France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

On January 1, 2019, the French government will begin to tax digital companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, even as other members of the European Union have balked at imposing an EU-wide tax. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire declared that, as the other EU countries debate, his country will move forward alone, estimating that the total tax bill will come to 500 million Euros ($568 million), which will help defray 10 billion Euros in emergency spending announced by President Emmanuel Macron. Continue reading France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

Europe Plans to Create Smarter, Energy-Efficient Electronics

The European Union is looking to take on China’s tech dominance by approving up to $9.1 billion in public and private funding that would enable France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom to conduct research in microelectronics. The funding would help companies and research centers work together on developing advanced sensors and microchips, with an emphasis on smarter, more energy-efficient components. The decision coincides with the EU’s efforts to limit foreign investments and restrict business with Chinese tech companies such as Huawei. Continue reading Europe Plans to Create Smarter, Energy-Efficient Electronics

Intelligence Agencies Agree to Rein In Huawei Technologies

In July, said sources, heads of intelligence agencies from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and U.S. met in Canada and agreed that they needed to “contain” China’s telecom manufacturer Huawei Technologies. The advent of 5G mobile networks has heightened the already-existing risk of using Huawei gear. The group discussed Chinese cyberespionage and expanding military, and ways to protect telecom networks. Despite the lack of a consensus, the group did agree that an outright Huawei ban is impractical. Continue reading Intelligence Agencies Agree to Rein In Huawei Technologies

Audi, Disney to Demo Media for Autonomous Vehicles at CES

A future untapped market for media and entertainment is the time gained in our days thanks to the freedom provided by self-driving cars. As the world’s population increases, travel times also continue to grow. When we no longer have to focus on the road while in our vehicles, all that time becomes a perfect opportunity to provide content. Audi and Disney have partnered to create what the German automaker is calling a “new type of media” to fill that time. The fruits of this partnership are scheduled to be revealed at January’s CES in Las Vegas. Continue reading Audi, Disney to Demo Media for Autonomous Vehicles at CES

Federal Government Takes Additional Steps to Block Huawei

The U.S. government is reportedly pushing for foreign allies to stop using hardware from China-based Huawei Technologies Co. According to people familiar with the initiative, the government is aiming to convince wireless and Internet service providers to avoid telecom equipment that comes from Huawei in an effort to increase security. Washington officials are particularly concerned about countries that host military bases. The U.S. and Australia already have bans in place to curb the risk of cyberattacks. Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications provider. Continue reading Federal Government Takes Additional Steps to Block Huawei

IBM, Harvard University Develop New Tool for AI Translation

At the IEEE Conference on Visual Analytics Science and Technology in Berlin, IBM and Harvard University researchers presented Seq2Seq-Vis, a tool to debug machine translation tools. Translation tools rely on neural networks, which, because they are opaque, make it difficult to determine how mistakes were made. For that reason, it’s known as the “black box problem.” Seq2Seq-Vis allows deep-learning app creators to visualize AI’s decision-making process as it translates a sequence of words from one language to another. Continue reading IBM, Harvard University Develop New Tool for AI Translation

Apple Streaming TV Service to Launch Worldwide Next Year

Apple is reportedly planning to introduce its subscription streaming television service in more than 100 countries during the first half of next year. Such a global launch could help make Apple a serious competitor with established services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that already have an international presence. The service is expected to offer original programming free to iOS device owners while allowing users to sign up for third party services and TV network subscriptions. It will launch in the U.S. a few months prior to the global rollout. Continue reading Apple Streaming TV Service to Launch Worldwide Next Year

Right to Be Forgotten Case Could Affect Borderless Internet

In early 2019, the European Union’s highest court will likely rule on a dispute between Google and French regulators on the right to be forgotten. In 2015, French regulators ordered Google to respect this right on all its sites worldwide — in other words, not just google.fr but also google.com. Google’s argument (and that of many other tech companies) is that this “right” not only menaces free speech but is an onus for private companies, encroaches on sovereignty and creates a range of other risks. Continue reading Right to Be Forgotten Case Could Affect Borderless Internet

Netflix Will Continue Broadcast Partnerships, Remain Ad-Free

Maria Ferreras, Netflix VP of business development for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), explained that Netflix will not discontinue its broadcast partnerships in which it takes global rights outside a production’s territory of origin. Speaking at the IBC Conference in Amsterdam, Ferreras pointed to a production in partnership with the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 as an example. U.K. producers have been concerned that Netflix would cease these partnerships as it gets deeper into local production. The company also reiterated it would not run ads on its streaming service. Continue reading Netflix Will Continue Broadcast Partnerships, Remain Ad-Free

EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

The EU’s European Commission announced its plans to make Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services operating within the European Union to dedicate at least 30 percent of their catalogs to content produced locally. A final vote approving the new law, described as “a mere formality” by Roberto Viola of the European Commission, is expected in December. The European Union plans to publish a report that details the percentages of European projects that are tied to multiple streaming platforms. Netflix is reportedly already close to the 30 percent quota. Continue reading EU Will Require Streaming Services to Feature Local Content

New Phones, 8K TVs, Alexa Garner the Most Attention at IFA

While the IFA conference in Berlin has traditionally targeted consumers in Europe, the show has recently become a global launching pad for products being readied for the holiday shopping season, one reason IFA has become more significant. According to TechCrunch, this year’s more notable announcements included Alexa routers from Netgear and Huawei; 8K TV sets from LG, Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba and others; smartphones such as the Sony Xperia XZ2, LG G7 One and HTC U12 Life; Polaroid’s new instant camera the OneStep+; and Lenovo’s Yoga Book C930 convertible, which features an E Ink display instead of a keyboard. Continue reading New Phones, 8K TVs, Alexa Garner the Most Attention at IFA

Facebook Extends Watch Video Platform to a Global Audience

Facebook announced that its Facebook Watch video platform is rolling out worldwide starting today. The VOD platform, designed for episodic content and a potential competitor to YouTube, initially launched in the U.S. one year ago. In what should be good news to content creators and publishers, Facebook is also making its Ad Breaks program for monetizing video content available in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, with plans to launch in 21 other countries in September. Continue reading Facebook Extends Watch Video Platform to a Global Audience

Amazon Promotes Music Services to Pair With Echo Speakers

Amazon is readying its first national campaign for Amazon Music with a push via television, online video, radio and billboards in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. The campaign for its streaming service will feature songs from Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar and Queen. With the popularity of Echo and Alexa, Amazon is now paying more attention to its music service, which helps differentiate it from rivals, according to Amazon Music vice president Steve Boom. Apple and Google also offer smart speakers and streaming music services. Continue reading Amazon Promotes Music Services to Pair With Echo Speakers

New Research Underlines the Ongoing Strength of P2P Piracy

Anti-piracy company Irdeto has revealed that P2P piracy is booming and still more popular than streaming in several countries. P2P traffic — mostly of the BitTorrent variety — continues to be a significant source of content for streaming portals hosting pirated content. Irdeto’s report comes at a time when Hollywood has focused its attention on streaming sites and services that distribute pirated content. Irdeto’s research examines web traffic to 962 piracy sites in 19 countries where P2P was the “dominant piracy tool.” Continue reading New Research Underlines the Ongoing Strength of P2P Piracy

Wattpad Disrupts Hollywood Status Quo as New IP Incubator

Wattpad, a digital literature app with social networking, draws 65 million unique monthly visitors with a core readership of 13- to 35-year-olds, who spend about 20 billion combined minutes per month on the site. The site is home to user-generated stories and fan fiction in a wide range of genres, including sci-fi, young adult, horror and poetry. Wattpad also debuted Wattpad Studios two years ago, a “one-stop shop” for new intellectual properties in Hollywood, such as “The Kissing Booth,” a story turned into a Netflix movie. Continue reading Wattpad Disrupts Hollywood Status Quo as New IP Incubator

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