Technology Chief Executives Lobby for Federal Privacy Law

Congress just received an open letter on behalf of the Business Roundtable, an association comprised of the chief executives of the U.S.’s biggest companies. Signed by 51 tech company executives, the letter asks legislators to create a federal law on data privacy, thus avoiding the patchwork-quilt of state laws now being passed. Amazon, AT&T, Dell, IBM, Qualcomm, SAP, Salesforce, Visa, Mastercard, JPMorgan Chase, State Farm and Walmart are just some of the companies whose chief executives signed the letter. Continue reading Technology Chief Executives Lobby for Federal Privacy Law

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

Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

The FTC and New York attorney general announced yesterday that Google is being fined $170 million following the investigation of YouTube’s alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The investigation claims that Google marketed the video platform to advertisers based on the popularity of channels with younger audiences, and tracked viewing histories of children to serve them ads, without first getting consent of the parents. Google and YouTube will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York in the largest COPPA fine to date (Congress enacted the law in 1998). Continue reading Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

Alphabet Unveils Master Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs project began in 2017 when Toronto invited the company to turn an undeveloped 12-acre lot, Quayside, into a model of the digital city of the future. Now, Alphabet has issued a 1,524-page master plan that, in four volumes, details how it will spend the $1.3 billion earmarked for the project. Among those plans, Alphabet details using environmentally-friendly timber, installing an underground pneumatic tube for garbage removal, and building streets for autonomous vehicles from subsidiary Waymo. Continue reading Alphabet Unveils Master Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

Ad Execs Wrestle Over Objectionable Content, Privacy Laws

At this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, attendees aired their concerns about online data privacy and brand safety. The latter has been highlighted over the last years as advertisements have appeared next to objectionable content on Facebook, Google’s YouTube and other digital platforms. McDonald’s, Clorox, Nestlé, Epic Games and AT&T are among the advertisers that froze ads due to this ongoing problem. Some attendees asked for federal privacy regulations to protect consumers and avert state-by-state legislation. Continue reading Ad Execs Wrestle Over Objectionable Content, Privacy Laws

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

Microsoft Urges U.S. to Adopt Laws Similar to EU’s GDPR

Microsoft corporate vice president/deputy general counsel Julie Brill believes that the federal government is essential in guaranteeing “a strong right to privacy” in the United States. She noted that California and Illinois have enacted serious data protection laws, but that the U.S. needs federal regulation. She came to that conclusion after observing that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), enacted almost one year ago, has been “very effective” in transforming how companies manage personal data. Continue reading Microsoft Urges U.S. to Adopt Laws Similar to EU’s GDPR

Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

In its first quarter earnings report yesterday, Facebook revealed that it is putting aside $3 billion (about 6 percent of its cash and marketable securities) in anticipation of an upcoming fine from the Federal Trade Commission regarding privacy violations. The penalty, which could become the highest of its kind against a tech company by U.S. regulators and the biggest privacy-related fine in the FTC’s history, is expected to run from $3 billion to $5 billion. The social media giant posted more than $15 billion in revenue, a 26 percent increase over the year-earlier period. Continue reading Facebook Planning to Face FTC Fine in Excess of $3 Billion

Apple’s Tim Cook Makes Case For U.S. Regulation of Tech

At the TIME 100 Summit in New York, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said that technology needs to be regulated to protect privacy, noting that, “we have to admit that what we’re doing isn’t working.” He suggested to U.S. regulators that Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was passed in 2018, is “a step in the right direction,” and added that Europe should continue to evolve the GDPR. Having taken the helm of Apple from founder Steve Jobs in 2011, Cook has become a prominent Silicon Valley leader. Continue reading Apple’s Tim Cook Makes Case For U.S. Regulation of Tech

Former MoviePass Exec Kickstarts Service for Free Movies

Stacy Spikes, a co-founder and former CEO of MoviePass, just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund PreShow, an app that lets users receive free movie tickets in exchange for watching 15 to 20 minutes of advertising. But there’s a catch: PreShow is based on facial recognition; Spikes said it is to prevent users from gaming the system. While the user watches ads, her smartphone’s camera keeps track of her level of attention. The ad pauses after five seconds should the user walk away or even hide part of her face. Continue reading Former MoviePass Exec Kickstarts Service for Free Movies

Facebook Pushed for Global Support Against Privacy Laws

Leaked internal Facebook documents reportedly suggest that the company initiated secretive worldwide lobbying efforts to gain influence from hundreds of regulators and legislators across nations including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Malaysia, all 28 member states of the European Union, the United States and United Kingdom. Reports indicate the social giant promised investments and incentives to politicians in hopes of getting their support for Facebook’s opposition to data privacy legislation. Continue reading Facebook Pushed for Global Support Against Privacy Laws

Google Fined 50 Million Euros Under EU’s New Privacy Laws

Google and Facebook had a rough 2018 regarding data privacy, but the advertisers haven’t abandoned the two tech giants and their profits continue to soar. This year may be even tougher as concern about privacy grows. In fact, French regulators levied a 50 million Euro (about $57 million) fine on Google, for not clearly disclosing how data collected across its sites are used to personalize ads. Experts believe the behavior of big tech companies will be a “major topic” at the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Continue reading Google Fined 50 Million Euros Under EU’s New Privacy Laws

AI Firm Shows Multilingual Translator That Fits in Your Pocket

The iFLYTEK Translator 2.0 is a handheld spoken language translator developed with Chinese AI technology and training. The size of a mobile phone, it can translate between any two of 63 languages and is trained in a number of “professional vocabularies.” The device touts a 5-hour battery life, and at $450, would be a useful and affordable business and personal tool. This Chinese tech also raises some interesting privacy and geopolitical issues. In addition to the upgraded Translator 2.0, the company also announced its iFLYREC Series voice-to-text products, AI Note for recording and transcription, and iFLYOS voice-interaction system at CES. Continue reading AI Firm Shows Multilingual Translator That Fits in Your Pocket

Facebook Discloses Breach of User Photos to Third-Party Apps

Facebook said it discovered a bug that allowed unauthorized access to third-party apps of private photos, impacting about 6.8 million users. Facebook engineering director Tomer Bar said the company fixed the issue that allowed such apps “access to a broader set of photos than usual.” Starting with the Cambridge Analytica harvesting of user data, Facebook has had a string of problems related to data privacy, most recently with a serious hack in September that compromised the Facebook accounts of millions of users. Continue reading Facebook Discloses Breach of User Photos to Third-Party Apps

Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

At a hearing at the House Judiciary Committee, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai faced tough questions about how his company handles data privacy and disinformation by foreign actors. Republicans on the Committee also grilled him about a perceived anti-conservative bias, which Pichai staunchly denied, saying Google uses a “robust methodology” on all topics “without regards to political ideology.” Unconvinced, these lawmakers pointed to videos and emails from Google executives expressing dislike of right-leaning ideas. Continue reading Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces House Judiciary Committee

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