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

Nokia Redirects Its 5G Business With System-on-Chip Tech

Nokia Corp. stumbled in its 5G business when it invested in an expensive computer chip; customers instead gravitated to Ericsson’s and Huawei Technologies’ less expensive processors. In 2018, the company began a two-year restructuring program, bringing in Tommi Uitto as the new head of its wireless equipment unit. He doubled the R&D staff and added two more chip suppliers, in an attempt to make more affordable chips. Now, a new president and chief executive, Pekka Lundmark, is about to take over the helm at Nokia from Rajeev Suri. Continue reading Nokia Redirects Its 5G Business With System-on-Chip Tech

Niantic and Punchdrunk Partner to Develop New AR Projects

Punchdrunk, the British theater company that produced “Sleep No More,” and Niantic, developer of popular mobile games “Pokémon Go” and “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite,” are teaming up to collaborate on several projects. In “Sleep No More” — an immersive but not interactive show — audience members walked through rooms at their own pace, with actors performing hour-long loops. Punchdrunk already produced a virtual reality project for Samsung Gear VR and a mobile game with Silverpoint. The two companies haven’t released details on their first project. Continue reading Niantic and Punchdrunk Partner to Develop New AR Projects

Streaming Services Raise Fees, Edging Toward Cable Prices

The monthly cost of numerous streaming services is moving closer to those of cable and satellite services. Google is raising the price of its basic YouTube TV package from $50 per month to $65, a 30 percent jump, and sports-centric fuboTV is raising its standard monthly price from $55 per month to $60. Google said the higher price is due to higher programming costs, and fuboTV’s rate is going up when Disney-owned channels, including ESPN, join the lineup in August. Skinny bundles from AT&T TV Now, Dish Network’s Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV have also gone up in price since the beginning of 2019. Continue reading Streaming Services Raise Fees, Edging Toward Cable Prices

ThiefQuest Is New Ransomware and Spyware Aimed at Macs

K7 Labs malware researcher Dinesh Devadoss discovered a new form of malware aimed at Mac computers. ThiefQuest (originally dubbed EvilQuest, until researchers discovered that’s the name of a Steam game) isn’t simply ransomware but also contains spyware that allows it to exfiltrate an infected computer’s files, search it for passwords and cryptocurrency wallet data, and nab passwords and credit card numbers. Even after a computer reboots, the spyware lingers as a backdoor that could be used for a second-stage attack. Continue reading ThiefQuest Is New Ransomware and Spyware Aimed at Macs

Microsoft Will Offer Free Digital Training for 25 Million People

To help fight the unemployment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft and LinkedIn (which Microsoft acquired in 2016) plan to offer free online classes and job-hunting resources to 25 million people around the world by the end of 2020. The two companies have identified 10 booming occupations — including data analyst, digital marketer and help-desk technician — that require digital skills they aim to teach. These professionals also pay relatively well, even for those without a college degree. Continue reading Microsoft Will Offer Free Digital Training for 25 Million People

European Union, U.K. Seek New Ways to Regulate Big Tech

After failing to have much of an impact on Google with its $8+ billion fine, the European Union devised new regulations, the Digital Services Act (DSA), to rein in Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The new strategy is to create basic rules for data-sharing and digital markets operations. The U.S. is preparing another case against Google, and the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is calling for a “new pro-competition regulatory regime” to control Facebook, Google and other Big Tech companies. Continue reading European Union, U.K. Seek New Ways to Regulate Big Tech

ACM Calls for Temporary Ban of Facial Recognition Systems

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) U.S. Technology Policy Committee (USTPC) issued a statement on the use of facial recognition “as applied by government and the private sector,” concluding that, “when rigorously evaluated, the technology too often produces results demonstrating clear bias based on ethnic, racial, gender, and other human characteristics recognizable by computer systems.” ACM, which has 100,000 global members, urged legislators to suspend use of it by government and business entities. Continue reading ACM Calls for Temporary Ban of Facial Recognition Systems

Pricey Infrastructure Necessary for Success in Cloud Gaming

In the past two years, nearly every major gaming and technology company has debuted a cloud gaming service, from Microsoft’s xCloud and Sony’s PlayStation Now to Google’s Stadia, Nvidia’s GeForce Now and Tencent’s Start. Even Amazon and Facebook are reported to be considering launching cloud gaming units. Behind the scenes, many experts said that, as cloud gaming grows in popularity, the result could be a so-called infrastructure arms race. Worldwide, there are approximately 2 billion gamers. Continue reading Pricey Infrastructure Necessary for Success in Cloud Gaming

FCC Formally Names Huawei, ZTE National Security Threats

The Federal Communications Commission has officially designated Huawei Technologies and ZTE, two Chinese telecommunication firms, as national security threats. Last year, the FCC voted to add both companies to the Entity List and barred them from using U.S.-manufactured semiconductors. Now, U.S. carriers cannot use the Universal Service Fund to purchase or maintain products from the two companies. The Fund, managed by the FCC, is an $8.3 billion government subsidy program to expand Internet access in rural and other underserved areas.

Continue reading FCC Formally Names Huawei, ZTE National Security Threats

National Research Cloud Gains Big Tech, Legislator Support

The National Research Cloud, which has bipartisan support in Congress, gained approval of several universities, including Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and Ohio State, and participation of Big Tech companies Amazon, Google and IBM. The project would give academics access to a tech companies’ cloud data centers and public data sets, encouraging growth in AI research. Although the Trump administration has cut funding to other kinds of research, it has proposed doubling its spending on AI by 2022. Continue reading National Research Cloud Gains Big Tech, Legislator Support

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