Facebook Fights Irish Privacy Watchdog’s Data-Transfer Curbs

Facebook Inc. sought to derail proposals by the Irish data protection watchdog that the tech giant warns could curb transfers of vast amounts of commercial data across the Atlantic. The social network giant said it sought a judicial review of the Irish Data Protection Commission’s preliminary decision that the company may have to halt trans-Atlantic data transfers using the most commonly used EU tool still available to firms



In China, GitHub Is a Free Speech Zone for Covid Information

One collaborative project, known as a “repository,” was named #2020nCovMemory. Founded by seven volunteers from around the world, it included everything from investigative reports published by Chinese news magazine Caixin to the diary entries of Wuhan writer Fang Fang, who criticized the local government’s suppression of information and initial failure to warn the public about the virus. Another repository, called Terminus2049—named after a planet in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series—collected sensitive articles that were otherwise inaccessible behind China’s Great Firewall, such as an interview with Ai Fen, the doctor who first discovered the virus in December. In February, Zeng joined a repository called 2020nCov_individual_archives, to crowdsource online diary entries and citizens’ accounts of everyday life during the pandemic.


Portland Passes Groundbreaking Ban on Facial Recognition in Stores, Banks, Restaurants and More

Established as two pieces of companion legislation, one ordinance makes Portland the first U.S. city to prohibit use of facial recognition technologies inside privately owned places accessible to the public, such as stores, banks, Airbnb rentals, restaurants, entertainment venues, public transit stations, homeless shelters, senior centers, law and doctors’ offices, and a variety of other businesses. This new law also gives people the right to sue and win damages for the unlawful use of facial recognition, one of many components of the legislation that prompted opposition from business groups. It lets people sue noncompliant private entities for $1,000 per day for each day of violation or for damages sustained as a result of the violation, whichever is greater. 


Big Four and Blockchain: Are Auditing Giants Adopting Yet?

Big Four firm Deloitte has unveiled a mobile platform designed to host blockchain networks on a small scale for demonstration purposes. The product is “based on client interest in understanding blockchain capabilities in live interactions,” as per the press release

With this move, the Big Four companies — comprised of Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young (EY) and KPMG — continue their expansion into the field of blockchain. Combined, the firms brought in over $148 billion in revenue last year, as they handle over 50% of audits for both public and private companies. Consequently, their presence in the crypto space could be a reflection of the state of blockchain adoption.

So, how far have the Big Four gone while exploring distributed ledger technology (DLT), and can blockchain offer any particular perks for those companies?

Big Four: Consistent, but limited interest in blockchain

At this point, all of the Big Four companies have at least demonstrated some interest in blockchain, albeit their approaches tend to differ. Some companies, like Deloitte, have been mostly researching how this technology has affected the general market, while EY, for instance, has focused on releasing software solutions tailored for the needs of cryptocurrency businesses. 

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Gartner sees blockchain as ‘transformational’ across industries – in 5 to 10 years

Research firm Gartner, whose past evaluations of blockchain have been conservative to say the least, expects the distributed ledger technology to transform the ways businesses operate in most industries within five to 10 years.

Right now, however, blockchain for most industries remains mired between inflated industry expectations and general disillusionment with regard to how it can improve business processes, according Gartner’s latest “Hype Cycle” report.

The report includes a survey of CIOs on how they perceive blockchain technology.[ Further reading: Blockchain: The complete guide ]

“Even though they are still uncertain of the impact blockchain will have on their businesses, 60% of CIOs in the Gartner 2019 CIO Agenda Survey said that they expected some level of adoption of blockchain technologies in the next three years,” David Furlonger, a Gartner distinguished research vice president, said in a statement. “However, the existing digital infrastructure of organizations and the lack of clear blockchain governance are limiting CIOs from getting full value with blockchain.”

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The Blockchain Train: Get On Board—With Caution

All aboard the blockchain train. Just proceed with caution—it’s not yet as safe and secure as it needs to be.

No, we’re not talking cryptocurrency here. This isn’t about Bitcoin, Ethereum or any of the other 1,500 or so versions of digital currency. This is about enterprise blockchain—using the distributed ledger technology for just about anything involving transactions, storing records and tracking the flow of goods and information. Which are, of course, among the major things any business does. 

And which is probably why most enterprises are indeed getting aboard the train. According to Deloitte’s 2018 global blockchain survey, 95% of companies across multiple industries planned to invest in blockchain during 2019—39% said $5 million or more and another 26% said at least $1 million. IDC estimates that investment in enterprise blockchain platforms in 2019 will be nearly $3 billion.

The government is taking notice as well. The federal Department of Energy (DoE) is putting a $200,000 grant into a trial of the technology to see if it can help protect the national power grid.

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Amazon Moves Towards Distributed Ledgers And Blockchain

In a webinar earlier this year, Amazon provided information on Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) and Amazon Managed Blockchain. From what was shown, it’s clear that the products are very early, still in preview, that they aren’t integrated, but that Amazon does seem to be moving forward based on a clear understanding of the different benefits of ledgers and blockchain. Before discussing the products, let us review the basics.

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Verizon taps blockchain technology to replace SIM cards

The Telecommunications beast Verizon was awarded a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) on September 10, for a system that uses blockchain to create virtual SIM cards.

According to the patent, the system’s blockchain would associate a virtual SIM card, or “vSIM”, with a particular user account and then activate the SIM card on a device. The device on which the vSIM card was activated would then send a signal back to the blockchain, confirming activation.

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