Proposed Law Would Make Media Platforms Liable for Posts

Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) introduced legislation to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to hold big tech companies such as Facebook and YouTube liable for content published on their platforms. Tech companies now have protection under Section 230 from being found liable for what users post. Known as the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, the proposed legislation has sparked backlash from both sides of the aisle. According to Hawley’s office, his bill is aimed to limit political bias. Continue reading Proposed Law Would Make Media Platforms Liable for Posts

Change in Antitrust Thinking Could Be Problem for Big Tech

A shift in antitrust thinking is gaining momentum in the U.S. as regulators are increasingly scrutinizing Big Tech. Scholars are examining antitrust issues in a context that focuses on the clout of leading companies. Antitrust regulation has historically focused on consumer welfare and whether or not there is economic impact. In recent decades, tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have experienced massive growth by offering free or cheap digital services. “People might enjoy using the tech platforms but they are also asking, ‘What kind of society do we want?’” suggests Hal Singer of George Washington University’s Institute of Public Policy. Continue reading Change in Antitrust Thinking Could Be Problem for Big Tech

Vegas Casinos Launch Free-Roam VR Games, Experiences

On the Las Vegas strip, The LINQ Hotel & Casino just opened up six virtual reality bays operated by VR startup Survios. Surrounded by glass walls, the bays are set up with comfortable couches, big screen TVs, Xbox Ones and Oculus Go VR headsets. They offer visitors access to VR games including “Creed,” “Raw Data,” and, soon, “The Walking Dead: Onslaught.” Guests can visit a bar with a wrap-around touchscreen to play casual social games, an AR version of “Rock Paper Scissors” and watch the goings-on inside the VR bays. Continue reading Vegas Casinos Launch Free-Roam VR Games, Experiences

FCC Plans to Reallocate Educational TV Spectrum For 5G

To create space for 5G in the mid-band spectrum, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to reallocate a block of 2.5GHz spectrum once reserved for educational TV and put it on the auction block. The reallocation vote is scheduled for July 10, with the auction planned for some time next year. Mid-band spectrum, also called sub-6GHz frequencies, delivers slower rates but better penetrates buildings and travels faster than millimeter wave signals. Crowdsourced network coverage service Opensignal quantified 5G speeds in South Korea. Continue reading FCC Plans to Reallocate Educational TV Spectrum For 5G

Apple’s 2020 iPhones to Introduce 5G and Design Updates

Industry insider Ming-Chi Kuo reported that Apple plans to introduce some significant changes in its 2020 iPhones, including 5G connectivity and design upgrades. But owners of iPhones and other iOS devices are likely concerned about the recent news that every one of the world’s current 1.4 billion iPhones and iPads can be hacked. Israel-based Cellebrite demonstrated that it can perform a “full file extraction” on any iOS device, as well as on high-end Android devices. Further, law enforcement can pay for that ability without having to send devices to Cellebrite. Continue reading Apple’s 2020 iPhones to Introduce 5G and Design Updates

Slack, Other Chat Apps Aim to Supplant Email in Workplace

Slack, valued at $7 billion during its last funding round, went public yesterday and closed at $38.62, which is 49 percent higher than the $26 reference price set by the New York Stock Exchange. The company, which provides workplace collaboration tools, said it currently has 10+ million daily users and 88,000 paying customers. While it positions itself as an antidote to overstuffed email boxes, it has heavyweight competition with Google (Hangouts Chat), Facebook (Workplace) and Microsoft (Teams). The latter, which is bundled with Office software, is already in use by 500,000+ organizations according to Microsoft. Continue reading Slack, Other Chat Apps Aim to Supplant Email in Workplace

Jury Finds VidAngel Must Pay Movie Studios $62.4 Million

U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte had ruled that VidAngel, which has streamed hundreds of Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. movies without permission, was illegal. Now a jury has ordered the company to pay $62.4 million to those injured studios, potentially forcing it to shutter its doors. The Utah-based VidAngel ripped movies from DVD copies and then created versions sanitized of violence, sex and other so-called objectionable material. Earlier, VidAngel stated that it was allowed to do this under the federal Family Movie Act. Continue reading Jury Finds VidAngel Must Pay Movie Studios $62.4 Million

Epic Opens Digital Store with Favorable Split for Publishers

For 10+ years, video game developers have given up 30 percent of their revenue from digital stores run by Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony and Valve, which also take a percentage of in-game purchases via a revenue-sharing model that has become the industry standard. Now, Epic Games founder/chief executive Tim Sweeney, whose company put out the immensely popular “Fortnite,” opened a digital store that collects only 12 percent of sales. Sensor Tower reports that an average of $114.5 million was spent between the combined top game publishers in Android and Apple stores last quarter. Continue reading Epic Opens Digital Store with Favorable Split for Publishers

Newzoo Forecasts U.S. Will Top Gaming Market This Year

According to market research company Newzoo, the United States is on the cusp of becoming the world’s top gaming market at $36.9 billion, the first time since 2015, and supplanting China. Newzoo said its forecast isn’t due to the 2018 freeze on gaming licenses in China, but rather is a reflection of “new console users and in general massive growth in console spending” on both Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox. Newzoo senior market analyst Tom Wijman points out that about 50 percent of U.S. game revenues come from consoles. Continue reading Newzoo Forecasts U.S. Will Top Gaming Market This Year

Trade War with China Could Impact Hollywood’s Box Office

In the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, Hollywood is feeling the impact, as the Beijing-based government has begun to limit Hollywood’s ability to sell its entertainment products. Four people who do business in China or closely follow its relations with Hollywood are commenting to the press on the worsening relationship. China, currently the world’s second-largest film market, requires government approval for film distribution. “I don’t want to use the words ‘total freeze,’ but it’s real,” said SK Global head and “Crazy Rich Asians” producer John Penotti. “They’re not saying it officially, but the industry is operating as if it’s close to a total shutdown.”

Continue reading Trade War with China Could Impact Hollywood’s Box Office

More Marketers Test Targeted Ads on Streaming Platforms

The automobile recommendation site Cars.com used to run its advertisements on TV, aimed at a broad swathe of consumers. But since early 2019, the online company began running its ads on streaming TV platforms such as Amazon Fire TV and Roku to target their ads more precisely to people shopping for cars. Targeted advertising is taking off as a trend because many factors now make it possible to more narrowly aim them to relevant viewers. Some of the data now available includes income, purchase history and web-browsing behavior. Continue reading More Marketers Test Targeted Ads on Streaming Platforms

Game Engines Are Becoming Vital Tool for Many Industries

Game engines are now being used by different industries for their ability to create realistic images and manipulate them in 3D. Epic Games with its Unreal Engine and Unity Technologies both enjoy a revenue stream from licensing their game engines, which also power popular games from “Fortnite” to “Pokémon Go.” Designers and engineers combine game engines with virtual reality headsets to build products and other assets in an environment they find helps them be more creative and quicker to solve problems. Continue reading Game Engines Are Becoming Vital Tool for Many Industries

Tech Firms and Investors Develop AI Ethics, Best Practices

A growing number of venture capital and technology executives are pushing for a code of ethics for artificial intelligence startups, as well as tools to make algorithms’ decision-making process more transparent and best practices that include open, consistent communication. At Google, chief decision scientist Cassie Kozyrkov believes humans can fix AI problems. But the technology is still under intense scrutiny from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city of San Francisco and the European Commission, among others. Continue reading Tech Firms and Investors Develop AI Ethics, Best Practices

Alexa Conversations For Complex Tasks With Less Coding

At its re:MARS AI conference earlier this month, Amazon previewed Alexa Conversations, a module within the Alexa Skills Kit that melds Alexa voice apps to allow users to perform complicated tasks requiring multiple skills — all with fewer lines of code. That’s because a recurrent neural network will be able to “generate dialogue flow” automatically, thus limiting the number of steps a user needs to order food or reserve a ticket. Amazon vice president David Limp dubbed Conversations “the Holy Grail of voice science.” Continue reading Alexa Conversations For Complex Tasks With Less Coding

Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

Walmart launched Delivery Unlimited, which offers consumers a subscription grocery delivery service for $98 per year or $12.95 per month, with a 15-day trial period. Per-order fees run $9.95 or less. The new subscription service is priced competitively, with Shipt and Instacart charging $99 per year. Prime Now costs $119 per year, but touts all of the benefits of Amazon Prime, including fast shipping and streaming media content. Target, which bought Shipt, now offers shoppers same-day delivery and a first-time $9.99 per order fee.

Continue reading Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

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