EU facial recognition rules, air quality satellite, whale earwax

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

The White House chief of staff meets Dominic Cummings in London. Mick Mulvaney is expected to pressure the UK prime minister’s chief aide to commit to dropping Chinese tech giant Huawei from the country’s 5G mobile networks. Separately, the UK government will unveil new immigration plans that will block visas for low-skilled, non-English-speaking foreign workers.

The EU imposes major limits on facial recognition. Stopping short of an outright ban, the European Commission will announce strong guidelines on the use of the technology. Other proposals to be unveiled today will aim to help European tech companies and rein in US giants.

Michael Bloomberg’s first Democratic primary debate. The former New York mayor will make his stage debut against five other qualifying candidates, who have all signaled they are ready to attack the billionaire. Bloomberg said yesterday he would sell his business interests if elected president.

While you were sleeping

Diamond Princess passengers began to disembark. The cruise ship, which has been docked off Japan for two weeks, has 542 people infected with Covid-19. Over the next three days, the Japanese government will allow asymptomatic passengers who test negative into a quarantine center on land, while sick passengers will be sent to the hospital.

South Korea launched the world’s first air quality satellite. The Chollian 2B will monitor tides and fine dust and other air pollutants in the East Asian region. The information it gathers could pave the way for a new disaster relief communications system.

The US tightened restrictions on Chinese state media. Five major Chinese state-run media entities with US operations will now be classified as foreign missions and required to register their employees with the State Department. Meanwhile, a US court rejected Huawei’s lawsuit against a law restricting its ability to do business with federal agencies and their contractors.

Turkey re-arrested a prominent activist hours after his acquittal. A new arrest warrant has been issued against Osman Kavala linked to a 2016 coup attempt. A court had just ordered him to be set free in a landmark decision, after he was imprisoned for over two years for his role in the 2013 anti-government Gezi protests.

Donald Trump pardoned celebrity convicts. The US president gave clemency to former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who tried to sell a vacant senate seat; Edward DeBartolo, who owned an NFL team and bribed a governor; and “junk bond king” Michael Milken, along with eight others. 

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Matters of debate

Jeff Bezos should just pay more tax. His new $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund ignores how Amazon makes its money.

We should emulate Amish tech habits. They practice “humane technology” by choosing to embrace new devices only if they benefit the community.

Medical degrees have lost their relevance. What matters is doctors’ specializations.

Surprising discoveries

Chinese netizens are garbling their messages to evade censors. A new app jumbles the order of characters in a sentence.

An Indian politician used AI to translate his speech. Deepfake technology allowed the parliamentarian to manipulate a video to show him speaking in English, rather than a Hindi dialect.

Whale earwax is a historical record of the ocean. Scientists have used the sticky substance to see how human activity has an impact on—and often pollutes—the seas.

There are just seven Facebook fact-checkers in Australia. With 17 million users in the country, the team is averaging one check every one and a half days.

Workers with regional accents make 20% less. The pay disparity is on par with the gender wage gap.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, deepfake stump speeches, and garbled sentences to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android, and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Mary Hui and edited by Isabella Steger.