Monday briefing: Elon Musk would like you to watch his Starship instead of his labour law violations

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A judge ruled on Friday that Tesla – and CEO Elon Musk personally – violated US labour laws, including in a 2018 tweet by Musk indicating that Tesla workers who joined a union would not have access to stock options, along with other unfair practices such as restrictions on workplace organising, interrogating workers about union activities and the firing of pro-union employees (Reuters).

Conveniently for Musk’s place in the news cycle, he’s picked this weekend to reveal the very large and very shiny prototype of SpaceX’s Mk1 Starship spacecraft. Its stainless steel upper and lower sections were mated for the first time in Texas and Musk says that test flights could begin within the next couple of months.

Reports in Bloomberg and The Times say that a new UK-US accord will force companies such as Facebook and WhatsApp to give British police access to users’ encrypted messages, based on comments by Home Secretary Priti Patel. But, as digital surveillance specialist Zak Doffman writes in Forbes, although the legislation probably will give UK police easier access to metadata on who has been communicating with who, there’s still no viable technological approach to breaking end-to-end encryption solely for law enforcement and not everyone else.

The polished, slightly shiny face of 33-year-old Sebastian Kurz attempts a statesman-like expression in election posters plastered around Vienna (WIRED). After Sunday’s election, Kurz is expected to once again be Austria’s leader with a coalition between his conservative Austrian People’s Party and, it’s expected, the Greens. But the very future of how Austrians experience and use the internet might radically change, as he proposes a ban on online anonymity to tackle hateful and abusive content.

Solid state drive (SSD) storage is about to get bigger, thanks to the development of Penta-Level Cell (PLC) storage by Toshiba and now Intel (Ars Technica). But while the new drives will squeeze in a lot more capacity by storing five bits of data in each NAND cell – compared to two bits in typical high-performance drives for desktop use. But in SSDs, extra capacity comes at the cost of write speeds, making this newest storage development a better bet for data centres and slow backups than performance PC hard disks.

In the last year, we’ve seen Netflix release three 15-minute short-form series: Special, Bonding and It’s Bruno (WIRED). Now, dedicated short-form platforms are launching to try and tap into the trend. Quibi, which has invested millions into original big budget short-form content, will launch in April 2020. Ficto, another provider that is adapting popular fiction into short-form content, will launch for free in the UK, US and Australia later this year. But what does the move towards short-form content mean for the creators of television series, after an era of big budget movie-style productions?

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