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Digital Planet


Technological and digital news from around the world.

Technological and digital news from around the world.


London, United Kingdom




Technological and digital news from around the world.






BBC World Service Bush House Strand London WC2B 4PH


Women's safety online

False information online has left one in five girls feeling physically unsafe, according to The Truth Gap, a new report by Plan International. One in three say false information is affecting their mental health, leaving them feeling stressed, worried and anxious. Others reported concerns about bogus events advertised on social media placing them at physical risk, or unreliable medical advice that could harm their health. Girls and young women from low and middle-income countries were more...


Economic cost of the digital gender gap

Research by the World Wide Web Foundation has found that the gender gap for internet accessibility has cost countries billions of USD in lost GDP. In the 32 countries studied a third of women were connected to the internet compared to almost half of men. This digital gender gap, their report says, has cost low and lower middle income countries USD $1 trillion over a decade. Director of Research, Catherine Adeya, joins us live from Nairobi and we also hear from Ian Mangenga who set up the...


Census goes digital in India

This decade’s Indian national census will be the first to be carried out digitally. However, COVID-related delays have slowed progress and there are growing concerns about its accuracy. Dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, Bhaskar Chakravorti explains how data will be collected and why the census is likely to miss essential parts of the population. Getting mums coding and encouraging girls into tech in Nigeria June Angelides set up the UK’s first child-friendly coding school for...


Spyware threatening independent media

Spyware threatening independent media Samuel Woodhams, the author of a report entitled “Spyware: An unregulated and escalating threat to independent media”, is live on the show. His research shows that the current unchecked growth of the commercial spyware industry is allowing repressive governments to monitor, harass and attack independent journalists and their sources as part of the battle against the free flow of information. We ask about the tech that is involved and if it’s possible to...


Can AI predict Arctic ice loss?

Arctic AI Have you checked the ice-cap forecast? Melting sea ice might be a well-known symptom of global warming, but how do scientists predict how quickly ice will recede? A new Artificial Intelligence tool does a better job than traditional prediction methods to forecast whether sea ice in the arctic will be present two months in advance. We hear from Tom Andresson, Data Scientist at the BAS AI Lab, who developed the algorithm. VR Cystoscopy Cystoscopy is vital for managing bladder cancer...


Tech on the island of Jersey

Digital Planet is back in Jersey, the small English speaking island off the coast of France. We’re travelling around in an on-demand electric vehicle – all booked, paid for and locked and unlocked with an app from our smart phones. We’re finding out about agricultural tech on a dairy farm – how the famous Jersey Cows, that produce premium milk - are being managed by the latest innovations and we’re also out in the fields where a host of sensors and data analytics are helping with the Jersey...


The Children’s Code protecting kids online

The so-called Children’s Code has just come into force in the UK. The Age-appropriate design code aims to protect children online by making digital services accessed by children comply with standards that safeguard children from being tracked and profiled. This includes toys, games and edtech but also social media and video sharing platforms. Changes have already been made by the likes of FB, TikTok and Instagram that will be implemented worldwide. Professor Sonia Livingstone from the LSE, a...


Digital us

This week’s Digital Planet is something of a celebration, it's 20 years since the BBC World Service launched the programme. Originally entitled ‘Go Digital’, the programme has always been innovative. It was the first radio programme to generate digital video, and also launched podcasting. We look back over two decades at how technological innovation has changed global society. The programme began in an era where smartphones didn’t exist and the social media we know today had yet to be...


Why the Taliban love social media

While the stereotype of the Afghan Taliban is that they lack sophistication, that certainly isn’t true for their online presence, which is geared to influence across many languages within Afghanistan and around the world. Adam Rutland co-founder of the Centre for Information Resilience looks at the effectiveness of their campaign and how they have learnt from both ISIS and Hamas. We also look at computer guided initiatives for understanding the working of the human brain. Alex Frangi and Ali...


Uganda, too much surveillance?

Uganda introduced an extensive CCTV network ostensibly to cut down on crime. Now there are plans to place trackers on every vehicle for similar reasons. However, critics see both measures as ineffective and open to abuse. They are particularly concerned over the use of such surveillance to spy on opponents of the government says Dorothy Mukasa from Unwanted Witness. And schoolchildren in Uganda have been enrolled to pilot a new device for rapid Malaria testing. Developed with local partners...


Brazil’s Data Protection Law comes into force

Brazil’s Data Protection Law Brazil has started to enforce its data protection law with companies facing fines of up to $10m USD if they fail to comply. We’re speaking to the Director of the recently formed National Data Protection Authority, Miriam Wimmer, about how the legislation will protect the data of individuals and the impact on companies in Brazil. Twitter Disaster Bot As the clean-up operation following the floods in Henan province in central China continues Yuan Ren reports on the...


How Jersey is leading tech development

This week we’re reporting from Jersey, somewhere that’s at the forefront of development for digital technology. Known for its financial tech it’s also leading the way in ecological and medical technology too. This digital innovation is supported by a commitment to connectivity on the Island. Every home and almost every commercial property in Jersey has had fibre broadband installed, and its internet speeds are some of the highest in the world. On top of this it has total 4G LTE coverage, and...


IoT saves driver after kidnapping in Mexico

After a fleet driver was kidnapped whilst driving in Mexico, the technology he had in his car alerted emergency services. Artificial vision and in-cabin video were used to flag the event in real-time. Combining Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things technology sent the driver's location and video to the company's control centre who alerted law enforcement, allowing them to track him down and return him safely the same day. To find out more we spoke to Romil Bahl CEO of KORE Wireless...


Internet shutdowns in Latin America

As protests continue in Cuba, so do its internet shutdowns. Anti-government protesters are demonstrating against food shortages, power cuts and coronavirus restrictions. In response Cuban authorities have been shutting down internet connections in an attempt to stop protests. Meanwhile Venezuela is becoming known for its frequent online restrictions. David Aragort from Latin American tech rights NGO RedesAyuda updates us on what has been going on. The world’s first 3D printed smart bridge...


Fighting for the right to repair

US President Joe Biden has signed an executive order asking the Federal Trade Commission to “limit powerful equipment manufacturers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs”. This could mean manufacturers can no longer require repairs only be offered by themselves or through authorised retailers. Gay Gordon-Byrne, CEO of The Repair Association in the US, has been speaking about the impact this could have. Are public-funded cultural institutions...


Big tech platforms to protect women online

Four of the world’s biggest tech platforms are adopting a new set of commitments to tackle online abuse and improve women’s safety online. This is the first time there has been cross-industry collaboration on ways companies can address the issue. Web Foundation Senior Policy manager Azmina Dhrodia is on the show to explain how, while Azerbaijani journalist Arzu Geybulla tells us about some of the abuse she has received online. Wireless pacemaker that dissolves in the body A wireless...


YouTube’s rules silencing human rights activists

Why did YouTube take down video testimonies from family members of people imprisoned in China’s internment camps? To ensure the credibility of these videos, people show proof of identity. Now, YouTube says it has concerns that these people may be harassed. Eileen Guo, who reported the story for MIT Tech Review is on the show. Matter connecting our devices With so many smart devices in the home its incredibly frustrating that setting them up and connecting them to your house is so...


Bias in AI – what next?

Our own bias is becoming engrained in computer code. There is a huge amount of evidence showing that human bias and ignorance is encoded into our digitally driven world. The impact of this is unsurprisingly impacting the most vulnerable communities the hardest – decisions on health care, employment and even police surveillance are now being made very often by machines. But can anything be done to stop this bias from getting any worse and can the current bias be removed? As part the WebSci...


Bitcoin’s environmental cost

El Salvador has voted to recognise bitcoin as legal tender, and there is a great deal of interest globally in digital currencies that provide an alternative to cash. However mining bitcoin, the intensive computation needed to claim ownership of new Bitcoins, uses vast amounts of electricity – more than many countries produce. Currently most of this energy is supplied from traditional fossil fuel sources rather than renewables. Larisa Yarovaya from Southampton Business school discusses...


NFT? That’ll do nicely

‘Non-fungible tokens’ are a kind of digital asset that can be bought and sold. They have captured the imagination of many artists. Art pieces can be given a digital identity as an NFT. However, they have also been used to successfully sell viral videos. Musician Imogen Heap has released a number of works to be auctioned as NFTs Tim Shaw from Endlesss is working with artists who see NFTs as a useful way to market their work. And hyper-reality meets traditional art in the form of opera. A new...