Friday roundup: A week in tech, 24 September | News

The Innovation and Technology Network Strip

The Innovation and Technology Network

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Friday roundup: A week in tech, 24 September

The good people of Lithuania have been urged by their government to throw any Chinese phones they might own in the bin.

According to the country’s National Cyber Security Centre, the Chinese-built 5G handsets it tested were riddled with censorship tools and other worries.

The centre reckons a Huawei model it looked into has security issues – to which Huawei scoffed “data is never processed outside the Huawei device”.

Meanwhile, Xiaomi’s Mi 10T model was found to be preloaded with software which could detect and suppress things like “Long live Taiwan independence”, “Free Tibet”, and “Xiaomi's phones are used by the Chinese government to spy on you" (I made the last one up).

Defence Deputy Minister Margiris Abukevicius spake: "Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible."

Bad news for Huawei and Xiaomi; great news for Apple and Samsung!

Oh, and there’s this: China and Lithuania have some beef going on. Constant Chinese obsession, Taiwan, recently decided to call its missions in Lithuania the Taiwanese Representative Office.

China cannot abide anything that features the T word, so demanded that Lithuania remove its ambassador.

So, Lithuania thought it’d find something wrong with Chinese phones. Which it has.

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The European Commission (EC) is determined to force companies to build a universal charging solution for phones and other little electronic things. Yes, it’s the story that’s been running for the last 15 years!

Should the EC’s proposal become legal, all devices sold in the EU would be required to have the capacity to charge through USB-C, with the jolly sensible aim of reducing mountains of waste.

Of course, an age of reusable, universal chargers would mean companies would sell less of ‘em – which hasn’t escaped the attention of Apple. The company has complained that the plan will harm innovation, whingeing that “we remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world”.

The same, of course, could, and has been, said about taxation. But I digress.

The EU has been trying to sort the charger challenge out for a long time – quite rightly: the EC’s research reveals that over 11,000 tonnes of unloved charger cables go to the tip each year.

And it used to be a lot worse. Back in 2009, over 30 different types of chargers filled the continent’s bedrooms and car footwells. Today, there are basically only three: USB micro-B, USB-C, and Apple’s beloved Lightning.

Most Android phones use micro-B or have moved to USB-C. Despite Apple’s demurs, the firm already uses USB-C in its MacBooks and iPads.

A man called Ben Wood, from something called CCS Insight, said: "Having one common charging standard would be a victory for common sense in the eyes of consumers

"Although Apple has made a strong argument for keeping its Lightning connector, given the one billion active iPhone users, some of its products including Mac and iPad now support USB-C.

"Hopefully it will eventually become a non-issue if Apple keeps adding USB-C to more devices."

Commission Vice President and big tech slayer Margrethe Vestager (she’s dished out £billions in fines to the likes of Apple and Google so they already likely detest her) said:  "We gave industry plenty of time to come up with their own solutions, now time is ripe for legislative action for a common charger. This is an important win for our consumers and environment and in line with our green and digital ambitions.”

So, sit back and enjoy the aggressive lobbying – I mean, implementation of some very sensible sustainability legislation.

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Roundup roundup

Extremist lunatics are using video games and chat services to spread their deranged, hate-drenched ideas. The BBC’s Click thing has been looking into it, which you can read about here.

A picture of a two-year-old looking sideways is going to be sold for thousands of bits of money. The now ten-year-old is selling the image as an NFT. More here. What a time to be alive.

A way of transmitting the internet through beams of light has been successfully tested over a river. Thinking about it, I probably should have done this as a main story as it’s quite interesting. Oh well, too late now. Read this instead.