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.
This story was originally published and last updated .
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.
Google set out to acquire fitness company Fitbit in November of last year, but the deal hasn't gone through all the required regulatory approvals yet. There have been concerns that the acquisition could lead to reduced competition and Google extending its apparatus of data-collecting for targeted advertisements, and now advocacy groups around the world are urging governments to closely investigate the deal.
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.
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.
Just when you think the post-Brexit situation can't get any worse for us poor sods in the UK, another depressing tidbit rears its ugly head. This time, it's news that Google users in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland will no longer be protected by GDPR and will instead be at the mercy of the privacy regulations of the United States.
The European Union will soon hold a vote to decide if it will enforce a mandatory, universal charging connector for all smartphones and other similar, small electronic devices. Arguments in favor of the new legislation include a reduction of e-waste and easy, interoperable charging for end-users. The introduction of USB Type-C has energized standardization talks as it incorporates many of the advantages (reversibility of connection, data transmission rates, and charging speeds) used to justify the existence of proprietary charging connectors.
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.
Just a few weeks ago, a Belgian news service claimed Google was eavesdropping on users by listening to their private conversations. The company uses human employees to transcribe Assistant voice recordings to help it better understand what they're saying, and it turned out that one of these contractors leaked the material to the press. The controversy has led the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HmbBfDI) to start a procedure prohibiting Google from continuing to manually audit these recordings.
In the wake of the $5 billion antitrust fine it received from the European Commission last year, Google laid out plans to prompt Android users in Europe to choose a different default search or browser app. In a new blog post, Product Management Director Paul Gennai introduces the changes that will come as part of an imminent Google Play Store update.