EU Presses Facebook for Documents Related to Competition

The European Commission’ antitrust probe into Facebook is now seeking internal documents related to allegations that Facebook suppressed competition by leveraging its own access to users’ data. EU investigators are also looking into changes Facebook made to software interfaces that enabled app developers to access data, as well as more information on Facebook’s use of Israeli VPN app Onavo it purchased in 2013. Facebook, which shut down Onavo last year, said it disclosed its data collection to users. Continue reading EU Presses Facebook for Documents Related to Competition

Game Industry Takes Steps to Address Loot Box Concerns

In a Federal Trade Commission workshop, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, the biggest game console manufacturers, have vowed to self-impose regulations requiring video game developers to disclose the odds for loot boxes. The FTC is looking at loot boxes, a system in which players buy “random” packages of in-game items without knowing the odds of getting items they actually want. The trade group Entertainment Software Association (ESA) plans to add warning labels and other policies related to loot boxes. Continue reading Game Industry Takes Steps to Address Loot Box Concerns

Apple Ends Practice of Humans Monitoring Siri Recordings

Apple will no longer allow human contractors to listen in on users’ Siri recordings to “grade” them, and will not resume the program until it has completed a “thorough review.” The company also stated that, as part of a future update, users will be able to opt out of the quality assurance program. Apple told users that Siri data might be used to improve their experience, but not that humans would be listening to it. Most of the compromised confidential information was recorded via an accidental trigger of Siri. Continue reading Apple Ends Practice of Humans Monitoring Siri Recordings

EU Hearing Explores Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age

The ETC’s Philip Lelyveld was one of five subject matter experts invited to speak before the European Union’s “Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age” hearing at the European Political Strategy Centre in Brussels on February 22, 2018. The EU is working to understand and deal with the problem of ‘fake news’ and Russian interference in democratic processes in Europe. This one-day event is part of an ongoing multi-organization effort within the EU. Lelyveld was invited to present a ‘Hollywood’ perspective. Continue reading EU Hearing Explores Preserving Democracy in the Digital Age

WPA2 Wi-Fi Flaw Revealed, Android & Linux Most Vulnerable

According to researchers, the WPA2 protocol for Wi-Fi connectivity contains a significant weakness that makes it vulnerable to attackers. A hacker within range of connected devices would reportedly be able to exploit this weakness to hijack passwords, emails and other “encrypted” data, or even place ransomware into a website the user is visiting. The research, which has been ongoing for weeks, reveals that the WPA2 core vulnerability could affect operating systems and devices including Android, Linux, OpenBSD, MediaTek, Linksys, macOS and Windows. Continue reading WPA2 Wi-Fi Flaw Revealed, Android & Linux Most Vulnerable

U.S. Cloud Computing Titans Invest in European Data Centers

Major American tech companies are building multiple data centers in Europe, with the end goal of dominating the cloud computing market there. The leading provider, Amazon Web Services, will soon open data centers in France and Britain. The second largest cloud computing provider, Microsoft reports it has spent $1 billion in the last year on data centers, for a total expenditure of $3 billion since 2005. Google, already in Belgium and Finland, will complete a new expansive data center in the Netherlands by the end of 2016. Continue reading U.S. Cloud Computing Titans Invest in European Data Centers

FCC Signs Off on Altice Acquisition of Cablevision Systems

The Federal Communications Commission has approved Altice NV’s proposed $17.7 billion acquisition of Cablevision Systems Corp. As part of the deal, the European telecom group would assume Cablevision debt and invest to upgrade the company’s broadband. According to the FCC, Altice has a record of improving services after investing in broadband companies in Belgium, France, Israel, Luxembourg and Portugal. In December, the FCC approved Altice’s $9.1 billion purchase of Missouri-based cable company Suddenlink Communications. Continue reading FCC Signs Off on Altice Acquisition of Cablevision Systems

U.K. Plans to Ban Advanced Encryption to Combat Terrorists

In response to Edward Snowden’s revelations of government surveillance of ordinary citizens, many Internet and social media companies responded by creating encryption so advanced that even they couldn’t read users’ communications. Now, many critics say, terrorists and other criminals are using those same platforms because their messages will be safely encrypted from prying eyes of intelligence and government authorities. Among the strongest critic is the U.K. government, which is proposing that such encryption be illegal. Continue reading U.K. Plans to Ban Advanced Encryption to Combat Terrorists

Regin: Symantec Researchers Uncover Sophisticated Spy Tool

Security researchers at antivirus company Symantec recently discovered malware that has been used to target and spy on researchers, governments, businesses and telecommunications infrastructures across as many as ten different countries. The malware, called Regin, is being traced back to 2008 and is being identified as a highly sophisticated spying tool built to access a computer’s most sensitive information including secured files and documents, passwords and memory. Continue reading Regin: Symantec Researchers Uncover Sophisticated Spy Tool

Spotify Intern Creates System to Improve Recommendations

By analyzing the acoustic properties of songs on Spotify, intern and PhD student Sander Dieleman hopes to advance the streaming service’s recommendation algorithms to aid users in discovering new and lesser known music. Rather than basing recommendations on the choices people with similar tastes make, they would be based on songs the user listens to. This method, which requires deep learning, would then mix more obscure but user relevant songs into the recommendations. Continue reading Spotify Intern Creates System to Improve Recommendations

Netflix Reports Strong Q2 Earnings, Unveils International Plans

Netflix reported second quarter earnings higher than analysts’ estimates, and announced that original series “Orange Is the New Black” helped lift its number of subscribers past 50 million. Net income more than doubled to $71 million, while sales grew 25 percent. Netflix added 570,000 domestic streaming customers, bringing its U.S. total to 36.2 million. During the quarter, the company raised fees $1 to $2 a month for new customers of its online service to help finance original content. Continue reading Netflix Reports Strong Q2 Earnings, Unveils International Plans

FIFA World Cup Sets TV Viewing and Social Media Records

While the FIFA World Cup continues to break viewing records around the globe, a new record was set during Germany’s stunning 7-1 victory over Brazil in the semifinals. The match marked the most Twitter activity around a single sports event ever, easily surpassing this year’s Super Bowl. At 24.9 million tweets, February’s Super Bowl between the Seahawks and the Broncos set the previous Twitter record, while Tuesday night’s World Cup semifinal generated 35.6 million tweets during the match. Continue reading FIFA World Cup Sets TV Viewing and Social Media Records

EU and South Korea Team Up for Faster Mobile Internet Access

South Korea and the European Union announced a new pact today to develop 5G networks for faster mobile Internet service. The two will launch a joint group with plans to develop systems, set standards and ready radio frequencies in order to help establish a global vision on 5G by the end of next year. According to EU data, the six minutes required to download a one-hour HD movie on a 4G mobile Internet would only take six seconds on a superfast 5G network. Continue reading EU and South Korea Team Up for Faster Mobile Internet Access

PayPal Can Now Be Used for Purchases in Google Play Store

Late last week, Google added new payment options to the Google Play Store, including the ability to use PayPal for the purchase of apps, music and movies. Paypal can now be used as a payment method for Google’s virtual storefront in 12 countries including the U.S. While this is the first time Google has offered the PayPal option (Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store has featured the option since its inception), the payment method can only be used for digital content, which excludes devices or accessories. Continue reading PayPal Can Now Be Used for Purchases in Google Play Store

SoftKinetic and Intel Pursue Era of Perceptual Computing

Belgium-based SoftKinetic built what it says is the world’s smallest 3D camera that recognizes gestures. The company has teamed with Intel to take the next step toward “perceptual computing,” which entails using more senses to interact with computers. The small 3D gesture-recognition camera, which is based on “time-of-flight” technology, will be used by Intel in its collection of perceptual computing technologies next year. Continue reading SoftKinetic and Intel Pursue Era of Perceptual Computing