Microsoft Will Offer Free Digital Training for 25 Million People

To help fight the unemployment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft and LinkedIn (which Microsoft acquired in 2016) plan to offer free online classes and job-hunting resources to 25 million people around the world by the end of 2020. The two companies have identified 10 booming occupations — including data analyst, digital marketer and help-desk technician — that require digital skills they aim to teach. These professionals also pay relatively well, even for those without a college degree. Continue reading Microsoft Will Offer Free Digital Training for 25 Million People

Apple Rejects Facebook App, Calls for Antitrust Probe Grow

Apple rejected Facebook Gaming’s submission to the App Store for at least the fifth time since February. Sources said that, with each rejection, Apple referred to its rules that don’t allow apps with the “main purpose” of distributing casual games. Apple’s App Store is the only officially approved venue for iPhone and iPad owners to find new games (and other programs), which generated about $15 billion in revenue last year. Microsoft president Brad Smith said antitrust regulators need to look at the practices of app stores. Continue reading Apple Rejects Facebook App, Calls for Antitrust Probe Grow

Big Tech Companies Pull Back on Facial Recognition Products

After years of dissent from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Fight for the Future and groups of academics, Big Tech companies are finally taking another look at their facial recognition products. Microsoft president Brad Smith stated his company won’t sell facial recognition to the police until federal regulation is instituted. Amazon placed a one-year moratorium on police use of its Rekognition software, and IBM backed away entirely from facial recognition products, citing the potential for abuse. Yesterday we reported that Congress introduced a police reform bill that includes limits on the use of facial recognition software. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Pull Back on Facial Recognition Products

AI Regulation’s First Testing Ground Is the European Union

Artificial intelligence and its potential to harm consumers has been much in the spotlight — now, more than ever, in Europe. Several Big Tech executives are in Europe, prior to heading to Davos for the annual World Economic Forum, and some, such as Microsoft president Brad Smith, are meeting with the European Union’s new competition chief Margrethe Vestager. Under the European Commission’s new president Ursula von der Leyen, new rules regulating free flow of data and competition are under consideration. Continue reading AI Regulation’s First Testing Ground Is the European Union

World Economic Forum Launches Councils on AI, IoT, More

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution this week announced the creation of six new councils to address policy guidance in areas including artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, IoT and precision medicine. Already a source of friction between the U.S. and China, AI is one emerging technology seen by many nations as crucial to future development and competition. As Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI deputy director Michael Sellitto puts it, “many see AI through the lens of economic and geopolitical competition … [creating] barriers that preserve their perceived strategic advantages, in access to data or research.” Continue reading World Economic Forum Launches Councils on AI, IoT, More

Microsoft Advocates For Washington State AI Regulation Bill

Washington State has introduced a bill to regulate facial recognition software, and tech giant Microsoft is advocating for its passage, while e-commerce leader Amazon remains undecided. Amazon asked state senator Reuven Carlyle, who sponsored the bill, for clarification as well as a change to the requirement that AI software developers claiming the ability to identify faces must allow third parties to test it. Carlyle explained he would examine all submitted requests and introduce a revised version of the bill. Continue reading Microsoft Advocates For Washington State AI Regulation Bill

Microsoft Wins U.S. Army Contract to Produce AR Headsets

The U.S. Army has awarded a $480 million contract to Microsoft to supply augmented reality system prototypes that it can deploy for training and combat missions. If successful, the contract could lead to Microsoft providing 100,000 headsets, which the Army says will be intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy.” The U.S. Army and Israel Defense Forces have already used Microsoft’s HoloLens in training, but using it in live combat would be a new step. Continue reading Microsoft Wins U.S. Army Contract to Produce AR Headsets

U.S. Does Not Sign France’s Cyberspace Security Agreement

At the UNESCO Internet Governance Forum, French president Emmanuel Macron issued an initiative to set international Internet procedures for cybersecurity, including revealing tech vulnerabilities. Fifty nations, 90 nonprofits and universities and 130 private corporations and groups have endorsed the “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace” — but not the United States. U.S. companies Google, Facebook, IBM, and HP signed on to the agreement, which outlines nine goals but doesn’t bind signatories legally to comply. Continue reading U.S. Does Not Sign France’s Cyberspace Security Agreement

Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

At its Build developer conference this week, Microsoft is showing products that highlight its changed direction under the aegis of chief executive Satya Nadella. Among them is a DJI drone loaded with Microsoft software to identify oil pipeline faults without an Internet connection. Although Microsoft is helping customers enhance their existing gear, the company promised “big things ahead” to those entirely in the Microsoft ecosystem. Uninvolved in recent data scandals, some deem Microsoft to be the tech industry’s moral conscience. Continue reading Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

Led by tech titans Facebook and Microsoft, more than 30 tech companies have signed a Cybersecurity Tech Accord as part of their efforts to protect customers from cyberattacks and “the misuse of their technology.” According to the agreement, tech companies pledge not to assist governments that initiate attacks against “innocent civilians and enterprises.” Among the signatories are companies that power Internet technology and information infrastructure, including Cisco, Cloudflare, Dell, HP, LinkedIn, Nielsen, Nokia, Oracle, Symantec and VMware. Continue reading Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

New Legislation Increases Government Access to Online Data

Congress quietly passed controversial legislation last week that was folded into the massive $1.3 trillion spending deal signed by President Trump. The CLOUD Act (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act) enables U.S. investigators to access information stored on overseas cloud servers. New legislation could bring an end to the ongoing battle between law enforcement and major tech players. However, a number of civil liberty and privacy rights groups believe the law could also make it easier for other governments to spy on dissidents and collect data on U.S. citizens. Continue reading New Legislation Increases Government Access to Online Data

Microsoft to Provide White-Space Broadband in Rural Areas

Microsoft has a plan for providing inexpensive broadband access to underserved areas of the U.S., and its president/chief legal officer Brad Smith just declared the company’s support for that plan. The company has long advocated the use of so-called TV white-space technology — unused TV spectrum — to bring broadband especially to rural areas. As part of the plan, Microsoft would also urge the Trump administration and Congress to make sure that unlicensed white-space spectrum is available in every market in the U.S. Continue reading Microsoft to Provide White-Space Broadband in Rural Areas

Court Rules Microsoft Email Surveillance Lawsuit Can Proceed

In April, Microsoft sued the federal government for intercepting its customers’ emails and preventing Microsoft from alerting them. Now, U.S. District Judge James Robart has ruled that Microsoft made a viable argument, but rejects its contention that the government interception is an unlawful search and seizure of property. At the time, federal courts issued Microsoft about 2,600 so-called secrecy orders, and the tech company could not inform its customers, even when the search was over. Continue reading Court Rules Microsoft Email Surveillance Lawsuit Can Proceed

Microsoft Offers Lawsuit Protection for Azure Cloud Customers

Microsoft debuted Microsoft Azure IP Advantage, which provides payment for legal costs to customers using the open-source technology that is part of Azure services, including Hadoop data analysis. The rationale behind this new Advantage program is that, by offering Azure customers protection from intellectual property litigation, Microsoft removes an obstacle to the cloud computing service’s growth. This litigation protection service is already in place for Azure customers developing apps with Microsoft technology. Continue reading Microsoft Offers Lawsuit Protection for Azure Cloud Customers

Tech, Media Firms Join Microsoft’s Suit Against Secrecy Laws

On Friday, Microsoft filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department, saying that part of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 is unconstitutional. The provision in question prevents Microsoft from letting customers know when their communications have been turned over to law enforcement, which Microsoft says violates the First and Fourth Amendments. Approximately 80 different companies — including Amazon, Google, Snapchat, and Salesforce — have signed briefs in support of Microsoft. Continue reading Tech, Media Firms Join Microsoft’s Suit Against Secrecy Laws

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