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12 July 2019updated 07 Jun 2021 2:17pm

Five things you need to know today: Hunt seeks a bigger navy, Google admits listening in

By New Statesman

Hunt looks for a bigger boat

Jeremy Hunt has pledged to reverse spending cuts to the navy if he becomes prime minister following a skirmish between British and Iran in the Persian Gulf. The Conservative leadership candidate and foreign secretary wrote in the Daily Telegraph that the clash – in which Iranian boats sought to impede a British oil tanker before being driven off by a Royal Navy ship – showed that the navy had been “run down too much”. Hunt, who has already pledged to increase defence spending by 25 per cent (£15bn) over the next five years, vowed to add more warships and carrier-based jets to the fleet because “boosting our hard power is the surest way to keep Britain respected overseas”.

Someone’s listening in 

Google has admitted that its employees are able to listen to recordings of what people say to the company’s artificial intelligence system, Google Home. The revelation emerged after more than 1,000 Dutch language audio clips were obtained by the Belgian public broadcaster VRT, 153 of which had been captured by accident. Google said language experts were employed to analyse “snippets” of recordings to improve its voice recognition software. The policy may put the company in breach of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which limits the information that can be held by firms on individuals. 

Trump abandons citizenship question

Donald Trump has abandoned attempts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 US census questionnaire. The president said that he would instead issue an executive order requiring government agencies to hand over records on the number of citizens, non-citizens and undocumented immigrants living in the US. At the end of last month, the Supreme Court blocked the addition of a citizenship census question on the grounds that the proposal appeared “contrived”. 

Prisoners to be given the key

Prisoners are to be offered incentives for good behaviour as the Ministry of Justice seeks to move away from a punishment-centric approach. Inmates who demonstrate positive conduct will be able to access their own cell keys, to cook meals for themselves, to choose when they shower and to spend more time visitors. Officials cited evidence that rewards, rather than punishments, were the most effective means of changing behaviour. 

India heads to the moon

India is making final preparations for the launch this Sunday of its first-ever lunar lander as part of the Chandrayaan-2 moon mission. The spacecraft is due to land in early September near the lunar south pole, where a “large excess of mass” was recently discovered under the moon’s biggest crater, the Aitken basin. If successful, India would become the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the moon after Russia, the US and China.