U.K. Bans the Use of Huawei Equipment for 5G Infrastructure

Reversing a January decision, the U.K. has decided to ban Huawei Technologies gear from its 5G network, giving telecom operators until 2027 to remove existing equipment. Oliver Dowden, the U.K. Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said the turnabout was due to U.S. sanctions on Huawei in May. “Given the uncertainty this creates around Huawei’s supply chain, the U.K. can no longer be confident it will be able to guarantee the security of future Huawei 5G equipment,” said Dowden. The Trump administration has been urging allies to join the ban. Continue reading U.K. Bans the Use of Huawei Equipment for 5G Infrastructure

India Hails Google’s New Fund but Plans to Regulate Big Tech

About half of India’s 1.3 billion people are not yet online, and Google hopes to improve its profile there with a new $10 billion Google for India Digitization Fund. The tech tech giant plans to invest in the country over the next five to seven years via equity investments and partnerships. But a recent government-ordered report urged India to create a data regulator position to oversee “the sharing, monetization and privacy of information collected online.” The report names Google (among other companies) as “squeezing new entrants and startups.” Continue reading India Hails Google’s New Fund but Plans to Regulate Big Tech

Hollywood Uses Streaming Analytics to Collect Audience Data

As Hollywood studios and streaming companies create more content, they are increasingly turning to data to determine how to hit the mark, even for smaller projects aimed at targeted audiences. A number of companies are developing new models for measurements. One such provider is Pilotly, a Silicon Valley startup that provides streaming analytics and audience surveys to help producers create content that attracts viewers. Among its clients are NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS and Netflix. This kind of high-tech approach replaces the traditional focus groups and test screenings. Continue reading Hollywood Uses Streaming Analytics to Collect Audience Data

TikTok Still Under Scrutiny by U.S. Government, Corporations

Amazon recently instructed its employees to delete TikTok, the short-video app owned by Chinese company ByteDance, then quickly reversed the decision, saying the first email — which stated that concerns about “security risks” — had been distributed in error. But Amazon’s worry reflects that of the Trump administration, which has called some Chinese apps “a threat to national security.” TikTok grew out of U.S. company Musical.ly, and ByteDance’s acquisition prompted the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to review the deal. Continue reading TikTok Still Under Scrutiny by U.S. Government, Corporations

SiriusXM Ups Its Podcast Profile With the Purchase of Stitcher

SiriusXM is buying podcast platform Stitcher from the E.W. Scripps Company for $325 million. Scripps purchased Stitcher from Deezer in 2016 for $4.5 million, combining it with Midroll Media, which it bought for $55 million the previous year. Stitcher enables advertisers, creators and publishers to both produce and distribute content. With Stitcher, SiriusXM can now offer original podcasts for listeners. Scripps said Stitcher’s 2019 revenue was $72.5 million, for a compound annual growth rate of 52 percent from 2016 through 2019. Continue reading SiriusXM Ups Its Podcast Profile With the Purchase of Stitcher

Google Organization Plans to Support Open Source Projects

Google has established the Open Usage Commons (OUC), an organization that will host the trademarks of three of its own most important open source projects as well as assist other open source projects manage and enforce their trademarks. Google has a vested interest in helping the open source software community; its Android operating system and Chrome web browser are both open source and the company relies on third-party open source software. The Open Usage Commons aims to create clearer guidelines and enforcement procedures for open source projects’ trademarks. Continue reading Google Organization Plans to Support Open Source Projects

Federal Payroll Loans Unevenly Distributed to Tech Startups

According to a Treasury Department report, a number of tech startups have received funds from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, forgivable loans intended to pay workers’ salaries. Cloud software company C3.ai, for example, valued at $3.3 billion, got a $5 million Paycheck Protection Program loan. Other startups have been denied loans, however, when the federal authorities deemed their venture capital partners an “affiliated business.” Meanwhile, almost 70,000 employees of tech startups recently lost their jobs. Continue reading Federal Payroll Loans Unevenly Distributed to Tech Startups

Walmart Subscription Service Aims to Take on Amazon Prime

Later this month Walmart plans to unveil Walmart+, a subscription service intended to compete with Amazon Prime. Walmart+ will cost $98 per year and, according to sources, will offer same-day delivery of groceries and “general merchandise” as well as early access to product deals and discounts at Walmart gas stations. The company originally planned to unveil Walmart+ in late March or April but pushed the date to July due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s still not clear if Walmart will introduce the service regionally or nationally. Continue reading Walmart Subscription Service Aims to Take on Amazon Prime

Parrot Analytics Develops a New Model for Streaming Metrics

Measuring the success of streaming video content has been challenging, but startup Parrot Analytics said it has created a solid metric — which it dubs Demand Expressions (DEx) — that not only counts viewers but also their levels of enthusiasm. From that data, the company said it can also extract information to accurately determine how many subscribers the show will attract. Chief executive Wared Seger noted the challenge of creating a “new standard” that will measure across “different shows, on different platforms, at different times.” Continue reading Parrot Analytics Develops a New Model for Streaming Metrics

Google Shutters Initiative to Provide Cloud Services in China

Google ended its Isolated Region initiative to offer cloud services in China and other so-called sovereignty sensitive markets that strictly regulate companies whose services include collecting or processing personal data. Begun in 2018, the Isolated Region initiative would have complied with rules in China that require Western companies providing data or networking to form joint ventures with Chinese companies. The business would also be sequestered from Google’s existing cloud services including data centers. Continue reading Google Shutters Initiative to Provide Cloud Services in China

Facebook Audit Finds Company’s Civil Rights Efforts Wanting

Facebook commissioned an audit, and civil rights attorney Laura Murphy with Relman Colfax attorneys delivered an 89-page report that praised the company for adding rules against voter suppression and creating a team to study algorithmic bias. But it also excoriated Facebook for “vexing and heartbreaking decisions [it] has made that represent significant setbacks for civil rights.” Meanwhile, Facebook is still working to address misinformation on its platform. It recently removed accounts belonging to Roger Stone, which were linked to fake accounts active around the 2016 presidential election. Continue reading Facebook Audit Finds Company’s Civil Rights Efforts Wanting

Deepfakes Go Mainstream for Corporate Training, Other Uses

Although deepfakes have mainly been associated with fake news, hoaxes and pornography, they’re now also being used for more conventional tasks, including corporate training. WPP, with startup Synthesia, has created localized training videos by using AI to change presenters’ faces and speech. WPP chief technology officer Stephan Pretorius noted that the localized videos are more compelling and “the technology is getting very good very quickly.” In COVID-19 times, deepfakes can also lower costs and speed up production. Continue reading Deepfakes Go Mainstream for Corporate Training, Other Uses

FTC and DOJ to Probe TikTok Violation of Child Privacy Rules

Chinese app TikTok has had a tumultuous few weeks. After being banned in India due to political tensions between that country and China, TikTok ceased its activities in Hong Kong in response to its concerns about the mainland’s imposition of a natural security law. In the U.S., the Trump administration is considering limiting the app’s access to its users. Now, sources say the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are probing allegations that TikTok has violated a 2019 agreement on children’s privacy. Continue reading FTC and DOJ to Probe TikTok Violation of Child Privacy Rules

Loon and Telkom Kenya Provide Internet Service via Balloons

Loon, a California-based unit of Alphabet, and Telkom Kenya debuted 4G Internet service in central and western Kenya, a 31,000-square-mile area that includes the capital Nairobi. In preparation, over the last few months Loon launched 35 balloons 12 miles into the sky, above commercial airplanes. Previously, Loon provided Internet service via balloons in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria destroyed all the cell towers in 2017. Telecom executives are watching to see if Loon’s technology is reliable and profitable. Continue reading Loon and Telkom Kenya Provide Internet Service via Balloons

Big Tech Firms Cease Processing User Data From Hong Kong

When China imposed a National Security Law in Hong Kong on June 30, tech companies including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Dubai’s Telegram Group ceased processing requests for user data from that city in protest. A Facebook spokesperson said the company believes “freedom of expression is a fundamental human right.” Facebook-owned WhatsApp paused reviews “pending further assessment,” including consulting with human rights experts, of the Chinese law. In addition, TikTok stated it will stop offering its social media app in Hong Kong. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Cease Processing User Data From Hong Kong

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