Google Founders Step Down: New Era for Tech Giant Begins

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have stepped down from their executive roles, with Google chief executive Sundar Pichai now heading up both Google and Alphabet. For the past 20 years, Page and Brin personified the company and many of their ideas on how to run an Internet company became standard for other Silicon Valley firms. The two first dialed back their involvement in 2015 when they created Alphabet as a holding company and turned their attention to “other bets,” including life-extending technologies. Continue reading Google Founders Step Down: New Era for Tech Giant Begins

Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Senate Commerce Committee chair Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) proposed draft legislation that he said will support tough protections for consumer data and address the concerns of Democrats. Last week, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), the Committee’s top Democrat, proposed a data privacy law. The idea, Wicker continued, is to create a national privacy law that will override state privacy laws passed by California and other states. He and others believe state laws will create an unwieldy patchwork. Continue reading Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Amazon to Expand Footprint in the Grocery Store Business

In 2020, Amazon will open a new branded grocery store in Woodland Hills, California, a suburb in the Los Angeles San Fernando Valley. The company is reportedly planning additional stores in Chicago, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Amazon stated it will feature traditional checkouts, rather than Amazon Go cashier-less technology. Amazon currently owns Whole Foods, with 500 stores, purchased for $13.2 billion in 2017 and Amazon Go, and offers grocery delivery through Amazon Fresh, its website and Prime Now. Continue reading Amazon to Expand Footprint in the Grocery Store Business

California Attorney General Sues Facebook For Documents

California attorney general Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court to obtain Facebook documents and email correspondence between chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Becerra revealed that, over an 18-month period, Facebook has “ignored or resisted” his dozens of requests for these documents. Meanwhile, internal Facebook documents recently made public revealed the company was more interested in defeating rivals than improving customer privacy. Continue reading California Attorney General Sues Facebook For Documents

FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

The Federal Communications Commission approved T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, a $26 billion merger that has been opposed by numerous state attorneys general and consumer advocacy groups. T-Mobile and Sprint, respectively the nation’s third and fourth-largest wireless carriers, pioneered the end of early termination fees and reintroduction of unlimited data plans. The FCC, which is dominated by Republicans, lauded the deal as likely to speed up the adoption of 5G networks across the U.S. Meanwhile, a group of state attorneys general are continuing with a lawsuit that intends to fight the merger. Continue reading FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

Drones in Delivery Tests, U.S. Agency Bars Chinese UAVs

Amazon, Alphabet’s Wing and Uber Technologies are conducting government-approved trials of drones to deliver packages. Wing is in Christiansburg, Virginia and Uber will begin tests in San Diego before the end of 2019. United Parcel Service also gained FAA approval to create a fleet of drones to deliver health supplies and, ultimately, consumer packages. The FAA predicts that drones for commercial purposes will reach 2.7 million by 2020. Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior is grounding more than 800 drones that were manufactured in China, citing national security concerns. Continue reading Drones in Delivery Tests, U.S. Agency Bars Chinese UAVs

Facebook Agrees to $40 Million Fine for Incorrect Ad Metrics

Facebook agreed to pay a $40 million penalty for providing incorrect metrics for average viewing time of ads on its platform. In 2016, Facebook admitted to the problem, and a group of small advertisers sued in California federal court, in part claiming that Facebook knew about the problem long before it admitted and fixed it. Facebook countered the impact was minimal because it doesn’t bill advertisers based on watch-time; plaintiffs disagreed, saying it is a “common indirect barometer to guide ad-buying decisions.” Continue reading Facebook Agrees to $40 Million Fine for Incorrect Ad Metrics

Californians for Consumer Privacy Make Bid for Enforcement

Californians for Consumer Privacy, which led the push for the privacy law that passed in the state, has a new plan to establish a data protection agency to make sure the law is enforced. The goal is to amend the law via a ballot initiative; it will take the valid signatures of more than 620,000 registered voters to put it on the ballot. The California Consumer Privacy Act now gives consumers the right to see what personal data has been collected, to delete it and to prevent companies from selling it. Continue reading Californians for Consumer Privacy Make Bid for Enforcement

Gig Economy Companies Responding to New California Law

On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), a law that will classify some independent contractors as employees and takes effect January 1. Companies such as Lyft and Uber Technologies, whose employees are among those that might be reclassified, redoubled both their resistance to the law and plans to negotiate again with relevant labor unions. At the same time, these companies are making noise about initiating a ballot-measure campaign to rewrite the standards for independent contractors. Continue reading Gig Economy Companies Responding to New California Law

California Law Limiting Gig Economy to Take Effect January 1

The California State Assembly gave its final approval, in a 56-to-15 vote, for AB5, a bill that strikes a blow against the gig economy, forcing companies such as Lyft and Uber to treat contract workers as employees. The bill originally passed in the State Senate in a 29-to-11 vote and applies to all app-based companies. Governor Gavin Newsom, who endorsed the bill, is expected to sign it; the law will go into effect January 1. Uber has stated it will do “whatever it takes” to keep their drivers independent contractors. Continue reading California Law Limiting Gig Economy to Take Effect January 1

Companies Prep for Brunt of California Consumer Privacy Act

Beginning January 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will allow that state’s residents to find out exactly what personal data companies hold about them — and ask them to delete such information. Consumers will also have the option of opting out of allowing their personal information to be sold. The legislation — which was designed to make Amazon, Facebook, Google and others more transparent — will impact a wide range of companies, large and small, including airlines, banks, retailers and restaurants. Continue reading Companies Prep for Brunt of California Consumer Privacy Act

Facebook’s Dilemma: Achieving Data Portability and Privacy

Facebook is trying to make good on two key promises: to protect users’ privacy and to allow them to move their data elsewhere. But the two goals may not be compatible, and Facebook is looking outside the company to get ideas on how to deliver both. The European Union and California passed laws that require Facebook to make users’ social media profiles easy to move to a competing platform. At the same time, Facebook agreed to enforce data protections as part of a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Facebook’s Dilemma: Achieving Data Portability and Privacy

Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Up until now, massive conglomerates have dominated robotics, but that’s about to change, as the cost of hardware production plunges (due to globalization) and computing and cloud solutions become cheaper, more powerful and easy to ramp up. That’s given rise to Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions, in which vertical-specific hardware and software are bundled and sold in monthly subscription packages. At the same time, California enacted a new law that would require a bot to reveal its “artificial identity.” Continue reading Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Apple Promotes Privacy Features at Developers Conference

At this week’s WWDC in San Jose, California, Apple introduced an anonymous login system and tools that prevent apps from tracking the user’s location, in an attempt to gain the high ground among big tech companies targeted by regulators for privacy issues. Apple also differentiated itself from Facebook and Google, which rely heavily on tracking users’ behavior and activity. The company’s next mobile operating system, iOS 13, slated to debut this fall, will allow users to log into apps without giving up any personal information and generate “automated and random” email addresses. Continue reading Apple Promotes Privacy Features at Developers Conference

California Considers Law That Would Reclassify Gig Workers

The California Assembly introduced a law that would require Amazon Flex, Postmates, Uber and other similar companies to treat their gig economy contractors as employees, with the wages and benefits of that classification. The bill, which was approved 53 to 11, comes only a few weeks after Uber’s IPO was met with a brief strike by ride-hail drivers around the world protesting their low pay and contractor status. The bill now heads to the Democratic-controlled state senate where it is likely to be signed into law. Continue reading California Considers Law That Would Reclassify Gig Workers

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