because he used wireless charging rather than the power cable on his device.

“Responding to those people on a platform like this should bring light to it and hopefully some sort of software fix, if possible,” he said in the video.

“This is my job. I have to call this stuff out. I have to hold these companies accountable.”

Several complaints about the XS and XS Max failing to charge have also been posted on Apple’s discussion forum on its website.

Complaints can also be found on social media, where some people have described being unable to charge their phone at all once the battery is exhausted.

Some users have speculated that the problem is related to a recent change in Apple’s security settings.

Since iOS 11.4.1 was released, the lightning port on iPhones can be disabled when the phone has been idle for a while, to stop thieves or cyber-attackers using it.

“In some cases, it might not charge,” the company advises on its website.

However, that does not explain why more iPhone XS and XS Max users are facing the issue.

Apple has not yet responded to the BBC’s request for comment.

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Honour of Kings uses facial recognition to check ages

Honour of Kings Honour of Kings uses facial recognition to check ages Honour of Kings uses facial recognition to check ages 2269cbec45Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Honour of Kings has more than 200 million registered users

One of China’s most popular video games is testing the use of facial recognition to check users’ ages.

Honour of King’s publisher Tencent announced the move at the weekend.

It said the trial would initially be limited to “thousands” of new players based in Beijing and Shenzhen.

The title has been criticised in local media over claims children have become addicted to it. But one expert questioned whether the test could be scaled up.

The mobile app resembles League of Legends and pits players against each other in multiplayer online battles set in a fantasy world.

Under pressure from local regulators, Tencent introduced restrictions in July 2017 to limit under-12s to one hour of gameplay a day and 13- to 18-year-olds to a maximum of two hours.

Last month, the company added a real-name registration system to encourage players to keep to the rules.

The facial-recognition test appears to be a further effort to discourage young players from trying to circumvent the time limits.

Tencent said a random selection of new players would be assigned to the test when they first signed into the game.

But it has not disclosed the technology it will use to carry out the scans or how it intends to cross-reference the resulting IDs.

Tencent highlighted that many users had previously voiced concerns about the idea of it using facial ID checks in games and said it would evaluate the results of the real-world trial “in depth”.

Gaming crackdown

The Chinese state is currently engaged in a wider campaign to control video gaming.

In addition to concerns over addiction, there have been warnings the activity could be linked to rising levels of near-sightedness.

Image copyrightCapcom
Image caption Regulators required Tencent to withdraw a localised version of another game – Monster Hunter World – in August

In August, the ministry of education announced plans to develop its own age-restriction system and to limit the number of online games available.

But one expert questioned whether the latest move would be a success.

“This test is an extension of Tencent’s existing Youth Guardian platform, which allows parents to monitor gameplay time and uses facial recognition, but this goes a step further by comparing user images with government photo records,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, from the IHS consultancy.

“It is inevitable that this sort of technology will hold some limitations especially for younger children that go through a lot of facial changes as they grow.

“However, facial recognition technology is improving all the time.”

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‘Switch-off sunglasses’ block out screens

A pair of sunglasses that can block out TV screens has been designed by a company in the US.

The IRL – or In Real Life – glasses use polarised lenses to make television displays appear black.

But technology companies have struggled to convince the public to wear gadgets on their faces – with Google Glass and Snapchat Spectacles being notable flops.

The BBC’s Cody Melissa Godwin asked IRL founder Ivan Cash whether people would be willing to wear sunglasses inside.

Video journalist: Cody Melissa Godwin

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Tesco Bank fined £16.4m over cyber-attack

Tesco Bank cashpoints Tesco Bank fined £16.4m over cyber-attack Tesco Bank fined £16.4m over cyber-attack 89543595e5Image copyrightAFP

Tesco Bank has been fined £16.4m by the UK financial regulator for failings surrounding a cyber-attack on its customers in November 2016.

The Financial Conduct Authority said the bank had failed to exercise due skill, care and diligence in protecting its personal current account holders.

The fraudsters got away with £2.26m. Tesco Bank said all the money had been refunded to account holders.

It added it was “very sorry” for the impact the attack had had on customers.

‘Too little, too late’

The FCA said that the attack had been largely avoidable and that Tesco had not responded to it with sufficient rigour, skill nor urgency.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said the regulator would not put up with such behaviour.

“The fine the FCA imposed on Tesco Bank today reflects the fact that the FCA has no tolerance for banks that fail to protect customers from foreseeable risks,” he said.

“In this case, the attack was the subject of a very specific warning that Tesco Bank did not properly address until after the attack started. This was too little, too late. Customers should not have been exposed to the risk at all.”

The FCA said cyber attackers had exploited deficiencies in Tesco Bank’s design of its debit card, its financial crime controls and in its financial crime operations team.

Apology

Tesco Bank said it been the victim of a “sophisticated criminal fraud”.

While it did not lead to the theft or loss of any customers’ data, there were 34 transactions where funds were debited from customers’ accounts. The bank added that other customers had their normal service disrupted.

Gerry Mallon, Tesco Bank’s chief executive, said:-“We are very sorry for the impact that this fraud attack had on our customers. Our priority is always the safety and security of our customers’ accounts and we fully accept the FCA’s notice.

“We have significantly enhanced our security measures to ensure that our customers’ accounts have the highest levels of protection. I apologise to our customers for the inconvenience caused in 2016.”

Tesco Bank’s co-operation with the FCA’s inquiry, and its agreement to an early settlement, meant the fine was reduced from £33.6m.

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