Australia’s Draft Law Bids Facebook, Google to Pay for News

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is drafting a bill that would require Facebook and Google to negotiate with media publishers and pay for content that appears on their sites. Facebook has responded by threatening to block users and news organizations from sharing local and international news stories on its site. Google, which said its free service would be “at risk,” stated that the law would give media companies “special treatment” that would allow them to make demands that would be difficult to meet. Continue reading Australia’s Draft Law Bids Facebook, Google to Pay for News

IBM Provides AI-Based Solutions for U.S. Open Without Fans

In June, the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) opted to hold the 2020 U.S. Open in New York (August 31-September 13) without fans due to COVID-19. That decision launched many changes, from electronic line calling to food-ordering apps for athletes. USTA has been working with IBM to integrate artificial intelligence for such uses as creating broadcast highlight reels based on crowd reaction. The June decision was “a pivotal moment,” said IBM’s sports and entertainment marketing program director Kristi Kolski. “A lot of the solutions that we had in the pipeline were no longer going to be viable.” Continue reading IBM Provides AI-Based Solutions for U.S. Open Without Fans

FAA Greenlights Amazon’s Plan to Develop a Fleet of Drones

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just approved Amazon’s plan to create a fleet of drones. The e-commerce company will still need to jump through some hoops before beginning limited tests of package delivery to U.S. customers. Amazon also has testing sites in Austria, Canada, the United Kingdom and other international locations but can only perform tests in the UK and U.S. Before drone delivery becomes widespread, the FAA must complete rules for remote identification and for letting drones fly above populated areas. Continue reading FAA Greenlights Amazon’s Plan to Develop a Fleet of Drones

Release of ‘Tenet’ Could Be a Bellwether for Movie Exhibitors

Major Hollywood movies are finally being released in movie theaters, with “The New Mutants,” which had a $70+ million budget, and director Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” a $200 million thriller. But it’s still unclear how many people in the U.S. feel safe enough to go inside. Abroad, “Tenet” raked in $53 million on its opening day weekend from 41 global markets, a source of optimism for Warner Bros. (the film opens in the U.S. and China this week). Pirates have been foiled, meanwhile, fooled into downloading fake torrents of the blockbuster. Continue reading Release of ‘Tenet’ Could Be a Bellwether for Movie Exhibitors

Mini-LED Tech Offers Impressive Contrast Ratio, Affordability

Mini-LED technology offers TV sets a promising combination of better contrast, an image improvement over standard LCD TVs, and a more affordable price than OLED TVs. TCL debuted the tech last year in its 8-Series, and, this year, in its 6-Series, with a 55-inch TV for $650. Mini-LED is not the same as MicroLED; the latter uses millions of LEDs, one per pixel, for large high-end solutions such as Sony’s Crystal LED and Samsung’s The Wall. In fact, although MicroLEDs use LEDs, it’s actually an entirely different technology. Continue reading Mini-LED Tech Offers Impressive Contrast Ratio, Affordability

Some States Say Amazon Is Liable for Third-Party Products

When Angela Bolger’s laptop caught fire due to a replacement battery she bought on Amazon, she suffered third-degree burns and filed a lawsuit against the popular e-commerce site. Amazon responded by providing a refund for the battery. Until recently, Amazon has successfully fought off such liability suits. The stakes are high since almost 60 percent of all physical goods on its site now come from third-party sellers. The courts have traditionally sided with Amazon, but recent cases from a few states are changing that trend. Continue reading Some States Say Amazon Is Liable for Third-Party Products

ByteDance Considers Two Competing Offers for TikTok U.S.

ByteDance is expected to soon make a deal to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to one of two groups of suitors: Microsoft, now teamed up with Walmart, or Oracle, potentially supported by a coalition of investors. According to sources, discussions are still “fluid.” Walmart entering the fray has changed the calculus; its background in digital sales could push TikTok to evolve to a platform with e-commerce integration. A sale to Oracle, however, might focus more on TikTok’s data to buttress its own advertising, cloud and data businesses. Continue reading ByteDance Considers Two Competing Offers for TikTok U.S.

Apple Privacy Controls Are Likely to Impact Digital Publishers

Apple is upgrading its operating system with privacy controls that reportedly have some advertisers worried. Set to debut in the fall, Apple’s iOS 14 will require apps to ask its users if they want their Internet activity tracked. Many digital publishers are concerned that most users will opt out, which would prevent them from personalizing ads and thus result in a slump in revenue. Facebook has spoken out, pointing out that it will no longer be able to collect a users’ advertising identifiers (IDFA) without their permission. Continue reading Apple Privacy Controls Are Likely to Impact Digital Publishers

Antitrust Officials Focus on Google’s Advertising Ecosystem

In its antitrust investigation of Google, the U.S. Department of Justice and state attorneys general are looking at whether the Big Tech company engages in “tying,” a practice of bundling products together with the aim of blocking competition. According to sources, the government officials have questioned executives at competing companies about Google’s Network, the division that sells end-to-end digital advertising services, and whether it offers advertisers enticing terms to buy into its complete ecosystem. Continue reading Antitrust Officials Focus on Google’s Advertising Ecosystem

International Agencies Arrest Members of Global Piracy Ring

Three members of the Sparks Group, a sophisticated global piracy ring, were arrested on federal charges of international piracy of movies and TV shows distributed online prior to their release dates, said acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss. British citizen George Bridi was arrested in Cyprus, American Jonatan Correa was arrested in Olathe, Kansas and a third man, Umar Ahmad of Norway, is still being sought. TorrentFreak founder Ernesto van der Sar said, “the charges are significant.” Continue reading International Agencies Arrest Members of Global Piracy Ring

New TikTok Chief Executive Departs Over U.S.-China Battle

TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer quit the company only months after assuming the role. The company’s general manager Vanessa Pappas will become the interim chief. Sources stated that Mayer, formerly of Disney, decided to leave TikTok after President Trump issued a ban on the popular social platform unless its Chinese parent company ByteDance sold its assets to a U.S. company within 90 days. Mayer’s resignation letter stated that he had reflected on “what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for.” Continue reading New TikTok Chief Executive Departs Over U.S.-China Battle

White House to Invest $1+ Billion in AI, Quantum Computing

The White House is planning a $1+ billion, five-year investment to fund 12 new research facilities on artificial intelligence, 5G, quantum information sciences and other emerging technologies. Federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will collaborate with private partners including major tech companies such as International Business Machines, Microsoft and others. The Trump administration proposes to spend 30 percent more on these technologies in the 2021 nondefense budget. Continue reading White House to Invest $1+ Billion in AI, Quantum Computing

Epic Games Wins a Partial Victory in Legal Battle With Apple

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Epic Games can maintain access to Apple’s Developer Tools but that its game “Fortnite” will stay out of its App Store. “Apple has chosen to act severely, and by doing so, has impacted non-parties, and a third-party developer ecosystem,” wrote the judge. Epic Games founder and chief executive Tim Sweeney is battling Apple and Google over their app store commissions. Apple’s response to the ruling was to state it looked “forward to making our case to the court in September.” Continue reading Epic Games Wins a Partial Victory in Legal Battle With Apple

Amazon Builds Mammoth Facility in India, Plans U.S. Growth

Amazon built its largest office building in the world in Hyderabad, a city of 10 million in southern India also known as Asia’s Silicon Valley. Amazon spokesperson Minari Shah said, “Hyderabad is a known software tech talent center, and the government has been an enabler for us to have a campus this size.” Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft also have bases in that city. In the United States, Amazon said it will hire 3,500 white-collar employees, including 2,000 in New York, continuing with plans it made prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Continue reading Amazon Builds Mammoth Facility in India, Plans U.S. Growth

Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

Next Tuesday, Facebook will begin the global rollout of a new tab in its main app called Facebook Shop, which allows users to browse product catalogs and buy items directly on the social media platform. The new feature, previously in beta with a small group of U.S. users, joins a similar feature launched on Instagram last month. Prior to Facebook Shop, businesses could add catalogs to their Facebook pages, but the new feature is a dedicated marketplace for multiple retailers. Instagram’s Checkout feature will also soon be broadly available. Continue reading Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

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