Ireland Is Investigating Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Twitter

Ireland, where many U.S. tech firms have European headquarters, is investigating Facebook in seven separate cases. Ireland’s data protection commissioner Helen Dixon reported that these probes are among 16 cases looking into Apple, LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram. She added that the Irish and EU investigations are “centered on the activities of very big Internet companies with tens and hundreds of millions of users,” which would be “a very large factor when looking at the scale of a fine.” Continue reading Ireland Is Investigating Facebook, Apple, LinkedIn and Twitter

New York Settles with Devumi, Purveyor of Social Media Bots

The state of New York reached a settlement, announced attorney general Letitia James, with Devumi, a company that sold fake followers on Twitter and other social media platforms. Her investigation was prompted by a New York Times report about how the then-Florida-based Devumi raked in millions of dollars selling social media bots to at least 200,000 customers, among them businesses, politicians, reality TV stars, professional athletes, comedians, models and pornographic actors in New York and other states. Continue reading New York Settles with Devumi, Purveyor of Social Media Bots

CES Panel: How Blockchain, a Trust Technology, Is Evolving

CTA’s Tyler Suiters spoke with Phil Klein and Mark Mueller-Eberstein about their book, “The Trust Technology: How Blockchain Is Changing Your World.” “[Blockchain] has rapidly evolved,” said Klein. “The question is when it goes from bleeding edge to leading edge. I think we’re very close to that point. We’ve already crested past the hype cycle.” Mueller-Eberstein noted that blockchain and bitcoin first emerged as something transformational about four or five years ago. The academic research comes mainly from China. Continue reading CES Panel: How Blockchain, a Trust Technology, Is Evolving

T-Mobile Delays Debut of its Streaming TV Service Until 2019

T-Mobile US is pushing back the introduction of its video service until 2019, although those plans might also change, said sources. The reason is that the project became more complex than anticipated; chief executive John Legere had said the carrier would create a “disruptive TV service” that would transform the television industry, setting a high bar that was difficult to meet given the time constraint. Sources said the delay is intended to provide the time for T-Mobile to deliver on Legere’s initial promise. Continue reading T-Mobile Delays Debut of its Streaming TV Service Until 2019

Tribune Deal to Make Nexstar Top Local TV Operator in U.S.

Texas-based Nexstar Media Group has inked a deal to acquire Tribune Media for about $4.1 billion, which will make Nexstar the largest local U.S. TV operator. The news comes on the heels of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s thwarted deal to purchase Tribune for $3.9 billion, which fell through due to regulatory issues. According to sources, Nexstar made an all-cash offer for Tribune, valued at around $46.50 per share. The company, which has a market capitalization of $3.8 billion, was also able to outbid private equity firm Apollo Global Management. Continue reading Tribune Deal to Make Nexstar Top Local TV Operator in U.S.

Alphabet Posts Higher Profits But Slowing Overall Revenue

Alphabet, dealing with pushback from regulators and struggles in its corporate culture, reported net profit that increased 37 percent to $9.19 billion in the quarter through September. Last year, during the same period, the company posted $6.7 billion. Although this growth exceeded analysts’ expectations, overall revenue is actually down, growing 21 percent to $33.74 billion versus last year’s 24 percent growth in the same period. Revenue from advertising, representing the majority of sales, grew 20 percent to $28.95 billion. Continue reading Alphabet Posts Higher Profits But Slowing Overall Revenue

Facebook Faces Another Privacy Issue Due to Software Bug

Facebook revealed that a software bug was live for 10 days during May and, as a result, may have affected up to 14 million users. The company explained that millions of users who believed they were sharing privately with their friends or small groups may have actually shared their information publicly; the bug apparently updated the audience selector to “public” without notifying users. Facebook announced it plans to contact the individuals that may have been impacted. “We’d like to apologize for this mistake,” said Facebook’s chief privacy officer Erin Egan in a statement yesterday. Continue reading Facebook Faces Another Privacy Issue Due to Software Bug

Cryptocurrencies Are Experiencing a Significant Drop in Value

Those who doubted virtual currency have had their worst fears confirmed: cryptocurrency’s value has plummeted 50 percent from its peak in early January, pushing Bitcoin, for example, below $7,000. Among the problems bedeviling virtual currencies are hackers, scams and Ponzi schemes. Now, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are scheduled to testify to the Senate banking committee about how they have been trying to corral cryptocurrency markets. Continue reading Cryptocurrencies Are Experiencing a Significant Drop in Value

Broadcom Raises Stakes in Takeover Bid for Rival Qualcomm

In what it calls its “best and final” offer, Broadcom raised its takeover bid yesterday for chipmaker Qualcomm from about $70 a share to $82 a share, or about $121 billion. The new offer comes a month before Qualcomm’s next shareholder meeting. A takeover would result in a company whose products would be used in most smartphones worldwide. However, “Qualcomm’s leadership fiercely opposes” the acquisition, reports The New York Times, “while analysts have said that even if shareholders approved the deal, it could be rejected on antitrust grounds.” Continue reading Broadcom Raises Stakes in Takeover Bid for Rival Qualcomm

Facebook’s Facial Recognition Features Spur Privacy Debate

Facebook is debuting facial recognition that will automatically notify users when their photo is posted; the feature is part of the social media company’s answer to criticisms from European regulators, the U.S. and elsewhere that it is disseminating fake news and hate speech, as well as not respecting privacy rights. The feature is based on technology already in use to suggest tags for people in posted photos. Although the company hopes it could help combat some abuses, it may raise more privacy issues. Continue reading Facebook’s Facial Recognition Features Spur Privacy Debate

SoftBank Suspends Negotiations to Merge Sprint and T-Mobile

After nine months of merger talks, SoftBank has reportedly suspended its plans to combine Sprint with T-Mobile US. This marks the second time in three years that Sprint has backed out of negotiations. According to those familiar with the matter, directors of SoftBank Group Corp. (Sprint’s parent company) met in Tokyo and opted to suspend the merger plans. Insiders indicate that the news came as a surprise to T-Mobile officials. While discussions could be revisited in the future, the same insiders note that the two sides could not agree on the valuation of Sprint’s shares, and SoftBank chairman Masayoshi Son had concerns about relinquishing too much control. Continue reading SoftBank Suspends Negotiations to Merge Sprint and T-Mobile

London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate, Uber Appeals Ruling

London cut Uber’s license to operate, which will expire September 30. London said that Uber lacked corporate responsibility and was not fit and proper to hold a private vehicle hire licenses. Uber has 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million users in London. Transport for London (TfL), the agency that oversees the city’s cabs, buses and subways, said it would allow Uber to operate until the conclusion of the appeals process. TfL also cited Uber’s background checks on drivers, its approach to reporting serious criminal offenses and Greyball, a software that could block regulators from accessing the app. Continue reading London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate, Uber Appeals Ruling

Google Competes with Customers for Prime Online Ad Space

Google is among the biggest buyers of its own ads and the Silicon Valley titan is increasingly pushing its own hardware products — from Nest smart-home thermostats to the new Pixel phones — on its own site. Now a recent study shows that Google gives its own ads and those of its affiliate companies the most prominent placement nearly all the time. Google isn’t the only company competing with its customers for online ad space; Facebook and Microsoft fall into that same category. The digital advertising industry is valued at $187 billion. Continue reading Google Competes with Customers for Prime Online Ad Space

DirecTV Now: AT&T Streaming TV Service to Undercut Cable

Shortly after the Time Warner acquisition made headlines, AT&T announced that its streaming TV service, launching next month, will offer 100-plus channels for $35 per month. The company previously suggested that DirecTV Now would not undercut cable. “It’s clear what customers want. They want premium content in a mobile environment,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. “Our goal is to drive prices down.” The move can also be seen as a way to generate support for the Time Warner deal. “Regulators will heavily scrutinize the proposed merger of two such large and influential companies, but the pair are insistent that the deal benefits consumers,” reports Wired. “Certainly, Internet television benefits consumers.” Continue reading DirecTV Now: AT&T Streaming TV Service to Undercut Cable

Federal Regulators Need More Time to Vote on Set-Top Boxes

The FCC delayed its vote yesterday on the proposal to unlock cable set-top boxes. FCC members “could not agree on a set-top box proposal that requires cable operators to provide their shows and movies on alternative devices rather than just on a cable box,” reports The New York Times. “The plan was intended to bring more competition to the television industry and liberate consumers from an average of $231 in annual cable box fees.” While the proposal will be considered for a future vote, FCC chair Tom Wheeler said commissioners needed additional discussions. However, with an upcoming change of administration, Wheeler’s window to adopt the regulation may be dwindling. Continue reading Federal Regulators Need More Time to Vote on Set-Top Boxes

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