Weekly tech news – March 23, 2020

Is technology helping societies pass-through this pandemic? Most of this week’s tech news ask – how does this actual situation challenge tech companies from around the world and which are the solutions provided by the big players to help fight this pandemic? Our data are available now for the governments in order to help them fight coronavirus by monitoring whether people are complying with curbs on movement. Which are the main tech news of the week, find out on our weekly news summary.

Working from home may sound like a luxury. Freedom to cook lunch. Time to do laundry between tasks. Respite from that loquacious co-worker. Then reality sets in. Your Wi-Fi slows down to a crawl, the new software tools you work with are confusing and your computer mouse is a piece of junk. Without an I.T. department, you are on your own with your tech problems. Our most common work-from-home tech issues are the ones that slow down our productivity: unreliable internet connections, low-quality video calls, software programs that are too narrowly tailored and uncomfortable workstations. New York Times writes about working from home nowadays phenomenon, you can read it here.

Big Tech faces a ‘Big Brother’ trap on coronavirus –  Politico advises Under fire for privacy issues, Silicon Valley faces the question of whether — or how — to use all that user data to fight the pandemic. As the federal government shifts into an all-hands-on-deck fight to battle coronavirus, President Trump and his White House have increasingly called on tech companies to lend a hand. The companies are in conversations with the government about to leverage their might and reach; the Trump White House held a conference call last week to talk about what they can do to help, from helping analyze scholarly research to pulling down misinformation on the virus. For the tech giants, this plea represents a huge opportunity to get back in the public’s good graces, as an industry whose image has taken a beating is being asked, even urged, to step up in a moment of national emergency.

Business Insider brings us ten of the most important tech news from the latest week: Amazon confirmed its first US warehouse case of COVID-19. An Amazon warehouse worker in Queens tested positive for the new coronavirus. Apple launched a new MacBook Air with a better keyboard and faster performance. Apple’s new MacBook Pro features the company’s new Magic Keyboard, which replaces the flatter butterfly mechanism keyboard that it’s outfitted its laptops with over the last several years. Mark Zuckerberg denied a report that Facebook is considering sharing smartphone location data with the US government to help track the coronavirus. Zuckerberg disputed a Washington Post report that the government is in talks with the tech industry about leveraging smartphone location data to combat the disease, raising privacy concerns. Read more in this article.

European Mobile Operators Share Data for Coronavirus Fight, NDTV News announcesThe data make it possible to map concentrations and movements of customers in ‘hot zones’ where COVID-19 has taken hold. Mobile carriers are sharing data with the health authorities in Italy, Germany, and Austria, helping to fight coronavirus by monitoring whether people are complying with curbs on movement while at the same time respecting Europe’s privacy laws. The data, which are anonymous and aggregated, make it possible to map concentrations and movements of customers in ‘hot zones’ where COVID-19 has taken hold.  That is less invasive than the approach taken by countries like China, Taiwan, and South Korea, which use smartphone location readings to trace the contacts of individuals who have tested positive or to enforce quarantine orders. 

Singapore introduced tough laws against fake news. Coronavirus has put them to the test – Washington Post quotes. At their sprawling Asia headquarters last month, Facebook executives considered the latest order from Singapore’s authorities: Disable local access to a page that the city-state’s government said contained false statements about its response to the coronavirus outbreak. Within a day Facebook had blocked local access to the page, States Times Review. But in an unusually strong statement, the social media giant said it was “deeply concerned about the precedent this sets for the stifling of freedom of expression in Singapore.”