#TechTop3 – Our top three tech stories of the week

By November 14, 2014EU

By the London technology team

Tackling online extremism

David Cameron’s comments in a speech to the Australian Parliament about the need for internet companies “to do more” to tackle extremist material online have gained considerable media traction. Cameron spoke of the need for UK companies to do more “including strengthening filters, improving reporting mechanisms and being more proactive” in taking down harmful material and referred to technology companies’ social responsibility to deal with jihadists. 

The Guardian, FT and BBC produced good accounts and each highlighted that the UK’s dedicated Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) remove more than 1,000 pieces of content every week that breach the Terrorism Act 2006. Writing for the FT, George Parker and Murad Ahmed suggested there was frustration amongst industry that whilst they were happy to help tackle online extremism, the Government lacked a “specific set of proposals” that could be widely adopted.

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NHS to diagnose health apps

The rise of the smartphone has meant we now have much more personal connectivity and computing power than ever before, and just as this has impacted other aspects of life, it has the potential to change how we approach healthcare.

The increased use of health apps has merits, but also scares the NHS, due to the increased risk of missed diagnoses. The NHS has no inherent right to help those who don’t want their help, and do not want to regulate apps, so their solution has been to set up a kitemark scheme for apps it deems safe to use. Time will tell if this is the right approach, and the overall shift towards technology and community care is part of the plan to make the NHS more efficient.

The kitemark scheme was part of a bigger plan to make the NHS paperless by 2018, a huge task due to patient concern about privacy and the legacy of failure that surrounds Government IT projects.

The plans got widespread coverage, featuring in BBC News, International Business Times and Pharma File.

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Police on TOR.

TOR is the private encrypted network of choice for those who want to use the so called ‘dark net’. People living under autocratic regimes use it, as do criminals and those who want to hide their identity. It also has the support of internet users who are suspicious of government and industry data collection.

However the network has suffered a crisis in confidence this week as law enforcement was able to shut down 400 websites that use TOR technology. They were able to track ‘.onion’ URL addresses to physical locations and arrest 17 people. Whilst law enforcement have been trying to crack TOR for a while, there is now concern that more repressive Governments will try, with severe repercussions for those who use TOR, to get around restrictive censorship laws.

This was a key cyber-security story in the week so got coverage in the trade press. Nick Farrell wrote an excellent summary for Channel Eye, and it got further coverage in ITPro and featured in BBC News.