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Find out the week’s top mobile stories from around the world.

This week.. Europe raises privacy concerns over Google, Fitbit deal,  ‘stalkerware’ app leaks phone data from thousands of victims, China app downloads surge due to coronavirus and much more.

Europe raises privacy concerns over Google, Fitbit deal

Mobile World Live

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) expressed concerns over the implications for user privacy of a move by Google to acquire fitness tracker maker Fitbit, raising the possibility of a formal objection by the European Commission (EC).

In a statement, EDPB said the “possible further combination and accumulation of sensitive personal data regarding people in Europe by a major tech company could entail a high level of risk to privacy and data protection”.

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A ‘stalkerware’ app leaked phone data from thousands of victims


A spyware app designed to “monitor everything” on a victim’s phone has been secretly installed on thousands of phones.

The app, KidsGuard, claims it can “access all the information” on a target device, including its real-time location, text messages, browser history, access to its photos, videos and app activities, and recordings of phone calls.

But a misconfigured server meant the app was also spilling out the secretly uploaded contents of victims’ devices to the internet.

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Google’s free wifi program stopped making economic sense


Google announced today plans to shut down its Google Station program. Launched in 2015, the program was intended to increase access to the internet for those that might not have been able to afford it, by working with local governments and companies to create hotspots in heavily trafficked areas. The program was launched in India in 2015, and later expanded to Indonesia and Nigeria, among other countries.

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Mobile Payments Aren’t Alternative Payments Anymore


Mobile payments becoming the norm is the last of three “fintech prediction” themes I said I’d extrapolate further in early 2020. The first looked at how challenger banks are seriously moving in on incumbents and the second, at the race to own the new payment infrastructures. Before 2019, PayPal was probably the first real “alternative payments” option, according to how this category has come to be defined. Alternative meaning another way for you to pay aside from the major payment schemes such as Visa and MasterCard or the dominant domestic card option in your country.

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China app downloads surge due to coronavirus outbreak

Financial Times

Smartphone users in China downloaded a record number of games and other apps as the deadly coronavirus confined tens of millions of people to their homes, in a boost to the $150bn global games industry. More than 222m downloads were made in China through Apple’s online store in the week starting February 2, according to data provided to the Financial Times by analytics provider AppAnnie.  Average weekly downloads of apps during the first two weeks of February jumped 40 per cent compared with the average for the whole of 2019, the statistics showed.

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Brazil’s Central Bank to Launch Near-Instant Payments as a Response to Cryptocurrencies


A new payments system is coming to Brazil later this year, promising almost instant transfers.
Called PIX, the project from the country’s central bank will provide 24/7 payments in up to 10 seconds via mobile apps, internet banking and ATMs, according to reports from Reuters and local crypto news site Livecoins on Wednesday. Slated for launch on Nov. 10, 2020, PIX is aimed at speeding up and reducing the costs of fiat transfers between individuals and businesses.

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IoT traffic is taking over, as 5G, Wi-Fi 6 ascend, says Cisco

Tech Central

If the industry needed more evidence that IoT devices and applications are taking over the world, Cisco this week said that by 2023 machine-to-machine communications will make up 50% or about 14.7 billion of all networked connections compared to 33% (6.1 billion) in 2018 and 3.1 percent in 2017.

The  M2M findings were just a part of Cisco’s annual forecast of networking trends now called the Cisco Annual Internet Report . The report replaces the Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast and looks at everything from 5G and Wi-Fi growth to broadband trends collected from actual network traffic reports and independent analyst forecasts.

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T-Mobile, Orange and Other Giants to Test Blockchain-powered Platform

Crypto News

Four of the world’s biggest telecoms providers will cooperate on a joint pilot that could see blockchain technology applied to inter-operator roaming agreements.

Per Mobile Europe, Deutsche Telekom and its United States-based mobile and wireless network operator T-Mobile US will team up with Spain’s Telefónica and Orange of France to pilot a blockchain-powered solution for automated roaming management.

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Getting the message: how mobile messaging turns promotions into transactions

The Drum

Consumers have become blind to online advertising. And who can blame them? The digital space is so cluttered, consumers are bombarded with ads from all directions. Is it really any wonder that they do everything in their power to avoid them? At a recent conference I saw facial recognition tech that analyses viewers’ facial expressions as they watch video ads online. They could actually measure the sadness on a consumer’s face when confronted with a pre-roll advert, and how that sadness diminishes as the time remaining ticks down. We always knew no-one liked pre-rolls, but now we can actually measure how much people despise them.

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