CRN's weekly round-up of the more unusual tech stories that happened last week.
1. Vote Leave firm has dubious honour of being first in UK to be slapped with GDPR notice
A Canadian analytics firm has become the recipient of the UK's first formal notice under GDPR, the BBC reported. AggregateIQ was involved with the Vote Leave campaign and is accused by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) of processing people's data for "purposes which they would not have expected". The company was paid £2.7m by Vote Leave to target ads at potential Brexit voters during the 2016 referendum campaign. They have appealed the notice, but could face a huge fine if the appeal fails.
Last week was a busy week for the ICO, which also saw it fine Equifax £500,000 for failing to protect the personal data of 15 million British customers. Some 146 million people were targeted globally by a cyberattack last year, but the ICO ruled that Equifax's UK wing failed to take appropriate measures to protect data belonging to UK citizens.
2. Apple hands over €14bn to Ireland in long-running tax saga
The tech giant put an end to its two-year legal battle by handing over €14.3bn (£12.8bn) in tax and interest to Ireland, according to the Financial Times. In 2016, the European Commission ruled that the tax relationship - which resulted in a tax rate of less than one per cent - between Apple and Ireland broke the EU's rules on state aid. The EU launched a court case last year against Ireland for failing to retrieve the back taxes, which has now been dropped following the full recovery of the money.
3. Alexa moves into the kitchen
Amazon unveiled a number of devices and upgrades to its Echo line of home assistants, one of which was a microwave, Tech Crunch reported. The $60 device is part of the low-cost Amazon Basics line and although it does not have built-in voice controls, it can communicate with a nearby Echo to add time to cooking your popcorn - which incidentally has its very own button built into the product.
4. Google's Chinese search engine reportedly going all in on censorship
Google's not-so-secret plan to relaunch its search engine will include linking users' searches to mobile phone numbers, reported The Intercept. Earlier this year, the publication revealed the internet giant's plan to move back into the Chinese market, after it pulled its operations there in 2010 citing limitations on free speech. The latest feature, if adopted, would allow the Chinese government to associate searches with individuals, contributing to the censorship on phrases such as ‘human rights' and ‘protests'.
5. EU investigating Amazon in anti-trust probe
The Verge reported that Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for competition, told a press conference that the EU has been "gathering information" on how Amazon uses data from sellers on its third-party marketplace, in order to deduce whether that data is giving the company the edge over its rivals. No investigation has yet been launched, but the probe comes on the heels of Google's record $5bn fine a few months ago for anti-competitive practices in the EU.
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