Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Under pressure from legislators and others, Facebook has taken steps to protect itself. According to sources, the company ceased talks to buy video-focused social network Houseparty to forestall increased antitrust concerns. In response to calls to break up Facebook, the company took internal measures to make that more difficult to do by reorganizing its departments and rebranding Instagram and WhatsApp. Elsewhere, the European Union is expected to issue decisions by the end of the year related to privacy issues involving Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Comcast Expands Eligibility For Low-Cost Broadband Plan

Comcast has expanded its Internet Essentials program to make inexpensive broadband Internet available to any eligible low-income customer. Currently, according to U.S. Census data, in cities with the highest poverty rates, households are ten times more likely not to have broadband compared to households in wealthier cities. With Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest cable provider will help close the so-called digital divide, offering 15Mbps download speeds for $9.95 per month, which is $40 less than its typical service. Continue reading Comcast Expands Eligibility For Low-Cost Broadband Plan

Elon Musk’s Neuralink Showcases Brain-Computer Interface

Elon Musk and his startup Neuralink’s scientists showed off a new brain-computer interface they say will advance therapeutic devices treating various neurological conditions with a new level of precision. The technology, in development for two years, will soon be submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for testing on human subjects. The company thus far has received $158 million in funding and has about 100 employees. Musk stated that one goal of the announcement is to recruit more talent. Continue reading Elon Musk’s Neuralink Showcases Brain-Computer Interface

Apple Takes On Original Podcasting to Compete with Rivals

To compete with Spotify and Stitcher, Apple plans to roll out exclusive original podcasts and is already in conversation with media companies to do so, said sources. The company has not yet described its strategy, but did say it will make unprecedented deals to build up its podcast collection. Industry experts reported that, currently, 50 to 70 percent of all podcast listening already takes place from the Apple Podcasts app. Since debuting Apple Podcasts in 2005, however, Apple has made few changes. Continue reading Apple Takes On Original Podcasting to Compete with Rivals

Spotify Expands Ad Options by Targeting Podcast Listeners

Spotify, which now has 123 million worldwide users of its ad-supported audio service, is expanding its podcast business by offering advertisers the ability to target consumers based on the types of podcast programs they are streaming. Brands across 10 global markets (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom and United States) will have the option of targeting Spotify Free users based on podcast categories such as “Business & Technology,” “Comedy” and “Lifestyle & Health.” 3M and Samsung have been testing the new ad-targeting tool. Continue reading Spotify Expands Ad Options by Targeting Podcast Listeners

Another Perspective on Deep Fakes: Threat and Opportunity

At the NAB 2019’s Broadcast Cybersecurity course, Emblematic Group founder/chief executive Nonny de la Peña introduced deep fakes by showing pairs of images and asking the audience to call out which was fake and which was real. From paired images of Presidents Obama and Trump, among others, audience members were consistently unable to pick the correct “fake” image. University of Washington researchers created a very convincing — but fake — video of Barack Obama, she revealed, by using neural network AI and 14 hours of Obama footage. Continue reading Another Perspective on Deep Fakes: Threat and Opportunity

U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

The U.K. government released a 150-page report stressing that the country needs to update its antitrust policies to deal with big technology companies. The report, which was ordered by the U.K.’s top treasury official, Exchequer chancellor Philip Hammond, states that the U.K. should implement tighter rules on acquisition in the tech sector to make it easier for new competitors to arise. The European Union and U.S. presidential hopefuls Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar have expressed similar points of view. Continue reading U.K. Considers Big Tech Regulation in Preparation for Brexit

Chinese, Iranian, Russian Hackers Honing Their Attack Skills

The National Security Agency and security firm FireEye recently detected extensive attacks by Iran on U.S. banks, businesses and government agencies, prompting the Department of Homeland Security to declare an emergency during the government shutdown. The attacks from Iran took place at the same time that China renewed its efforts to steal trade and military secrets, from Boeing, General Electric Aviation and T-Mobile. Meanwhile, Microsoft detected a Russian government operation targeting think tanks critical of Russia. Continue reading Chinese, Iranian, Russian Hackers Honing Their Attack Skills

NCTA Lobbies For Paid Prioritization in Net Neutrality Rules

NCTA (National Cable TV Association) chief executive Michael Powell told Congress’ Communications and Technology subcommittee that the lobbying group agrees, “there should be no blocking or throttling of lawful content … [or] paid prioritization that creates fast lanes and slow lanes.” Even so, he did ask for exceptions that would allow Internet providers to charge for prioritization “under certain circumstances.” His request highlights the stark divide between the broadband industry and net neutrality advocates. Continue reading NCTA Lobbies For Paid Prioritization in Net Neutrality Rules

U.S. Charges Members of China’s Elite APT10 With Hacking

The Trump administration has charged two Chinese citizens accused of involvement in a state-sponsored effort to steal information from government agencies, various businesses and managed service providers. The hackers are said to be members of China’s elite APT10 group, and prosecutors claim there are direct links between the accused and China’s Ministry of State Security. The U.S. says China’s cyberattacks have become significant national and economic security threats. The latest charges indicate that Chinese authorities directed the hacking campaign. Continue reading U.S. Charges Members of China’s Elite APT10 With Hacking

Australian Law Will Allow Agencies to Circumvent Encryption

In the United States, Congress has resisted calls by the FBI and Department of Justice that would require tech companies to create a “back door” to allow them to bypass devices’ encryption. But other U.S. allies are moving forward on just such legislation, with Australia about to adopt a tough encryption law permitting intelligence agencies these powers. The country believes that its agencies need the power to circumvent encryption to protect it from terrorist attacks during the holiday season, often a high-threat period. Continue reading Australian Law Will Allow Agencies to Circumvent Encryption

Inside The New Yorker Profile on Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg

The New Yorker posted a profile of Facebook founder/chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on its website, a week ahead of its September 17 print publication. The article, by New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos asks if Facebook will “break democracy.” The profile describes Zuckerberg as someone who makes a distinction between feeling an emotion and acting on it through his business. He also states his opposition to government regulations, stressing that breaking Facebook into smaller companies would be a huge mistake. Continue reading Inside The New Yorker Profile on Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg

New California Legislation Aims to Strengthen Net Neutrality

After California state senator Scott Wiener introduced a bill in May to the state assembly to ensure net neutrality, a committee voted to remove protections, an action that some said would allow broadband suppliers to throttle applications. Now those protections are being reinstated. Assembly member Miguel Santiago who proposed the changes to the bill passed last month, and Wiener came to an agreement on a new version of the bill that will make it the strongest net neutrality protection in the United States. Continue reading New California Legislation Aims to Strengthen Net Neutrality

The Obamas Are the Latest to Sign Production Deal with Netflix

Netflix yesterday announced a multi-year partnership with former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to produce original content for the streaming service. The Obamas created production company Higher Ground Productions for the Netflix deal, which is reportedly valued in the high eight figures. According to Netflix, the partnership may include scripted, unscripted and docu-series, in addition to documentary and feature films. Two months ago, the Obamas signed a joint book deal with Penguin Random House worth a reported $65 million for their respective memoirs. Continue reading The Obamas Are the Latest to Sign Production Deal with Netflix

Senate Votes to Block the Repeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

The Senate voted 52-47 yesterday to block the Trump administration’s repeal of net neutrality rules. Three Republicans and all members of the Democratic caucus voted in favor of the resolution; however, a tougher battle is expected in the House, where Republicans have a 236-193 majority. The effort to repeal Obama-era rules last year was led by FCC chair Ajit Pai. The net neutrality rules are designed to guarantee unobstructed access to the Internet by preventing broadband providers from blocking access or throttling speeds based on fees. Opponents claim the rules stifle competition and innovation.  Continue reading Senate Votes to Block the Repeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

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