Surveilled — Issue 44
A weekly summary of what I’ve found interesting at the intersection of economics, finance and technology.
Weeks tends to lose some of their texture in lockdown, so perhaps that explains why it doesn’t feel that long since the previous issue, but here we are. Sights are now firmly set on relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown measures in most of Europe, but Singapore bucks the trend with an extension of one month and even a tightening of restrictions, in the face of a ‘second wave’ of infections. A cautionary tale that most other countries look at wearily, presumably.
Apps Leveraging Bluetooth for COVID-19 Contact Tracing Show Modest Early Results - Even in Singapore, where discipline and trust in the government are high, only 20% of people have downloaded the app. That is probably not so much due to the risk of surveillance, but rather to the fact that the app needs to run in the foreground to work. Especially on public transport, where everyone is glued to their phone, that’s a big ask. A solution that works in the background has to be enabled by the system itself, and that is why Apple and Google hold most of the cards in this debate. Read
France’s Data Protection Authority (CNIL) Greenlights Centralised Contact Tracing App — But it also warns that the risks to privacy are anything but mundane. This also complicates the struggle between the country and Apple and Google’s initiative further, and the debate is already being couched in terms of national sovereignty etc. More on that in next week’s issue. Read
Meanwhile, Germany Has Flipped to Apple and Google’s Approach - Given that an app that requires leaving it running in the foreground is likely to lead to low adoption rates, this move was inevitable. It will be all the more interesting to see where France and Britain land. Read
Another ‘Uber of Something’ Turns Out To Have a Dysfunctional Corporate Culture — This time electric scooter startup Bird. Read
52% of Americans opted against using a product or service over privacy concerns in past year, which is an interesting finding, especially considering the relatively soft stance towards privacy in the US. Read
Everyone is trying to get a read on our post-Covid-19 future, and autonomous “last mile” delivery robots may well be part of it. Read
The Apple Watch is five years old and it has been a slow-burning success, with some interesting innovations. Premium watch site Hodinkee has a good retrospective. Read
That’s it for this week’s edition. As always, thanks for reading and please forward this to anyone who you think might be interested, it would be much appreciated.