Bonjour TechAways readers,
This is François Barry, Cambre’s taxman, presenting this week’s edition. I’m introducing TechAways this week because we, tax nerds, were expecting an EU action plan on business taxation for the 21st century on Wednesday. It’s Friday though, and we’re still despairingly waiting (I’m only slightly exaggerating). The thing is, amid stalled OECD negotiations over how to address global tax challenges from the digital economy, the European Commission has decided to postpone its action plan, possibly until next year. Well, it seems like the 21st century will have to wait a bit longer, although our TechAways stories often look like a fast-forward to the 22nd.
The pandemic has undoubtedly shaken up all our lifestyles in a way that will not be forgotten when the virus waves its last goodbye, but the quietness has its benefits. Not only can you walk through the streets of a big city and feel like you are an urban royal who owns the place but one can also, if listening closely, hear the sound of the Burrunan dolphin. Scientists are using the lack of human sound coupled with machine learning to help map the communicative complexity of this rare and highly intelligent Australian sea creature. I say that if we are all one step closer to being a Disney character who can understand animals, 2020 has not been entirely bad.
Telegram bot “undresses” women [The Verge]
Deep fakes have been around for a while now, but this new form is particularly disturbing. Some women found themselves “undressed” on Telegram after users had manipulated their photos using a bot that reconstructs what the body would look like under clothing without any indication that the image has been altered. The news follows an investigation by a security firm which found more than 100,000 bot-generated images shared in public Telegram channels. The Italian Data Protection Supervisor has announced it is now investigating the messaging app to verify compliance with data protection rules and to ascertain whether the manipulated images have been stored. Either way, this is a clear violation of privacy for these unsuspecting women.
Don’t fear the ghost kitchen [TechCrunch]
With its Nexbite offering, Ordermark helps independent restaurants optimise online ordering and generate revenue from under-utilised kitchens. Ordermark started as a centralised hub for restaurants to manage the chaos caused by delivery-service orders. Unlike its competitors, Nexbite is not building or operating new kitchens. Instead, the service relies on the unused kitchen capacity of restaurants. Acting as quasi-franchisees, restaurants are chosen based on whether they can match the menu style of the delivery-only brands that Nextbite creates. This can come in handy to supplement the loss in foot traffic in restaurants amid COVID restrictions – and investors got that, with Ordermark just closing a $120 million funding round.
The one upside of the pandemic [Tech Crunch]
According to analysts at Bloomberg who track the evolution of the global energy system, emissions from fuel combustion may have peaked in 2019. During the pandemic, global emissions dropped by 20% but they are likely to rise once more after the world recovers from the impact of COVID-19. However, if the predictions of Bloomberg are correct the emissions will never reach the levels of 2019 again. And here comes the ‘but’: at the same time, the analyst’s model showed that the global temperature will still rise by 3.3 degrees by 2100 which isn’t good news. If the temperature rise should be limited to 1.5 degrees, emissions have to decrease by 10% per year from now on. We definitely still have some work to do.
Who controls the (social) media [POLITICO]
Days away from the US elections and the Senate, trying to show it can be tough on Big Tech, hauled in the leaders of Facebook, Google and Twitter to (supposedly) question them about antitrust, disinformation and extremism on social media. However, Republicans used the hearing to air grievances about their favourite conspiracy theory – conservative censorship and liberal bias on social media. A recent analysis shows that these claims are baseless – with conservative content dominating discussions around Black Lives Matter and voter fraud. In fact, viral right-wing content was shared ten times more often than the most popular liberal posts. What will it take for conservatives to realise they aren’t the (social) media victim?
About this week’s editor, François Barry
I’ve been at Cambre for over six years, providing policy communications counsel across sectors. I have a background in single market integration and I’m oddly keen on anything tax related. I may be offensively 🇫🇷, yet I would trade any French cheese for Parmigiano Reggiano (I know, controversial). By the way, if anyone reading this knows where to find the best Parmigiano in Brussels, I’m begging you to reach out.
In case you haven’t had enough…
Facebook ban on new political ads starts off with major hiccups [Washington Post]