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The inquiry into MultiChoice monopoly is a misguided waste of time when mobile data costs are much more pressing

This week the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is holding hearings into “the subscription television broadcasting sector… to determine whether there are competition issues in the sector, which require action to be taken by the Authority [sic] through the imposition of pro-competitive conditions on relevant licensees”. Let’s decode this double-speak from the Government Ga...[Read More]

Facebook gets into dating, but there’s little evidence online personality matching work

One of the biggest reveals of Facebook’s F8 developer conference so far has been that it is planning on getting into the dating game. The announcement was made during Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote address on day one. It came amid news that Facebook’s VR headset Oculus Go is now available for purchase, that Messenger is getting a revamp, and that Instagram will introduce video calling feat...[Read More]

Why do we stay on Facebook? It’s complicated

Lately I can’t log onto Facebook without being asked to consider my own motivations for using the site. As a researcher who focuses on online communities, I’m accustomed to this running meta-narrative about what it is I’m actually doing online — but usually, that narrative plays inside my head, not all the way down the feed I’m scrolling through. It’s like my research questions have sprung to life...[Read More]

Data prices too high? Good thing Google Go just launched in South Africa

Google today launched Google Go in Sub-Saharan Africa (which includes South Africa, in case you were wondering), a service which will provide users with a ‘lighter’ way to search. Specifically aimed at users who do not own flagship smartphones or people who just want to watch their data usage, Google Go is a search engine — basically like the conventional Google search found in most Android ...[Read More]

The changes Facebook are making in the wake of their recent privacy issues

Facebook hasn’t been having the best time of late, what with the Cambridge Analytica scandal which saw some 50 million (as was originally reported — see below) Facebook users having their data siphoned and then used to influence events like the British Brexit vote and the American presidential election in 2016. This was followed by the revelation that Facebook was harvesting far more d...[Read More]

Facebook beefs up privacy settings, and increases user-control

The Cambridge Analytica saga is getting very watered-down, and we’re sure that, if you wanted to delete your Facebook profile, that it has already been done. In typical Zuckerberg fashion, Mark has apologised, and Facebook has made some changes to the accessibility of privacy settings to give users more control of what they share. The social platform has reworked the privacy settings on the mobile...[Read More]

Explainer: what is differential privacy and how can it protect your data?

It’s no secret that big tech companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are increasingly infiltrating our personal and social interactions to collect vast amounts of data on us every day. At the same time, privacy violations in cyberspace regularly make front page news. So how should privacy be protected in a world where data is gathered and shared with increasing speed and ingenuity? Diffe...[Read More]

Privacy act implementation failure means those behind SA’s largest data leak will go unpunished

How did it happen that a property company put an estimated 60-million South African’s most sensitive personal information into an insecure database file and on an insecure web server that has now been linked to the biggest data breach in South African history? How did they manage to collate so much data about us without our permission? And, as bizarre as it sounds, how is it that they might ...[Read More]

World War Three is being waged in cyberspace

My introduction to advanced communication technology (i.e. the Internet and World Wide Web) came in 1999. Having grown up in the two-channel universe of the 1960s and ‘70s, I was agog at the power it represented. The technology was nascent at that time — not many web pages yet existed — but I could still see the potential for good. Here was a technology that I felt could really save the world. I a...[Read More]

Vodacom cuts out-of-bundle rates, but they’re still around R1,000/GB

South African mobile operator Vodacom has today announced it’s cutting out-of-bundle data prices from the middle of October 2017. The new rate for prepaid and top-up customers will be 99c/MB from 15 October, while contract customers have been paying 89c/MB since the beginning of October. You’ll have to forgive us for not getting too excited at this news on account of having a calculato...[Read More]

Icasa’s proposal that data should not expire is a good move but more is needed

It’s not quite the #DataMustFall that people have been begging for, but telecoms regulator the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has given us #DataMustNotExpire. Icasa has published draft regulations in the Government Gazette stipulating new time frames for the expiry of data. This is a good step, and such proactivity should be rewarded. Cellular operators obviousl...[Read More]

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