Author: My Office News

Pedestrian killed by self-driving car

Source: Associated Press via News24

Police in a Phoenix suburb say one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles has struck and killed a pedestrian.

Police in the city of Tempe said on Monday that the vehicle was in autonomous mode with an operator behind the wheel when the woman walking outside of a crosswalk was hit.

Police say that the accident happened overnight on Sunday when the woman was walking outside of a crosswalk.

Elaine Herzberg, 49, died of her injuries at a hospital.

Uber has been testing the self-driving vehicles in Tempe and Phoenix for months.

Police said Uber is cooperating in the investigation.

The company will stop the testing of its self-driving cars in Tempe, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

The testing has been going on for months in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto as automakers and technology companies compete to be the first with the technology.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi expressed condolences on his Twitter account and said the company is working with local law enforcement on the investigation.

The federal government has voluntary guidelines for companies that want to test autonomous vehicles, leaving much of the regulation up to states.

The US Department of Transportation is considering other voluntary guidelines that it says will help foster innovation. But Transportation Secretary Elaine Chaos also has said technology and automobile companies need to allay public fears of self-driving vehicles, citing a poll showing that 78 percent of people fear riding in autonomous vehicles

The number of states considering legislation related to autonomous vehicles gradually has increased each year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 2017 alone, 33 states introduced legislation.

California is among those that require manufacturers to report any incidents to the motor vehicle department during the autonomous vehicle testing phase. As of early March, the agency received 59 such reports.

Facebook has made its data crisis worse

Facebook Inc tried to get ahead of its latest media firestorm. Instead, it helped create one.

The company knew ahead of time that on Saturday, the New York Times and The Guardian’s Observer would issue bombshell reports that the data firm that helped Donald Trump win the presidency had accessed and retained information on 50-million Facebook users without their permission.

Facebook did two things to protect itself: it sent letters to the media firms laying out its legal case for why this data leak didn’t constitute a “breach.” And then it scooped the reports using their information, with a Friday blog post on why it was suspending the ad firm, Cambridge Analytica, from its site.

Both moves backfired.

On March 16, Facebook said it “received reports” that Cambridge Analytica hadn’t deleted the user data, and that it needed to suspend the firm. The statement gave the impression that Facebook had looked into the matter. In fact, the company’s decisions were stemming from information in the news reports set to publish the next day, and it had not independently verified those reports, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. By trying to look proactive, Facebook ended up adding weight to the news.

On March 17, any goodwill the company earned by talking about the problem first was quickly undone when reporters revealed Facebook’s behind-the-scenes legal manoeuvring. “Yesterday Facebook threatened to sue us. Today we publish this,” Carole Cadwalladr, the Observer reporter, wrote as she linked her story to Twitter, in a post shared almost 15,000 times. The Guardian said it had nothing to add to her statement. The Times confirmed that it too received a letter, but said it didn’t consider the correspondence a legal threat.

Front-running the stories along with the letters to newsrooms are but two of several ways Facebook failed to contain fallout from the Cambridge Analytica revelations. Silence on the part of chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg didn’t help. Nor did a report late March 19 in the New York Times that chief security officer Alex Stamos is leaving after clashing with other executives, including Sandberg, over how Facebook handled Russian disinformation campaigns. Facebook said Stamos is still at the company, but didn’t outright deny that he plans to leave.

“Most of its executives haven’t done a real interview in ages, let alone answer deep questions,” Zeynep Tufecki, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina who specialises in social networks and democracy, wrote in a post on Twitter.

In a sign of investor dismay, Facebook shares tumbled 6.8% on March 19, the biggest decline since March 2014. As the stock fell and criticism from lawmakers poured in from the US and Britain, the company worked to make it clear that it didn’t actually have enough information, on its own, to react to Saturday’s news reports in a stronger way.

Facebook put out another blog post, saying that Cambridge Analytica and the researcher who provided them the data, Aleksandr Kogan, had agreed to a digital forensics audit to prove they deleted it. Facebook said the one person who didn’t agree to the audit was Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica contractor who spoke to the newspapers about the data leak. With the post, Facebook aimed to stir more scepticism around Wylie’s information, according to a person familiar with the matter.

That didn’t resolve things quickly either. The auditors were already on site at Cambridge Analytica’s London office March 19 when they had to pause their work. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is pursuing a warrant to conduct its own on-site investigation.

The Cambridge Analytica saga is the latest in a series of bungled Facebook responses, often reactionary and sometimes unintentionally stirring public outrage instead of resolving concerns. The company’s interaction with the public tends to start with a carefully crafted blog post, and then evolve into a much more improvised Twitter-based conversation with lower-level executives who defend the social network and explain its decisions. It doesn’t always go well.

Earlier this year, when the US government indicted 13 Russians who used Facebook to manipulate voters, a Facebook advertising executive took to Twitter to clarify that overall, the Russian ads were primarily used to divide Americans, not influence the election. His comments went viral after President Donald Trump used them to back up attacks on the “fake news media.”

In 2017, Facebook made its disclosures on Russia’s activities in a slow drip, each time illustrating a bigger problem. An April white paper on “information operations,” for example, didn’t name the country. The company that October said 10 million users saw Russia’s ads. Later that month, Facebook said 126 million people saw Russia’s posts in general. The company upped the number to 150 million during Congressional interrogation, when a senator asked if Facebook could include Instagram, the photo-sharing app it owns, in the count.

Stamos, who has favoured more forthright disclosure, was frequently outvoted, according to the New York Times. He’s planning to leave the company in August, the newspaper reported. On Twitter, he later said he’s still fully engaged with his work at Facebook, without answering questions about his plans. But that would make him the most high-profile exit since Facebook’s election-related troubles began.

Meanwhile, higher ranking executives remain quiet. Zuckerberg and Sandberg, who in past years would post frequently about the issues of the day, have shied away from reacting to the most controversial news. Lawmakers have now called out Zuckerberg by name in both the US and the UK.

Zuckerberg and Sandberg plan to remain quiet on the Cambridge Analytica situation until the company completes its internal review of what happened, according to a person familiar with the matter. Until they do, questions about Facebook’s ability to cope with the Cambridge Analytica crisis will undoubtedly persist. — Bloomberg

By Sarah Frier for The Star
Image: 123rf

The cost of a data breach in South Africa

Source: IBM

In 2017, the average total organisational cost of data breaches in South Africa was R32.36-million. The average per capita cost was R1 632 ZAR.

These are the major takeaways from the 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study: South Africa, the second annual research conducted by IBM Security and Ponemon Institute.

The 2017 study examines the costs incurred by 21 South African organisations from nine different industry sectors, following the loss or theft of protected personal data and the notification of breach victims as required by various laws.

An increase of 12% in the total cost of data breach was recorded compared to the previous year, while the cost per lost or stolen data record went up by 5%.

The report identified the most common root causes of data breaches in South Africa, and pointed to trends in practices to reduce the risk and consequences of a data breach.

Source: IBM

Edcon’s flagship store, Edgars, has been struggling to find its place among modern South African consumers, who are enjoying shopping at international stores like H&M and Zara.

Earlier this month the company reported a quarterly sales decline. According to an article published by the Sunday Times, Edcon decided a few years ago to go with more fashionable expensive assortments and they forgot about their heartland customer, which is at the very centre of the business.

“If they are not selling the merchandise they have in their stores then they have to change their strategy, and Edcon appears to have been through some major changes,” Andrew Jennings, former president of Saks Fifth Avenue, GM of Harrods and MD of Woolworths, and author of Almost is Not Good Enough – How to Win or Lose in Retail, is quoted as saying.

Over the past decade, Edcon has struggled with leadership as its three CEOs have made some notable strategic blunders. The company has been in operation for 89 years. As of March 2017, Edgars had 1 343 stores including 187 stores in eight countries outside of South Africa.
Edcon has been selling off stores – the Legit store chains, with the exception of those operating in Botswana, were sold effective 29 January 2017 and the Edgars Shoe Gallery store chains closed during the 2017 financial year.

In addition, Edcon has closed 253 stores – but this has left the retailer with too many leases in malls and no brands to fill the empty space

According to The Sunday Times, the store has been trying to find a solution to this empty floor space and as such has introduced a coffee shop into its Eastgate Mall store called Made Café . This serves both to use up empty space and to act as a drawcard to the store, following the modern consumer trends.

By Sifiso Zulu for EWN

President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended Tom Moyane as South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner with immediate effect.

The Presidency says Ramaphosa met with Moyane on Monday to inform him of his decision after reports that the now suspended senior tax official refused to resign.

Ramaphosa has cited that developments at SARS under the leadership of Moyane have resulted in a deterioration of public confidence in the institution and public finances being compromised.

Moyane appeared in Parliament recently to answer questions about infighting at SARS including his handling of ex-tax official Jonas Makwakwa’s disciplinary hearing.

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko says: “The president has said the actions of Mr Moyane in relations to a number of matters, including his treatment of Mr Makwakwa and his failure to report this issue to the Minister of Finance but also management of it in that regard have brought SARS into serious disrepute and this is what the president was acting against.”

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) says the suspension of Moyane is a start towards restoring confidence in the revenue service and improving tax morality.

Outa’s Wayne Duvenage says this decision will also improve relations between the finance ministry and SARS.

“We get the reporting lines right between the minister of finance and SARS which was removed when Jacob Zuma was there and he had direct control there. I think we’ll start to see accountability improve, performance improvement and efficiency at SARS and we’ll get back to an efficient organisation that collects taxes well.”

Meanwhile, on Monday night Treasury announced Mark Kingon as acting commissioner for SARS.

Kingon has been serving as acting chief officer of business and individual taxes at the revenue service.

Source: EWN
Image: BusinessLive

Counting the cost of listeriosis

The 180 recent deaths due to listeriosis infection found in processed meat from its subsidiary, Enterprise Foods, could cost Tiger Brands approximately R425-million in legal claims.

The cost of suspending operations and destroying suspect food would be between R337-million and R377-million, and the company hopes to receive R94-million from insurers.

Tiger Brands has said it now intended closing its Clayville abattoir by the end of March, and had also suspended operations at the Pretoria facility that manufactures its Snax brand. This is in addition to the halting of food production at its Polokwane and Germiston factories, which was announced on 5 March.

In a company press statement released on 19 Marhc, Tiger Brands said:

On Thursday,15 March, Tiger Brands received independent laboratory testing results that confirmed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the physical plant environment at the Enterprise Foods Factory in Polokwane. Our independent testing confirmed the findings of the Department of Health for the presence of ST6 strain of Listeria monocytogenes in the environment. In addition, there was a positive detection of Listeria ST6 (LST6) on the outer casing of two samples. Whether this presence of LST6 can be said to have caused any illness or death remains unclear at present and testing in that regard is an ongoing process likely to take time.

The Department of Health did not find the presence of Listeria in their product samples. Tiger Brands closed the Polokwane and Germiston Enterprise factories on 4 March 2018. These factories remain closed while we undertake efforts to understand how LST6 came into our factory. All of the Enterprise ready to eat meat products have been recalled and are no longer available for sale.

Test results from March
Tiger Brands continued extensive testing of our products and production facilities beyond Polokwane and Germiston, and discovered the presence of very low levels of Listeria at the Pretoria meat processing factory. These results have been sent for whole genome sequencing to determine whether ST6 is present or not at the facility. The results will only become available in due course.

Although the level detected was well within the range of government standards for the presence of Listeria, Tiger Brands has taken the precautionary measure of closing the factory and has instituted a product recall of all Snax products manufactured at the Pretoria factory with immediate effect. In addition, we will be sending samples for genome sequencing to establish the specific strain of Listeria.

Given the suspension of operations at the Polokwane, Germiston and Pretoria sites, which are the primary recipients of the production of the Company’s Clayville abattoir, operations at the Clayville abattoir will be wound down with the objective of suspending operations completely at the end of March 2018.

“At Tiger Brands, we promised our stakeholders that we will not compromise on quality, safety and internal controls. These are values and principles that I have actively communicated since being appointed CEO 18 months ago. It is therefore devastating that despite this focus and ensuring that we more than meet legislated industry standards, test results show that Listeria ST6 has been found in the environment at our Polokwane facility. The Department of Health has reported that people have lost their lives as a result of Listeriosis and according to the Minister of Health, 90% of these are as a result of LST6. Although no link has, as yet, been confirmed between the presence of LST6 at our Polokwane plant and the loss of life I deeply regret any loss of life and I want to offer my heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones. Any loss of life, no matter the circumstance, is tragic.” says Lawrence Mac Dougall, CEO of Tiger Brands.

“We acknowledge that we are dealing with a national crisis and want to assure the public that in the event that a tangible link is established between our products and listeriosis illnesses or fatalities, Tiger Brands will take steps to consider and address any valid claims which may be made against it in due course.”

“During this period of investigation and discovery we have decided to be extra cautious and to take immediate precautionary action when traces of Listeria are detected where they are not expected. We are investing all our time and energy into not only understanding the cause of the LST6 detection, but also how it could have come into our facility. Local and international experts are helping us put measures in place to prevent this happening again in any of our meat processing facilities. While every effort is being made to get to the bottom of this outbreak it will take time to complete our investigation.”

“Tiger Brands is working with a team comprising some of the world’s leading local and international scientific experts in listeria management. Our Polokwane, Germiston and Pretoria factories are undergoing an extensive deep clean of all the equipment, machinery and some structural upgrades of the facilities with the view of ensuring that our facilities exceed the highest, best practice standards for meat processing facilities. We will continue to work closely with the Capricorn and Ekurhuleni Departments of Health as we progress with these remedial actions.”

“Listeriosis is a complex and global challenge with increasing outbreaks and mortality rate caused by a variety of food sources. Other potential sources of listeria may well exist and hence a country wide response is needed to address the tragic consequences of listeriosis. A sustainable national solution for South Africa will only be achievable through a collaborative multi-sectoral approach involving industry, government, regulators, scientific experts and civil society groupings.”

“A key focus will need to be reviewing and revising the current standards to take into consideration the unique South African context. Tiger Brands would like to be at the forefront and play a leading role in this initiative,” concludes Mac Dougall.



By Jason Milford for Centurion Rekord 

This week, a group of Centurion businessmen demanded to know why a “stationery supply” company got a tender from the metro to fix a massive sinkhole in the area.

The group is involved in a class action suit against the metro, which they accuse of dragging their feet in repairing the sinkhole at the intersection of Jean Avenue and Gerhard Street.

Jacques Classen, the attorney representing the class act, said there is reason to believe that the incorrect measures were followed to appoint the contractor, Gaborena.

Classen wanted to know why Gaborena would need a sub-contractor while they are appointed as the main contractor.

“According to Gaborena’s main object and purpose describing their business, they mainly supply stationery and manufacture wooden and woven products,” said Classen.

Classen also said the metro must prove they followed the correct procurement procedures and processes to appoint Gaborena.

The class act also wanted the metro held liable for contempt of court for not supplying documentation.

Mayoral spokesperson Sam Mgobozi said the metro is aware of Gaborena’s appointment of a sub-contractor.

He said it was not unusual for service providers to do so.

Mgobozi also said the metro had to broaden its scope and network to appoint an appropriate contractor for the sinkhole.

© Centurion Rekord

Ideas are the new currency of modern economies and it is no more evident than in recent billion dollar idea success stories like Airbnb and Uber which are now disrupting established industries.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, says: “Increasingly companies are putting emphasis on new ideas to grow their business and stand apart from the competition.

“We live in an ideas age and business are recognising that fact and today’s offices must support the ‘cult’ of new ideas. And in comfort of course.”

These are the biggest office trends expected in South Africa in 2018:

Idea-centric offices

“Because ideas are so important to the new economy in 2018 so we expect to see more idea centric offices that enable creative thinking. Many people think creativity is just for creatives but it should facilitated and encouraged in all aspects the working life because it helps all areas of business,” Andrews noted.

“There is a misconception that creativity is a ‘light bulb’ moment but it’s not. Creativity is really a haphazard, tricky problem solving process that should allow people to work in groups but also alone. Offices should therefore create spaces where people can work in a creativity supporting way.

This year Andrews expects an even greater shift away from traditional ‘battery farm’ corporate workplaces to places that are more like creative studios – that means different kinds of workplaces that offer uninterrupted individual focus, developing ideas in a pair, generating solutions as a group, converging around ideas and allowing time for diffused thinking.

“These different options allow the mind to wander.”

Unconventional work area design

An extension of idea-centric offices is the unconventional work area design.

“These are not just for hipsters working at Google anymore. Unconventional work offices now offer meditation spaces, dressed-down conference rooms complete with sofas, bean bag chairs, vibrant colours, and lots of room for fun, stress busting activities like ping pong or foosball.”

Offices all over the world are adopting these new and unorthodox working and meeting spaces to attract young talent and make working spaces more fun and collaborative.

Home-style comforts

“We are receiving a growing number of requests to make South African offices more  relaxed and people friendly so people don’t feel they are sitting in a such a severe place,” Andrews adds.

Demand for homestyle comfort design is a sign that employers are listening to the desires of their employees and figuring out new, fun ways to get them to stay at work longer. This design trend is all about making offices feel more comfortable or homelike.

Dynamic spaces

Dynamic spaces is another big trend. They are typically defined by lightweight and moveable furniture with wheels, doors to open extra space, moveable green wall dividers and wipe boards or chalk boards. They are moveable, constantly fluctuating, engaging, and can transform from a space for company parties and activities to traditional conference rooms or meeting areas.

Said Andrews: “Dynamic spaces offer the opportunity for businesses to be a lot more creative with their space. Businesses are constantly changing and becoming more flexible, allowing colleagues and staff to try new things in innovative ways.”

Greenery & nature

More a long-standing design principle than a trend, this is not just about adding a few plants here and there around the office.

“This goes much further by integrating nature through the building in the form of textures, patterns, plants and natural lighting. Being close to nature and living plants instills a greater sense of calm in offices. While not new, we are seeing a strong increase in demand for green in the workplace,” Andrews concludes.

RICA changes aim to mitigate mass surveillance

Source: IOL 

Michael Masutha, Justice and Correctional Services Minister, has confirmed he will be introducing amendments to the RICA Act, to close any potential loopholes allowing large-scale surveillance of the South African public.

Masutha said in a reply to parliamentary questions session, that the revision of the RICA is in an initial drafting phase so an indication of what will be covered in the bill can’t be revealed as yet.

However, he indicated that both the issue of targeted interception and mass surveillance are being considered under the revisions.

“Although the RICA currently provides for strict standards before an interception direction may be issued for targeted interceptions (the interception of indirect communications, real-time communication-related information or direct communications), international developments will be taken into account during the reviewing process, to provide for appropriate and proportional safeguards and oversight mechanisms in respect of applications for targeted interceptions,” Masutha said in his reply, according to Business tech.

“The aspect of mass surveillance is also being considered with a specific aim to ensure that such a surveillance process will be subject to appropriate safeguards and oversight mechanisms to protect the rights of individuals who may be targets of mass surveillance measures,” Masutha continued.

In May 2017, Civil society group Right2Know said that law enforcement is using a legislative loophole to force SA’s cellular operators to hand over sensitive information about clients.

In an issued statement the group said it had issued applications in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act requesting information on how often Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom hand over caller information.

On 23 August 2017, Statistics given by Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom showed that that law enforcement requested call records for at least 70 000 phone numbers every year.

Original article © IOL

By Jillian D’Onfro for CNBC 

Google is cracking down on cryptocurrency-related advertising.  The move follows a similar ban by Facebook earlier this year. The company will no longer allow ads about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice across any of its ad platforms.

The company is updating its financial services-related ad policies to ban any advertising about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice, Google’s director of sustainable ads, Scott Spencer, told CNBC.

That means that even companies with legitimate cryptocurrency offerings won’t be allowed to serve ads through any of Google’s ad products, which place advertising on its own sites as well as third-party websites.

This update will go into effect in June 2018, according to a company post.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution,” Scott said.

Google’s hard-line approach follows a similar ban that Facebook announced earlier this year.

While the crypto-currency boom has produced a lot of excitement and wealth, it’s still a largely unregulated space and has spawned countless high-profile scams.

This news comes as Google releases its annual “trust and safety” ads report.

Google said it took down more than 3.2 billion ads in 2017 that violated its policies, which is nearly double the 1.7 billion it removed the year before.

Google parent company Alphabet makes roughly 84 percent of its total revenue from advertising, so convincing advertisers that its ecosystem is safe and effective is critically important.

By Jillian D’Onfro for CNBC 

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