Every day we wake up, drink some coffee, get ready for work and check on the latest tech. So here’s a handful of stories from around the tech world condensed to fit into that first cup. These are things you need to know before you step foot out of your door (or in front of a webcam) and into the real world this morning.
European Privacy Rights Group Files Complaint Against Facebook’s Political Microtargeting
The privacy rights group NYOP filed six complaints today under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The complaint alleges each of Germany’s major political parties unlawfully processed voter’s personal data using Facebook’s adtech platform in the 2021 federal elections. The complaints were lodged at Berlin’s Data Protection Commission.
The GDPR classifies political expression as “special category data” with greater protections than consumer behaviors. NYOB says Facebook and the political parties ran microtargeted ads based on private political beliefs without users consent.
We were able to determine that Facebook hadn’t obtained user consent for processing sensitive data and that the parties had targeted users on the basis of (prior) political views,” a spokesperson for NYOB said. “Neither the parties, nor Facebook had obtained consent from any of the users.”
Facebook has been repeatedly fined for violations of the EU’s GDPR regulations, which might indicate the practice is profitable, nonetheless.
Rolls-Royce Will Build A Miniature Nuclear Reactor for the Moon
The UK Space Agency announced its backing research by Roll-Royce into building miniaturized nuclear power plants for the lunar surface. While most space travel is powered by solar, the moon’s surfaces remain in darkness two out of every four weeks.
The Agency will provide almost £3 million in funding for the project to deliver a model of the lunar reactor. Rolls-Royce plans to have the model ready to send to the moon by 2029.
Concept design of lunar nuclear reactor. Credit: Rolls-Royce
Like many space program advances, Rolls-Royce envisions terrestrial uses for the new technology:
“This funding will bring us further down the road in making the Micro-Reactor a reality, with the technology bringing immense benefits for both space and Earth. The technology will deliver the capability to support commercial and defense use cases alongside providing a solution to decarbonize industry and provide clean, safe, and reliable energy,” said Abi Clayton, Director of Future Programmes for Rolls-Royce.
Anthropic Debuts Claude, a “More Steerable” AI Chatbot
Founded by former members of OpenAI, California-based Anthropic announced Claude, which it claims is a safer implementation of large language AI. The company bills itself as “dedicated to building systems that people can rely on and generating research about the opportunities and risks of AI.”
Anthropic says its new chatbot is trained using “Constitutional AI.” They claim Claude is “much less likely to produce harmful outputs, easier to converse with, and more steerable” than other AI chatbots while maintaining “a high degree of reliability and predictability.”
Claude is set to be a premium product with its price per million characters of output coming in at $1.45, compared with ChatGPT’s API at about a third of that. Anthropic says Claude has already been deployed into products such as DuckAssist summaries from DuckDuckGo, NortonAI and Quora’s Poe.
“We plan to introduce even more updates in the coming weeks,” Anthropic writes. “As we develop these systems, we’ll continually work to make them more helpful, honest, and harmless as we learn more from our safety research and our deployments.”
DOJ Investigates ByteDance for Surveillance of Journalists
The US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia “subpoenaed information from ByteDance regarding efforts by its employees to access US journalists’ location information or other private user data using the TikTok app,” Forbes reported Monday. “According to two sources, the FBI has been conducting interviews related to the surveillance.”
The investigation of China-based ByteDance reportedly began in December. There is a growing bipartisan consensus in Washington to ban TikTok in the US unless it severs ties with ByteDance, which is closely tied to China’s Communist Party.
An internal ByteDance investigation, which was prompted by news reports detailing the surveillance, “found that employees tracked multiple journalists covering the company, improperly gaining access to their IP addresses and user data in an attempt to identify whether they had been in the same locales as ByteDance employees,” wrote Forbes in December,