Back in June, EU members agreed that their coronavirus tracing apps would need to be interoperable to make it easier to travel during the summer, hoping that this would help to trace contacts across borders to prevent a second wave. While that timeline hasn't quite worked out (summer holidays are over in most countries), the European Commission today has announced that it's finally setting up a standardized interoperability gateway for tracing apps.
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Google may have announced its intention to purchase Fitbit last year, but deals between large corporations like this move slowly. Regulators in both the US and EU have expressed concern about the world's largest ad company gaining access to potentially sensitive health data gathered by Fitbit's wearable devices, and Google's reassurances haven't helped. After an initial review by the European Commission, it has decided to press ahead with an in-depth investigation into the merger that is expected to be completed by December 9.
After publishing the source code of its COVID-19 tracing app, Ireland's Health Service has now additionally donated the code to the Linux Foundation. To make it available to other governments with as little modifications as possible, the company behind the application, NearForm, has built a white-label solution called "COVID Green."
From online streaming to classic vinyl, there are a lot of ways to listen to music these days. Spotify is one of the biggest names in the streaming game, but that doesn't mean much if it's inaccessible in your country. Today, Spotify's announcing availability in 13 new market regions across Eastern Europe, along with 200 new playlists from the region.
For various reasons, Google restricts access to Google Play depending on what region you're browsing from. This means that the apps, games, and other content in the Play Store vary by country, and you can't even see an app listing if it's not available for purchase in your area. Now, it looks like Google is loosening up a bit, as users in the European Union are able to see Google Play content from other countries in the EEA (European Economic Area) region.
Netflix, along with several other online streamers, had to curb its video quality in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that subsequently led people to move almost their entire life and communication online. Its restrictions have been in place since March in Europe, one of the hardest-hit regions, to ease the strain on network infrastructure. Now that the situation there is showing signs of improvement, Netflix has started removing those quality caps in some areas.
With the shift to telecommuting en masse, home broadband connections are under a tremendous load following the surge in data needs for things like video conferencing. While the situation is similar around the world, Europe is hit particularly hard with entire countries under lockdown. To ease some of that network congestion, Netflix yesterday decided to lower its streaming quality in the region, and now, YouTube is following suit.
The EU is hoping to enact its own "right to repair" for phones, tablets, and laptops in the region by 2021. Details are very sparse right now, and this goal only been revealed as one component of the so-called Circular Economy Action Plan, a part of the European Green Deal, a roadmap that hopes to make the region carbon neutral by 2050.
According to a report by Reuters, the European Union Commission is considering a ban on facial recognition technology in public areas for up to five years. The measure is intended to curb privacy violations, give lawmakers time to protect citizens from being cataloged illegally, and oppose the recent push by companies to enhance and improve-upon recognition tech.
Following the EU's record antitrust ruling against Google back in 2018, the European Commission asked the company to give Android users the option to set other search engines as default. That prompted Google to take the opportunity to make even more money by auctioning which companies to feature as default search engine providers. The winners have now been published, and it looks like privacy advocate DuckDuckGo and meta search engine Info.com have taken the crown across the continent.