France Establishes Repairability Index for Electronic Devices

France has pioneered a new “repairability index” for all electronic devices sold in that country. The criteria for the final score include how easy it is to take the device apart, availability of spare parts and technical documentation. The index will be implemented, with fines for non-compliance, beginning next year. This move is part of France’s stated goal to fight planned obsolescence, as manufacturers intentionally create products that need to be replaced frequently. Fighting such obsolescence reduces waste and France’s effort may serve as a model for other countries. Continue reading France Establishes Repairability Index for Electronic Devices

Europe Echoes Australia’s Call for Big Tech to Pay Publishers

As the Australian law requiring Google and Facebook to pay publishers for content nears passage, news publishers in the European Union are urging legislators to copy that law. The European Publishers Council supports the Digital Markets Act (DMA) to be included in legislation, forcing binding arbitration if the two parties can’t agree on payments. In the U.S., Congress members intend to introduce legislation to make it easier for smaller news organizations to negotiate with Facebook, Google and other Big Tech platforms. Continue reading Europe Echoes Australia’s Call for Big Tech to Pay Publishers

States Propose Their Own Privacy and Data Protection Laws

Rather than wait for federal Internet privacy laws, a growing number of states are pursuing their own proposals. Virginia, Washington, New York, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Florida are moving ahead with data protection legislation, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive more users online for work, education and other daily activities. California passed its Consumer Privacy Act in 2018. But Internet privacy experts warn that companies will find it difficult to do business across state lines should this state-by-state model take hold. Continue reading States Propose Their Own Privacy and Data Protection Laws

Nvidia Acquisition of Arm Faces FTC Probe, Big Tech Critics

As Nvidia moves to close its $40 billion deal to acquire Arm Holdings, tech companies Google, Microsoft and Qualcomm are saying the deal will harm competition and are asking for regulatory intervention. The UK-based Arm, which licenses its chip technology to Amazon, Apple, Huawei Technologies, Intel and Samsung Electronics among others, is known as the Switzerland in the semiconductor industry because it licenses its technology to companies rather than competes with them. Critics fear that Nvidia would change this policy or raise the cost. Continue reading Nvidia Acquisition of Arm Faces FTC Probe, Big Tech Critics

TikTok Rebounds in the U.S. But EU Groups File Complaints

During the Trump administration, video-sharing platform TikTok was scrutinized and charged of spying for China, which resulted in the app losing numerous major advertisers. Since Joe Biden won the presidency, however, TikTok is seeing a strong uptick in corporate sponsors, ad dollars and general interest. Mediahub Worldwide VP and director of social media Erica Patrick said the previous administration’s outcry over national security risks was “more of a stunt” and is not a concern of advertisers. Meanwhile, EU consumer groups are accusing TikTok of violating consumer laws and failing to protect children. Continue reading TikTok Rebounds in the U.S. But EU Groups File Complaints

Maryland Becomes First State to Tax Big Tech on Digital Ads

The state of Maryland has taken a groundbreaking step, with its State Senate voting to approve the first U.S. tax on revenue from digital ads sold by Amazon, Facebook, Google and other major technology companies. The Senate had to override the governor’s veto to pass the measure, after its House of Delegates gave the law the greenlight. The new law is expected to generate an estimated $250 million in the first year, with money going to that state’s schools. Connecticut and Indiana have introduced similar bills to tax Big Tech companies. Continue reading Maryland Becomes First State to Tax Big Tech on Digital Ads

Biden Administration to Review Semiconductor Supply Chain

President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order for a 100-day review by the National Economic Council and National Security Council on the manufacturing and packaging of semiconductor chips, with a focus on supply chain blockages that have created shortages. The government review will also examine supply chain issues for other critical goods including minerals, medical supplies and high-capacity batteries. Later this year, supply chain assessments for other critical products will be conducted. Continue reading Biden Administration to Review Semiconductor Supply Chain

Australia Plans Law That Would Make Big Tech Pay for News

Microsoft is urging the United States to adopt Australia’s proposal that Big Tech companies pay newspapers for content, in direct opposition to the positions of Google and Facebook. In Australia, that proposal is before a parliamentary committee. Google, which is responsible for 95 percent of searches in that country, has threatened to pull its search engine should the proposal become law. Microsoft is betting that, especially if the Australians pass the law, other countries will join in demanding payment for publishers. Continue reading Australia Plans Law That Would Make Big Tech Pay for News

Top EU Privacy Regulator Calls for Total Ban on Targeted Ads

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) Wojciech Wiewiórowski, the European Union’s top privacy regulator, called for a complete ban on targeted advertising. That’s a harsher recommendation than that of the European Commission, which simply suggested increased transparency on political ads and limits to micro-targeting and psychological profiling. Wiewiorówski’s proposal was in response to a request for EU lawmaker consultation on the Commission’s Digital Services Act (DSA) introduced in December. Continue reading Top EU Privacy Regulator Calls for Total Ban on Targeted Ads

U.S. and China Already in an Arms Race for 6G Technologies

Although most people do not have access to 5G networks yet, the U.S. and China are already in a race to be the first nation to develop and patent 6G, expected to be up to 100 times faster than 5G’s peak speed. Experts note that 6G is currently a “theoretical proposition” and the technology is at least 10 to 15 years away. However, the possibility that 6G can usher in “the next industrial revolution” — from flying taxis to real-time holograms — has made it a potent focus of a geopolitically-influenced race. China is currently considered the leader in 5G. Continue reading U.S. and China Already in an Arms Race for 6G Technologies

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos is stepping down from the role he has held since he started the Big Tech company 26 years ago and will assume the role of executive chairman. Amazon Web Services head Andy Jassy will replace Bezos as Amazon’s new chief executive. Bezos hands over the reins during a time in which COVID-19 has helped the company achieve record-breaking sales, while it also faces regulatory and legal investigations. Personally, he vies with Tesla chief executive Elon Musk as the world’s wealthiest person. Continue reading Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

ETC Executive Coffee: USC Students Meet with Dolby Execs

In the final Fall 2020 installment of ETC@USC’s Executive Coffee with… series on November 12, Dolby Laboratories proposed two discussion topics: 1) Virtual and augmented reality; what are they good for, and what concerns you about them? And 2) Privacy, security and controlling your own data. Richard Doherty, senior director of technology strategy, Office of the CTO at Dolby Labs led a group of 14 Dolby employees in a discussion with seven USC students studying cinema, engineering, music, communication and business. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: USC Students Meet with Dolby Execs

EU Proposes Two New Laws in Its Effort to Regulate Big Tech

The European Union’s executive branch issued drafts of two bills that would hike fines for illegal content and anticompetitive behavior up to 6 percent or 10 percent of annual worldwide revenue and even break up Big Tech firms to stop “competitive abuses.” Although the bills don’t mention any firms by name, they could be applied to Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The UK, which is no longer part of the EU, has similar legislation in the works that would fine abusers up to 10 percent of annual global revenue. Continue reading EU Proposes Two New Laws in Its Effort to Regulate Big Tech

Ireland Fines Twitter for Privacy Breach in a First for U.S. Tech

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined Twitter €450,000 (about $546,000) for failing to notify the regulator or document a data breach within 72 hours. The breach, revealed in January 2019, exposed some Android users’ private tweets for over four years. Twitter chief privacy officer Damien Kieran said the company takes responsibility … and remains “fully committed to protecting the privacy and data of [its] customers.” This is the first time a U.S. tech company has been served with a GDPR fine in a cross-border case. Continue reading Ireland Fines Twitter for Privacy Breach in a First for U.S. Tech

EU Commission Recalibrates Its Positions with Big Tech, U.S.

The European Union is eagerly anticipating the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, even as it scrutinizes proposals targeting U.S. Big Tech behavior and, in some cases, business models in an effort to reestablish itself as the “global tech cop.” Although the Electoral College has yet to convene and vote and inauguration day isn’t until January 20, the European Commission and Council are already issuing policy papers on how they hope to partner with the new U.S. administration on numerous issues. Continue reading EU Commission Recalibrates Its Positions with Big Tech, U.S.

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