Lawmakers See Solution in Regulating Facebook’s Algorithm

U.S. lawmakers agitated by the recent testimony of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and related media reports are homing in on the social network’s News Feed algorithm as ripe for regulation, although First Amendment questions loom. The past year has seen Congress introduce or reintroduce no fewer than five bills that expressly focus on software coding that decides who sees what content on social media platforms. In addition to the U.S., laws advancing the idea of regulating such algorithms are gaining momentum in the European Union, Britain and China. Continue reading Lawmakers See Solution in Regulating Facebook’s Algorithm

EU Report Tracks Decline in Voluntary Hate-Speech Removal

A voluntary hate-speech removal agreement among tech platforms in the European Union is trending in the opposite direction, according to the sixth evaluation report of the EU’s Code of Conduct, which produced a mixed picture. Social networks reviewing 81 percent of notifications within 24 hours removed an average of 62.5 percent of content flagged as hate speech, which is lower than the averages recorded in 2019 and 2020, according to the European Commission. The self-regulation policy was begun in 2016 with Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube agreeing to remove speech that falls outside their community guidelines in under 24 hours.  Continue reading EU Report Tracks Decline in Voluntary Hate-Speech Removal

U.S. and EU Conduct Their First Trade Tech Council Meeting

The European Union and United States agreed yesterday on strengthening cooperation regarding several major global concerns, including a “rebalancing” of supply chains for semiconductors, new approaches to regulating international tech companies, and practical models for contending with “non-market, trade-distortive policies and practices” (although China was not singled out in the group’s statement). During their first meeting in Pittsburgh yesterday, officials from the newly formed U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) promised to work together on the development of artificial intelligence and screening interests in sensitive dual-use technologies. Continue reading U.S. and EU Conduct Their First Trade Tech Council Meeting

European Union Members Are Concerned Over GDPR Delays

European Union nations are voicing discontent over delays in enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) implemented in May 2018. Earlier this month Ireland announced a $266 million fine against WhatsApp, after haggling to boost the original sanction of up to $59 million by the Irish Data Protection Commission (WhatsApp parent Facebook has European headquarters in Ireland). The situation has prompted calls to revise how the 27 EU member countries participate in overlapping cases, with expanded pan-EU rules also under consideration. Continue reading European Union Members Are Concerned Over GDPR Delays

Judge Loosens Apple Stranglehold on App Developer Profits

Apple’s notoriously strict terms of doing business in its App Store appear to be loosening. A federal judge has ordered the company to allow developers to offer customers alternative payment methods after ruling that all payments go through Apple violate California’s unfair competition laws. Apple is ordered to within 90 days begin allowing developers to include in their apps payment links to processors other than the App Store. Developers now see a path to avoid handing Apple commissions of up to 30 percent for handling sales through the $100 billion online market.  Continue reading Judge Loosens Apple Stranglehold on App Developer Profits

Pixalate Raises $18.1M to Combat Click Tricks and Ad Fraud

Analytics firm Pixalate has announced $18.1 million in growth capital for connected TV and mobile advertising initiatives. The new round brings total capital raised to $22.7 million for the 9-year-old firm, which specializes in fraud prevention, privacy protection and legal compliance via offices in Santa Monica, Palo Alto and London. The move comes as Pixalate rises to meet the challenges of enterprise clients fending off bot attacks, ad fraud and other malicious threats. Malware incursions by intruders like Puppeteer siphon tens of millions of dollars in annual ad revenue, according to Pixalate. Continue reading Pixalate Raises $18.1M to Combat Click Tricks and Ad Fraud

Ireland Slaps Facebook’s WhatsApp Service with GDPR Fine

In its first major ruling against social media giant Facebook, Irish authorities fined the company’s WhatsApp messaging service almost $270 million (225 million euros) under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Those authorities stated that WhatsApp was not transparent about how data collected by those using the app is shared with other Facebook properties, including Instagram. WhatsApp said it would appeal the decision. Since established three years ago, the GDPR has not resulted in any major fines or penalties for Facebook until now. Continue reading Ireland Slaps Facebook’s WhatsApp Service with GDPR Fine

Post-Brexit, UK Plans to Create Its Own Privacy Regulations

Since leaving the European Union, the UK government, which has inherited the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect in 2018, is now faced with creating its own privacy laws in order to enact data transfer agreements with other nations. The EU stated that the new UK regulations must feature those that are equivalent to the GDPR. So far, the UK government has said that its privacy rules will be “innovation-friendly” and permit easier data sharing but eliminate the EU’s “box-ticking” requirements. Continue reading Post-Brexit, UK Plans to Create Its Own Privacy Regulations

China’s New Data Privacy Law Targets Big Tech Companies

China passed the Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) for data privacy, to take effect November 1 of this year. The law is similar to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and includes a requirement for organizations and individuals to minimize data collection of Chinese citizen’s personal data and obtain prior consent. Unlike the GDPR, however, the Chinese law is not expected to limit state surveillance or access to such data, though it could apply to lower-level government agencies. Continue reading China’s New Data Privacy Law Targets Big Tech Companies

Intel Chief Promotes Chipmaking Plan to U.S., Global Leaders

Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger and board members met with the Biden administration to promote his company’s plan to build more semiconductor factories with subsidies from the U.S. government. Currently, Asian-owned chip factories, which receive hefty incentives, dominate chip production. There’s also an “unprecedented” global shortage of chips, which is impacting the auto and consumer appliance industries. Gelsinger was hired this year to improve the fortunes of the beleaguered Intel. Continue reading Intel Chief Promotes Chipmaking Plan to U.S., Global Leaders

China Mobile Limits Purchasing From Non-Chinese Suppliers

Government-owned wireless company China Mobile has cut its use of non-Chinese suppliers to 5.4 percent from 11 percent in its last 2020 buying round. Hardest hit was Sweden’s Ericsson, whose 5G gear sales were cut to a mere 1.9 percent, compared to 11 percent in the 2020 round. China stated the move was “retaliation” for Sweden’s decision to ban Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp. gear from its 5G networks. The U.S. also banned Huawei, the world’s biggest mobile gear maker, from its networks as have other regions in the world. Continue reading China Mobile Limits Purchasing From Non-Chinese Suppliers

Google Reports Its Highest Quarter Ever for Sales and Profits

In Q2 2021, Google recorded its highest quarter ever for sales and profits: revenue of $61.88 billion, up 62 percent year-over-year; profit that more than doubled to $18.53 billion; advertising sales of $50.44 billion, a 69 percent surge, and YouTube ad business reaching $7 billion, up 84 percent from a year earlier. The numbers, which exceeded Wall Street expectations, were driven by e-commerce, streaming video and other online business and entertainment activities that surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, driving online advertising. Continue reading Google Reports Its Highest Quarter Ever for Sales and Profits

EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, is calling for greater global alignment on tech regulation, noting “we do not have a global competition enforcer, but we have global companies.” Vestager added she was “really encouraged” by the Biden administration’s efforts to take similar actions in the U.S. with the 72 actions listed in his recent executive order that focused on Big Tech’s collection of data, surveillance practices and acquisitions of startups. Continue reading EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Governments Are Crafting Ways to Regulate Streaming Media

In the last 10 years, streaming media companies have changed the film and television landscape, and government authorities have struggled to figure out if the companies should be regulated as broadcasters, video rental owners or in some completely new way. Netflix will, once again, not make an appearance at the Cannes Film Festival but across Europe, Amazon, Disney and Netflix are becoming an integral part of the film and TV industry. Streaming is big business in the EU, and the European Commission is developing new rules to regulate it. Continue reading Governments Are Crafting Ways to Regulate Streaming Media

Google Slows Down Plan to Replace Cookies Until Late 2023

After announcing that it planned to end third-party cookies for its Chrome Internet browser in early 2022, Google advanced the date to late 2023 in response to pushback from advertisers, privacy advocates and regulators. The company said the delay of almost two years will allow more time for these groups to adapt to new technologies it’s developing that will continue to allow targeted advertising. The issue highlights the tension between the $455 billion online advertising world and Big Tech’s attempts to add more privacy. Continue reading Google Slows Down Plan to Replace Cookies Until Late 2023