EU Parliament Passes Laws That Impact Online Companies

The European Parliament voted to fine Internet platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter up to 4 percent of their annual global turnover if they do not remove extremist content within one hour of authorities’ request to do so. The vote was 308 to 204, with 70 abstentions. The European Parliament also approved a platform-to-business (P2B) law proposed by the European Commission in April 2018. The P2B law forces Amazon and Google to reveal how they rank products and Facebook and others to be more transparent. Continue reading EU Parliament Passes Laws That Impact Online Companies

Two Facebook Groups Are Developing New Voice Assistant

Social giant Facebook confirmed a report that it is working on developing its own voice assistant. Originally, two former Facebook employees described the plans to CNBC, which broke the news. The company has been developing its own voice assistant since early 2018 in its augmented reality/virtual reality group based in Redmond, Washington. Facebook Assistant and AR/VR director Ira Snyder leads a team that has been “contacting vendors in the smart speaker supply chain,” according to sources. Continue reading Two Facebook Groups Are Developing New Voice Assistant

Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

Google debuted the results of a partnership with Anker, releasing the $50 Roav Bolt, that brings Google Assistant to automobiles. Previously, consumers who wanted Google Assistant in their cars could purchase a vehicle with Android Auto or install the Android Auto app on their phones. The device fits into a car’s 12-volt port (the cigarette lighter) and features USB ports on the side for charging a phone, with an AUX jack as well. The user activates the device by saying “Hey Google” or pressing a physical button. Continue reading Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

Netflix Facing New Competition as Domestic Growth Slows

Subscription video service Netflix is still growing, but the new subscription numbers come largely from the international market. In the U.S., Netflix reported 1.7 million new subs in Q1 2019 out of a total of 9.6 million new customers. The streaming giant’s slowed domestic growth — including predictions for a slower Q2 globally — is likely due to increased competition as well as its recently raised subscription fees. Netflix investors are also concerned that the company cannot maintain what has thus far been rapid growth. Continue reading Netflix Facing New Competition as Domestic Growth Slows

Hulu Positioned to Become Most Serious Netflix Competitor

Amazon, Apple, AT&T and Disney aim to compete against Netflix, the current giant in streaming video. The one contender that rises above is Hulu, which has gone through several owners (Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast and Time Warner). AT&T sold Time Warner’s stake, and with the purchase of Fox, Disney is now Hulu’s majority owner. Hulu originally streamed shows from other networks, but its profile changed with “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which became the first “streaming-native” show to win an Emmy for best drama series. Continue reading Hulu Positioned to Become Most Serious Netflix Competitor

Sony, Microsoft Planning Advanced Digital Game Consoles

Sony’s next gaming console, dubbed the PlayStation 5, will not debut in 2019 — although Sony has stepped up deploying software development kits to video game creators. Still, it’s set to become the console that’s “more revolution than evolution,” featuring an eight-core CPU based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. Sony’s PS5 will also be the first game console to offer ray tracing. Microsoft, meanwhile, will debut a console that completely eschews physical media. Continue reading Sony, Microsoft Planning Advanced Digital Game Consoles

EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

In a vote of 348 to 274, nineteen out of the European Union’s 28 member countries voted in favor of reformed laws to protect content creators. Critics of the reform — including large tech companies — argue that the rules will reduce free speech online, with Articles 11 and 13 of particular concern. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker declared that the new copyright rules are “fit for the digital age.” In the lead-up to the vote, nativist groups in many countries worked to defeat the new rules. Continue reading EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

According to sources, on May 2-3 when officials from 30+ countries meet in Prague to discuss security principles for 5G networks, the U.S. will propose measures to prevent China’s Huawei from gaining dominance. The U.S. has long believed that the Chinese government can use Huawei’s gear to spy via Internet-connected products from AR to self-driving cars. Huawei has denied the accusations. The U.S. strategy at the upcoming meeting, said a U.S. official, is “softer” than its previous efforts to limit Huawei’s influence. Continue reading U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

Disney, Rutgers Scientists Use AI to Generate Storyboards

Disney Research and Rutgers University scientists just created an end-to-end model using artificial intelligence to produce a storyboard and video featuring text from movie screenplays. This kind of text-to-animation model is not new, but this research advances the state-of-the-art by producing animations without annotated data or pre-training. The researchers wrote that the system is “capable of handling complex sentences” and is intended to make creatives’ work “more efficient and less tedious.” Continue reading Disney, Rutgers Scientists Use AI to Generate Storyboards

German Price-Comparison Service Files Suit Against Google

Price-comparison service Idealo sued Google in a Berlin court, claiming that the tech behemoth has made it harder for users to find Idealo on the search engine since it began promoting its own price-comparison product Google Shopping. Ideola’s suit also names Google Ireland, Alphabet’s European body, and seeks €500 million in damages. The suit is based on the European Union’s two-year old ruling that fined Google €2.42 billion ($2.72 billion) for favoring its own offerings over those of competitors. Continue reading German Price-Comparison Service Files Suit Against Google

China’s Internet Model Gains Popularity Among Autocracies

Autocratic countries are moving towards China’s version of the Internet — limited content and controlled data — as a way of ensuring their own continued power and mimicking the success of Chinese corporations such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings. Vietnam, Thailand, India and Russia are among those embracing a government-controlled model. China has also become the first government to intentionally use artificial intelligence for racial profiling, in this case its 11 million Uighurs, a Muslim minority group. Continue reading China’s Internet Model Gains Popularity Among Autocracies

Magic Leap Turning to Blockchain Ecosystem for User Data

Magic Leap has posted job listings for a senior blockchain architect tasked with “overarching responsibility for planning and execution of a portfolio of blockchain, smart contracts and Ricardian contract technologies,” as well as helping to “develop an overall blockchain ecosystem engagement strategy.” The company also advertised positions for several blockchain engineers. The job listings stated that Magic Leap plans to use blockchain for its “Lifestream business function,” referring to its planned archive of user data. Continue reading Magic Leap Turning to Blockchain Ecosystem for User Data

TV Broadcasters and Set Manufacturers Promote ATSC 3.0

At NAB 2019 in Las Vegas, a coalition of U.S. broadcasters announced that the new TV standard, ATSC 3.0, will roll out to 40 markets by the end of 2020. The capabilities of ATSC 3.0, which is based on an IP (Internet Protocol) network, include 4K, HDR and over-the-air mobile reception of TV content. TVNewsCheck contributing editor Glen Dickson, who moderated a panel of broadcasters and others involved with the advanced TV standard, noted that the announcement is “a big boost” to ATSC 3.0’s fortunes. Continue reading TV Broadcasters and Set Manufacturers Promote ATSC 3.0

Digital Agency Exec Details Why Set-Top Box Needs to Die

At an NAB 2019 panel moderated by the organization’s vice president of advanced technology So Vang, Jason Brush detailed the case for why today’s set-top box needs to die. Brush, who is the global EVP for experiences and innovation at WPP’s flagship digital agency known as POSSIBLE, has designed interfaces for set-top boxes (as well as the Sony PlayStation 4 game console and Sony Xperia X10 mobile phones among others). His perspective on the topic arose from an epiphany he had looking at his cable bill. Continue reading Digital Agency Exec Details Why Set-Top Box Needs to Die

Spotify Appeals Copyright Rate Hike, Songwriters Respond

Spotify, the streaming music leader with 87 million global subscribers, is appealing the Copyright Royalty Board’s 2018 decision to raise songwriters’ pay rate by 44 percent over the next five years. Spotify is joined in this unprecedented move by Amazon, Google and SiriusXM/Pandora. Artists are furious, especially since Spotify portrayed itself as being on the side of creatives. Those appealing the Board’s decision say they’re against its complex rules. Apple is the sole company who stands to benefit from the fray. Continue reading Spotify Appeals Copyright Rate Hike, Songwriters Respond

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