Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tech Execs Today

Senate Intelligence Committee hearings will begin today to examine a host of issues regarding big technology firms, including Facebook, Twitter and Google, and weigh whether the issues might be addressed by legislative or executive actions. Those companies already stand accused of not controlling the use of their platforms to disseminate misinformation and, in general, not taking enough responsibility for content. Meanwhile, conservatives accuse the platforms of bias in policing content. Continue reading Senate Intelligence Committee to Question Tech Execs Today

India Concerned Over Dominance of U.S. Internet Companies

Some Indian leaders are resisting the dominance of U.S. Internet platforms and services such as Facebook’s WhatsApp, Google’s Android mobile operating system and Amazon’s e-commerce business, calling it a form of colonialism and vowing to regulate these foreign companies, especially regarding what they do with users’ personal data and how they might undercut prices offered by local businesses. India’s smartphone market, second largest in the world, is dominated by offerings from China, Taiwan and South Korea. Continue reading India Concerned Over Dominance of U.S. Internet Companies

Mozilla’s Upgraded Firefox to Block Tracking Codes by Default

Mozilla announced that future versions of its Firefox browser will automatically block tracking codes placed by advertisers, third parties or any other company that is not the website publisher. Also blocked will be trackers that take too long to load. Best of all for users, they will not have to download or install new software or change settings to enjoy this increased privacy. According to Mozilla, the new feature is already being tested and will be included in a Firefox version later in 2018. Continue reading Mozilla’s Upgraded Firefox to Block Tracking Codes by Default

Google Opens Titan Security Key Availability to All Consumers

At its Cloud Next 2018 conference, Google debuted the Titan Security Key, its version of a FIDO (Fast Identity Online) physical device to authenticate logins over Bluetooth. Now, only a few weeks after the announcement, Google has made it available for purchase at $50 in its Google Play Store. Google Cloud enterprise customers have been able to access the Titan Security Key for the past two months. The product comes with a USB key, a Bluetooth Low Energy key, and an adapter for devices with USB Type-C ports. Continue reading Google Opens Titan Security Key Availability to All Consumers

Mastercard Deal Provides Valuable Info for Google Advertisers

A behind-the-scenes deal between Google and Mastercard was just revealed, whereby Google paid “millions of dollars” for “a stockpile of Mastercard transactions” that most of the credit card company’s two billion users were unaware of. Over the past year, Google provided select advertisers with the ability to track whether online ads led to sales at physical stores in the U.S. While the deal could give Google leverage over rivals such as Amazon, it could also raise privacy concerns regarding how customer data is used and shared. Google says no personal data was shared about users. Continue reading Mastercard Deal Provides Valuable Info for Google Advertisers

New California Privacy Bill Leads to Concern Across Industries

Since California passed the consumer privacy bill known as AB 375, numerous tech companies, trade associations and lobbyists have been pushing for changes before it goes into effect in January 2020. The strict law was passed quickly to fend off an initiative from Californians for Consumer Privacy, which wanted to put the issue on the ballot. Now, with a few days left in the legislative session, lawmakers in California may vote on a replacement bill, SB-1121, that could substantially change the intent of the original law. Continue reading New California Privacy Bill Leads to Concern Across Industries

Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Sony’s OTT service PlayStation Vue is expanding its lineup by adding 200 local stations across the U.S., including ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates and ESPN College Extra. With the expanded lineup, Playstation Vue now features more than 450 local stations. The service is available via Sony’s game console; across Android, iOS and web platforms; and media players such as Android TV, Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire TV, Google’s Chromecast and Roku devices. The additions could help the service compete with new players, including Hulu and YouTube TV. Continue reading Sony Adds 200 Local Channels to its PlayStation Vue Service

Google Redesigns its Wear OS, Streamlines the Smart Watch

Google is readying the release of its new, third version of Wear OS, which has been updated to be a speedy, inconspicuous platform rather than “Android on a smart watch.” It doesn’t feature any obvious improvements to battery life, but that’s an overall problem in the industry, not a Google shortcoming. According to Wear OS director of product Dennis Troper, users who are connected all the time will be able to be more present in the real world, similar to the goals of the company’s Digital Wellbeing initiative. Continue reading Google Redesigns its Wear OS, Streamlines the Smart Watch

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

BuzzFeed News Is Trying New Methods to Generate Revenue

BuzzFeed News plans to debut a feature at the bottom of its news pages asking readers to donate between $5 and $100. In exchange, said one source, donors will get updates on big news stories and new programming. This move could presage a membership program with more perks, continued that source, who added that the company is not planning to charge for content. In another revenue-earning venture, BuzzFeed introduced a new product-review/recommendation site, earning revenue from online purchases. Continue reading BuzzFeed News Is Trying New Methods to Generate Revenue

Competitors Aim to Dominate India’s Digital Payments Market

India’s digital payment market is on fire, mainly due to new easy-to-use apps that also offer discounts and cash bonuses. The country’s banks, postal service and richest man (Mukesh Ambani) are investing in the arena, and even Warren Buffett, through Berkshire Hathaway, is reportedly taking a stake in the country’s leading digital payment company Paytm. Credit Suisse Group estimates that the Indian market will reach $1 trillion by 2023. China, meanwhile, already has a digital payments market valued at $5+ trillion. Continue reading Competitors Aim to Dominate India’s Digital Payments Market

Tech Giants Pushing for More Favorable Federal Privacy Law

Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft and other tech companies are lobbying to begin work on a federal privacy law, with the goal of creating regulations that would favor them more than the strict law passed in June by California. The California law, a benchmark in the U.S., gives users the right to know what information tech companies are collecting and why, as well as with whom they’re sharing that data. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation said its tech company members want to be “a constructive part of the process.” Continue reading Tech Giants Pushing for More Favorable Federal Privacy Law

Some Developers Fed Up With Apple, Google App Store Taxes

Apple and Google are getting pushback from such companies as Netflix, Epic Games and Valve that have complained the tech behemoths collect too high of a tax for residing in their app stores. The number of such complaints has risen significantly, and new ways of reaching users has led some companies to avoid app stores altogether. That, combined with competition from those new sources and regulatory scrutiny threaten what has thus far been a source of billions of dollars in revenue for Apple and Google. Continue reading Some Developers Fed Up With Apple, Google App Store Taxes

Apple to Unveil New MacBook and Other Hardware This Year

Apple is planning to release a new low-cost MacBook laptop later this year that features a high-resolution 13-inch Retina display. The laptop will reportedly look much like the MacBook Air but with thinner bezels. Apple will target consumers looking for an affordable laptop and schools that purchase computers in bulk. The company is also expected to introduce a professional-focused upgrade to its Mac mini desktop, the macOS Mojave operating system, three new iPhones, Apple Watches with larger screens, and new versions of the iPad Pro tablet. Continue reading Apple to Unveil New MacBook and Other Hardware This Year

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

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