Nick Clegg admits there is a growing fear of Facebook, in his FT opinion piece today as head of global affairs for the social network.
“The pendulum has now swung towards greater suspicion. The danger is that suspicion turns into a phobia of tech altogether,” says the former UK deputy prime minister
The politician turned PR honcho advocates governments and tech companies working together on “smart regulation” over harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.
But he seems a little behind the curve in not including Facebook’s digital currency plans in his piece. At the same time as he is suggesting some curbing of Facebook’s power and influence, the company’s unbounded ambition is being revived with Libra, report Richard Waters and Hannah Murphy in today’s Big Read, as a digital currency that it says could last “hundreds of years”.
The Bank for International Settlements, the central bank for central banks, warned on Sunday that big tech groups such as Facebook could “rapidly establish a dominant position” in global finance and pose a potential threat to competition, financial stability and social welfare. (Alphaville takes a closer look at the BIS report)
Meanwhile, Lex examines how a shift from cash to digital currencies has the potential to threaten the role of central banks in providing basic means of payment. In Sweden, cash has almost disappeared already. The Riksbank is close to introducing an e-krona.
The FT’s editorial board praises Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, for “opening up the inner sanctum of the monetary system to financial upstarts” with his bold move to allow fintech companies to deposit funds overnight. We also have a profile of another big personality in the digital payment dance — former PayPal president David Marcus, who is now leading Facebook’s Libra project. Clearly, Libra is focusing the top financial minds on the future of digital payments, and you can catch up on all the latest developments in our special section.
The Internet of (Four) Things
1. Could Huawei ban mean 4.5G for China?
China is determined to be the first 5G superpower, but Louise Lucas and Yuan Yang report its ambitions could be hit by Huawei’s inability to buy American components under a looming ban on sales to the telecoms equipment company. Huawei has won tenders for 37 out of the 40 cities in the first phase of China Mobile’s 5G rollout. Elsewhere, the head of Ericsson’s US business has said the UK’s likely plan to shut Huawei out of parts of its 5G networks makes little technical sense.
2. UK quantum computing experts move to Silicon Valley
The UK is supposed to be a leader in developing the next revolution in computing, but it still cannot compete with Silicon Valley’s VC funding culture and tech history. Those are the reasons being given by a group of Britain’s best-known quantum computing scientists, who have moved to California to found a start-up called PsiQ to build a commercial quantum computer within five years. “The story is that the best of Britain is going to the United States to scale up,” said Hermann Hauser, the venerable UK tech investor.
3. Warner hires first woman studio head
WarnerMedia has hired Ann Sarnoff as chief executive of Warner Bros, filling one of the biggest jobs in Hollywood after the storied studio’s previous chief was ousted in the wake of misconduct allegations. Ms Sarnoff, president of BBC Studios Americas, will be the first woman to head the 96-year old film studio. Her appointment comes as Warner is set to be a big part of AT&T’s plans for a streaming service to rival Netflix.
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4. Senators try to legislate on what your data are worth
US senators Mark Warner and Josh Hawley are introducing legislation today that would require Big Tech platforms to tell users how much money their data are worth. Their bill would also require the platforms to let you delete all or part of the data they’ve collected about you. (Axios)
Tech week ahead
Monday: SpaceX is scheduled to launch two dozen satellites into space at 11.30pm Eastern time as part of the US Department of Defense’s Space Test Program 2. Elon Musk tweeted that it would be SpaceX’s “most difficult launch ever”. The Falcon Heavy has participated in two prior launches, but tonight’s will be its first for the US military. It will also mark the first night-time launch for the massive 230-foot-tall rocket. Nasa will stream the event live.
Tuesday: Memory chipmaker Micron is due to report fiscal third-quarter earnings after the market close. Investors will be keen to hear comments on falling memory prices and the potential impact of the loss of Huawei as a major customer.
Thursday: Mike Lynch, the former boss of Autonomy, may begin giving evidence in the fraud trial over its sale to HP in 2011. His testimony could last a month.
Tech tools – Raspberry Pi 4
How do you sell for $35 (£34) a multimedia PC capable of running two displays in 4K definition? I spoke to Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton and will have a full answer to that later in the week. But for now, Monday marked the launch of this fourth generation bare-bones PC that he hopes will sell 10m units a year, up from around 6m a year for the previous model. It is hardly bare-bones either. There are four USB ports, two micro-HDMI ones, top-notch WiFi and gigabit Ethernet, with the processing power 40 times that of the original Pi. Adding its keyboard and mouse costs £22 and you still have to come up with your own monitors. The Pi runs Linux and boots up into a very user friendly desktop interface.
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