Australia Considers Reforming Regulations for Digital Wallets

The Australian government is mulling new laws intended to tighten the regulation of digital payment services. Despite rapid growth, digital wallet services from Apple Pay, Google Pay and China’s WeChat Pay are not designated “payment systems” in Australia, which means they are not as yet governed by the country’s regulatory system. The move comes on the heels of a government-commissioned report addressing whether the payments system had kept pace with advances in technology and changes in consumer demand. Continue reading Australia Considers Reforming Regulations for Digital Wallets

Facebook Is Rebuffed in Bid to Block Irish High Court Ruling

Ireland’s High Court dismissed Facebook’s procedural efforts to block a draft decision of the country’s Data Protection Commission to suspend its data flow between the European Union and the United States. The European Union decision was intended to protect the privacy of European users, whose data was being sent to U.S. computer servers, and Facebook contended that the Data Protection Commission, which issued its preliminary decision in August, gave it too little time to respond. The court originally stayed the decision in September. Continue reading Facebook Is Rebuffed in Bid to Block Irish High Court Ruling

Apple Debuts App Tracking Transparency with Its iOS Update

Apple released an iPhone software update, iOS 14.5, that includes the privacy tool App Tracking Transparency, intended to give users more control over how their data is shared. Now, when an app wants to share information about a user’s activities, a window will pop up asking for permission to do so. Privacy advocates are rejoicing, but many digital advertisers are declaring the tool harmful to small businesses. Facebook is chief among them, although the privacy setting is also likely to hurt its business as well. Continue reading Apple Debuts App Tracking Transparency with Its iOS Update

IBM Debuts Advanced Encryption Service After Years of R&D

As data moves to the cloud, security has become increasingly important. Fully homomorphic encryption (FHE) has been developed in labs and is nearly ready to emerge to enable artificial intelligence and machine learning use cases for that data. Microsoft and Intel have been proponents of homomorphic encryption, which follows the data across systems. In December, IBM released its first FHE services, which include educational materials, prototyping environments for companies that want to experiment and support. Continue reading IBM Debuts Advanced Encryption Service After Years of R&D

Facebook Tech Problems Impact Ad Campaigns, Businesses

After Facebook’s “conversion lift” tool overestimated the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, impacting marketers total spend, the company is offering millions of dollars in credit. The error was undetected for a year beginning August 2019. Some of the advertisers said their confidence in Facebook’s metrics is now shaken, especially at a time of cutting costs and concern over ad spending. Small businesses are also seeing their accounts blocked without explanation and no recourse due to Facebook’s increased reliance on AI and automated filters. Continue reading Facebook Tech Problems Impact Ad Campaigns, Businesses

Facebook Makes New Natural Language Model Open Source

Facebook and AI startup Hugging Face open-sourced their new natural language processing model, Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG), which finds and interprets contextual information on the fly. RAG is now available as a component of the Hugging Face transformer library, integrated with the new Datasets library to offer the indexed knowledge source RAG relies on. According to Facebook, RAG can alter or add to its internal knowledge, letting researchers control the model without needing to retrain it. Continue reading Facebook Makes New Natural Language Model Open Source

Facebook Campus Debuts as Platform for College Students

Facebook has launched Facebook Campus, a return to its genesis in chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard University dorm room. Students can be part of Facebook Campus by using their school email addresses to create profiles that will only be visible to other students at their college or university. The site will allow students to join groups, participate in classroom discussions and find school events. A Facebook spokeswoman said the new site will not have advertising and that the company has no plans to offer ads in the future. Continue reading Facebook Campus Debuts as Platform for College Students

ByteDance Considers Two Competing Offers for TikTok U.S.

ByteDance is expected to soon make a deal to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to one of two groups of suitors: Microsoft, now teamed up with Walmart, or Oracle, potentially supported by a coalition of investors. According to sources, discussions are still “fluid.” Walmart entering the fray has changed the calculus; its background in digital sales could push TikTok to evolve to a platform with e-commerce integration. A sale to Oracle, however, might focus more on TikTok’s data to buttress its own advertising, cloud and data businesses. Continue reading ByteDance Considers Two Competing Offers for TikTok U.S.

Spotify, Universal Music Join Forces With New Licensing Pact

Spotify inked a new multi-year global licensing deal with Universal Music Group after being out-of-contract for about a year. Under the terms of the agreement, Spotify has access to UMG’s catalog for streaming and UMG will be part of Spotify’s so-called two-sided marketplace, whereby it will pay for analytics, data and marketing. Spotify, under pressure to prove to investors that it can be more consistently profitable, spends most of its revenue on licensing deals with music publishers and record labels. Continue reading Spotify, Universal Music Join Forces With New Licensing Pact

Hollywood Uses Streaming Analytics to Collect Audience Data

As Hollywood studios and streaming companies create more content, they are increasingly turning to data to determine how to hit the mark, even for smaller projects aimed at targeted audiences. A number of companies are developing new models for measurements. One such provider is Pilotly, a Silicon Valley startup that provides streaming analytics and audience surveys to help producers create content that attracts viewers. Among its clients are NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS and Netflix. This kind of high-tech approach replaces the traditional focus groups and test screenings. Continue reading Hollywood Uses Streaming Analytics to Collect Audience Data

Google Plans Changes to How Long It Holds on to User Data

Google disclosed that it had changed its policy regarding how long it will hang on to users’ search data. Last year, the company introduced an option that allowed users to automatically delete data related to Internet searches, requests made to Google Assistant and location history after three months or 18 months. Beginning now, Google’s default policy is to automatically delete location history, voice recordings and web/app activity on new accounts after 18 months. The settings on existing accounts will remain the same. Continue reading Google Plans Changes to How Long It Holds on to User Data

The State of AI in Media & Entertainment: Pedal to the Metal

As the world turns its sights on the “new normal,” the future of the media and entertainment industry is starting to come into focus. Cloud-based everything. Internet of Production. Digital distribution. Automation. Truth is, most of these changes were already in progress. It’s the timeline that has been dramatically shortened: 5-year plans now have to be implemented in 5 months. And among the handful of technologies being fast-tracked, artificial intelligence holds a special place because of its ability to solve two of the industry’s most pressing post-COVID challenges: (1) how to better manage its inherent product risk, and (2) protect and optimize its precious financial, human and technological resources. Continue reading The State of AI in Media & Entertainment: Pedal to the Metal

HPA Tech Retreat: Evolving Security for Media & Entertainment

An increasing concern over content security was the subject of HBO/WarnerMedia productions and content security head Marc Zorn’s talk on “Why Traditional Information Security Doesn’t Fit in Most of Media & Entertainment.” “Film security was based on physical controls,” he said. “Post production began after photography, and threats were primarily from post onwards.” Once the workflow became digital, he added, threats to digital media looked like IT security, “from an IT security professional’s perspective.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Evolving Security for Media & Entertainment

Netflix Switching From VP9 Codec to the More Efficient AV1

With the claim that the new AV1 video codec much more efficiently compresses video, Netflix plans to introduce it to its Android app. Until now, Netflix has used the VP9 codec but says AV1 is 20 percent more efficient. The AV1 codec is already enabled for “selected titles” — although it didn’t name specifics — when the user activates the Save Data option. The company also stated it plans to introduce AV1 on all its platforms and is working with chip and device manufacturers to increase compatibility. Continue reading Netflix Switching From VP9 Codec to the More Efficient AV1

USC Students Respond to Media Questions at ETC Meeting

A panel of six undergraduates from the USC Iovine and Young Academy and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences spent an hour answering questions about their media habits. The questions were asked by ETC member company executives at the December 12, 2019 All Members Meeting held in Burbank at Disney. Where do students get their media recommendations? What’s a good length for a viewing experience? What do they think about having their personal data gathered, and about data analytics in general? What do they pay to subscribe to? Watch this 9-minute highlight video to find out. Continue reading USC Students Respond to Media Questions at ETC Meeting