Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Google has been fined a record $5.06 billion by the European Union for antitrust violations. The tech giant is accused of abusing the market dominance of its Internet search services and Android mobile operating system. The record fine underlines how European regulators are pushing for more control in today’s digital economy. Google has 90 days to comply and pay the EU fine, or face penalties of up to 5 percent of parent company Alphabet’s daily worldwide revenues (Alphabet earned more than $9 billion in profit for Q1; Google’s net profit for 2017 was $12.62 billion). Google already announced it plans to appeal the ruling; the case could potentially last years. Continue reading Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Facebook Strategizes Ways to Draft Off Instagram’s Growth

Instagram is threatening to overshadow its parent company Facebook. The platform now has 1 billion users, more than Facebook had when it bought Instagram for $715 million, and, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, is worth more than $100 billion. Most critically, Instagram appeals to a younger demographic, which Facebook needs to keep growing. Other Facebook users are also gravitating to Instagram’s more lighthearted photo and video app, in the wake of Facebook’s involvement in privacy and political scandals. Continue reading Facebook Strategizes Ways to Draft Off Instagram’s Growth

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

Tech Giants Face More Questions Regarding Privacy Issues

Six years after Facebook deactivated facial recognition from its platform in Europe in response to regulators’ concerns about its consent system, the social media company has again introduced such tools in the European Union, as part of an update of its user permission process. Privacy groups and consumer organizations, along with a few officials, have responded, saying it violates people’s privacy. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked Amazon and Apple to provide information on how they handle personal data. Continue reading Tech Giants Face More Questions Regarding Privacy Issues

Tech Giants Defeat Strict Copyright Law Proposal in Europe

In the battle between media outlets that want control over how their content is distributed and shared online and the tech companies that don’t want the Internet to be regulated, the tech companies won a recent skirmish in Europe. The European Union wants to expand on its recent regulatory victory, with the just-implemented GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), slapping companies with antitrust fines and scrutinizing their privacy policies. But the tech behemoths, including Facebook, Google, Reddit and Wikipedia, are fighting back. Continue reading Tech Giants Defeat Strict Copyright Law Proposal in Europe

Marketers Use New Tech to Leverage Data From Smart TVs

Smart TVs have become a boon to data collectors and their marketer-clients, who are using new technology to identify what people are watching on Internet TV, sometimes without their knowledge. San Francisco-based Samba TV, for example, which has collected viewing data from 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States, has raised $40 million in venture capital. About a dozen television manufacturers have inked deals with Samba TV to embed its software in some of their sets. Continue reading Marketers Use New Tech to Leverage Data From Smart TVs

AI Software Identifies Violations of EU Privacy Regulations

European Union Institute researchers, working with the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), created AI-enabled software to scrutinize the privacy policies of 14 major technology companies for violations of the new GDPR. They found that one-third of the clauses were “potentially problematic” or contained “insufficient information,” with 11 percent of the policies’ sentences using “unclear language.” Among the companies examined were Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook. The researchers did not reveal which companies were in violation. Continue reading AI Software Identifies Violations of EU Privacy Regulations

Amazon Faces New Data Issues With Acquisition of PillPack

Amazon acquired online pharmacy PillPack for $1 billion, making it a direct threat to the more than $400 billion pharmaceutical industry. PillPack, a startup founded five years ago, pre-sorts medications and delivers them to customers’ homes in every U.S. state except Hawaii. With the purchase, Amazon will soon have the capability of shipping prescriptions overnight all over the U.S. The e-commerce behemoth will also now have a great deal of information about peoples’ health and prescriptions, a highly regulated arena. Continue reading Amazon Faces New Data Issues With Acquisition of PillPack

Facebook Reveals More Data Sharing Details in New Report

Facebook revealed that it made a deal to give dozens of app developers, hardware device manufacturers and software developers special access to user data, despite having stated that it did not release personal information to outsiders starting in 2015. In a 747-page document released to Congress last Friday, Facebook described those deals in much greater detail, and also stated why it believed these special deals were necessary to allow developers and manufacturers to become compliant with changes in its policies. Continue reading Facebook Reveals More Data Sharing Details in New Report

Facebook Notifying Over 800,000 Users About Blocking Bug

Facebook announced yesterday that it was notifying more than 800,000 users about a bug in Facebook and Messenger that unblocked some of the people that those users had previously blocked. The bug was active between May 29th and June 5th. “It did not reinstate any friend connections that had been severed,” according to Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan. “83 percent of people affected by the bug had only one person they had blocked temporarily unblocked, and someone who was unblocked might have been able to contact people on Messenger who had blocked them.” Continue reading Facebook Notifying Over 800,000 Users About Blocking Bug

California Passes Tough New Law to Protect Online Privacy

The California State Legislature quickly passed a digital privacy law that gives consumers much more control over their online personal data. Governor Jerry Brown signed the law into effect, narrowly beating a deadline to remove another, tougher initiative headed for the November ballot. Consumers now have the right to know what information tech companies are collecting, and why they’re collecting it, as well as with whom they are sharing it. Consumers can also demand their data be deleted or not sold or shared. Continue reading California Passes Tough New Law to Protect Online Privacy

Court Rules Police Need a Warrant for Phone Location Data

The Supreme Court has ruled that police need a search warrant to obtain data showing the location of cell phone users. Similar to rulings made in 2012 and 2014, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that police should have the same access as investigators do in order to examine business records held in banks or conduct physical surveillance. The ruling stated the “world of difference” between 1970s decisions allowing the limited personal information obtained in accessing business records and today’s digital records. Continue reading Court Rules Police Need a Warrant for Phone Location Data

New Version of Alexa Coming to Hotels With Echo Speakers

Amazon introduced Alexa for Hospitality this week, a new version of its virtual assistant designed specifically for the hotel industry. Alexa for Hospitality will initially be offered on an invitation basis to locations such as hotels and vacation rentals. The voice assistant will be customized per hospitality location so that customers can interact with an Echo smart speaker to easily adjust room controls, order room service, request housekeeping, ask location-specific questions, contact the front desk, check out, and more. Continue reading New Version of Alexa Coming to Hotels With Echo Speakers

Senators Query Amazon on Echo, Data Privacy Parameters

Senators Jeff Flake and Chris Coons asked Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos to explain how the Echo smart speaker listens to and stores users’ voices — and what his company does to protect users’ data. Their concern is sparked by such incidents as an Echo device that mistook background conversation for voice commands of a Portland, Oregon woman, and then sent the private conversation to one of her contacts. Flake and Coons are, respectively, chair and ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. Continue reading Senators Query Amazon on Echo, Data Privacy Parameters

Apple Bans Developers From Sharing Data Without Consent

For years, developers for Apple’s App Store have been able to ask users for access to their phone contacts and then share or sell the data of everyone listed in those digital address books, without their consent. That practice has recently been getting a lot of negative attention, and now Apple plans to ban developers from using that information. The updated Guidelines nixes the creation of databases of address book information collected from iPhone users as well as selling or sharing it with third parties. Continue reading Apple Bans Developers From Sharing Data Without Consent

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