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

Senators Ask FTC to Examine Kids Apps’ Privacy Violations

Two Democratic senators — Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — sent a letter on Wednesday to the Federal Trade Commission asking for an investigation into whether the thousands of “child-friendly” apps in the market are actually collecting children’s personal information. To do so would violate a federal law protecting children’s online privacy, since it requires sites and apps targeting persons under 13 years old to obtain verifiable parental permission before collecting data. Continue reading Senators Ask FTC to Examine Kids Apps’ Privacy Violations

Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

Senators Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have written a letter to Federal Trade Commission chair Joseph Simons requesting that his agency investigate the business practices of smart TV manufacturers. The two senators are concerned about “consumer privacy issues raised by the proliferation of smart TV technology,” since some companies are able to identify what people are watching and use that data to feed ads to other device’s in the consumer’s home. Continue reading Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

Xerox Sides With Investors, Cancels Planned Fujifilm Merger

Xerox is scrapping the proposed $6.1 billion takeover by Fujifilm Holdings Corp. in a settlement with activist investors Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason that also removes Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson from his position, along with five company directors. According to Xerox, Icahn Enterprises chief Keith Cozza will become chairman, while John Visentin — a former senior exec at Hewlett-Packard and IBM — will take over as CEO. Fujifilm disputes Xerox’s right to terminate the planned merger. Continue reading Xerox Sides With Investors, Cancels Planned Fujifilm Merger

Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

Equifax’s two cyber breaches, which exposed about 143 million Americans’ personal information, were the work of hackers who took advantage of a flaw in Apache Struts software. The nonprofit Apache Software Foundation and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team warned of the bug in early March, but Equifax only alerted its end users on September 7, almost five months later. IT experts say the event highlights the challenges in keeping software current and identifying all potentially vulnerable applications. Continue reading Equifax Breaches Spur Businesses to Prioritize Cybersecurity

FCC Approves Charter’s Purchase of TWC and Bright House

The Federal Communications Commission has approved the proposed acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks by Charter Communications. If California regulators also approve (a decision is expected by Thursday), the deals would result in the second-largest broadband provider and third-largest video provider in the U.S. The Time Warner Cable deal is valued at $56.7 billion, while the Bright House deal is valued at $10.4 billion. Thomas Rutledge, president and chief exec of Charter, said the deals would lead to increased competition, more access to affordable broadband and new jobs. Continue reading FCC Approves Charter’s Purchase of TWC and Bright House

FCC Signs Off on Altice Acquisition of Cablevision Systems

The Federal Communications Commission has approved Altice NV’s proposed $17.7 billion acquisition of Cablevision Systems Corp. As part of the deal, the European telecom group would assume Cablevision debt and invest to upgrade the company’s broadband. According to the FCC, Altice has a record of improving services after investing in broadband companies in Belgium, France, Israel, Luxembourg and Portugal. In December, the FCC approved Altice’s $9.1 billion purchase of Missouri-based cable company Suddenlink Communications. Continue reading FCC Signs Off on Altice Acquisition of Cablevision Systems

Retailers and Banks Battle Over Adoption of Chip Technology

With the introduction of credit cards with an embedded security chip, the banking and retailing industries are battling over issues of security, fraud and the cost of adoption. For years, European banks have issued credit cards with both the chip and a PIN; U.S. banks are foregoing the PIN and relying solely on the chip and an in-person signature. Retailers argue they are absorbing the high cost of adopting the chip technology and paying interchange fees, without reaping any of the benefits of lower fraud. Continue reading Retailers and Banks Battle Over Adoption of Chip Technology

FCC May Consider New Standard to Open Up Control of STBs

The Federal Communications Commission is deliberating whether cable and satellite TV companies should have exclusive control of the set-top box, an idea applauded by Google and TiVo and vigorously opposed by the cable/satellite TV industry. Increased competition would lower costs and drive improvements in functionality, say Google and TiVo. Among the supporters of this idea is the COMPTEL trade group, whose membership includes Amazon and Netflix. The cable industry, already suffering losses to cord cutting, strenuously opposes the move. Continue reading FCC May Consider New Standard to Open Up Control of STBs

ESPN Studio Integrates Video Displays and Online Features

“SportsCenter,” ESPN’s flagship news and highlights show, will start broadcasting from a new 10,000 square-foot studio in Bristol, Connecticut called Digital Center 2 next month. Digital Center 2 features a whopping 114 video displays, which anchors can manipulate on-air using tablets. Viewers can also interact with the new studio by submitting tweets that will appear in real time and using online features seen in the show, such as the “hot and cold zone” baseball player display. Continue reading ESPN Studio Integrates Video Displays and Online Features

NCAA Tournament Marks New Record for Live Video Streaming

Turner Sports announced that NCAA March Madness Live set a new record with 69.7 million live video streams collectively across platforms. The 2014 tournament’s live video streams were up 42 percent compared to the previous year. NCAA March Madness Live — in partnership between the NCAA, Turner Sports and CBS Sports — netted 15 million hours of live video consumed, which is also a new all-time record. Live streams via tablets and smartphones were up 71 percent this year. Continue reading NCAA Tournament Marks New Record for Live Video Streaming

ESPN Chief Technology Exec Cautious About Future of 4K TV

Earlier this month, we reported that ESPN is planning to shut down its ESPN 3D channel at year’s end. “Due to limited viewer adoption of 3D services to the home, ESPN is discontinuing ESPN 3D,” explained the company in a statement. While ESPN’s top tech exec Chuck Pagano is not yet convinced that 4K TV will take off either, the sports broadcaster is setting up a technical framework for Ultra HD to prepare for its eventuality. Continue reading ESPN Chief Technology Exec Cautious About Future of 4K TV