Toronto Has Become a Magnet For Major Tech Companies

Toronto has become an attractive locale for Silicon Valley companies to set up shop. Intel plans to build a graphics-chip design lab there, Uber Technologies will open an engineering hub, and Google’s parent, Alphabet, aims to build a new Toronto campus as part of its “smart city” on Lake Ontario. Microsoft also said it will increase its Canadian workforce by 20+ percent. All that activity has led Silicon Valley Bank, which funds startups and venture capital firms, to open an office in what is the largest Canadian city. Continue reading Toronto Has Become a Magnet For Major Tech Companies

Draft Executive Order Gives FCC, FTC Sway Over Internet

According to sources, the White House drafted an executive order that would give the Federal Communications Commission the power to determine how Facebook, Twitter and other large tech companies curate their websites. The FCC would be tasked with developing regulations on how (and when) the law protects social media platforms when they remove or suppress content, and also charges the Federal Trade Commission with taking the new regulations into account when investigating or suing these companies. Continue reading Draft Executive Order Gives FCC, FTC Sway Over Internet

Comcast Expands Eligibility For Low-Cost Broadband Plan

Comcast has expanded its Internet Essentials program to make inexpensive broadband Internet available to any eligible low-income customer. Currently, according to U.S. Census data, in cities with the highest poverty rates, households are ten times more likely not to have broadband compared to households in wealthier cities. With Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest cable provider will help close the so-called digital divide, offering 15Mbps download speeds for $9.95 per month, which is $40 less than its typical service. Continue reading Comcast Expands Eligibility For Low-Cost Broadband Plan

SEC Fines Facebook $100 Million Over Misuse of User Data

The Securities and Exchange Commission fined Facebook $100 million to settle a case related to Cambridge Analytica, which in 2014-2015 collected Facebook data — including names, genders, locations, birthdays and “page likes” — of about 30 million Americans to create “personality scores” and ultimately use it for Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign. When Facebook discovered this misuse of data in 2015, it didn’t reveal what had happened for two years, during which time it presented the issue of data misuse as hypothetical. Continue reading SEC Fines Facebook $100 Million Over Misuse of User Data

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

France Inks Law to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Threatens Probe

France’s Senate has approved taxing Amazon, Google and other large technology companies, despite the threat of a U.S. probe into discrimination. In fact, the vote came hours after U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said he would investigate the French legislation based on the same law President Trump used in the trade clash with China. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire responded that, “France is a sovereign state. It makes sovereign decisions on tax matters and will continue to make sovereign decisions on tax matters.” Continue reading France Inks Law to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Threatens Probe

Social Media Summit Excludes Top Social Media Platforms

President Trump convened a Social Media Summit without Facebook, Twitter, Alphabet or YouTube, which he has accused of stifling conservative voices. Instead, he invited supporters such as former White House advisor Sebastian Gorka, James O’Keefe from Project Veritas, and activist Ali Alexander. Speakers included Trump supporters Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, known as Diamond & Silk, who have a large Facebook following, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri). Continue reading Social Media Summit Excludes Top Social Media Platforms

Twitter Guidelines Narrow Scope of Dehumanizing Speech

Almost a year ago, two of Twitter’s top executives decided that banning all speech considered “dehumanizing” would be a solution to making its site safer. This week Twitter unveiled its official guidelines of what constitutes dehumanizing speech — and they now solely focus on religious groups, representing a retreat from some of Twitter’s first unofficial rules. The company said the narrowing of its scope is due to unexpected obstacles in defining speech for its 350 million users who speak 43-plus languages. Continue reading Twitter Guidelines Narrow Scope of Dehumanizing Speech

G20 Summit: President Trump Partially Lifts Ban on Huawei

At the Group of 20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, President Trump stated that U.S. products can again be sold to Huawei Technologies, allowing the Chinese tech company to buy the U.S. components it needs to stay afloat. Trump added, however, that his move does not lift the ban on goods related to national security. Much of the U.S. concern about Huawei has centered on claims that its products are security risks, and the Commerce Department has been hesitant to remove Huawei from its blacklist. Today, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. will issue licenses for companies wanting to do business with Huawei as long as there is no threat to national security. Continue reading G20 Summit: President Trump Partially Lifts Ban on Huawei

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

Twitter Will Warn Users of Politicians’ Inappropriate Tweets

Twitter announced that it plans to hide messages that are posted by politicians who violate the company’s abuse or harassment policies. Such tweets will be hidden behind a warning label, but will not be removed from the service, since Twitter still considers them a matter of public interest. The notices will inform readers if a tweet violates rules regarding harassment or violent threats, and then readers will have the option of clicking through to access the questionable message. The move could complicate the current debate over political bias on Twitter in addition to the balance other social platforms are struggling with between free speech and offensive content. Continue reading Twitter Will Warn Users of Politicians’ Inappropriate Tweets

Firms Test Limits of Commerce Department Ban on Huawei

Although the White House has banned U.S. companies from selling technology to Huawei Technologies, some chipmakers, including Intel and Micron, are doing so by labeling goods produced overseas as not being “American-made.” The ban actually begins in mid-August, and U.S. suppliers, their attorneys and the Trump administration are mulling over if and how the ban impacts current sales. Meanwhile, FedEx has filed a lawsuit against the U.S., saying it cannot police the millions of packages it sends. Continue reading Firms Test Limits of Commerce Department Ban on Huawei

Ahead of G20, U.S. Adds Chinese Tech Entities to Blacklist

In advance of a meeting between President Trump and President Xi Jinping during the G20 summit in Japan, the Commerce Department added four Chinese companies and one Chinese institute to a blacklist that prevents them from buying U.S. tech products without a waiver. Those “entities” are Sugon (a leading supercomputer manufacturer); microchip makers Higon (AMD’s Chinese joint-venture partner), Chengdu Haiguang Integrated Circuit and Chengdu Haiguang Microelectronics Technology; and the Wuxi Jiangnan Institute of Computing Technology. Huawei was added to the list in May. Continue reading Ahead of G20, U.S. Adds Chinese Tech Entities to Blacklist

Change in Antitrust Thinking Could Be Problem for Big Tech

A shift in antitrust thinking is gaining momentum in the U.S. as regulators are increasingly scrutinizing Big Tech. Scholars are examining antitrust issues in a context that focuses on the clout of leading companies. Antitrust regulation has historically focused on consumer welfare and whether or not there is economic impact. In recent decades, tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have experienced massive growth by offering free or cheap digital services. “People might enjoy using the tech platforms but they are also asking, ‘What kind of society do we want?’” suggests Hal Singer of George Washington University’s Institute of Public Policy. Continue reading Change in Antitrust Thinking Could Be Problem for Big Tech

Huawei Ban Is Likely to Impact Phone Sales and Chip Firms

The U.S. government banned Huawei Technologies to target the company’s 5G telecom equipment, but it’s also had the unintended consequence of crippling the Chinese company’s smartphone business. Huawei is the manufacturer of the world’s No. 2 smartphone, and its business will likely be affected without access to components and software. The ban is also expected to impact other companies, including U.S.-based Broadcom, which says it will suffer a $2 billion hit from not being able to sell to Huawei. Meanwhile, Huawei has made it known that it would invest heavily in countries that welcome its products. Continue reading Huawei Ban Is Likely to Impact Phone Sales and Chip Firms

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