Hancock to Harman: No contact-tracing privacy law

Health secretary Matt Hancock has refused to adopt a proposed bill that would guarantee the security and privacy of data generated by the controversial NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app and appoint a commissioner to oversee and review it, saying existing protections are sufficient.

The Contact Tracing (Data Protection) Bill was drafted in the Joint Human Rights Committee following intense scrutiny of how the app works, and put forward by its chair, former deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman. The committee believes that existing law, centring on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Data Protection Act 2018 and established case law, was never intended to deal with the concept of contact tracing.

“This is a wholly new area of data collection and therefore we need not the failed mishmash of protections that’s currently existing, we need a new bespoke bill,” Harman told a press conference on 19 May 2020.

In a letter

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Outlook for Windows client to store email signature in the cloud

Microsoft plans to release an update for the Outlook for Windows client next month that will add the possibility to configure an email signature and have it saved in the cloud, rather than inside each Outlook installation.

Until today, a big issue with Outlook (and for that matter, all email clients) was the fact that users had to configure an email signature every time they’d install their email client.

When they reinstalled Windows or moved to a new device, users had to reconfigure the email signature, time and time again.

Starting with June 2020, Microsoft says that email signatures will be saved inside the user’s Microsoft 365 account, and loaded from the cloud for every email they send.

The feature will allow users to have a consistent email signature across all devices, and avoid situations where users send emails with outdated signatures.

The new

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Mozilla, Twitter, Reddit join forces in effort to block browsing data from warrantless access

A group of seven internet companies are vowing to stand up for the privacy of its users this week when the United States House of Representatives considers the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020.

Mozilla, Engine, Reddit, Reform Government Surveillance, Twitter, i2Coalition, and Patreon have asked four US legislators to explicitly prohibit the warrantless collection of internet search and browsing history.

“We hope legislators will amend the bill to limit government access to internet browsing and search history without a warrant,” the Firefox-maker said in a blog post.

“Too much search and browsing history still is collected and stored around the Web. We believe this data deserves strong legal protections when the government seeks access to it, but in many cases that protection is uncertain.”

In a letter [PDF] to the four US House of Representatives members, the group said it privacy and security are essential to the

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Global consortium launches ‘transformative’ subsea cable for African connectivity

Facebook, Vodafone, China Mobile International, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, STC, Telecom Egypt and WIOCC have announced they are teaming up to build 2Africa, claimed to be the most comprehensive subsea cable to serve the African continent and the Middle East region.

2Africa is intended to enhance internet connectivity, capacity and reliability across Africa and the Middle East. The system is expected to go live in 2023/4, delivering more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today, with a design capacity of up to 180Tbps on key parts of the system.

It will supplement the fast-growing capacity demand in the Middle East and underpin the further growth of 4G, 5G and fixed broadband access for hundreds of millions of people.

At 37,000km long, 2Africa will be one of the world’s largest subsea cable projects and will interconnect Europe, eastward via Egypt, the Middle East via Saudi Arabia, and

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Microsoft Teams Rooms: Switch to OAuth 2.0 by Oct 13 or your meetings won’t work

Microsoft has been rushing out new Microsoft Teams features to help 75 million people each day teleworking during the coronavirus pandemic. But one part of the Microsoft Teams portfolio that hasn’t benefited from social distancing is Microsoft Teams Rooms, its conference-room product. 

Conference-room products might never be needed again at some companies, like Twitter and Square, which this week gave employees the option to continue working from home permanently even after offices reopen. 

The two companies, run by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, aren’t alone in that thinking. A recent survey by consultancy PwC found that 49% of chief financial officers intend to make remote work a permanent option for certain roles, presumably mostly office roles where conference rooms are most commonly used.  

While it seems there’d be no pressing need to update Teams Rooms right now, Microsoft has two justifications for its activity. 

“There are still organizations

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APIs published, APIs consumed: mainstream enterprises increasingly behave like software vendors

The phrase “every company is now a software company” has been a talking point for several years, and now data from a recent industry survey bears this out. The proliferation of APIs — both consumed and published — both software provider to enterprise as well as enterprise to enterprise — means the lines have gotten very blurry indeed.

Photo: Joe McKendrick

That’s the word from the latest API integration survey released by Cloud Elements, which finds 83 percent of the 400 integration professionals and IT executives surveyed consider API integration a critical part of their business strategy, driven by digital transformation initiatives and cloud application adoption. While Cloud Elements is an API management provider with a stake in these results, the implications are worth exploring. 

The crossover between mainstream enterprises and software vendors is evident in the results: “a surprising number of enterprise respondents spoke of integration priorities like ‘streamlining

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