Disney, Charter Ink Distribution Deal, Aim to Prevent Piracy

Disney and Charter Communications, which just inked a new distribution deal, also stated they have partnered to prevent the sharing of a single account among multiple people. The distribution deal, which involves Disney’s Hulu, ESPN Plus and the soon-to-debut Disney Plus, will let customers buy online services either through Disney or Charter’s Spectrum TV service. The deal will also allow Charter to carry Disney-owned TV channels, including ABC, FX, National Geographic and others, on its cable service. Continue reading Disney, Charter Ink Distribution Deal, Aim to Prevent Piracy

Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

A bipartisan group of Congress members castigated Facebook for hiring contractors to transcribe audio clips and urged regulation to prevent it in the future. The transcriptions were made to help Facebook improve its artificial intelligence-enabled speech recognition, and are part of a move to improve the capabilities of voice assistants (Amazon, Apple and Google are among companies that have taken similar approaches). Last year, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) circulated a draft law that would impose steep fines and even prison for executives who failed to protect users’ personal data. Continue reading Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

ASCAP, BMI Urge Government to Update Consent Decrees

ASCAP and BMI, the two largest U.S. performing rights organizations, have operated under separate 1941 consent decrees. The decrees, designed to protect competition, dictate how ASCAP and BMI (but not rivals SESAC and Global Music Rights) license music. In February, ASCAP and BMI, who are fierce competitors, urged the consent decrees to be updated or ended, and, last year, Justice Department assistant attorney general for the antitrust division Makan Delrahim vowed to examine the decrees to “determine their validity.” Continue reading ASCAP, BMI Urge Government to Update Consent Decrees

2017 Data Breach Likely to Cost Equifax Up to $700 Million

In September 2017, hackers broke into credit agency Equifax, compromising almost 150 million Social Security numbers and other personal information. Now, according to sources, under the terms of an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and most state attorneys general, Equifax will pay about $700 million to settle with these agencies as well as a nationwide consumer class-action lawsuit. The exact amount of the settlement depends on the number of consumer claims ultimately filed. Continue reading 2017 Data Breach Likely to Cost Equifax Up to $700 Million

Amazon Accelerator Program Draws Mixed Vendor Interest

Amazon’s Accelerator program for independent merchants, launched in spring 2018, provides marketing support, product reviews and visibility in exchange for the right to purchase the brand with 60 days notice, for a fixed price, “often $10,000.” It’s part of the tech behemoth’s strategy to build its portfolio of exclusive brands. According to third-party sellers, this is also the first selling program that gives Amazon direct control over independent brands. One source reported that Amazon has not yet purchased any brands. Continue reading Amazon Accelerator Program Draws Mixed Vendor Interest

Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

Republican and Democratic lawmakers excoriated tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google this week on Capitol Hill. Chief among the critics were Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who oversees the Constitution subcommittee, and Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) who leads an antitrust subcommittee. Although the companies acknowledged the upheaval their technology has created in many industries, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded that, “every time Americans trust you, they seem to get burned.” Continue reading Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

FCC Proposal Restricts Local Regulation of Cable Networks

FCC chair Ajit Pai has put forth a plan to prevent cities and towns from regulating Internet access via their authority over cable TV networks and limit how much cities can charge cable companies. The cable industry has long lobbied for these changes; Pai’s proposal will come to a vote at the FCC on August 1. Pai’s proposal states that “some states and localities” are collecting fees and imposing requirements not “explicitly allowed” by Title VI, the cable regulation section Congress added to the Cable Act of 1984. Continue reading FCC Proposal Restricts Local Regulation of Cable Networks

Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook about $5 billion for privacy violations, but the sum is considered a slap on the wrist since it neither hurt the company’s bottom line nor limited its ability to collect data. But, since 2016, 43+ countries have passed or introduced laws regulating social media and the spread of fake news, and U.S., European and Canadian regulators have initiated investigations and proposed regulations that will likely be much more draconian. Congress is considering a federal privacy law. Continue reading Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

Internet Providers Positioned to Mine Data for Targeted Ads

Broadband Internet providers gather masses of data on consumer behavior but thus far have been slow to use that data for targeted advertising. However, as cable and telecom companies feel the negative impact of cord-cutting, they are beginning to look to their broadband units to make up the shortfall. AT&T and Google Fiber already mine customer data, but Altice USA, Comcast, Charter Communications and Verizon Communications have been reluctant to either gather or use personal data, for fear of customer pushback. Continue reading Internet Providers Positioned to Mine Data for Targeted Ads

Lawmakers Aim to Control Malicious Content Enabled by AI

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee began a series of hearings to look into “emerging technological breakthroughs” to control malicious content posted on digital platforms by AI-enabled software including bots. Facebook head of global policy management Monika Bickert testified that the company has prioritized the development of such tools. Chief information officers at numerous tech companies are paying attention, worried that lawmakers are considering regulating the use of AI. Continue reading Lawmakers Aim to Control Malicious Content Enabled by AI

Newzoo Forecasts U.S. Will Top Gaming Market This Year

According to market research company Newzoo, the United States is on the cusp of becoming the world’s top gaming market at $36.9 billion, the first time since 2015, and supplanting China. Newzoo said its forecast isn’t due to the 2018 freeze on gaming licenses in China, but rather is a reflection of “new console users and in general massive growth in console spending” on both Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox. Newzoo senior market analyst Tom Wijman points out that about 50 percent of U.S. game revenues come from consoles. Continue reading Newzoo Forecasts U.S. Will Top Gaming Market This Year

Study: Google Earned $4.7 Billion From U.S. News in 2018

According to a study by the News Media Alliance, Google earned $4.7 billion last year from the work of news publishers via the company’s search and Google News services (and the estimate is considered conservative since it does not include the value of personal data that Google collects on readers when they click on an article). The estimate is close to the $5.1 billion from digital advertising the entire U.S. news industry generated in 2018. The News Media Alliance is a trade association that represents more than 2,000 newspapers in North America. Its president and CEO David Chavern says journalists deserve a share of the $4.7 billion. Continue reading Study: Google Earned $4.7 Billion From U.S. News in 2018

Government Expected to Take a Closer Look at Tech Giants

U.S. tech giants are expected to become targets of in-depth antitrust investigations to determine if any companies have become too large and may be stifling competition. According to sources, federal agencies have agreed to distribute the investigative responsibilities. The Justice Department reportedly has authority over looking into Apple and Google, while the Federal Trade Commission will have oversight of Amazon and Facebook. In addition, the House Judiciary Committee plans to examine competition in digital markets and the growing power of the tech industry. Continue reading Government Expected to Take a Closer Look at Tech Giants

Senators Introduce 5G Security Bill for Next-Gen Networks

Senior U.S. senators proposed the Secure 5G and Beyond Act to guide the development of a domestic security strategy for next-gen networks. Senators John Cornyn, Richard Burr and Mark Warner, with co-sponsors Susan Collins, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Michael Bennet reached across the aisle to pen an act reflecting concern over the security of the U.S. telecommunications system. The act would prevent President Trump from recommending that 5G or other future telecom networks be nationalized, which his advisors recently proposed. Continue reading Senators Introduce 5G Security Bill for Next-Gen Networks

FTC Orders Broadband Firms to Reveal Data Collection Info

The Federal Trade Commission ordered Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other broadband providers to file reports within 45 days on why and how they collect consumer data and if they allow consumers to block such collection. The federal agency’s chair Joseph Simons said the move was “the first shot out of the box” in an investigation into the collection and use of personal data, with the potential aim of creating enforcement rules and helping Congress develop legislation on data privacy. Simons also promised more action. Continue reading FTC Orders Broadband Firms to Reveal Data Collection Info

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