Tech Giants Ramp Up Lobbying as Legal Probes Continue

As lawmakers investigate Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google for antitrust violations, these tech giants are boosting their spending on lobbying. Amazon spent $12.4 million, a 16 percent increase. In the first nine months of 2019, Facebook spent $12.3 million, almost 25 percent more than the same period last year. Apple and Microsoft increased their outlay, by 8 percent and 9 percent respectively. Although parent company Alphabet reduced spending on lobbying by 41 percent, Google spent $9.8 million through September 30. Continue reading Tech Giants Ramp Up Lobbying as Legal Probes Continue

Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

The U.S. has yet to define the specifics of a 2018 law designed to limit foreign access to critical technologies. In the meantime, Chinese investors continue to put money in U.S. startups and venture capital funds. U.S. tech entrepreneurs also welcome a connection with China, and investment between the two countries remains significant. The tangle of investments in a single company can make it hard to determine provenance. Even so, successful Chinese AI startup SenseTime Group was blacklisted by the Trump administration. Continue reading Foreign Investment Law Does Not Deter Chinese Investing

Nvidia Introduces Two Next-Generation Shield TV Devices

Nvidia just launched two new Shield TV set-top boxes, making them the third generation after the 2015 debut and 2017 update. The new Shield TV 2019 Editions are both faster and offer a new remote. The Nvidia Shield TV, priced at $149.99, is housed in a new cylindrical form factor, with HDMI and microSD on the top and wired Gigabit Ethernet and power on the bottom. The Nvidia Shield TV Pro, priced at $199.99, maintains its existing design, with an upgraded Nvidia Tegra X1+ SoC, 3GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. Continue reading Nvidia Introduces Two Next-Generation Shield TV Devices

Advertisers Turn to Streaming Services For More User Data

As streaming services proliferate, so does the technology that tracks their viewers. AT&T, Roku, and ad giant Publicis, among others, are harvesting viewers’ email addresses and the devices they use to stream content. Privacy advocates are concerned, with Center for Digital Democracy executive director Jeff Chester calling the practice a “digital daisy chain of data-gathering on viewers.” But advertisers find the opportunity to gather the specific data available with streaming services too appealing to pass up. Continue reading Advertisers Turn to Streaming Services For More User Data

Defense Dept. Taps Microsoft For Cloud Computing Project

Microsoft won a $10 billion, 10-year technology contract with the Department of Defense for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project. Although Amazon was the front-runner, President Trump had upped his criticism of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and stated he might intervene to prevent Bezos’ company from getting the JEDI contract. Google, IBM and Oracle also competed for the contract. A group of Microsoft employees has protested the company’s involvement in the military project. Continue reading Defense Dept. Taps Microsoft For Cloud Computing Project

Facebook Will Pay For News, But Will Not Mine or Sell Data

Facebook, which has had a mixed relationship with news media, debuted Facebook News, a section devoted to news stories from a range of publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and Business Insider. Most notably, Facebook is paying for use of the content, inking some deals that top $1 million, and letting professional journalists choose some of the stories to be published. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg urged all online platforms to support professional news outlets. Continue reading Facebook Will Pay For News, But Will Not Mine or Sell Data

Twitter Tackles Abusive Tweets, Ad Glitches Hurt Revenue

Twitter’s shares dropped 20 percent with the news that revenue and profit in Q3 were below Wall Street expectations. The company added six million more users in Q2 — for a total of 145 million — likely due to changes that allow users to follow content of greatest interest to them. Twitter also reported that its machine learning-enabled tools now remove fully half of all the abusive tweets on its platform without relying on anyone to report them. This change is much welcomed given the platform’s persistent problem of abuse. Continue reading Twitter Tackles Abusive Tweets, Ad Glitches Hurt Revenue

TikTok Draws Concerns of U.S. Lawmakers, Growth Slows

Chinese short video app TikTok has had a total of 1.45 billion installs since debuting two years ago. It’s been installed 564 million times this year, and parent company ByteDance is considered the world’s largest startup, with a valuation of $75 million according to CB Insights. But, according to Sensor Tower data, Q3 2019 is the first quarter TikTok has seen a slowdown of user downloads, 4 percent from last year, to 177 million first-time users. U.S. lawmakers want to know if the app is a national security risk. Continue reading TikTok Draws Concerns of U.S. Lawmakers, Growth Slows

Google to Let Android Users Choose Other Search Engines

Under pressure from European Union antitrust head Margrethe Vestager, Google will make it easier for users to choose a competitive search engine. Since Google’s record $4.8 billion fine didn’t “do the trick” to fix the problem, she proposed a “choice screen mechanism.” Beginning March 2020, Google will now offer this screen that allows users to pick a default search engine, and list rival search engines for little or no money. Google said the solution had been “developed in consultation with the European Commission.” Continue reading Google to Let Android Users Choose Other Search Engines

Tech Companies, Startups Offer Wireless Internet Options

Some big tech companies and smaller Internet providers are attempting to compete with cable companies by delivering speedy wireless Internet at a cheaper price and with fewer data restrictions. Facebook, for example, is building networking technology that will enable home Internet connection via wireless service. It plans to license the technology to Internet providers and equipment manufacturers for free. These new providers, which are targeting cord cutters, may also compete with new 5G services beginning to roll out. Continue reading Tech Companies, Startups Offer Wireless Internet Options

Google Claims Major Breakthrough in Quantum Computing

Google stated it achieved “quantum supremacy,” a breakthrough in quantum computing that researchers have been pursuing since the 1980s. According to Google, at its Santa Barbara, California-based research lab, its quantum computer took 3 minutes and 20 seconds to complete a mathematical calculation that would take supercomputers over 10,000 years. Quantum computing is expected to unleash major advances in artificial intelligence and other complicated technologies. IBM, however, has disputed Google’s claim. Continue reading Google Claims Major Breakthrough in Quantum Computing

SoftBank’s Takeover of WeWork Fraught with Uncertainties

WeWork’s largest investor, SoftBank, took over the ailing company and ousted co-founder/former chief executive Adam Neumann. WeWork, which ran out of money quickly after failing to go public, attempted to reinvent how office space is sublet, with a technology twist. But Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business management professor Vijay Govindarajan noted that the startup’s business model “is nothing more than a real estate play.” SoftBank, which has a three-year plan to save WeWork, put top executive Marcelo Claure at the helm. Continue reading SoftBank’s Takeover of WeWork Fraught with Uncertainties

House of Representatives Sends Copyright Act to Senate

In a 410-6 vote, the House of Representatives approved the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act that will allow online content creators to more efficiently pursue infringers. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) introduced the measure last year. If it becomes law, it will create a new small claims court with a tribunal of copyright claims officers who would work with both parties to resolve the issue. Potential damages would no more than $15,000 per claim or $30,000 in total. Continue reading House of Representatives Sends Copyright Act to Senate

Verizon Offers Free Disney+ for Unlimited Data Customers

Verizon Communications, the largest U.S. wireless provider, will provide a year of free access to Disney+ for its customers who have unlimited data plans. About half of Verizon’s 100+ million customers currently pay for an unlimited data plan. Disney’s new film and television streaming service will debut November 12 and cost $6.99 per month. Verizon will also offer a year of free Disney+ to its FiOS Internet and 5G home broadband subscribers. Disney+ is one of several new streaming services targeting Netflix’s dominance. Continue reading Verizon Offers Free Disney+ for Unlimited Data Customers

Marvel to Create Exclusive Podcasts for SiriusXM, Pandora

The Walt Disney Company’s Marvel Entertainment inked a deal with SiriusXM to create exclusive podcasts for the latter’s satellite radio and streaming services, including Pandora. This is SiriusXM’s first major effort in podcasting and is also an attempt to attract more listeners. The deal comes at a time that many media companies are taking their first steps into podcasting. Disney has also focused on expanding Marvel out of big movie theaters and into broadcast television and its Disney+ streaming service. Continue reading Marvel to Create Exclusive Podcasts for SiriusXM, Pandora

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