Netflix Grows Globally but Disney+ Takes Limelight at Home

New streaming service Disney+ signed up 10 million customers on the first day it debuted in November. Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings acknowledged the new streamer’s compelling content, saying that Disney+ “takes away a little from us.” It did: in Q4 2019, Netflix posted 420,000 new customers, less than the projected 600,000, noting that the slump may be due to Disney+. Disney, meanwhile, has moved up its launch date for Disney+ in the United Kingdom and parts of Western Europe, from March 31 to March 24. Continue reading Netflix Grows Globally but Disney+ Takes Limelight at Home

As Sales Shift to E-Commerce, Bose Shutters Retail Stores

Bose, which opened its first retail store in 1993, will close its remaining 119 retail stores in Australia, Europe, Japan and North America. The company didn’t reveal how many jobs will be lost due to the closures, but it is believed to be in the hundreds. Bose stated that the move is due to “the dramatic shift to online shopping in specific markets,” and that “approximately 130 stores located in Greater China and the United Arab Emirates; and additional stores in India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea” will remain open. Continue reading As Sales Shift to E-Commerce, Bose Shutters Retail Stores

CES: Dolby Ramps Up HDR Home Viewing With Vision IQ

At CES 2020, Dolby took its Dolby Vision HDR system up a notch with Dolby Vision IQ, which ensures its HDR settings work for a variety of content, including action sports, feature films and documentaries, and different viewing environments. TV shows and films in 4K HDR are often calibrated for a darkened theater (or living room). But viewers watching video at home in brighter settings found the images were too dark. With Dolby Vision IQ, the Dolby Vision HDR system is automatically adjusted to the room’s brightness. Continue reading CES: Dolby Ramps Up HDR Home Viewing With Vision IQ

Netflix Targets International Markets as U.S. Growth Slows

For the first time, Netflix released subscription details and numbers for global regions, including Asia, Europe and Latin America. The company stated in October that it would begin to release this information. It comes after another first: Netflix’s loss of U.S. subscribers — 126,000, to be exact — in Q2 2019. With 60 million Netflix subscribers in the U.S., Netflix appears to have saturated the U.S. market, which is valued at $9 billion annually, making its focus on global markets more crucial. Continue reading Netflix Targets International Markets as U.S. Growth Slows

Study Reveals Power, Reach of Paid Influence Campaigns

The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, an independent group that advises the organization, conducted a test to see how well big tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter are doing in filtering out paid influence campaigns that use automated bots and other means to manipulate social media. It did so by hiring 11 Russian and five European companies in the business of selling fake social media engagement and found that a small amount of money could cause a lot of damage. Continue reading Study Reveals Power, Reach of Paid Influence Campaigns

Huawei Fights Back Against Critics, Loses Approval at Home

Huawei Technologies has been on a charm offensive to convince the United States and other Western countries that it is not the bad player suggested by legislators and regulators. Now the company is lodging lawsuits against its critics, including a defamation complaint in France against a journalist who said Huawei is controlled by the Chinese government. At the same time, closer to home, Huawei’s reputation is suffering a hit that began with a hair-raising story a former employee posted online. Continue reading Huawei Fights Back Against Critics, Loses Approval at Home

Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Online Privacy Legislation

Currently, the Federal Trade Commission is the government agency responsible for monitoring privacy violations. But, in response to rising calls to regulate big tech companies, two legislators — Anna Eshoo (D-California) and Zoe Lofgren (D-California) — have sponsored the Online Privacy Act. Among its provisions, the Act would create the Digital Privacy Agency (DPA) to enforce privacy legislation, backed up by 1,600 officials. The size would make it on a par with the Federal Communications Commission. Continue reading Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Online Privacy Legislation

Discovery May Target Cord Cutters With Streaming Service

Discovery Inc. revealed yesterday that it is considering a streaming service that would directly offer content from its collection of television channels to U.S. viewers. The company envisions “an opportunity to take content on a broader basis to mount an attack on those who are not existing cable subscribers,” explained CEO David Zaslav during Thursday’s earnings call with Wall Street analysts. Discovery is considering “aggregating all of our content in the U.S. and having something that looks very different.” Such a move would mark a major shift for Discovery, which has been comparatively cautious in providing content to consumers without cable subs. Continue reading Discovery May Target Cord Cutters With Streaming Service

Europe Aims for Digital Sovereignty With Gaia-X Cloud Plan

Germany and France plan to launch Gaia-X, a government-backed cloud infrastructure project, with the goal of allowing local providers to compete with dominant U.S. cloud providers. Amazon and Microsoft criticized Gaia-X for limiting data services by national borders. However, French and German companies are wary of dependence on those tech behemoths, which must comply with the U.S. Cloud Act, a 2018 law that requires them to provide personal data to law enforcement, even when the servers are outside of the U.S. Continue reading Europe Aims for Digital Sovereignty With Gaia-X Cloud Plan

Facebook Has Strong Q3, Settles Cambridge Analytica Suit

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg predicted a “tough year” ahead with the lead-up to the 2020 presidential elections, but the company showed strong Q3 earnings. FactSet said Facebook enjoyed $17.7 billion in total sales and $6.1 billion profit, exceeding Wall Street expectations. In after hours trading, shares rose 5 percent, having already risen more than 43 percent to date. Facebook also agreed to pay U.K.’s privacy regulator a £500,000 ($643,000) fine for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Continue reading Facebook Has Strong Q3, Settles Cambridge Analytica Suit

House Hearings Consider Balance of Competition, Privacy

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings that included testimony about how tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have collected significant quantities of data that give them a dominant market power that endangers consumer privacy. House Republicans, however, noted that strong data protection regulations in Europe, as well as other privacy regulations, could hurt competition among these companies. The hearing is the latest effort in the House’s antitrust investigation into digital giants. Continue reading House Hearings Consider Balance of Competition, Privacy

OECD Aims to Regulate Where Online Companies Pay Taxes

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has devised a proposal to prevent digital giants such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook from avoiding paying taxes. The proposal, which would allow countries to tax such big multinational firms even if they did not operate there, would enable new taxes on all kinds of multinational companies — not just tech firms — that operate online. As of now, many of these digital companies avoid heavier taxes by moving profits to countries with low tax rates. Continue reading OECD Aims to Regulate Where Online Companies Pay Taxes

Incoming EU Commissioners Plan Tax for Digital Companies

Impatient with the slow pace of overhauling corporate taxation to better represent the real profits of international digital companies, European Union commissioners propose that the EU agree on a tax if no global decision is reached by end of 2020. Up until now, individual countries have crafted different approaches to taxation. In France, former digital affairs minister Mounir Mahjoubi said he may file an amendment to a budget bill forcing these same Internet behemoths to reveal how much profit they make in the country. Continue reading Incoming EU Commissioners Plan Tax for Digital Companies

Landmark Privacy Case: EU Court Rules in Favor of Google

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that Google will not be required to apply “right to be forgotten” rules globally. Based on the landmark privacy case, the tech giant will only need to remove links to sensitive personal data and disputed search results in Europe, after it receives approved takedown requests. The case was initiated in France in 2015 when privacy watchdog CNIL ordered Google to remove certain search results globally under “right to be forgotten” laws. Google refused and took the case to the French Council of State, which eventually turned to the CJEU.  Continue reading Landmark Privacy Case: EU Court Rules in Favor of Google

U.S. and France Ink Agreement on Digital Tax of Net Giants

The U.S. and France agreed to a 3 percent French tax to be applied to services from large Internet companies. The agreement specifies that France will repay these companies the difference between its digital tax and the taxes currently under development at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). French President Emmanuel Macron, at a joint press conference with President Donald Trump, said they had reached a “good agreement,” but that he prefers international taxes on digital services. Continue reading U.S. and France Ink Agreement on Digital Tax of Net Giants

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