Coalition of Privacy, Consumer Groups Attacks Targeted Ads

A coalition of 30+ privacy, consumer and anti-monopoly groups launched this week with one purpose in mind: to stop targeted and behavioral advertising, a practice the coalition describes as “surveillance advertising.” In a letter, the coalition said that, “social media giants are eroding our consensus reality and threatening public safety in service of a toxic, extractive business model.” Further, it said, Big Tech acts “to stoke discrimination, division, and delusion.” Facebook and Google are the dominant digital advertising behemoths. Continue reading Coalition of Privacy, Consumer Groups Attacks Targeted Ads

New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

University of Toronto’s cybersecurity group The Citizen Lab just released a report with the finding that TikTok’s underlying code does not pose a threat to U.S. national security. Former president Donald Trump and leaders in other countries accused ByteDance’s TikTok of spying for China but The Citizen Lab, which reports on censorship and surveillance by Chinese social media apps, found no evidence of “overtly malicious behavior.” However, they added that there could be undiscovered security issues. Continue reading New Report Finds TikTok Does Not Pose a U.S. Security Risk

HPA Tech Retreat: Cloud-Enabled Virtual Production – Part 2

In a conversation on cloud-enabled virtual production during the HPA Tech Retreat, Jack Wenzinger of Amazon Web Services’ Global M&E Partners vertical asked how those interested in virtual production can retool existing skills. ETC@USC senior consultant Erik Weaver stated that participating in Epic Games’ Unreal Fellowship program was “an eye-opening experience.” “Understanding what a blueprint is and how to put things in a timeline gave me a fundamental understanding,” he said. “I highly recommend watching all the videos you can on Unreal and start walking through the tutorials.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Cloud-Enabled Virtual Production – Part 2

New NFL Deal Is Part of Amazon’s Plans to Increase Content

Amazon inked a deal to make its Prime Video service home to the National Football League’s “Thursday Night Football” by 2023. Amazon paid an “average annual fee” of about $1 billion, making it the company’s biggest such deal to date. Currently, Amazon ranks third in digital advertising, after Google and Facebook, but the exclusive NFL games will likely supercharge viewing and advertising. Recently, Amazon also signed deals to put its free ad-supported IMDb TV into more homes and ordered a spin-off of popular show “Bosch.” Continue reading New NFL Deal Is Part of Amazon’s Plans to Increase Content

Facebook’s Red Team X Finds Bugs in Third Party Products

Facebook’s Red Team is tasked with spotting vulnerabilities on the platform before hackers do. Many tech companies have similar red teams but, at Facebook, Red Team manage Nat Hirsch and his colleague Vlad Ionescu saw an opportunity to do more after COVID-19 hit. Established last spring and headed by Ionescu, Facebook’s Red Team X both works independently with its internal, original Red Team and looks into weaknesses of third-party products that represent a potential threat to its own platform. Continue reading Facebook’s Red Team X Finds Bugs in Third Party Products

HPA Tech Retreat: Cloud-Enabled Virtual Production – Part 1

Jack Wenzinger of Amazon Web Services’ Global M&E Partners vertical moderated a discussion during the HPA Tech Retreat on what’s been learned about cloud-enabled virtual production during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also noted that Epic Games’ Unreal Engine has published a field guide to virtual production that focuses on the work being done in pre-production and post. Joining the conversation was ETC@USC senior consultant Erik Weaver, Solstice Studios chief technology officer Edward Churchward and Mo-Sys Engineering technical director James Uren. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Cloud-Enabled Virtual Production – Part 1

Google Joins Apple in Reducing App Store Commission Fees

Google is following in Apple’s footsteps by lowering the commissions it charges app developers in its Google Play Store. Apple and Google, currently the primary marketplaces for apps, charge developers 30 percent for app sales and in-app purchases. Now, beginning in July, Google stated it will lower the traditional fee to 15 percent for the first $1 million developers earn. That is slightly different than Apple’s plan, which is to lower its rate to 15 percent for developers who generate less than $1 million in annual sales. Continue reading Google Joins Apple in Reducing App Store Commission Fees

YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

YouTube Shorts, intended to rival video-sharing social media platform TikTok, rolled out in beta to a small group of U.S. users, after debuting first in India last fall. Shorts project lead Todd Sherman said the company plans to experiment with advertising and monetization features for creators “later this year.” In beta, Shorts offers the ability to add text to points in the video and sample audio from other Shorts. Similar to TikTok, YouTube Shorts is focused on music. Shorts, however, integrates with the larger YouTube platform. Continue reading YouTube Debuts Would-Be TikTok Rival ‘Shorts’ in U.S. Beta

HPA Tech Retreat: ETC’s ‘Ripple Effect’ Beta-Tests Safetyvis

When COVID-19 hit, Hollywood (and other filmmaking venues) came to a near standstill, with movie theaters closed and productions halted. As DigitalFilm Tree chief executive Ramy Katrib noted, the M&E business is “uniquely unsuited to social distancing.” But Katrib decided to leverage Cinecode, the tools his company built for virtual production, to see if he couldn’t come up with a way to “visualize” safety on the set. At the Entertainment Technology Center@USC, senior consultant Erik Weaver worked with Katrib and beta-tested the result on the live-action short “Ripple Effect.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: ETC’s ‘Ripple Effect’ Beta-Tests Safetyvis

EU Indie Producers Issue Code of Fair Practices to Streamers

The European Producers Club (EPC), based in Paris, represents 130 independent film and television drama producers throughout Europe. The group just issued a four-point Code of Fair Practices for VOD Services aimed at Amazon Studios, Disney+, Netflix and other streaming companies that commission content from its members. France, Italy and Germany are currently in negotiations to implement Europe’s earlier Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), which requires streaming companies to invest revenue into local productions.

Continue reading EU Indie Producers Issue Code of Fair Practices to Streamers

UK Supreme Court Rules 70,000 Uber Drivers Are Employees

Uber has battled for years around the world against reclassifying its drivers as employees, which would force it to pay higher wages and benefits. In the United Kingdom, however, it just announced that it would reclassify its 70,000+ drivers as workers and provide them a minimum wage, vacation pay and access to a pension plan. Uber’s move comes in the wake of a unanimous British Supreme Court ruling that found Uber drivers deserved more protections. UK labor laws, however, offer a middle ground between freelancers and employees. Continue reading UK Supreme Court Rules 70,000 Uber Drivers Are Employees

HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Details Its Executive Coffee Program

During the HPA Tech Retreat, ETC Immersive Media Initiative program lead Phil Lelyveld presented highlights from the Entertainment Technology Center’s “Executive Coffee With…” program, a series of discussions between ETC industry members and USC students on a range of topics related to the future of entertainment. To date, executives from Verizon, Universal, Fox, Equinix, Vubiquity and Dolby have posed questions to the USC students, on topics from production during COVID-19 to the future of the theater experience. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Details Its Executive Coffee Program

New TikTok Personalized Ad Policy Ends Choice to Opt Out

Beginning April 15, TikTok’s policy on personalized ads is changing. According to notices that TikTok users are seeing on their feeds, personalized ads will be mandatory — and users will no longer have the ability to opt out of such ads based on their actions — although the users will still be able to opt out of ads based on data TikTok gets from its advertising partners. Not included in this policy change are users in the European Union who are protected from personalized ads by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that requires user consent for such ads. Continue reading New TikTok Personalized Ad Policy Ends Choice to Opt Out

Twitter to Launch Chat Alternative to Clubhouse Next Month

Twitter will debut Spaces, a rival to audio-chat app Clubhouse, in April according to a tweet in a public Twitter Space audio room by host Alex (@akkhosh). Twitter will also soon allow anyone to host a Twitter Spaces room. Twitter Spaces was released in beta on the Android platform late in 2020. The product will roll out for Android and iOS; Twitter is also considering support for using music and allowing tweeting in Spaces. In addition, Twitter is working on a Spaces “Tip Jar” to let users donate to content creators with donations. Continue reading Twitter to Launch Chat Alternative to Clubhouse Next Month

HPA Tech Retreat: Variety Intelligence Analyzes M&E Industry

During this month’s HPA Tech Retreat, Variety Intelligence Platform (VIP) president and chief media analyst Andrew Wallenstein presented “The Third Wave,” the second VIP report on COVID-19’s impact on the media and entertainment business. “The Third Wave” analyzed the consumption habits of 23-to-49-year-old viewers, relying on data collected by VIP and the Trailer Park Group. “Perhaps it’s no surprise,” said Wallenstein, “that every available form of media and entertainment saw increases during the pandemic … but the biggest winner was streaming.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Variety Intelligence Analyzes M&E Industry

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