Big Tech Companies Acquire Significant Number of AI Startups

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating the purchase of hundreds of small startups made by Big Tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft to determine if they have become too powerful. In 2019, a record-breaking 231 artificial intelligence startups were snapped up, which in many cases ended public availability of their products. According to CB Insights, that number compares to 42 AI startups acquired in 2014. Apple has been the No. 1 buyer of these startups since 2010. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Acquire Significant Number of AI Startups

Bipartisan Bill Would Further Regulate Online Content for Kids

Senators Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) introduced the Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act, which would regulate how companies such as YouTube and TikTok handle what is accessible to children online, including advertising, app design and potentially harmful content. One of the main targets of the new bill are so-called unboxing videos, such as YouTube channel “Ryan’s World,” which can get millions of views. The KIDS Act would not ban the content, but prohibit the platform from recommending it to kids, curbing its distribution. Continue reading Bipartisan Bill Would Further Regulate Online Content for Kids

TikTok Now Political Forum For Youth, Tech Execs Decry App

The younger demographic that gravitates to TikTok is turning it into a political force, forming political coalitions — called hype houses — for their favored candidates, fact-checking others, posting news updates and commenting in real-time. Hype houses come in conservative, liberal, bipartisan and undecided flavors, and are amassing hundreds of thousands of followers. Reddit chief executive and co-founder Steve Huffman, however, is concerned about TikTok’s privacy policies, calling the app “fundamentally parasitic.” Continue reading TikTok Now Political Forum For Youth, Tech Execs Decry App

Facebook Creates Changes to Its Rules on Paid Political Ads

Facebook has made adjustments to its policy on digital political advertising after reports emerged that 2020 presidential candidates are paying Instagram influencers. It will now require candidates buying branded content to register as political advertisers. FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra stated that a 2017 policy requiring influencers and marketers to reveal any “material connection” to advertisers is under review, adding that, “we may need new rules for tech platforms and for companies that pay influencers to promote products.” Continue reading Facebook Creates Changes to Its Rules on Paid Political Ads

FTC Looks Into Acquisition Strategies of Big Tech Companies

The Federal Trade Commission is focused on acquisitions made by Big Tech companies, ordering Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft to turn over information on such past deals. Specifically, the FTC wants to know about the smaller deals — many less than $100 million — that the companies were not required to report to regulators, in hopes of learning more about potential antitrust abuses. FTC chair Joseph Simons noted that if they find “problematic transactions,” they can conceivably “initiate enforcement action.” Continue reading FTC Looks Into Acquisition Strategies of Big Tech Companies

DOJ’s Probe Into Google Focuses on Third-Party Ad Tools

The Justice Department is advancing its antitrust probe of Google with a more specific focus on how its third-party advertising business works with advertisers and publishers. The DOJ is also posing more detailed questions to executives inside the company, its rivals, advertising agencies, ad technology companies and publishers among others. Those questions center around Google’s integration of its ad server with its ad exchange, and Google’s requirement for advertisers to use its tools to buy ad space on YouTube. Continue reading DOJ’s Probe Into Google Focuses on Third-Party Ad Tools

Google Adjusts New Design Updates Following Complaints

Google controls approximately 90 percent of Internet search, and regulators, politicians, advertisers and users are sensitive to the tech giant’s efforts to wring more dollars out of that dominance. Twenty years ago, Google introduced text ads above search results and, over time, the company has made those ads less conspicuous. A recent design change prompted users to accuse the company of trickery to get them to click on ads, and marketers to complain the practice is a “shakedown” to push them to pay for ads. Continue reading Google Adjusts New Design Updates Following Complaints

CES 2020: The High-Wire Tension of Innovation and Privacy

CTA director of regulatory affairs Rachel Nemeth, who moderated a CES panel on innovation and privacy, asked Baker Botts co-chair, antitrust group Maureen Ohlhausen to put the topic in historic context. “The Congressional debate on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (1970) brought forward many of the same issues we’re discussing today,” said Ohlhausen, who also served as a commissioner and acting chair of the FTC. “People were worried about computers and the use of their data. The FTC has long enforced privacy statutes, and began to apply them to the Internet once it became consumer-oriented.” Continue reading CES 2020: The High-Wire Tension of Innovation and Privacy

CES 2020: A Fireside Chat With FTC Chair Joseph Simons

CTA chair/chief executive Gary Shapiro held court with two high-level government leaders: FTC chair Joseph Simons and FCC chair Ajit Pai, in two separate, 30-minute CES sessions. Simons first took the stage and described the Federal Trade Commission’s mission as two-fold: competition and consumer protection. “As we get further into the digital age, privacy concerns are becoming more important,” he said, noting that the FTC Act governing these concerns is 100 years old. “It’s time for Congress to adopt something more modern.” Continue reading CES 2020: A Fireside Chat With FTC Chair Joseph Simons

CES 2020: (Finally) a Fireside Chat With FCC Chair Ajit Pai

Following a discussion with FTC chair Joseph Simons, CTA chair/chief executive Gary Shapiro welcomed FCC chair Ajit Pai who has tried unsuccessfully to speak at CES for the last two years. Since the change in net neutrality laws, which met with a lot of pushback, noted Pai, “speeds are up, broadband infrastructure is up, more fiber was laid in 2019 than in any other year.” “We often heard that this was the end of the Internet,” Pai said. “But more Americans get faster Internet than ever before.” Continue reading CES 2020: (Finally) a Fireside Chat With FCC Chair Ajit Pai

CES 2020: Conference Sessions Cover Big Ideas and Details

More than 300 conference sessions and 1,100 speakers across 22 different tracks offer first-person insight into the universe of topics to be featured at CES 2020 this week in Las Vegas. As the world’s largest showcase of tech innovation, CES gathers leaders and experts to share the latest developments in products and policies. This year’s lineup of SuperSessions captures the zeitgeist of the market as it advances from an imagined future to real issues, opportunities and challenges. ETC will report on many of the sessions most relevant to media and entertainment. Continue reading CES 2020: Conference Sessions Cover Big Ideas and Details

YouTube Limits Data Collection, Targeted Ads on Kids’ Videos

This month, Alphabet-owned YouTube will begin limiting the data it collects on children’s videos and stop showing data-driven personalized ads. Video creators will be responsible for designating their content as targeting children and will face Federal Trade Commission fines if they do not do so. The FTC also won’t allow comments or other features such as pop-ups meant to increase viewership. The new data collection limits will likely have negative financial implications for creators of free kids’ content. Continue reading YouTube Limits Data Collection, Targeted Ads on Kids’ Videos

FTC Reportedly Considering an Injunction Against Facebook

The Federal Trade Commission is contemplating a preliminary injunction against Facebook over antitrust issues related to its integration of apps and whether they work with competitors. The injunction could prevent Facebook from further integrating apps, and possibly reverse past integration as a step to breaking up the company. An injunction would require a majority vote of the five-member FTC. Prominent antitrust experts have presented a plan to separate Facebook from recent acquisitions Instagram and WhatsApp. Continue reading FTC Reportedly Considering an Injunction Against Facebook

TV Maker Vizio to Sell Ads on SmartCast Operating System

Television manufacturer Vizio is forming Vizio Ads to sell advertising on its Internet-connected SmartCast TV operating system. To do so, the company plans to hire “about two dozen” ad salespeople across the U.S. next year. Senior vice president Mike O’Donnell, who revealed that six salespeople have already been hired, stated that Vizio Ads will be housed with Vizio’s TV data unit Inscape, both of which reside in the company’s “platform business.” Currently, advertising is sold by companies whose programming streams on SmartCast. Continue reading TV Maker Vizio to Sell Ads on SmartCast Operating System

Democrats Introduce New Online Privacy Rights Legislation

The Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA) is a stalled bipartisan effort to protect consumers’ rights to privacy and prevent companies from hiding what they are doing with user data. To reinvigorate the debate, a group of Democrats, led by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), top Democrat in the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced their version of the federal privacy law. “[Privacy rights] should be like your Miranda rights — clear as a bell as to what they are and what constitutes a violation,” she said. Continue reading Democrats Introduce New Online Privacy Rights Legislation

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