Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

A bipartisan group of Congress members castigated Facebook for hiring contractors to transcribe audio clips and urged regulation to prevent it in the future. The transcriptions were made to help Facebook improve its artificial intelligence-enabled speech recognition, and are part of a move to improve the capabilities of voice assistants (Amazon, Apple and Google are among companies that have taken similar approaches). Last year, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) circulated a draft law that would impose steep fines and even prison for executives who failed to protect users’ personal data. Continue reading Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

Capital One Hacker Stole Data From More Than 30 Entities

Former Amazon employee Paige Thompson, charged with hacking Capital One Financial records, illegally accessed terabytes of data from 30+ other companies and institutions, according to authorities. Thompson, arrested July 29, was accused of stealing 106 million Capital One records, considered to be one of the largest thefts of cloud-based data. Court documents reveal that Thompson stole 140,000 Social Security numbers, 80,000 bank account numbers, millions of credit card applications and one million Canadian social insurance numbers. Continue reading Capital One Hacker Stole Data From More Than 30 Entities

Spotify Rolls Out Data Analytics Dashboard For Podcasters

In October, 100,000 podcasts signed up for the beta of Spotify for Podcasters, which provides data on listeners’ age, gender, location, music taste and how long they listened to an episode. When they sign up for an account, Spotify users provide basic demographic information. Now, Spotify is offering the data analytics tool to the 450,000+ shows accessible on its platform. Spotify for Podcasters, now available worldwide but currently only in English, offers much more detailed information than Apple’s podcast data. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out Data Analytics Dashboard For Podcasters

FTC Chair Open to Option of Breaking Up Major Tech Firms

Federal Trade Commission chair Joe Simons stated that, in the face of anti-competitive and antitrust behavior, he would be willing to break up the big tech companies, although, “it’s not ideal because it’s messy.” He’s head of a task force to examine these behemoths, including a close look at whether Facebook acquired startups, such as Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, to stifle competition. The FTC approved both purchases. The FTC is working in parallel with the Justice Department’s antitrust unit. Continue reading FTC Chair Open to Option of Breaking Up Major Tech Firms

Light Field Lab Details Future For Holographic Display Tech

Light Field Lab raised $28 million in funding to scale its holographic display technology from a prototype into a product. Its technology builds large holographic displays out of smaller building blocks, with the aim of creating holographic images that float in space and are able to be viewed without AR/VR goggles, potentially to be used for live events, holographic TVs and other applications. Chief executive Jon Karafin stated that his company’s goal is to bring holography up to “hundreds of gigapixels of resolution.” German firm Bosch is also developing glasses-free 3D auto displays. Continue reading Light Field Lab Details Future For Holographic Display Tech

Snap Inc. to Ship Third-Gen Spectacles as a Limited Edition

After unveiling its first-generation of brightly-colored Spectacles in 2016, followed by a more conservative second edition following two years of reengineering, Snap Inc. is about to debut Spectacles 3 — with hopes the eyewear will be more financially successful than the first version, which left the company with $40 million in unsold revenue. The second version offered better hardware, better design, as well as a high-end all-black version. Now, Spectacles 3, priced at $380 and marketed as a “limited edition launch,” will be offered with steel frames, classic details and two HD cameras for capturing footage with depth. Continue reading Snap Inc. to Ship Third-Gen Spectacles as a Limited Edition

ASCAP, BMI Urge Government to Update Consent Decrees

ASCAP and BMI, the two largest U.S. performing rights organizations, have operated under separate 1941 consent decrees. The decrees, designed to protect competition, dictate how ASCAP and BMI (but not rivals SESAC and Global Music Rights) license music. In February, ASCAP and BMI, who are fierce competitors, urged the consent decrees to be updated or ended, and, last year, Justice Department assistant attorney general for the antitrust division Makan Delrahim vowed to examine the decrees to “determine their validity.” Continue reading ASCAP, BMI Urge Government to Update Consent Decrees

Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Under pressure from legislators and others, Facebook has taken steps to protect itself. According to sources, the company ceased talks to buy video-focused social network Houseparty to forestall increased antitrust concerns. In response to calls to break up Facebook, the company took internal measures to make that more difficult to do by reorganizing its departments and rebranding Instagram and WhatsApp. Elsewhere, the European Union is expected to issue decisions by the end of the year related to privacy issues involving Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Google Search Updates Plan to Improve Podcast Discovery

Google now makes it easier for users to find individual podcasts in search results, showing potential episodes that fit search terms and playing back those podcasts. Users will have to ask Google or Google Assistant for podcasts about that particular topic — that is, “find a podcast on golden retrievers” — which will then open in Google Podcasts’ web app. Google, which houses a 2+ million podcast index, said it will eventually support third-party playback and drop the “podcast” search term requirement. Continue reading Google Search Updates Plan to Improve Podcast Discovery

Draft Executive Order Gives FCC, FTC Sway Over Internet

According to sources, the White House drafted an executive order that would give the Federal Communications Commission the power to determine how Facebook, Twitter and other large tech companies curate their websites. The FCC would be tasked with developing regulations on how (and when) the law protects social media platforms when they remove or suppress content, and also charges the Federal Trade Commission with taking the new regulations into account when investigating or suing these companies. Continue reading Draft Executive Order Gives FCC, FTC Sway Over Internet

Adobe Develops AR Software, Mixed Reality Display Tech

Adobe plans to release three apps — Aero, Fresco and Photoshop for the iPad — that focus on mixing physical elements with digital ones. The apps will allow users to switch back and forth easily between mobile and desktop devices and are cloud-native, enabling easy collaboration. The company’s chief technology officer Abhay Parasnis also recently showcased Project Glasswing, a mixed reality display prototype that will bring all the apps’ features as Photoshop or After Effects layers on a transparent screen in front of real 3D objects. Continue reading Adobe Develops AR Software, Mixed Reality Display Tech

Huawei Reveals Info on Harmony, Its Alternative to Android

Huawei Technologies released details on HarmonyOS, its new operating system to replace Google’s Android on its smartphones and other devices. The Chinese company created its own OS in anticipation of the U.S. government’s expanded technology blacklist. Huawei consumer device business chief Richard Yu said the company would prefer to run Android but is ready to switch its phones to HarmonyOS “in just one or two days” if necessary. According to Yu, the open-source HarmonyOS will also work on smartwatches and other connected home devices. Continue reading Huawei Reveals Info on Harmony, Its Alternative to Android

Facebook, FBI Face Brewing Conflict Over Data Collection

Facebook, which has been under scrutiny for its privacy policies, just settled with the U.S. government for a record $5 billion fine. But the FBI has now complicated that picture by more aggressively monitoring potential threats on all social media platforms. Last month, the FBI asked for third party vendors to submit proposals by August 27 for examining public data to “proactively identify and reactively monitor threats to the United States and its interests” on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Continue reading Facebook, FBI Face Brewing Conflict Over Data Collection

Latest Facebook Pitch to Publishers Offers Licensing Fees

Facebook, in preparation for a news section due to launch later this year, has offered news outlets as much as $3 million to license headlines and article previews. According to sources, Facebook has pitched Disney’s ABC News, Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones, The Washington Post and Bloomberg, for deals that would last for three years. Google already offers AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) allowing articles to load quickly on smartphones, and Snapchat has revenue-sharing deals with publishers on its “Discover” tab. Continue reading Latest Facebook Pitch to Publishers Offers Licensing Fees

How Apple and Huawei Compare in Manufacturing Devices

Huawei Technologies unveiled its anticipated in-house software it hopes will replace Google’s Android. The new Harmony operating system (formerly code-named “Ark,” Chinese name “Hongmeng”) is evidence of Huawei’s move towards self-reliance in the face of U.S. sanctions against the sale of U.S. components to the company and the escalating trade war between the two countries. In fact, Huawei’s new emphasis on autonomy is similar to that of Apple, which bought Intel’s modem manufacturing unit and also attempts to bulletproof its pipeline in an uncertain economic environment. Continue reading How Apple and Huawei Compare in Manufacturing Devices

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