5 things you need to know in Australian tech today

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Take a look at these must-read tech stories as you get over Hump Day:

1. Uber has copped flak for its latest update that seeks location data even when the app is not running. The ride-share company says it only wants to track passengers for 5 minutes after the ride has finished, but that still has not satisfied privacy and civil liberties groups. Read more here.

2. The Australian Tax Office’s latest recruit has already had 950,000 conversations with customers. The AFR reports that virtual assistant Alex, based on Nuance Communications’ technology, has been in action since March — but some people don’t realise they’re corresponding with a computer.

3. Australia is doing very poorly on “big value” innovation breakthroughs. InnovationAus.com reports that the 2016 Australian Innovation System paper from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has judged Australia as “not an innovation leader but an innovation follower” and the country ranks 35th out of 35 OECD countries for economic complexity.

4. The Productivity Commission has recommended the dumping of Telstra’s universal service obligation contract. iTnews reports that the commission deems the agreement — which sees Telstra receive $297 million this year alone from the government and other telcos to maintain basic landline and payphone services — “anachronistic” in the age of mobiles and NBN.

5. Instagram has launched new features to reduce trolling and to get help for those threatening self-harm. Users can now turn off comments for any post, remove followers from private accounts and anonymously report other users that show signs of self-harm. Check out the details here.

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