Hashtag Trending May 12 – Netflix’s ad-supported subscription; U.S. generates 20 per cent of electricity with renewable energy; How digital abortion footprints could lead to criminal charges

Netflix could roll out its service with ads by the end of the year, the U.S. generates 20 per cent of its electricity from solar and wind power, and digital abortion footprints could lead to criminal charges if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

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That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Thursday, May 12, and I’m your host, Samira Balsara. 

Netflix could roll out its lower-priced ad-supported tier by the end of 2022, a faster timeline than originally indicated, according to a New York Times report. In a note from the streaming service, Netflix executives said they were looking to introduce the ad tier in the last three months of the year. The note also said Netflix is planning to begin cracking down on password sharing among its subscriber base around the same time. Netflix surprised many when it revealed that it would begin offering a lower-priced subscription featuring ads, after years of stating that commercials would never be a part of Netflix. In the past month, Netflix has faced some business challenges. Netflix said it lost 200,000 subscribers during the first three months of the year and expected to lose two million more in the coming months.

For the first time, the U.S. generated 20 per cent of its electricity from solar power and wind last month, according to a study conducted by climate think tank Ember. This record is being driven by a wind boom in the Great Plains and Midwest, across states like Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and North and South Dakota. Wind and solar energy were the fastest-growing forms of electricity globally for the seventeenth year in a row in 2021 and are projected to be the core of the future electricity system. In 2015, the U.S. generated 5.7 per cent of its electricity from wind and solar energy. By 2021, it had more than doubled to reach 13 per cent of its electricity from wind and solar. According to an article by Solar Power World, several European countries already produced more than a quarter of their electricity from wind and solar in 2021, such as Germany, Spain and the U.K.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, as a draft of a Supreme Court opinion signalled it might be, having or helping someone get an abortion could become a crime in some states. This means individuals’ personal internet data could be collected and used against them if they seek or facilitate a pregnancy termination, according to an article by Time. In states that not only outlaw but criminalize abortion, a decision that the state of Louisiana is considering adopting after a final decision from the Supreme Court, a pregnant woman’s digital search could be used against her in criminal proceedings. This includes internet searches of abortion-inducing medication, online purchases of pregnancy tests, or email requests for financial support to pro-abortion resource groups. Senator Ron Wyden said, “Your geolocation data, apps for contraception, web searches, phone records—all of it is open season for generating data to weaponize the personal information of women across the country.” Getting an abortion in 2022 can involve the internet. Online pharmacies have made abortion-inducing pills available via mail-order and social media has let pro-abortion activists spread the word about resources. However, if Roe falls, using internet resources in states that criminalize aspects of abortion could expose people to prosecution.

A British jet suit company, Gravity Industries, is giving superhuman powers to emergency responders for search and rescue missions in remote locations in the north of England. Jamie Walsh, a Great North Air Ambulance (GNAAS) paramedic, is the first of three trainees to fly the jet suit in the steep hills of the Lake District, after just six lessons. Richard Browning, the Jet Suit inventor and developer, flew a test route, completing a more than 2,000-foot climb over a 1.2-mile distance in just under four minutes. The 3D printed suit consists of two small turbines attached to each arm and a larger one mounted on the back. It can reach speeds of 80 miles per hour and is capable of reaching an altitude of 12,000 feet but for safety reasons, the flight height is much lower. The next stage of the project is to get the paramedics flight skills to a level where real emergency assistance will arrive via Jet Suit paramedics, providing on-site triage and urgent casualty response in a matter of minutes compared to hours. 

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 briefings or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. Also, catch the next episode of Hashtag Tendances, our weekly Hashtag Trending episode in French, which drops every Thursday morning. If you have a suggestion or a tip, drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thank you for listening, I’m Samira Balsara. 

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Samira Balsara
Samira Balsara
Samira is a writer for IT World Canada. She is currently pursuing a journalism degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (formally known as Ryerson) and hopes to become a news anchor or write journalistic profiles. You can email her at sbalsara@itwc.ca

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