Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Facebook is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for numerous potential civil and criminal violations. The Silicon Valley company, which denies the charges, said it is cooperating with law enforcement. The HUD investigation, the most recent, states that Facebook allowed advertisers to restrict who they target, based on race, religion and national origin. Continue reading Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Microsoft Rolls Out Additional Plans to Combat Patent Trolls

Microsoft revealed plans to expand its Azure IP Advantage patent troll defense program by offering its customers building Azure-compatible IoT services with access to a library of 10,000 patents that can help protect them from IP lawsuits, especially related to cloud computing. The tech giant also announced that it is contributing some 500 patents to the non-profit LOT Network, founded in 2014, which provides patents from a growing number of member companies and additional sources to help protect startups against patent trolls. Continue reading Microsoft Rolls Out Additional Plans to Combat Patent Trolls

Google Establishes Advisory Panel to Examine AI Fairness

Google is forming the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC), an external eight-member advisory group to “consider some of the most complex challenges [in AI],” such as facial recognition and fairness. The move comes about a year after Google issued a charter stating its AI principles, and months after Google said it would not provide “general-purpose facial recognition APIs” before the ATEAC addresses relevant policy issues. The advisory group will hold four meetings in 2019, starting in April. Continue reading Google Establishes Advisory Panel to Examine AI Fairness

Amazon, National Science Foundation to Further AI Fairness

Amazon is teaming up with the National Science Foundation (NSF), pledging up to $10 million in research grants over the next three years to further fairness in artificial intelligence and machine learning. More specifically, the grants will target “explainability” as well as potential negative biases and effects, mitigation strategies for such effects, validation of fairness and inclusivity. The goal is to encourage “broadened acceptance” of AI, thus enabling the U.S. to make better progress on the technology’s evolution. Continue reading Amazon, National Science Foundation to Further AI Fairness

Amazon Testing Video Ads on its iOS Mobile Shopping App

Amazon plans to sell video ads on its mobile shopping app, a direct challenge to Google and Facebook’s control of the $129 billion digital advertising sector. Sources report that the tech giant has been beta testing ads on the Apple iOS platform “for several months,” and that it plans to roll out ad sales on Google’s Android platform later in 2019. Searches on Amazon’s mobile app trigger relevant ads, making them more likely to lead to actual purchases. With this move, Amazon opens up a potentially lucrative revenue stream. Continue reading Amazon Testing Video Ads on its iOS Mobile Shopping App

Amazon’s Gaming Clout Grows in Era of Multiplayer Games

Amazon is evolving into an indispensable player in the games industry, with AWS providing a cloud-based digital infrastructure for live streaming. Last year, Epic Games went “all in” for AWS, allowing its massively popular game “Fortnite” to achieve global scale. Amazon Game Tech, the company’s services collection that helps game studios get on their feet, has been a mainstay for companies like Square Enix and Zynga. Amazon also owns the game platform Twitch and has developed its own game engine, Lumberyard. Continue reading Amazon’s Gaming Clout Grows in Era of Multiplayer Games

EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

European regulators yesterday fined tech giant Google 1.5 billion euros (about $1.7 billion U.S.) for violating antitrust rules in the online ad market. This marks the European Union’s third fine against Google since 2017. As part of its larger efforts to better regulate global technology powerhouses, EU authorities took action based on their contention that Google has been imposing unfair terms on those companies in Europe that use the Google search feature on their websites. In the U.S., regulators are also taking a closer look at business models and mergers involving big tech companies. Continue reading EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

Cloud Pioneers Amazon, Microsoft Dominate Enterprise IT

A report from market research firm ETR revealed Amazon and Microsoft as dominant in the enterprise information-technology market due to their early start in cloud computing. Over 800 chief information officers and high-level corporate executives ranked more than half of the top 30 products and services as those from the two tech giants. Those products included artificial intelligence, cloud infrastructure and software, data analytics, and robotic process automation as well as “other emerging digital tools.” Continue reading Cloud Pioneers Amazon, Microsoft Dominate Enterprise IT

Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

Spotify filed a complaint with European regulators accusing Apple of violating antitrust laws by crushing companies that compete with its services, including Apple Music. Apple charges a fee of up to 30 percent on anything sold in its App Store. Spotify reported to the European Commission that Apple’s policies are a “tax” that violate competition laws, and chief executive Daniel Ek complained that Apple gives itself “an unfair advantage at every turn.” It is uncertain if the complaint will lead to a formal EC investigation. Continue reading Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

Amazon, Eero Stress Privacy Policies Will Remain the Same

After announcing its purchase of Eero last month, Amazon said the deal with the company, which makes easy-to-use Internet routers, just closed. According to Amazon senior vice president of devices and services David Limp, Eero will continue to be its own entity within Amazon, similar to Ring and Blink. Eero sells a package of one second-generation hub and two beacons for $400, which was discounted by $100 on the first day of the announcement. The package is enough to connect hardware in an apartment or small home. Continue reading Amazon, Eero Stress Privacy Policies Will Remain the Same

U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

The U.K. government released a 150-page report stressing that the country needs to update its antitrust policies to deal with big technology companies. The report, which was ordered by the U.K.’s top treasury official, Exchequer chancellor Philip Hammond, states that the U.K. should implement tighter rules on acquisition in the tech sector to make it easier for new competitors to arise. The European Union and U.S. presidential hopefuls Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar have expressed similar points of view. Continue reading U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

Microsoft Closer to Consumer AR, Streaming Games Service

Magic Leap and Apple are the two technology companies currently at the forefront of augmented reality, but, behind the scenes, Microsoft has also been working on AR for years. It’s easy to discount Microsoft, since its HoloLens AR headset is squarely aimed at the enterprise sector. But the company also has its sights set on the consumer market. In addition, Microsoft has started to leak details about its upcoming Project xCloud cloud-based game streaming system. Project xCloud will enter beta testing this year. Continue reading Microsoft Closer to Consumer AR, Streaming Games Service

Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Four years after launching its program to allow outside developers to write apps for Alexa, Amazon’s voice system has some 80,000 “skills” — but no huge hit. In fact, most people with Alexa-enabled smart speakers still use them only to listen to music or make simple requests. That compares to Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, each of which are home to over 550,000 apps, many of which have been huge successes for developers. But voice-centric apps are challenging to build and don’t appear to attract consumers. Continue reading Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Elizabeth Warren Looks to Break Up Major Tech Companies

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) aims to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for the 2020 U.S. presidential election, but she just alienated Silicon Valley when she proposed to break up tech companies that generate more than $25 billion in online revenue. Her rationale is that companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have become too big and too powerful, squashing small businesses and innovation, and more focused on their financial well-being than “the broader interests of the American people.” Continue reading Elizabeth Warren Looks to Break Up Major Tech Companies

France Slated to Impose Tax on Digital Companies’ Revenue

The French government introduced a three percent tax on the revenue of technology companies such as Google and Amazon that offer e-commerce or targeted advertising in France. Experts estimate that the tax could reap “billions of dollars” from Silicon Valley companies. The tax is also likely to come up as a topic of conversation in U.S. and European talks, convened by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), about corporate taxes in the digital age. Europe is pushing to tax Silicon Valley companies on profits made there. Continue reading France Slated to Impose Tax on Digital Companies’ Revenue

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