Tech Firms Raid Security Flaws with ‘Bug Bounty’ Programs

In the security world, “bug bounty” programs are becoming more common, from Facebook to the Department of Defense. Hackers who can reveal the hidden vulnerabilities of a device, system or corporation can reap significant financial rewards. Apple launched its program in 2016 and offers payouts of up to $1 million for the most elusive flaws. The tech giant reportedly spent $3.7 million on such exercises in the 12-month period ending in July 2021, during which time Google shelled out $6.7 million and Microsoft spent $13.6 million. Such programs have become a valuable tool in security maintenance, putting hackers’ inquisitive natures to productive use.  Continue reading Tech Firms Raid Security Flaws with ‘Bug Bounty’ Programs

FTC Reveals Comscore Data Detailing Facebook Dominance

The Federal Trade Commission released Comscore figures showing Facebook’s marketplace dominance. From September 2012 through December 2020, the network generated 92 percent of the monthly time U.S. users spent on social media. In contrast, the combined market shares of Snap, Google+, MeWe and Friendster never exceeded 18 percent in any month during that time frame. A federal judge dismissed the case in June noting that the FTC did not offer details of its monopoly claim; these findings are now part of the FTC’s lawsuit. Continue reading FTC Reveals Comscore Data Detailing Facebook Dominance

Ireland Slaps Facebook’s WhatsApp Service with GDPR Fine

In its first major ruling against social media giant Facebook, Irish authorities fined the company’s WhatsApp messaging service almost $270 million (225 million euros) under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Those authorities stated that WhatsApp was not transparent about how data collected by those using the app is shared with other Facebook properties, including Instagram. WhatsApp said it would appeal the decision. Since established three years ago, the GDPR has not resulted in any major fines or penalties for Facebook until now. Continue reading Ireland Slaps Facebook’s WhatsApp Service with GDPR Fine

Australia Considers Reforming Regulations for Digital Wallets

The Australian government is mulling new laws intended to tighten the regulation of digital payment services. Despite rapid growth, digital wallet services from Apple Pay, Google Pay and China’s WeChat Pay are not designated “payment systems” in Australia, which means they are not as yet governed by the country’s regulatory system. The move comes on the heels of a government-commissioned report addressing whether the payments system had kept pace with advances in technology and changes in consumer demand. Continue reading Australia Considers Reforming Regulations for Digital Wallets

China Says No Video Games for Kids During the School Week

China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) announced a regulation that bans young people under the age of 18 from playing online video games between Monday and Thursday and, on the other days of the week and holidays, limits game play between 8:00 PM and 9:00 PM. Authorities blame “video game addiction” for distracting younger people from school and family responsibilities. The rule states that all video games must connect to an anti-addiction system operated by the GAPP. Continue reading China Says No Video Games for Kids During the School Week

U.S. Cybersecurity Agency Enlists Amazon, Google, Microsoft

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of the Department of Homeland Security, debuted the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC), which will leverage the expertise of Big Tech companies including Amazon, Google and Microsoft. According to CISA director Jen Easterly, the initiative’s aim is first to combat ransomware and cyberattacks on cloud-computing providers and ultimately to improve defense planning and information sharing between the government and private sectors. Continue reading U.S. Cybersecurity Agency Enlists Amazon, Google, Microsoft

Samsung Profits, Revenues Climb with Semiconductor Sales

In Q2 2021, Samsung Electronics posted a 73 percent increase in net profit to about $8.37 billion (9.63 trillion won), and a revenue increase of 20 percent to 63.57 trillion won, both numbers surpassing analyst expectations. Although the South Korean company’s sales of smartphones was relatively weak, its semiconductors — used by Apple and Sony among others — were snapped up by Big Tech companies churning out PCs, servers and other devices requiring chipsets. Samsung’s chip division saw upticks in operating profit and revenue. Continue reading Samsung Profits, Revenues Climb with Semiconductor Sales

Apple Just Earned Its Biggest Profit in the Company’s History

The COVID-19 pandemic has reaped rewards for Big Tech companies that benefitted from the shift to remote working and learning. Apple earned $21.7 billion in profit for the quarter that ended in June, the most successful quarter in the company’s 45-year history, while Alphabet and Microsoft also enjoyed strong quarterly earnings. Apple’s revenue rose 36 percent from the same period a year earlier to $81.4 billion, exceeding Wall Street expectations. Apple is on track to earn $86 billion for the fiscal year, according to FactSet analysts. Continue reading Apple Just Earned Its Biggest Profit in the Company’s History

Azure Drives Impressive Quarterly Sales, Profits for Microsoft

Microsoft experienced a successful quarter, due in large part to significant growth in Azure cloud services. The company reported overall Q4 sales of $46.2 billion, up about 21 percent year-over-year, for a $16.5 billion profit, an increase of 47 percent year-over-year. Similar to other Big Tech companies, Microsoft’s numbers exceeded Wall Street expectations. According to chief financial officer Amy Hood, Microsoft expects overall sales of $44.2 billion for the current quarter. Microsoft’s stock is currently up 40 percent over the last year, and its valuation is now $2+ trillion, second only to its rival Apple. Continue reading Azure Drives Impressive Quarterly Sales, Profits for Microsoft

Biden Assembles a Tough Antitrust Team to Rein In Big Tech

President Biden, who named Big Tech critic Jonathan Kanter to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division last week, has assembled a strong antitrust team to address concerns about the dominant strength and influence of major tech companies across industries including pharmaceuticals, agriculture, healthcare, commerce and finance. If confirmed by the Senate, Kanter will join the Federal Trade Commission’s chairperson Lina Khan, who is known for her work in antitrust and competition law, and Tim Wu, a long-time advocate of breaking up Big Tech who is now Biden’s special assistant for technology and competition policy. Continue reading Biden Assembles a Tough Antitrust Team to Rein In Big Tech

Big Tech Attempts to Balance Worker Needs Moving Forward

Alphabet conducted internal research that found Google software engineers felt as productive working from home as before the pandemic, although 75 percent of employees said they wanted more “collaboration and social connections” at work. Human resources vice president Brian Welle reported that “most staff also specifically craved physical proximity when working on new projects.” As a result, Alphabet still plans to bring employees back to the office this fall, although some will be able to work full-time from home. Continue reading Big Tech Attempts to Balance Worker Needs Moving Forward

EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, is calling for greater global alignment on tech regulation, noting “we do not have a global competition enforcer, but we have global companies.” Vestager added she was “really encouraged” by the Biden administration’s efforts to take similar actions in the U.S. with the 72 actions listed in his recent executive order that focused on Big Tech’s collection of data, surveillance practices and acquisitions of startups. Continue reading EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Google Chief Warns That Free, Open Internet Is Under Attack

In an in-depth interview with the BBC, Alphabet and Google chief executive Sundar Pichai suggested that an open Internet is under attack in different parts of the world where the free flow of information is often restricted and the Internet model is generally taken for granted. He also expressed concern about key areas that have become increasingly controversial, such as privacy, data and taxes — and defends his company’s record on these fronts. Meanwhile, he also believes that the development of artificial intelligence will change the world and may prove “more profound” than the creation of fire, electricity or even the Internet. Continue reading Google Chief Warns That Free, Open Internet Is Under Attack

Facebook Targets Substack with Newsletter Platform Bulletin

Social media giant Facebook recently unveiled Bulletin, a near-clone of the newsletter platform Substack. Despite its complicated relationship with journalists, Facebook thinks it can succeed by offering them better terms; whereas Substack takes a 10 percent cut of writers’ revenue, Bulletin will take nothing — at least for now. Best-selling authors Malcolm Gladwell and Mitch Albom will be among the first Bulletin writers. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the goal is to “support millions of people doing creative work.” Continue reading Facebook Targets Substack with Newsletter Platform Bulletin

Hong Kong Laws Could Drive Out Facebook, Twitter, Google

In Hong Kong, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau is slated to enact data protection laws against doxing — making personal information public to enable harassment — which was used during the 2019 protests. Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Twitter privately warned authorities that the new rules could put their staff at risk of criminal prosecutions, and if enacted, they may shut down their services. Punishment would be a fine of up to 1 million Hong Kong dollars (U.S. $128,800) and up to five years in prison. Continue reading Hong Kong Laws Could Drive Out Facebook, Twitter, Google

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