5 things you should know about tech today

- March 3, 2020 3 MIN READ
Elon Musk
He does drone on a bit...

Welcome to Tuesday and so-called Autumn.

Here’s what else is hotting up.


1.   Musk calls time on F-35s

Elon Musk doesn’t mind expressing unpopular views.

On Friday, the Tesla founder was talking to a room full of US fighter pilots at Orlando’s Air Warfare Symposium when he told a USAF Lt Gen that “the fighter jet era has passed”, and Lockheed Martin’s F-35, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons system ever – Australia is buying 72 F-35 fighters at an average cost of $115 million each (they’re running a decade behind schedule and massively over budget) – will lose out to drones.

“Drone warfare is where the future will be. It’s not that I want the future to be – it’s just, this is what the future will be,” Musk said.

Not to be outdone, he then jumped on Twitter to say a drone should be the F-35’s competitor and the latter would have “no chance”.

Star Wars would be such a boring movie if Musk had made it.



2. Apple suspends Clearview AI

Controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI, run by Vietnamese-Australian tech entrepreneur Hoan Ton-That, has had its app suspended by Apple for alleged breaches of the tech giant’s terms of service.

BuzzFeed News contacted Apple after discovering that Clearview had sidestepped the App Store, getting customers to download it through the Apple Developer Enterprise Program. Apple suspended Clearview’s developer account after investigating, blocking the iOS app from functioning. Clearview has 14 days to respond before the account is permanently revoked.

Ton-That, Clearview’s CEO, issued a statement saying they were working on complying with Apple’s terms and conditions.

“The app can not be used without a valid Clearview account. A user can download the app, but not perform any searches without proper authorization and credentials,” he said.

Last week it emerged that four Australian police services, including the AFP, had used Clearview’s tech, despite previous denials. The ID software, which uses images from social media accounts, has been popular with law enforcement.

BuzzFeed News has more here.


3. Parliament’s cyber-FIGJAM

It’s Senate Estimates in Canberra this week, which is when politicians get the chance to grill public servants about what they’ve been up to.

Among those fronting up was Australian Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) secretary Rob Stefanik, who had good news when it comes to cyber security concerns involving his department. You may recall a couple of weeks ago ABC TV’s 7.30 had a leaked copy of KPMG’s draft audit report into cyber security at DPS. Why did this matter? The DPS is in charge of Parliament’s cyber security right down to the electoral offices of politicians across the nation in a network of more than 5,000 users and computers, 1000 servers and 2000 mobile devices.

The Protective Services Protective Framework (PSPF) Alignment Review draft report said DPS had an “ad hoc” approach to security management, and “low level of maturity” with a “lack of an overarching approach defined for protective security management and security risk management processes”.

A DPS spokeswoman told 7.30 at the time that the draft “does not reflect the true state of the department’s PSPF maturity”.

ZDNet reports that DPS secretary Stefanik had good news for senators on Monday,  explaining that the “ad hoc” rating, the lowest score was wrong because the draft had missed all the department’s good work and it ultimately received a “managing” rating in 85 of 88 criteria, the second-highest ranking, with the other 3 classified as “developing”. Stefanik said his department had self-assessed on how it was doing.

KPMG was commissioned to investigate after a state actor gained access to the parliamentary network in February 2019 and managed to stay in there for another eight days after the attack was discovered.

Senate President Scott Ryan said the final report from KPMG would not be released, “because it contains information that could be used to weaken our cybersecurity”.

More from ZDNet here.


4. Hedge fund targets Twitter boss Jack Dorsey in $1bn campaign

Billionaire “doomsday investor” Paul E. Singer’s activist hedge fund, Elliot Management, normally specialises in buying distressed assets. But in recent months Elliott has snapped up US$1 billion in Twitter stock, has nominated four people for the company’s board, hoping for two seats, and may be looking to oust founder and CEO Jack Dorsey over his divided attention between the microblogging site and his other startup, payments venture Square, not to mention his plans to spend more time in Africa.

The New York Times has more on the looming boardroom battle.


5. Big brother’s watching you drive

Not that anyone uses their mobile phone to make calls any more, but the AI-based mobile phone use detection cameras the NSW government has been trialling went legit from Sunday, so you’re now up for a $344 fine ($457 in a school zone), with the loss of five demerit points if detected (or a whopping 10 during double-demerits).

The 24/7 camera systems uses artificial intelligence to review images and flag any potential offences, which are then verified by a human. They kicked off officially in December with warning letters. You’ll find fixed cameras on the M4 motorway and Anzac Parade in the city and there are trailer-mounted versions too. Check out the rules for phone use in a car in NSW, and save yourself some money.