EU Data Law Soon Goes into Effect, May Spark Privacy Debate

On May 25, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect. Although the law bans companies from forcing its users to give up personal data as a condition of service, it allows for exceptions, such as when the information is necessary to fulfill a contract. Those exceptions are the new battlefield over privacy issues, including what “freely given” consent means. At the crux is “behavioral advertising,” worth billions of dollars annually, that targets users based on their Internet activity. Continue reading EU Data Law Soon Goes into Effect, May Spark Privacy Debate

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation Nears Activation

On May 25, the European Union will activate its General Data Protection Regulation that gives users more control over the data collected and shared about them over the Internet. The law includes real punishment: 4 percent of its global revenue for any company that break the regulation. The impact to the user experience will not be apparent, especially for U.S. visitors there. But a European Union citizen is likely to see fewer ads that follow them around the Internet after an e-commerce purchase. Continue reading The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation Nears Activation

With New Federal Law, Supreme Court Drops Digital Data Case

Following arguments in February, the case of United States v. Microsoft, No. 17-2, ended in a draw, or, as the court said, “no live dispute remains between the parties.” Federal prosecutors wanted to force Microsoft to turn over digital data stored outside the U.S., but a new federal law, agreed both sides, made the case — based on whether a 1986 law applied to digital data — moot. During arguments, some justices had suggested that Congress, and not the court, should define privacy in a new digital world. Continue reading With New Federal Law, Supreme Court Drops Digital Data Case

Facebook Tests Trans-Atlantic Data Transmission, Sets Record

Facebook engineers tested the transmission of information across a trans-Atlantic-Internet cable, claiming they set a record by pushing two-and-a-half-times more data than current methods. The test was based on hardware designed by the Nokia-owned R&D facility Bell Labs, and relied on optical fiber Facebook owns inside the America Europe Connect (AEC) undersea cable that spans from New York to Ireland. Facebook’s test is part of a trend whereby Internet companies, rather than infrastructure firms, are driving the evolution of the Internet. Continue reading Facebook Tests Trans-Atlantic Data Transmission, Sets Record

Facebook Pushes Longer Video, Offers Snapchat-Like Feature

Facebook has decided it wants longer videos, and will reward videographers who create them. That’s quite a turnabout for the company that counts three seconds as a “view,” and the many publishers reporting that few viewers watch their videos to completion. Facebook still plans to count three seconds as a view, but is changing its News Feed algorithm to favor longer videos, especially those that keep viewers watching. With the new algorithm, the longer a video holds its audience, the more Facebook will promote it. The social network is also adding a feature similar to Snapchat Stories. Continue reading Facebook Pushes Longer Video, Offers Snapchat-Like Feature

AIG Report on Global Data Sharing: Benefits Outweigh Risks

AIG executive vice president/chief executive of commercial Rob Schimek described some of the data contained in the company’s 2017 global survey on data sharing. AIG’s first report, in collaboration with CEA (now CTA), was published in 2015, followed by a 2016 report on case studies of large companies. The 2017 report, says Schimek, which includes a foreword by Mike Abbott of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, looks at data sharing innovation, technology and risk. “We’ve seen the benefits outweigh the costs and risks,” said Schimek. Continue reading AIG Report on Global Data Sharing: Benefits Outweigh Risks

Attention Brands: Internet Users Prefer Mobile to Desktop PCs

In a new first, Internet monitoring firm StatCounter reports that more consumers are accessing the Internet from their mobile and tablet devices (51.2 percent) than from their desktop PCs (48.7 percent). According to TechCrunch, “this means going forward, companies that haven’t yet decided to focus on a mobile-first approach to their Internet services and Web properties really should, as the trend line is unlikely to reverse.” Mobile platforms are by far the method of choice for accessing the Internet in emerging markets such as India, while the gap is narrower in more mature markets like the U.S. and U.K. As of May, Google noted that more searches conducted through its engine originated from mobile platforms than desktop. Continue reading Attention Brands: Internet Users Prefer Mobile to Desktop PCs

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

Intel Acquires Movidius, Plans Next Wave of RealSense Tech

Intel announced it is acquiring Movidius, the Irish computer vision company that builds processors for drones, robots, VR systems and more. Movidius was an early partner with Google and was responsible for Project Tango’s 3D sensor technology. Intel is planning to move beyond PCs; the Movidius deal is expected to help it expand its artificial intelligence portfolio and build upon its RealSense platform. According to Intel, with Movidius the company “gains low-power, high-performance SoC platforms for accelerating computer vision applications.” Continue reading Intel Acquires Movidius, Plans Next Wave of RealSense Tech

European Commission: Apple Must Pay Tax Penalty to Ireland

The European Commission has issued a $14.5 billion tax penalty against Apple, claiming the tech giant owes unpaid taxes following a sweetheart deal with Ireland that constitutes illegal state aid. Apple and Ireland both have plans to appeal the decision. “We never asked for, nor did we receive, any special deals,” wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We now find ourselves in the unusual position of being ordered to retroactively pay additional taxes to a government that says we don’t owe them any more than we’ve already paid.” The Wall Street Journal suggests the “decision is likely to aggravate trans-Atlantic tensions over the investigations into tax deals brokered between U.S. multinational corporations and individual European countries.” Continue reading European Commission: Apple Must Pay Tax Penalty to Ireland

Verizon to Ramp Up Telematics with Purchase of Fleetmatics

Following its $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo, Verizon announced it is purchasing Dublin-based telematics company Fleetmatics for $2.4 billion in cash. Fleetmatics will become part of the subsidiary Verizon Telematics, which primarily handles fleet management, mobile enterprise solutions and Internet of Things initiatives. Verizon’s AOL and Yahoo purchases will help build its media and advertising businesses, while the Fleetmatics acquisition points to the company’s enterprise mobility ambitions. The deal is expected to close by Q4 2016. Continue reading Verizon to Ramp Up Telematics with Purchase of Fleetmatics

Global Markets React to UK’s Decision to Exit European Union

British voters cast their ballots yesterday regarding the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum, and surprising to many, the country has opted to exit the European Union. Shortly after the results were announced, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he would resign his position later this year, while leaders in Northern Ireland and Scotland have indicated they will seek independence referendums in order to reenter the EU. The immediate response has been a dramatic ripple effect in markets worldwide with expectations for future uncertainty and potential crises. The tech industry, which often benefits from the EU’s liberal trade and economic policies, will likely be impacted. Continue reading Global Markets React to UK’s Decision to Exit European Union

Netflix Ban on VPNs Impacts Growth Abroad, May Spur Piracy

For many years, Netflix subscribers living outside the U.S. have accessed content not available in their regions via a VPN (virtual private network) that hid their location. In January, Netflix began blocking VPNs, in part to mollify Hollywood studios by showing it respects regional licensing agreements. But Netflix subscribers aren’t happy about the new state of affairs and have even started a petition — with 36,000 signatures and counting — to overturn the ban. One study shows piracy as a consequence of the new policy. Continue reading Netflix Ban on VPNs Impacts Growth Abroad, May Spur Piracy

Facebook Testing New Emoji in Ireland, Spain for Wide Release

Facebook just announced something fans have been wanting for a long time: in addition to the ubiquitous “like” button, fans will have other icons to express emotions. The new emoji, designed after months of research to find expressions that would work globally, include surprise, anger, love, laughter, sadness and a supportive cheer. Although many users have lobbied for a “dislike” button, Facebook declined to add one. The tests in Spain and Ireland are just the first of a round before the emoji are widely released. Continue reading Facebook Testing New Emoji in Ireland, Spain for Wide Release

French Term for American Tech Giants Reflects Resentment

France has an acronym for the American tech giants that they often criticize for privacy and tax issues. GAFA (as “Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon” are now known as in France), are the latest companies under fire in a long history of French resistance of American cultural imperialism. The French have little sympathy for these massive companies that often invade personal privacy, either for profit or for government surveillance, and try to find ways around the country’s taxes. Continue reading French Term for American Tech Giants Reflects Resentment

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