Google Absorbs EU Fine, Alphabet’s Other Bets Burn Money

Despite the impact of new European regulations, Google just reported sales and profit that exceeded analysts’ expectations. The Silicon Valley company’s shares hit an all-time high, rising 3.9 percent to $1,267 in after-hours trading. The result is proof that advertisers aren’t put off by European regulations or allegations that Google abuses its dominant position in the marketplace. Its parent company Alphabet, however, continues to see losses in its “Other Bets” category, which includes Waymo autonomous vehicles. Continue reading Google Absorbs EU Fine, Alphabet’s Other Bets Burn Money

At G20 Meeting, Europeans Push Enactment of a Digital Tax

At a meeting in Argentina of G20 finance ministers and central bankers, the Europeans pushed to advance global rules to tax the digital economy, contrary to the point of view of the U.S. delegation. The group’s final communiqué reiterated the body’s commitment to “address the impacts of the shift to a digital economy on the international tax system by 2020,” but gave no further details. Earlier this year, the European Commission proposed rules to make digital companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google pay more taxes. Continue reading At G20 Meeting, Europeans Push Enactment of a Digital Tax

Google Quietly Working on Fuchsia as Successor to Android

Google engineers are working on Fuchsia, a project to create software that would replace Android. The new software is designed from the ground up to offer improved voice interactions, frequent security updates and “look the same” across multiple devices from laptops to IoT sensors. The move is in line with chief executive Sundar Pichai’s stated goal of integrating artificial intelligence with consumer products. Google first started posting Fuchsia code in 2016, and allowed some app developers to try out open source code. Continue reading Google Quietly Working on Fuchsia as Successor to Android

Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Google has been fined a record $5.06 billion by the European Union for antitrust violations. The tech giant is accused of abusing the market dominance of its Internet search services and Android mobile operating system. The record fine underlines how European regulators are pushing for more control in today’s digital economy. Google has 90 days to comply and pay the EU fine, or face penalties of up to 5 percent of parent company Alphabet’s daily worldwide revenues (Alphabet earned more than $9 billion in profit for Q1; Google’s net profit for 2017 was $12.62 billion). Google already announced it plans to appeal the ruling; the case could potentially last years. Continue reading Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Tech Giants Face More Questions Regarding Privacy Issues

Six years after Facebook deactivated facial recognition from its platform in Europe in response to regulators’ concerns about its consent system, the social media company has again introduced such tools in the European Union, as part of an update of its user permission process. Privacy groups and consumer organizations, along with a few officials, have responded, saying it violates people’s privacy. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked Amazon and Apple to provide information on how they handle personal data. Continue reading Tech Giants Face More Questions Regarding Privacy Issues

Drake’s Album Sets Records, Apple Music Surpasses Spotify

Drake’s new album “Scorpion” has set multiple Apple Music records; it quickly became the fastest-growing album in the service’s history, topping Apple Music charts in 92 different countries. Meanwhile, according to “confidential details” shared with Digital Music News by a “U.S.-based, major distributor,” Apple Music now has more paid subscribers in the U.S. than Spotify. The report notes that Apple Music and Spotify both have more than 20 million U.S. subscribers. However, Apple’s stronger rate of growth suggests it is on a trajectory to increase its lead in America. Continue reading Drake’s Album Sets Records, Apple Music Surpasses Spotify

AI Software Identifies Violations of EU Privacy Regulations

European Union Institute researchers, working with the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), created AI-enabled software to scrutinize the privacy policies of 14 major technology companies for violations of the new GDPR. They found that one-third of the clauses were “potentially problematic” or contained “insufficient information,” with 11 percent of the policies’ sentences using “unclear language.” Among the companies examined were Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook. The researchers did not reveal which companies were in violation. Continue reading AI Software Identifies Violations of EU Privacy Regulations

OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research group backed by Elon Musk, stated that its software can beat “teams of five skilled human players” in Valve’s video game “Dota 2.” If verified, the achievement would be a milestone in computer science and a leap beyond other AI researchers working on mastering complex games. IBM’s software mastered chess in the late 1990s, and Alphabet’s DeepMind created software that dominated “Go” in 2016. “Dota 2” is a multiplayer sci-fi fantasy game where teams advance through exploration. Continue reading OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

Facebook Pulls the Plug on its Aquila Solar-Powered Aircraft

Facebook announced that it is grounding a solar-powered aircraft project it originally hoped would have used laser technology to help provide Internet access for underserved communities. In an effort to connect the nearly 4 billion people around the world who still do not have Internet access, the company has been working for several years from Bridgwater, UK on a high altitude platform station (HAPS) system called Aquila. Rather than continue to develop its own aircraft, however, Facebook has opted to partner with companies such as Airbus and close its facility in Bridgwater. Continue reading Facebook Pulls the Plug on its Aquila Solar-Powered Aircraft

Google Aims to Promote Diverse Voices With Podcasts App

Google hasn’t had its own podcast app since it discontinued Google Listen in 2012. Now, it is unveiling Google Podcasts, an Android app that includes a “For You” section that keeps track of podcasts the user is subscribed to, and includes recommendations of top and trending podcasts and categories such as comedy, society & culture, news & politics, sports, religion & spirituality and the arts. Clicking on any podcast, the app will recommend related podcasts. It also offers an option to add the podcast to the user’s home screen. Continue reading Google Aims to Promote Diverse Voices With Podcasts App

Congress Takes Closer Look at Google-Huawei Relationship

A recent deal between Google and Huawei Technologies now has some influential Congress members looking into the relationship between the two behemoths. Google and Huawei, which have an operating-system partnership, recently struck a deal to upgrade capabilities on Huawei smartphones, which run Google’s Android operating system. After Congressional scrutiny, another Silicon Valley giant — Facebook — said it will end its relationship with Huawei and three other Chinese electronics manufacturers. Continue reading Congress Takes Closer Look at Google-Huawei Relationship

Government Wants Hearing with Tech Firms Over China Ties

Senate Intelligence Committee vice chair Mark Warner wrote to Alphabet and Twitter to raise questions about their relationships with Chinese vendors. Now, he and other top Committee members want to call in Facebook, Google and Twitter chief executives to a public hearing about their platforms’ security, especially with regard to their relationships with Chinese telecommunication companies. Warner also asked Google for information about its partnership with Tencent for patent sharing and future technology development. Continue reading Government Wants Hearing with Tech Firms Over China Ties

Google Plans Not to Renew its Defense Department Contract

Influenced by employee discontent, Google will not renew a contract with the Pentagon’s Project Maven when it expires next year. Google Cloud business head Diane Greene, who won the contract, was the one who announced the company’s decision in a weekly employee meeting. The Maven project uses artificial intelligence to interpret video images and, among its potential uses, could be employed to improve drone attack targeting. Many Google AI researchers worried aloud that it was a step towards using AI for advanced weaponry. Continue reading Google Plans Not to Renew its Defense Department Contract

Essential Kills Next Smarthone and Is Reportedly Up for Sale

Android creator Andy Rubin’s startup, Essential Products, born out of his incubator Playground Global, may be on the sales block. The startup, which raised about $300 million from Amazon, Tencent Holdings, Redpoint Ventures and Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn), ceased development of a new smartphone, say sources, and hired Credit Suisse Group to advise on its sale. Reportedly, Essence has already piqued the interest of one potential buyer. The original Essential smartphone, manufactured by Foxconn, debuted last August. Continue reading Essential Kills Next Smarthone and Is Reportedly Up for Sale

Google, Publishers to Meet as Europe’s Data Law Takes Effect

Sources say that Google has agreed to discuss the concerns of publishers at four of its global offices on the eve of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) going into effect May 25. Google has told publishers using its advertising tools that they will be responsible for obtaining user consent to gather personal information from European users. Google has not adopted an industry-wide framework that many publishers plan to use to gain user permission on behalf of their advertising technology partners. Continue reading Google, Publishers to Meet as Europe’s Data Law Takes Effect

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