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

Elizabeth Warren Introducing Plan to Break Up Tech Giants

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is proposing “a regulatory plan aimed at breaking up some of America’s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Google and Facebook,” according to The New York Times. “The proposal … calls for the appointment of regulators who would ‘unwind tech mergers that illegally undermine competition,’ as well as legislation that would prohibit platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.” The plan would also call for the rollback of tech acquisitions, “including Facebook’s deals for WhatsApp and Instagram, Amazon’s addition of Whole Foods, and Google’s purchase of Waze.” Continue reading Elizabeth Warren Introducing Plan to Break Up Tech Giants

Senators Ask FTC to Examine Kids Apps’ Privacy Violations

Two Democratic senators — Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — sent a letter on Wednesday to the Federal Trade Commission asking for an investigation into whether the thousands of “child-friendly” apps in the market are actually collecting children’s personal information. To do so would violate a federal law protecting children’s online privacy, since it requires sites and apps targeting persons under 13 years old to obtain verifiable parental permission before collecting data. Continue reading Senators Ask FTC to Examine Kids Apps’ Privacy Violations

Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

Senators Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have written a letter to Federal Trade Commission chair Joseph Simons requesting that his agency investigate the business practices of smart TV manufacturers. The two senators are concerned about “consumer privacy issues raised by the proliferation of smart TV technology,” since some companies are able to identify what people are watching and use that data to feed ads to other device’s in the consumer’s home. Continue reading Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

Senate Votes to Block the Repeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

The Senate voted 52-47 yesterday to block the Trump administration’s repeal of net neutrality rules. Three Republicans and all members of the Democratic caucus voted in favor of the resolution; however, a tougher battle is expected in the House, where Republicans have a 236-193 majority. The effort to repeal Obama-era rules last year was led by FCC chair Ajit Pai. The net neutrality rules are designed to guarantee unobstructed access to the Internet by preventing broadband providers from blocking access or throttling speeds based on fees. Opponents claim the rules stifle competition and innovation.  Continue reading Senate Votes to Block the Repeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

California Court Changes Test to Determine Status of Workers

The California Supreme Court replaced the existing test for determining whether employees are independent contractors with another, simpler one used in Massachusetts and New Jersey. The former test relied on 10 factors, including the amount of supervision, to assess the company’s control over the worker. The new “ABC” test deems the worker an employee if he does a job that is part of the “usual course” of the company’s business. The ruling could have a profound impact on Uber and others in the so-called gig economy. Continue reading California Court Changes Test to Determine Status of Workers

FCC Votes 3-2 to Roll Back 2015 Net Neutrality Regulations

As anticipated, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines yesterday to repeal the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules, which were originally introduced to help protect an open Internet. FCC chair Ajit Pai and two other Republicans backed the change. Net neutrality rules were created as a means of regulating how broadband providers treat Internet traffic in an effort to avoid slowing content delivery or providing fast lanes for specific services. Dismantling the rules is seen as a win for cable and wireless providers and will likely result in lawsuits. Continue reading FCC Votes 3-2 to Roll Back 2015 Net Neutrality Regulations

Competition Ramps Up to Host Amazon’s New Headquarters

Amazon, which invited U.S. cities to submit a proposal to become the company’s second headquarters, reports it has received responses from 238 cities and regions, representing 54 states, provinces, districts and territories. The project is expected to cost $5 billion over almost 20 years. New York, Boston, Atlanta, Nashville and Austin have said they submitted proposals, as did hurricane-battered Puerto Rico and several locations in Mexico and Canada. Reportedly, only seven U.S. states did not enter the contest. Continue reading Competition Ramps Up to Host Amazon’s New Headquarters

UN Civil Aviation Group Brainstorms Global Drone Standards

The United Nations’ 191-member state International Civil Aviation Organization held its first-ever symposium to solicit industry ideas on global operating standards for drones. Held at the ICAO’s Montreal headquarters, the two-day event was not aimed at establishing specific rules but rather to spur discussion and ideas among those already involved in the drone industry. Amazon, NASA, Boeing and General Electric participated along with leading industry trade associations and Chinese and Brazilian researchers. Continue reading UN Civil Aviation Group Brainstorms Global Drone Standards

Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

Equifax’s two cyber breaches, which exposed about 143 million Americans’ personal information, were the work of hackers who took advantage of a flaw in Apache Struts software. The nonprofit Apache Software Foundation and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team warned of the bug in early March, but Equifax only alerted its end users on September 7, almost five months later. IT experts say the event highlights the challenges in keeping software current and identifying all potentially vulnerable applications. Continue reading Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

IBM and MIT Team Up for Artificial Intelligence Research Lab

Last week, IBM and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a 10-year, $240 million partnership to establish the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The long-term initiative is expected to bring together industry experts, professors and students to research areas such as cybersecurity, healthcare, machine learning and quantum computing. Researchers will work at MIT and the nearby Watson Health and Security facilities. The lab will be co-chaired by IBM Research VP Dario Gil and MIT School of Engineering dean Anantha Chandrakasan. Continue reading IBM and MIT Team Up for Artificial Intelligence Research Lab

Sycamore Partners to Acquire Retailer Staples for $6.9 Billion

Private equity firm Sycamore Partners has agreed to purchase office supply retail chain Staples for $6.9 billion. Staples is another retailer that has been impacted by the growing success of Amazon and other online shopping services. Amazon, for example, has become a major competitor for corporate customers, while Staples’ overall sales have declined 6.1 percent over the past five years, according to ABC News. In 2015, Staples attempted to merge with Office Depot in an effort to stay competitive online, but last year the deal was blocked by a federal judge in response to a lawsuit initiated by the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Sycamore Partners to Acquire Retailer Staples for $6.9 Billion

Facebook, Everfly Build Emergency Internet Service Solution

Facebook has partnered with drone startup Everfly on an unusual plan to offer Internet access in the wake of natural disasters or other major crises. Tether-tenna, as it is dubbed, combines the Everyfly drone and Facebook’s antenna that connects people to the Internet. The prototype drone, unveiled by Facebook at its F8 developer conference, has a 14-foot wingspan and can stay aloft in the air for 24 hours. Once in the air, the antenna system can broadcast the Internet to thousands of people surrounding it. Continue reading Facebook, Everfly Build Emergency Internet Service Solution

UPS Performs Mock Package Delivery to Test Drive New Drone

UPS has begun testing emergency drone deliveries with Massachusetts-based CyPhy Works, a drone company that the shipping giant invested in last year. The companies tested the 3-mile delivery of an asthma inhaler last week. “The CyPhy-UPS drone, called the Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications drone, or PARC for short, was autonomous during the flight and navigated by GPS,” reports Digital Trends. The drone features “a high-resolution camera with thermal imaging and target tracking abilities, and two GPS units and multiple rotors, antenna and communications systems.” Continue reading UPS Performs Mock Package Delivery to Test Drive New Drone

New York Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

New York passed a bill in June legalizing daily fantasy sports, enabling popular services such as DraftKings and FanDuel to operate in the state. Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law. “Daily fantasy sports have proven to be popular in New York, but until now have operated with no supervision and no protections for players,” explained Cuomo. “This legislation strikes the right balance that allows this activity to continue with oversight from state regulators, new consumer protections, and more funding for education.” Continue reading New York Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Daily Fantasy Sports

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