Hashtag Trending – Amazon also says no to facial recognition; New Twitter prompt; Omni Ballot

Amazon will stop supplying US police with facial recognition technology for a year, Twitter has a new prompt encouraging users to read before they tweet, and Omni Ballot online voting raises concern on election integrity.

It’s all the tech news that’s popular right now. Welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Friday June 12, and I’m your host, Baneet Braich. 

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Amazon will stop supplying  U.S. police officers with its facial recognition technology for one year due to calls for police reform following the death of George Floyd.  Amazon says it’s advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology. A federal study found that facial recognition systems offered by Amazon, Microsoft and IBM have largely failed to identify people of colour. The moratorium reflects how more tech companies are questioning the use of facial recognition such as IBM’s recent decision to exit the facial recognition business. Speaking of Microsoft, the tech giant yesterday announced that it was joining IBM and Amazon in limiting its use of facial recognition technology. The company also said it’s halting the sale of the controversial tech to law enforcement until federal regulations do a better job regulating it.

Twitter has introduced a new prompt to encourage users to read an article before sharing it. The read before you tweet prompt is a way to limit the spread of misinformation and provoke better communication online. It encourages users to explore beyond the headline.  For now, only Android Twitter users may get the alert but Twitter says it is working on other ways to improve user communication. 

Researchers say online voting tech used in 5 states is fatally flawed from technology

Online voting is raising concern on election integrity. OmniBallot is election software used in the U.S that has an online voting option. However, computer scientists  Michael Specter from MIT and the University of Michigan’s Alex Halderman, recently found the OmniBallet software has inadequate security protections. The company behind OmniBallot defended its software in an email response to Ars Technica. Although no major bugs were found, researchers are concerned about how the software relies on the security of the environment on which the system runs. For example, voting software can’t be secure if it runs on a computer infected with malware. That is a threat as millions of PCs may be infected with malware. Due to sweeping changes with Covid-19, there is a large potential for election officials to largely enable the “electronic ballot delivery” feature with Omniballot for the next election. 

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing or your Google Home daily briefing. I’m Baneet Braich, thanks for listening.

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