FCC Introduces Amended Version of Consumer Privacy Rules

The Federal Communications Commission has offered new regulations — modeled on the Federal Trade Commission’s Internet-privacy policies — that scale-back some of consumer privacy rules in the first version. Internet providers must still get the consumer’s approval before selling her browsing history or other sensitive information to a third-party, but they are now allowed to market more data. Consumer advocates have given wide approval to the new plan. The FCC will vote on the revised regulations later this month. Continue reading FCC Introduces Amended Version of Consumer Privacy Rules

Could Twitter Better Serve Communities as a Social Nonprofit?

While Twitter has shown its potential as a communication and news-sharing platform, and continues to experiment (for example: streaming deals with the NFL and a SoundCloud partnership), the company has struggled to turn a profit and satisfy investors. With all the recent hype surrounding a possible acquisition, NPR asks if “it’s worth pondering the idea of Twitter getting out from under the pressures of Wall Street and turning itself into a nonprofit.” Rather than bending to the relentless pressure of competing for growth and profit, pursuing ad revenue and adjusting how its algorithms sort tweets, the platform could possibly prove most useful to journalists, politicians and grassroots movements if it was “free of investor pressure.” Continue reading Could Twitter Better Serve Communities as a Social Nonprofit?

Samsung’s Viv Digital Assistant to Bring AI to Phones, Beyond

Samsung just acquired Viv, an AI-powered digital assistant created by the founders of Siri. Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham created Siri and sold it to Apple in 2010, leaving shortly thereafter to found Viv in 2012. Viv will operate as an independent company, but provide services to Samsung, which ships 500 million devices annually. Viv’s highlights are that it allows interconnectedness of information across apps and services, and its AI can write its own code to accomplish new tasks. Continue reading Samsung’s Viv Digital Assistant to Bring AI to Phones, Beyond

Facebook in Talks with Foreign Nations to Begin Drone Trials

Several tech companies want to provide Internet access to developing nations via drones, satellites and balloons, but they all face obstacles, including getting approval to operate in foreign airspace and use radio spectrum to broadcast signals to the ground. Google already conducted its first tests of Project Loon, using high-altitude balloons, and OneWeb is at work on multiple satellites to deliver the Internet from space. Now Facebook is talking to several countries to create trial Internet broadcasts from drones. Continue reading Facebook in Talks with Foreign Nations to Begin Drone Trials

YouTube Go Maximized for New Users of Brazil, China, India

YouTube has spent more than a year creating YouTube Go, a site that has been customized to accommodate the limitations and needs of millions of new users from Brazil, China, India and Indonesia. These new users, online for the first time, bring different devices, connectivity and ideas about what the Internet is to them. YouTube has sent designers, engineers and researchers to those countries to plan a strategy. The challenges are balanced by the chance to engage more than one billion people of every socioeconomic level. Continue reading YouTube Go Maximized for New Users of Brazil, China, India

In a First, Yahoo Secretly Scans All Incoming Emails for Feds

In response to a classified edict from the National Security Agency or the FBI, Yahoo scanned all of its users’ incoming emails for a specific “set of characters,” keeping the scans and the software system it built to do so a secret. Millions of emails were scanned, but neither federal agency nor Yahoo will say if they found what they were looking for. Experts say this is the first case of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to search all arriving emails, rather than stored messages or a small number of email accounts. Continue reading In a First, Yahoo Secretly Scans All Incoming Emails for Feds

Google Unveils Pixel Phones, Daydream VR, Chromecast Ultra

Alphabet’s Google unveiled several new products at its annual hardware event in San Francisco yesterday, including a pair of Pixel smartphones; the $79 mobile Daydream VR headset; its Amazon Echo rival, the $129 Google Home; a multi-point network system called Google Wifi; and an upgraded Chromecast streaming dongle. Shipping November 4, Google Home is on sale now, with a free six-month subscription to YouTube Red. Also shipping in November, Chromecast Ultra supports HDR and 4K video streaming. Key to many of Google’s new products is its artificial intelligence software. Continue reading Google Unveils Pixel Phones, Daydream VR, Chromecast Ultra

U.S. Cloud Computing Titans Invest in European Data Centers

Major American tech companies are building multiple data centers in Europe, with the end goal of dominating the cloud computing market there. The leading provider, Amazon Web Services, will soon open data centers in France and Britain. The second largest cloud computing provider, Microsoft reports it has spent $1 billion in the last year on data centers, for a total expenditure of $3 billion since 2005. Google, already in Belgium and Finland, will complete a new expansive data center in the Netherlands by the end of 2016. Continue reading U.S. Cloud Computing Titans Invest in European Data Centers

Google Aims to Deploy Both Wireless and Fiber with Webpass

Google Fiber, an Alphabet company, just asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to expand its current service using the 70/80 Ghz band to connect apartments to high-speed Internet. The technology, which Google Fiber acquired by purchasing San Francisco broadband company Webpass, beams Internet signals to the roofs of apartment buildings, from there connecting individual apartments via cable. Now, Google Fiber wants to roll out this service on a much larger scale. Continue reading Google Aims to Deploy Both Wireless and Fiber with Webpass

Mi Box: Xiaomi Now Selling its New $69 Android TV Streamer

Chinese CE company Xiaomi introduced its first product geared for U.S. customers yesterday — the $69 streaming Mi Box, an Android TV STB that supports 4K video playback, HDR, and includes a Bluetooth voice remote. The company first unveiled the Mi Box at this year’s Google I/O developer conference. Since it’s based on Google’s Android TV, the device provides access to apps for Hulu, HBO Now, Netflix, Sling TV, YouTube and others. It also supports Google Cast for launching playback from mobile apps and makes recommendations based on a user’s YouTube and Google Play preferences. Continue reading Mi Box: Xiaomi Now Selling its New $69 Android TV Streamer

Amazon’s New Fire TV Stick Includes Alexa Digital Assistant

Amazon’s newly debuted $40 Fire TV Stick is the cheapest way to access Alexa, the company’s digital assistant which enables users to find TV programs, purchase products on Amazon’s online store, hear news updates, play a song on Spotify or check the weather. According to Amazon, Alexa is currently capable of understanding 3,000 different commands and can also offer shows from 90 apps and channels. Fire TV Stick’s more than 4,000 apps include Netflix, Hulu, HBO, ESPN and Major League Baseball. Continue reading Amazon’s New Fire TV Stick Includes Alexa Digital Assistant

Drone Industry Is Under Rapid Change in Southern California

Drone operators are beginning to realize the commercial potential of UAVs. In Southern California, for example, drones are being used for film production, sports coverage, wedding photography, map-making and more. According to Los Angeles Daily News, drone operators are also making money with applications such as: “examining the health of agricultural crops,” “monitoring the progress of construction projects,” “documenting the installation of rooftop solar panels in order to claim federal tax credits,” “selling commercial, industrial and residential real estate” and “surveying electric wires, pipelines, railroad tracks, dams and canals for damage.” Meanwhile, companies including Amazon and Google are experimenting with drone delivery services. Continue reading Drone Industry Is Under Rapid Change in Southern California

Tech Behemoths Establish Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft established the Partnership on AI to create ground rules for protecting people and their jobs in the face of rapidly expanding artificial intelligence. The organization is also intended to address the public’s concern about increasingly capable machines, and corporations’ worries about potential government regulation. One of the organization’s first efforts was to agree upon and then issue basic ethical standards for development and research in artificial intelligence. Continue reading Tech Behemoths Establish Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

With Breach, Yahoo Pays the Price For Skimping on Security

Six years ago, the Chinese military hacked Google, Yahoo and other technology companies. Google, whose co-founder Sergey Brin vowed “never again,” hired hundreds of security engineers to make good on that promise. Yahoo, under the leadership of Marissa Mayer, however, focused on other problems the ailing company faced and reportedly failed to take more stringent security measures. Now, Yahoo reports another serious breach, undetected for two years, with 500 million users’ credentials stolen. Yahoo and the FBI are investigating. Continue reading With Breach, Yahoo Pays the Price For Skimping on Security

BlackBerry Outsources Handset Biz, Shifts Focus to Software

BlackBerry, whose phones were once so popular they were dubbed “Crackberry,” has licensed its brand to a group owned by Indonesian phone companies. The Canadian company — whose market share is now in the single digits in North America and Europe — made this decision despite the fact that it recently adopted the Google Android operating system. The strategy, led by executive chair/chief executive John Chen, is intended to evolve BlackBerry into a software and wireless device security business. Continue reading BlackBerry Outsources Handset Biz, Shifts Focus to Software

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