Welcome to the Dynamic Digest, a weekly recap of the latest news happening in our industry. Want the pulse of what’s going on in enterprise software and analytics, performance management, cloud computing, data, and other like topics? We got you covered!
This week in the world of technology, Google donated $1 million to fight the Zika virus, the British government unveiled the newly revised Investigatory Powers Bill, Apple received strong support against the FBI, and the Florida Senate approved substituting coding as a foreign language.
Google Donates $1 Million And A Data Team To Fight Zika Virus – Huffington Post, March 3
In an effort to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus, Google has donated $1 million and a data team to the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Google engineers and data scientists are working on an open source platform to map the outbreak and anticipate its spread through an expanded search result and mapping tool. The one million dollar grant will specifically focus on “education, community outreach, mosquito eradication, and vaccine and diagnostic testing development.” Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency in specific areas where the virus is spreading. Mapping the outbreak, however, is incredibly challenging compared to other viruses because most people infected do not show any symptoms. Google’s donation isn’t the first health and big data related contribution, having already invested in two health properties.
Key takeaway: Following Obama’s recent $1.9 billion request to Congress for emergency funds and Google’s recent aid, it will interesting to see if any other tech giants step in to provide monetary or technological contributions. With Zika’s continued spread of infections and no known cure, it is likely the virus will remain a state of emergency for infected countries until further advancements are made.
Fury As U.K. Makes Proposed Internet Spying Law Even More Invasive – March 1, Fortune
If you thought Internet snooping couldn’t get any more invasive, think again. This week, the British government presented a final draft of the revised Investigatory Powers Bill, also dubbed “Snooper’s Charter,” which strengthens the surveillance powers of British authorities when investigating crimes and fighting terrorism. The legislation allows U.K. police and intelligence agencies (aka spies) to gather online data through cell phone hacking, collected bulk data sets, reinforced existing encryption powers, and the most alarming – forcing tech companies to store all web-browsing history for up to 12 months. The first draft of the bill was unveiled last November, but when met with disapproval and criticism from lawmakers, tech companies, and privacy agencies, the government was forced to redraft. However, despite claimed “revisions,” citizens and parliamentary committees, remain highly dissatisfied the legislations “broadness, inconsistency, and incomprehensibility,’ stating that only minor, cosmetic tweaks were made. While many claim the new bill completely undermines the right to personal privacy, lacks sufficient privacy safeguards, and actually broadens some of its powers, the Home Office stands by their claim that these new surveillance powers are necessary in protecting the U.K.’s “economic well-being.” With existing privacy powers due to expire in December, the government is pushing to pass the legislation by the end of the year – but shouldn’t we focus on getting it right, first?
Key takeaway: The outcry around this new legislation comes at a very pivotal time, especially amid the current global debate around citizen’s privacy data and surveillance (hint: Apple). With cyber terrorism being a complex, unpredictable and highly relevant threat, the discussion between personal privacy and national security only widens. One thing is for sure, politicians, campaigners, and tech companies won’t sit idly on the sidelines for this one – prepare to see an intense dispute these next few months.
Apple Is Rolling Up Supporters in Privacy Fight Against F.B.I. – The New York Times, March 3
It sure helps to have friends in high places, especially if that friend is Silicon Valley. In the encryption battle between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Apple, more than 40 of the industry’s leading companies, organizations and experts announced their formal backing and support for the iPhone manufacturer on Thursday. The high-profile legal case started last month after the FBI issued a court order, demanding Apple to help break into an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino massacre in December. For the FBI to hack into the phone, Apple would have to create new software that would override encryption. However, the tech giant refused, explaining that such software would set a risky precedent, jeopardize customer security, and potentially cause implications internationally. It looks like other tech companies feel the same way after a joint legal brief was submitted yesterday by Silicon Valley’s most prominent leaders, including Airbnb, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Snapchat, Twitter, and Yahoo. The brief addresses a variety topics related to the case, including free speech rights, the importance of encryption, and growing concerns about government power, among others. This is just the beginning of a very, very long legal battle.
Key takeaway: Having more than 40 of Silicon Valley’s leading companies, organizations, and influencers standing up against the government in a unified effort, shows the strong belief and opposition to the FBI’s stance on encryption. Apple’s fight against the government is about much more than a phone, it’s about citizen’s personal security and putting millions of innocent customers at risk.
Florida Senate approves making coding a foreign language – USA TODAY, March 1
You may not speak French, but do you speak Java? Florida senators approved legislation this week, allowing high students to take computer coding to fulfill a foreign-language requirement. The decision stems from an ongoing national discussion about including computer science in school curriculum. In today’s competitive and technological-focused job market, computer coding is considered an incredibly valuable skill to have, but is it a foreign language? Local organizations opposing the bill released a joint statement, expressing their concerns about the bill being a “misleading and mischievous misnomer.” Furthermore, some opposers argue that some major universities in the United States require two years of a foreign language that does not include coding. However, the proposed legislation would force Florida colleges to accept coding. While it’s great that Florida has that authority, they have no control over private or out-of-state universities do. Additionally, critics express concern over technological funding and resources, but Senator Jeremy Ring made a good point when he said, “If a school can’t afford instruments, should every school eliminate music classes?” Supporters, on the other hand, claim computer science is critical, stating that no matter which industry you go into, students need a technology understanding to compete in life. The bill is expected to pass this week, and if all goes well, it will make Florida the first state to substitute coding for foreign language.
Key takeaway: The decision to bring computer science into the classroom has been an ongoing national discussion in recent months, and with the overwhelming approval from Florida senators (35-5), it only further solidifies the strong endorsement of this movement. There is no question that foreign language is important, but children and teens should have the option to which language they want to learn, whether that be a traditional (like Spanish) or a digital language (like Java). What do you think – should coding be considered a learned skill, and not a foreign language?
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