Robots face new creativity test

A robotThe new test requires robots to be creative by writing a story or painting a picture

A US professor is proposing a new way to test whether artificial intelligence (AI) is on a par with that of humans.

Currently scientists use the Turing test – named after computer scientist Alan Turing – which evaluates whether an AI can convince a judge that it is human in a conversation.

Prof Mark Riedl, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, is proposing a new test.

It would ask a machine to create a convincing poem, story or painting.

Dubbed Lovelace 2.0 it is an iteration of a previous Lovelace Test, proposed in 2001.

Named after one of the first computer programmers, the original test required an AI to create something that it would be incapable of explaining how it was created.

Lovelace 2.0 develops that idea.

“For the test, the artificial agent passes if it develops a creative artefact from a subset of artistic genres deemed to require human-level intelligence and the artefact meets certain creative constraints given by a human evaluator,” explained Prof Riedl.

The artefact could be painting, poetry, architectural design or a fictional story.

“Creativity is not unique to human intelligence, but it is one of the hallmarks of human intelligence,” said Prof Riedl.

Algorithms have already created stories and paintings although according to Prof Riedl “no existing story generation system can pass the Lovelace 2.0 test”.

Inspiring music

Experts had mixed feelings about how good such a test would be.

Prof Alan Woodward, a computer expert from the University of Surrey thinks it could help make a key distinction.

“I think this new test shows that we all now recognise that humans are more than just very advanced machines, and that creativity is one of those features that separates us from computers – for now.”

But David Wood, chairman of the London Futurists, is not convinced.

“It’s a popular view that humans differ fundamentally from AIs because humans possess creativity whereas AIs only follow paths of strict rationality,” he said.

“This is a comforting view, but I think it’s wrong. There are already robots that manifest rudimentary emotional intelligence and computers can already write inspiring music.”

The 65-year-old Turing test is successfully passed if a computer is mistaken for a human more than 30% of the time during a series of five-minute keyboard conversations.

Back in June a computer program called Eugene Goostman, which simulates a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, was said to have passed the Turing test although some experts disputed the claims.

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Google tries ad-free net experiment

Google ContributorUsers sometimes find ads annoying but will they pay to block them?

Google has unveiled a project that offers web users the option to pay to visit sites rather than see adverts.

Dubbed Contributor, users can pay a monthly fee of between $1 to $3 for ad-free sites.

When those who have paid their subscriptions visit a participating site they will see pixelated patterns replacing the adverts.

It has so far signed up a handful of websites, including ScienceDaily and Urban Dictionary, to test the system.

Others in the current trial include WikiHow, Mashable and Imgur.

Access to the service is currently by invitation only and interested websites can sign up to be on the waiting list.

Contributor describes itself as “an experiment in additional ways to fund the web”.

“Today’s internet is mostly funded by advertising. But what if there were a way to directly support the people who create the sites you visit each day?” it asks.

A portion of the money goes to Google and a portion to the website.

Users log into the service via their Google account – which will trigger the ad-free version of sites.

Howard Kingston, co-founder of adludio, a firm which replaces ads with interactive games, thinks current online advertising needs a rebrand.

“Advertising, especially online has become a bugbear for many people, but there are new models such as this one, that could change the publisher landscape and how people browse content online,” he said.

Some websites are already experimenting with paywalls, including the Wall Street Journal and The Times but those sites still show advertising.

A service called Readability tried something similar to Contributor but shut down in 2012.

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Police make computer hijack arrests

NCA raidOfficers from the National Crime Agency carried out the raids on suspected computer hijackers

Fifteen people have been arrested, including four in the UK, in connection with the hijacking of computers.

Police say the individuals were using software designed to remotely control computers – allowing for the stealing of information.

The other arrests were made in Estonia, France, Romania, Latvia, Italy, and Norway.

The practice, which in some instances can grant access to a victim’s webcam, is known as “Ratting”.

The phrase takes its name from the malicious software used to gain control – Remote Access Trojans (Rats).

Using Rats to view people through their own webcams, without their knowledge, is becoming “increasingly common” according to the UK government-backed Get Safe Online advice website.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said it arrested two 33-year-old men, and a 30-year-old woman, in Leeds.

Rachel Hyndman

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Rachel Hyndman tells 5 live she was ‘horrified’ by the incident

A 20-year-old man was arrested in Chatham, Kent, while a 19-year-old man had his home searched in Liverpool and was brought in for “voluntary questioning”.

They are all accused of knowingly using Rats to spy on multiple targets.

“Victims are typically infected by being convinced to click on a link purporting to be a picture or video, or disguised as a legitimate file, but is instead an installer for the Rat,” the NCA explained in a statement.

“In many cases, those who unwittingly install such trojans will have no indication that their machine is infected.”

How to protect your webcam

Woman using webcamWebcams are a great way to keep in touch – with precaution

  • Webcams can be affected by viruses so be wary of emails and social network messages from strangers
  • Make sure anti-virus and firewall protection is kept up to date
  • Avoid putting webcams in bedrooms or other private areas
  • Unplug the webcam, cover the lens or point it at a blank wall when it is not in use
  • Be sure you can trust the person you are chatting to and remember webcam footage can be recorded and potentially shared online
  • If you have been the victim of inappropriate sexual contact via webcam tell a trusted adult and report it to the police via the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (Ceop)

Source: ChildNet International and Ceop


As well as the arrests, the NCA said it was warning other users that the software was illegal, and its use would result in further action.

“The illegal use of Remote Access Trojans is a significant cybercrime threat, demanding this kind of strong, co-ordinated response from international to local UK level,” said Andy Archibald, deputy director of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit.

“Suspected users of Rats are continuing to find that, despite having no physical contact or interaction with their victims, they can still be identified, tracked down and arrested by the NCA and its partners.”

An investigation by BBC Radio 5 live in June last year looked into the growing problem of Ratting.

One victim, student Rachel Hyndman, told the station: “I was sitting in the bath, trying to relax, and suddenly someone potentially has access to me in this incredibly private moment and it’s horrifying.

“To have it happen to you without your consent is horribly violating.”

The investigation uncovered websites where hackers share pictures and videos of their victims.

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

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Amnesty releases anti-spying program

WebcamSome sophisticated spyware software can turn on a webcam to monitor people

Amnesty International has released a program that can spot spying software used by governments to monitor activists and political opponents.

The Detekt software was needed as standard anti-virus programs often missed spying software, it said.

Amnesty said many governments used sophisticated spying tools that could grab images from webcams or listen via microphones to monitor people.

It wants to see more regulation of the spying software used by governments.

“These spying tools are marketed on their ability to get round your bog-standard anti-virus,” said Tanya O’Carroll, an adviser on technology and human rights at Amnesty International.

The makers of spying software did extensive testing to ensure that the way they infected and lurked on a computer did not trigger security alerts, she added.

Free of charge

Detekt has been developed over the past two years to spot the few telltale signs spying programs do leave. The intense scan it carries out on a hard drive means a computer cannot be used while Detekt is running.

Four separate rights groups – Amnesty International, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Privacy International and Digitale Gesellschaft – have worked together to create the spyware spotter, which is available free of charge.

The group is now looking for help to keep Detekt up to date and expand the range of spying programs it can catch.

The first version of Detekt has been written to run on Windows computers because the people most often being monitored use that software, said Ms O’Carroll.

Many repressive governments had been using spying software for some time and the programs were becoming increasingly popular with democratically elected governments too, said Ms Carroll. Spying software has been found on the computers of activists in Bahrain, Syria, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Germany, Tibet, North Korea and many other nations.

“It’s easier to name the countries that are not using these spying tools than those that are,” she said.

The trade in spyware used by governments is now a market worth about £3bn ($5bn) a year, said Ms O’Carroll, adding it was time for this trade to be better regulated.

Prof Alan Woodward from the University of Surrey, who advises governments on security issues, wondered how easy it would be for Amnesty and its partners to maintain Detekt.

“It’s not really their core business,” he said. “Are they going to keep updating the software because the spyware variants change daily?”

He also questioned how useful it would be against regimes that used specially written software rather than commercial versions that were well known and documented.

“If a technique is known about widely, those regimes will assume it’s going to be ineffective and use another approach,” he said.

Hidden code

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un Kim Jong-un’s North Korea has been accused of using spyware to keep an eye on critics

Claudio Guarnieri, the German security researcher who created Detekt, said there was a growing roster of firms producing spying software.

“People think the uses of spyware by governments are isolated cases. They are not,” Mr Guarnieri told the BBC. “Their discovery is isolated.

“Spyware is becoming the final solution for surveillance operations to overcome encryption.

“The real problem is nobody really asked the public whether that’s acceptable and some countries are legitimising their use without considering the consequences and inherent issues.”

‘Strength in numbers’

The software is spread in booby-trapped attachments on email messages, by seeding malware on compromised sites or with fake messaging software, said Mr Guarnieri.

Karl Zetterlund, a senior researcher at security firm Sentor, said the needs of law enforcement were understandably different to those of the average cyberthief.

“Criminals are mainly interested in information that can somehow generate money. Law enforcement spyware may only need to collect a few pieces of identifying information, such as a net address, from the computer,” he said.

“Generally, policeware may be better at hiding, as normal malware often aims for strength in numbers and spreading is more important than passing under the radar.”

There had also been cases in the past, he said, when computer security companies collaborated with governments to ignore spyware they found planted on machines.

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‘Poorest of poor’ test talking tech

Talking BooksThe pilot project involves 2,000 Talking Books, but more will be made if it succeeds

Hundreds of handheld audio computers are to be given to some of Ghana’s poorest communities to help spread potentially life-saving information.

The Talking Books will let families play sound files as well as make their own recordings, which can be shared with others or used to give feedback.

Organisers plan to use the kit to teach people about Ebola, how to deal with diseased crops and the importance of breastfeeding, among other topics.

If successful, the trial should expand.

Child-focused charity Unicef and the British computer chip designer ARM are providing most of the funds for the $750,000 (£477,850) scheme.

It is scheduled to run for two-and-a-half years with each device’s content updated roughly once every five weeks.

The money will cover the cost of 2,000 devices and the staff to support them, with the goal that they will be used by about 40,000 people.

Talking BookTalking Books lack a screen and are designed to be easy to use by people who are illiterate

Listen and record

Literacy Bridge – the charity running the pilot – said its Talking Books had been designed for people who might not be able to read.

“It speaks to you in your local language and local dialect and prompts you to press a button based on what your interests are,” Cliff Schmidt, the organisation’s executive director, told the BBC.

“The message might be a song, a story, a drama, an interview with a public health officer or a peer in your own community.

“There’s also a microphone on every device so people can respond to the knowledge that they are getting.

“They can provide useful feedback like, ‘I just didn’t understand what you meant here’ or ‘You mentioned this problem, but let me tell you about another problem that is even more important for our community.’”

Literacy Bridge has worked on the technology since 2007 and has already carried out smaller-scale tests.

The devices store data on microSD cards, meaning they can each hold hundreds of hours of audio.

Talking BooksAudio can be copied from one Talking Book to another with a USB cable

Their computer chips also makes them programmable. This has allowed interactive quizzes and “audio hyperlinks” to be created, and paves the way for further apps that do not require a screen.

Cheap batteries

Since users are unlikely to have internet access of their own, staff are required to collect the machines on a regular basis and refresh their contents by plugging them into either a net-connected PC or an Android device. Files can also be exchanged between one device and another via a USB cable by the communities themselves.

“We’re able to track what people are listening to, for how long, when they move on to another topic and even how loud they listen to a particular recording [indicating how many people listened] – all of this helps us get a sense of what’s working and what is not,” added Mr Schmidt.

“If you really are focused on the very poorest of the poor and the very hardest to reach, then you can’t rely on smartphones or text messages. You are forced to do things a bit differently.”

Because many of the targeted users earn less than £1 a day and do not have access to electricity, Talking Books are designed to run off cheap zinc-carbon batteries available from Ghana’s local markets.

The original model offered up to 15 hours of use from each pack, but next year a revamped design will use a new chip custom-designed by researchers at the University of Michigan, which should last much longer.

Literacy Bridge hopes the project will eventually be extended to other African nations.

‘Missing a trick’

One Africa specialist noted there were already several schemes under way to educate the continent’s poorest communities, but added she thought the new one had potential.

Talking BookTalking Book users can give verbal feedback after listening to a recording

“Over 80% of Ghana’s population is covered by mobile networks, but there are those who are too poor, too young or too old to afford a phone – and this will provide a way to communicate with some of the most vulnerable people,” commented Thecla Mbongue, from the tech consultancy Ovum.

“People living in extreme poverty will still have access to the radio, but it is true that the programmes might not provide the exact information that they need.”

However, another expert was more critical, suggesting the Talking Books were “missing a trick”.

Talking BookThe Talking Book’s volume can be adjusted to suit use by one person or dozens at a time

“An ink-based monochrome screen, which may only cost a few dollars to add, would allow illiterate people to try and read along with the audio, giving them an opportunity to build literacy skills through general use of the device,” said Ken Banks, who advises the UK’s Department for International Development.

“Rather than just assuming that illiterate people will likely always be illiterate, why not integrate something into this device which will actually help them develop skills, rather than just passively listening and never having the chance to learn to read.

“Older Kindles do text-to-voice, they work offline, their ink-based screens work brilliantly in bright sunlight, and the battery lasts for a month or more. They’re a great example, for me, of an appropriate technology in this setting.”

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Russian site lists breached webcams

Webcam websiteThis edited screenshot shows a bedroom, living rooms, a hallway and a driveway in the UK

The public is being warned about a website containing thousands of live feeds to baby monitors, stand-alone webcams and CCTV systems.

Data watchdogs across the world have drawn attention to the Russian-based site, which broadcasts footage from systems using either default passwords or no log-in codes at all.

The site lists streams from more than 250 countries.

It currently provides 500 feeds from the UK alone.

They include what appear to be images from:

  • an office in Warwickshire
  • a child’s bedroom in Birmingham
  • a home’s driveway in Nottinghamshire
  • a gym in Manchester, a pub in Salford
  • a shop interior in London

The site’s database shows listings for 4,591 cameras in the US, 2,059 in France and 1,576 in the Netherlands.

Smaller numbers of feeds are also identified as being available from developing economies including Nicaragua, Pakistan, Kenya, Paraguay and Zimbabwe.

Some of the feeds showed a static image but did not otherwise appear to be working.

The privacy watchdogs have provided the name of the site to the media, however the BBC has opted not to publish it.

As well as setting hard-to-guess passwords instead of the default one that came with the device, camera owners are also being advised to check their equipment and turn off remote access if they do not need it.

UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said he wanted to “sound a general alert”, warning “there are people out there who are snooping”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “It’s got more than 500 UK webcams where there is a facility for remote access to check what’s going on in the shop, what’s going on at home, how’s the baby.”

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham

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Information Commissioner warns: “You can’t rely on preset passwords”

If the site was actually trying to alert people to the security breach – as it claims – then “now we all know and please will they take it down,” he added.

When asked about a feed that appeared to show a child in its bedroom, Mr Graham said: “It is spooky. But after all, it is the responsibility of the parents to set a proper password if you want remote access.”

He said he would work with the Russian authorities and others to have the website shut down, adding that such a site would be illegal in the UK.

Those whose webcams and baby monitors had been breached cannot be contacted due to the Data Protection Act and the Computer Misuse Act, said the commissioner.

The ICO acknowledged that some parts of the press might now identify the site, driving traffic to it.

“The bigger risk for ourselves is that people continue to use unsecure passwords,” an ICO spokesman added.

Password problems

The site in question lists the feeds both by country and by device manufacturer.

The kit has not been “hacked”, rather software and search tools have been used to scan the net for feeds that can be accessed using the cameras’ default settings.

China-based Foscam was the most commonly listed brand, followed by Linksys and then Panasonic.

“We are still trying to determine which Linksys IP cameras are referenced on the site,” said a spokeswoman from the US firm.

“We believe they are older Linksys IP cameras which are no longer being manufactured.

Foscam cameraOwners of old Foscam baby monitors and webcams may be unaware of the risks

“For these cameras we do not have a way to force customers to change their default passwords. We will continue to educate consumers that changing default passwords is extremely important to protect themselves from unwanted intruders.

“Our newer cameras display a warning to users who have not changed the default password; users receive this warning whenever they log into the camera, until they set a new password.”

Foscam and Panasonic have yet to respond.

This is not the first time problems with Foscam cameras have been highlighted. In 2013, a family based in Houston, Texas revealed that they had heard a voice shouting lewd comments at their two-year old child coming out of their Foscam baby monitor.

The company provided a software fix the same year that prompted owners to revise default login credentials, but many owners are unlikely to have installed it.

For now, the ICO said it was unable to halt the Russian website or others like it beyond the UK’s borders.

“If a website in the UK did this we would take action against it because firstly it’s a breach of the Data Protection Act because you are accessing people’s information and you shouldn’t be, and secondly there are also issues around the Computer Misuse Act as well,” the spokesman added.

Password tips:


The University of Surrey’s Prof Alan Woodward is among security experts who have suggested internet users should now update their login details.

He suggests the following rules should be observed when picking a new password.

Don’t choose one obviously associated with you

Hackers can find out a lot about you from social media so if they are targeting you specifically and you choose, say, your pet’s name you’re in trouble.

Choose words that don’t appear in a dictionary

Hackers can precalculate the encrypted forms of whole dictionaries and easily reverse engineer your password.

Use a mixture of unusual characters

You can use a word or phrase that you can easily remember but where characters are substituted, eg Myd0gha2B1g3ars!

Have different passwords for different sites and systems

If hackers compromise one system you do not want them having the key to unlock all your other accounts.

Keep them safely

With multiple passwords it is tempting to write them down and carry them around with you. Better to use some form of secure password vault on your phone.


Have you been affected by webcam breaching? Do you believe you are one of the 500 feeds being streamed? Send us your experiences to

Or use the form below.

Have your say

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Apple to push Beats to all iPhones

Beats headphones next to ipod touchAccording to the FT, Apple will pre-install the Beats streaming music service on iPhones and iPads

Apple is planning to push its Beats streaming music service to every iPhone in the new year, according to a report in the Financial Times newspaper.

Apple will include the Beats app in its latest update to the iOS operating system used on iPhones and iPads, writes the FT.

Apple purchased Beats, known primarily for its headphones, for $3bn (£1.9bn) earlier this year in May.

The company declined to comment on the FT’s report.

The FT broke the news of Apple’s acquisition of Beats earlier in the year.

The move into streaming music threatens the dominance of market-leader Spotify, and also comes as downloads from Apple’s music store, iTunes, have declined.

By pre-installing the app on iPhones and iPads, Apple will be able to easily reach new customers.

However, the value of streaming music services to artists has recently come under scrutiny after Taylor Swift pulled her entire music catalogue from Spotify.

Ms Swift said that the amount paid to her in royalties from Spotify undervalued her work.

Spotify has rejected that claim.

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Animators face 4K film ‘challenge’

Still from Minion movieRendering animation has become a very computer-intensive task

The advent of 4K and high frame rate films presents a “huge challenge” for studios using computer-based animation, an expert has said.

Bruno Mahe, technical head at studio Illumination Mac Guff, said the resolution of animated films would have to be increased by about 2.5 times.

The time required to generate such high-resolution images could hit production schedules.

It may mean studios having to re-think the way they make movies, Mr Mahe said.

Current animated movies are made to be viewed at 24 frames per second (fps) and at resolutions of about 2K.

But the advent of technologies such as 4K and frame rates of 48fps and higher means that the resolution of animated films will have to be substantially increased, said Mr Mahe, whose studio was behind films including The Lorax, Despicable Me and Minions.

“They are both going to present a huge challenge,” Mr Mahe told the BBC.

Simply scaling up existing images to bridge the gap would not work. “That just looks horrible, no-one wants that,” he said.

Memory load

Instead, animators will have to produce characters and scenes that are more detailed so they look good at those higher resolutions and film speeds. This presents a problem because computer-based animation is such a time-consuming task.

Before now, directors of many animated movies have had to take tough decisions about how they tell a story because there has simply not been enough time to generate all the images needed within the film’s production schedule, he said.

While higher speed computers and networks removed some of this pressure, the time it took to create or render frames was still the limiting factor in how quickly a film could be finished, he said.

Still from Toy StoryAnimated movies now take much longer to produce on computers

Illumination currently has 20,000 computers in a “render farm” that is used by animators to produce the individual images and scenes that eventually become a movie.

Shipping high-resolution images back and forth to animators consumes huge amounts of memory, said Mr Mahe.

In 2007 the total amount of memory used while Illumination worked on its Dragon Hunters movie peaked at about 12 terabytes, he said.

This grew substantially by the time Illumination made Despicable Me 2 when peak memory use hit 680 terabytes.

‘Cost prohibitive’

The best way to solve this problem would be to use the fastest memory, known as flash, said Ron Bianchini, head of Avere which helps firms build responsive networks.

“But 600 terabytes of all flash memory would be absolutely cost prohibitive,” he said.

That becomes even more true when studios have to produce movies with resolutions 2.5 times higher than they do today to cope with the new technical demands, said Mr Mahe.

“The economics just do not support it,” he said. “You cannot just make your render farm 2.5 times bigger. You need to be much smarter than that.”

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Topless sunbather pictured by drone

man removing signThe billboard containing the offending image has now been removed

An Australian estate agent used pictures taken by a drone to market a property without realising they included revealing images of a neighbour.

Mandy Lingard, who was sunbathing in her back garden wearing just a thong, said she realised only when she saw an advertising board near her home.

The company, Eview Real Estate, has now removed the offending images.

The commercial use of drones is legal in Australia if authorised.

The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority licenses commercial drone flights subject to certain conditions and detailed flight plan approval.

“Images of Miss Lingard were not used intentionally, it was merely an oversight and Eview Group have put into place systems and procedures to ensure that such instances do not occur in the future,” the firm said in a statement.

Ms Lingard, 50, told the Herald Sun she was embarrassed.

“I heard a noise and then I saw this odd thing flying around and thought it was a kid’s toy. It hovered around and luckily I was face down at the time,” she said.

A billboard then appeared outside the property for sale.

“Then a couple of weeks later I walked out my door and thought, ‘Oh my God that’s what it was doing – taking photos.’”

Rules around flying the small unmanned aircraft vary from country to country but in general there is little legislation in place – with the exception of the US, where the use of drones for commercial purposes is almost entirely banned.

A House of Lords committee in the UK heard from the Metropolitan Police yesterday that it believes there are people being “harrassed” by drones in Britain.

More people certainly seem to be seeing them in daily life.

man flying droneDrone operators are supposed to remain within eyesight of their craft

‘Slightly eerie’

Simon Collister from Peterborough saw a drone hovering in a residential street near his son’s primary school in July.

“I was with my wife, we’d just collected my son from school, and we heard this really high-pitched buzzing as we were walking down the road,” he said.

“I looked up and it was almost immediately above us – perhaps at lamp-post height. It was no bigger than a dinner plate. It just looked like an off-the-shelf drone.

“We probably spent two or three minutes watching it, then it suddenly lifted up and took off over the rooftops,” he added.

Current regulations state that the operator of a drone must be within eyesight of it but Mr Collister, a lecturer at University of the Arts London, said that he could not see anybody nearby who appeared to be flying it.

He said his wife wondered whether it was monitoring the controlled parking zone outside the school but Peterborough City Council told the BBC it does not own or use drones.

“It felt quite disturbing, slightly eerie,” Mr Collister said.

“As an academic and consultant in media and technology, I’ve researched the current rules on using drones in the UK and it seems the person using this drone wasn’t necessarily in explicit breach of the regulations.

“And even if they were, I don’t see how the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] would be able to find them and enforce the rules.”

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Uber and Spotify launch partnership

Taxi in the rainThe partnership will only apply to premium Spotify account holders

People with premium Spotify accounts will be able to listen to their own music in cars booked through Uber, the firms have announced.

The partnership means that users will be able to link their two accounts within the Uber app and build music playlists for their journeys.

The service will launch in 10 cities around the world on Friday 21 November, including London, Singapore and Sydney.

Drivers can choose whether to take part, Uber said.

Unlike a traditional minicab firm, Uber has no human operators taking bookings.

Instead, customers request a lift through an app, and the process is completely automated by software, which allocates the booking to the driver best placed to take it on.

Spotify is an on-demand song service, which allows premium members to stream selected tracks over the internet without adverts if they pay a monthly fee.

To offer the new facility, drivers will need to connect their Uber phone to their car’s entertainment system, said Travis Kalanick, chief executive of Uber.

The option to choose music will only appear on the app when a car that is “Spotify-enabled” is booked, he explained.

The driver will retain control over the volume.

“If we see tension points those are things we will work into the experience and handle in an elegant way,” Mr Kalanick said.

“For Uber it’s the first time we’ve personalised the experience inside the car. For music lovers that’s nirvana – it’s a really awesome place to be.”

The firms said they planned to extend the service to other cities in time. Uber also operates in Manchester and Leeds in the UK.


Both Mr Kalanick and Spotify’s chief executive Daniel Ek declined to go into detail about the finances of the deal.

“There’s a mutual win/win on this one,” said Mr Kalanick.

Spotify hit the headlines recently when the singer-songwriter Taylor Swift withdrew her music catalogue from the service, claiming it did not fairly compensate artists.

“After a couple of weeks on the defensive, Spotify will be hoping that this alliance with a similarly hyped digital business will move the streaming music debate onto new topics,” Chris Cooke, business editor of Complete Music Update (CMU) told the BBC.

“One of the big issues that was discussed following Taylor Swift’s departure from Spotify was how streaming services can distinguish their paid-for level from their free level.

“Artists like Swift think that Spotify’s free option gives too much away.

“But by offering extra functionality like the in-car listening with Uber, Spotify might be able to persuade more people to upgrade to premium despite having a very generous freemium offer.”

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