Meta and Alphabet on the Frontlines of Big Tech News Battle

Big Tech’s battle with news publishers has moved to the U.S. where Congress is considering legislation to help publishers collectively negotiate compensation from social media sites disseminating their copyrighted content. Meta Platforms reacted strongly to the bill, called the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. “If Congress passes an ill-considered journalism bill as part of national security legislation, we will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions,” the company tweeted. Continue reading Meta and Alphabet on the Frontlines of Big Tech News Battle

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew Determined to Solve Data Issues

TikTok is taking steps to ensure U.S. user data is secure and that young people will be protected from harmful content, company CEO Shou Zi Chew said at The New York Times’ DealBook Summit. “We have very rigorous data-access protocols,” the executive said Wednesday, addressing concerns expressed by members of Congress and the Federal Trade Commission. Chew said TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, plans to work with Oracle as its data storage provider based in large part on the company’s strong security protocols. Continue reading TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew Determined to Solve Data Issues

Big Tech to Face Increased EU Scrutiny as DMA Takes Effect

Next week, the EU’s Digital Markets Act takes effect, and U.S. tech giants are preparing for headaches. Among the DMA’s goals is making companies like Amazon, Google and Meta Platforms more open and interoperable in 2023. Last month, veteran EU official Gerard de Graaf, who helped create the DMA, was installed as director of a satellite office in San Francisco. There, he will help Big Tech prepare for breaking out their wallets and breaking open their walled gardens as the result of  “significant” changes to how they’ve been doing business in Europe. Meanwhile, telecoms in Europe are looking for tech firms to pay new fees based on bandwidth issues. Continue reading Big Tech to Face Increased EU Scrutiny as DMA Takes Effect

Big Tech Ramps Up Digital Security with Passkey Deployment

Now that Apple, Google and Microsoft have updated their operating systems to support the open standard passkey protocol stewarded by the FIDO Alliance, consumers will soon be liberated from the tyranny of passwords and their attendant security threats. PayPal has become the latest to embrace the passkey approach, announcing U.S. users will soon be able to log in using FIDO-compliant passkeys. It joins Best Buy, CardPointers, eBay, Kayak and WordPress among those with digital portals offering a passkey option. Passkeys will permit consumers to login seamlessly across devices, making online purchases easier and eliminating friction from app access. Continue reading Big Tech Ramps Up Digital Security with Passkey Deployment

LinkedIn Test Raises Ethics Questions Over Parsing Big Data

LinkedIn’s experiments on users have drawn scrutiny from a new study that says the platform may have crossed a line into “social engineering.” The tests, over five years from 2015 to 2019, involved changing the “People You May Know” algorithm to alternate between weak and strong contacts when recommending new connections. Affecting an estimated 20 million users, the test was designed to collect insight to improve the Microsoft-owned platform’s performance, but may have impacted people’s career opportunities. The study was co-authored by researchers at LinkedIn, Harvard Business School, MIT and Stanford and appeared this month in Science. Continue reading LinkedIn Test Raises Ethics Questions Over Parsing Big Data

Google, Meta Among Big Tech Firms Cutting Costs and Staff

Meta Platforms is planning staff reductions as part of a 10 percent cost reduction goal, reports say. Stalled growth and increased competition are among the reasons cited by 20 additional tech firms who have since the summer been contracting their workforce. In the case of Meta, it appears to also be a matter of reallocating funds so as not to drastically scale back its metaverse ambitions. Departments there are being reorganized and affected workers are being encouraged to apply for other jobs within the company. Word is Alphabet’s Google is also seeking to fill vacancies by reassigning existing staff. Continue reading Google, Meta Among Big Tech Firms Cutting Costs and Staff

Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

This past year, Big Tech has invested more than $95 million in lobbying initiatives designed to kill the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which seeks to rebalance the power between consumers and major technology companies such as Amazon, Alphabet, Apple and Meta Platforms. In two years, the bill has advanced further than any similar U.S. legislative effort, but time is running out before midterm elections and the unknown of a potential shift in control of the House and/or Senate. Supporters of the measure say they currently have the votes needed for passage. Continue reading Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

EU’s AI Act Could Present Dangers for Open-Source Coders

The EU’s draft AI Act is causing quite a stir, particular as it pertains to regulating general-purpose artificial intelligence, including guidelines for open source developers that specify procedures for accuracy, risk management, transparency, technical documentation and data governance, well as cybersecurity. The first law on AI by a major regulator anywhere, the proposed AI Act seeks to promote “trustworthy AI,” but some are critical that as written the legislation could hurt open efforts to develop AI systems. The EU is seeking industry input as the proposal heads for a vote this fall. Continue reading EU’s AI Act Could Present Dangers for Open-Source Coders

California’s Online Child Safety Bill Could Set New Standards

A first of its kind U.S. proposal to protecting children online cleared the California Legislature Tuesday and was sent to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom. The California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act will require social media platforms to implement guardrails for users under 18. The new rules will curb risks — such as allowing strangers to message children — and require changes to recommendation algorithms and ad targeting where minors are concerned. The bill was drafted following Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s 2021 congressional testimony about the negative effects of social media on children’s mental health. Continue reading California’s Online Child Safety Bill Could Set New Standards

Technology Firms Offer Users More Control Over Advertising

Tech companies are giving consumers more control over the type of advertising they see online, a feature that customers frequently request. Meta Platforms, Mozilla, Google and the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) have been actively exploring ad-blocking options. Now ByteDance’s TikTok and others are joining in. While the increased control may make some consumers happy, the effect it will have on Big Tech’s already ailing ad sector is as yet undetermined. While the various techniques let consumers limit exposure to ads, proponents argue the ultimate effect will be positive, ensuring ads are served to an interested audience. Continue reading Technology Firms Offer Users More Control Over Advertising

Congress Leaves Key Tech Legislation on Table Over Recess

After a big victory passing CHIPS-plus, Congress recessed on Saturday with several technology goals pending. Among the outstanding items is a bipartisan antitrust bill that seeks to rein in the industry’s heavyweight players, a consumer privacy bill and confirmation of Gigi Sohn, a Biden administration nominee to the FCC, where net neutrality hangs in the balance. Although Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has promised to fast track those votes immediately upon return September 6, the clock is winding down as November’s midterm elections may push Democrats out of power in one or both houses. Continue reading Congress Leaves Key Tech Legislation on Table Over Recess

How the DOJ Antitrust Publishing Lawsuit Relates to Amazon

The nation’s largest publisher, Penguin Random House, was in federal court this week to defend itself against the Justice Department, which filed an antitrust lawsuit to block its acquisition of Simon & Schuster. The DOJ has been increasingly focused on antitrust and is hiring more trial lawyers in preparation for an action against Alphabet’s Google for its dominance in search and digital advertising. Although ostensibly on trial for threatening to shrink the number of American mass-market publishers from five to four, the Penguin suit also involves examination of the retail power of Amazon. Continue reading How the DOJ Antitrust Publishing Lawsuit Relates to Amazon

Big Tech Drives Up Sports Prices as Amazon, Apple Go All In

Big Tech has become a disruptor in the marketplace for sports rights, with Amazon and Apple bidding against traditional media for rights to NFL and MLB games in addition to college conference competition and Formula 1 racing, according to recent reports. Among the prizes, DirecTV’s expiring rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket, a package that is being shopped with a $2.5 billion annual price tag, $1 billion more than the satellite operator’s current deal, which ends in January. In addition, Google is said to be bidding on behalf of YouTube. Beginning September 15, Amazon Prime Video begins its exclusive carriage deal for “Thursday Night Football.”  Continue reading Big Tech Drives Up Sports Prices as Amazon, Apple Go All In

U.S. Cities Are Luring Silicon Valley Firms and Tech Workers

Tech workers are adjusting to new hiring conditions, with the larger firms in traditional digital power corridors said to be cutting back while diverse cities step-up to attract new businesses that can boost the local economy. Hiring freezes and layoffs among larger tech firms such as Apple, Netflix and Twitter are meant to mitigate fear of a looming recession. Into the void comes an increasingly aggressive phalanx of cities and towns across the U.S. providing grants and other perks to attract companies. The idea is businesses bring a tax base and staff can work remotely or take advantage of cost savings by relocating to more affordable markets. Continue reading U.S. Cities Are Luring Silicon Valley Firms and Tech Workers

Amazon Offers Concessions to Call Off EU’s Antitrust Probes

In the wake of the European Union’s strict new digital-competition laws, Amazon has proposed settlements in two EU antitrust cases. The U.S.-based e-commerce giant says it will stop using non-public data it obtains from the activities of independent sellers on its marketplace to inform its own business decisions in competition with those sellers. A separate investigation found Amazon to be self-dealing with regard to its Buy Box and Prime plans, resulting in a commitment to give third-party sellers equal treatment. The commitments would remain in force for five years, monitored by a trustee reporting to the European Commission. Continue reading Amazon Offers Concessions to Call Off EU’s Antitrust Probes