Facebook Lures TikTok Creators to Its Reels With Big Payday

Instagram has offered lucrative deals to some of TikTok’s top video creators to switch to its new competing service Reels, which parent company Facebook plans to debut early next month. According to sources, potential payments for some creators could be “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Similar to TikTok, Reels is a platform that allows users to share short-form video content. Some TikTok creators have amassed large followings, and have been paid by brands to promote products, wear branded clothing or use specific songs. Continue reading Facebook Lures TikTok Creators to Its Reels With Big Payday

Big Tech Firms Face More EU Scrutiny, Facebook Loses Case

The European Union increased its efforts to regulate major U.S. technology companies, including Amazon, Apple and Google, with a new tool that allows it to investigate any potential antitrust issue and force changes without proving illegality. EU antitrust head Margrethe Vestager warned that the tech behemoths potentially risk being broken up as a “last resort” if they don’t adhere to the rules. Meanwhile, a German high court ruled against Facebook finding it abused its social media dominance to illegally harvest user data. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Face More EU Scrutiny, Facebook Loses Case

Apple and Google Offer Contact Tracing Tech to Developers

Apple and Google unveiled jointly developed contact tracing technology to help the government track the spread of COVID-19. The app notifies a user if she has been exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. The technology’s protocol relies on the phone’s Bluetooth signal to identify those who have been near an infected person. So far, North Dakota, Alabama and South Carolina in the U.S. and 22 countries have asked for and received access to the technology. The app was previously released in beta. Continue reading Apple and Google Offer Contact Tracing Tech to Developers

French Law to Fine Social Media Platforms for Hate Speech

France’s National Assembly passed a law that will fine social media companies up to €1.25 million ($1.36 million) for failing to remove “manifestly illicit” hate-speech posts within 24 hours of notification. Companies can be fined up to 4 percent of their global annual revenue if the violations are “serious and repeated.” The law, which will take effect July 1, also gives France’s audiovisual regulator the right to audit these companies’ systems for removing content. Critics claim “pre-emptive censorship.” Continue reading French Law to Fine Social Media Platforms for Hate Speech

German Firms Plan to Build Their Own Secure 5G Networks

Although Germany’s carriers plan to launch 5G networks, large companies including BASF, BMW, Bosch, Lufthansa and Volkswagen have applied to set up local private 5G networks. The German network regulator reported that, so far, 33 companies have bought licenses, which became available last November. Experts observe that private 5G networks are useful for industrial applications that require speedy, reliable connectivity with low latency for real-time critical jobs such as driverless vehicles and robots. Continue reading German Firms Plan to Build Their Own Secure 5G Networks

CES: Daimler, Cameron Unveil Avatar-Inspired Concept Car

At Daimler’s keynote address at CES 2020, filmmaker James Cameron unveiled concept art, including Pandora’s future world, for his upcoming feature “Avatar 2,” sequel to his 2009 sci-fi blockbuster. On stage, he joined Daimler AG chair Ola Källenius, who introduced a Mercedes-Benz, dubbed Vision AVTR, inspired by “Avatar” and designed in collaboration with Cameron. The two described their design work, which includes many sustainability features. Disney is slated to release “Avatar 2” on December 17, 2021, with three more “Avatar” films in 2023, 2025 and 2027. Continue reading CES: Daimler, Cameron Unveil Avatar-Inspired Concept Car

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

Google to Let Android Users Choose Other Search Engines

Under pressure from European Union antitrust head Margrethe Vestager, Google will make it easier for users to choose a competitive search engine. Since Google’s record $4.8 billion fine didn’t “do the trick” to fix the problem, she proposed a “choice screen mechanism.” Beginning March 2020, Google will now offer this screen that allows users to pick a default search engine, and list rival search engines for little or no money. Google said the solution had been “developed in consultation with the European Commission.” Continue reading Google to Let Android Users Choose Other Search Engines

EU Private Risk Assessment Reveals 5G Security Concerns

According to a privately circulated risk assessment prepared by European governments, the European Union (EU) has identified security threats coming from foreign telecommunications equipment vendors, raising particular concerns about Huawei Technologies Co. A public report was released and warned of hostile states or state-backed companies posing a threat to new 5G networks rolling out across the globe. These promise faster connection speeds and the ability to link many devices (cars, pacemakers, and more) to the Internet. 

Continue reading EU Private Risk Assessment Reveals 5G Security Concerns

EU Court Rules Facebook Can Be Forced to Delete Content

The European Court of Justice ruled that its national court could force Facebook to globally remove a post ruled to be illegal or defamatory. The ruling arose from a suit filed by Austrian politician Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, who objected to online comments that she was a “lousy traitor,” “corrupt oaf” and member of a “fascist party.” An Austrian court ruled the comments were defamatory, and she demanded that Facebook remove the comments and equivalent ones, not just in Austria but worldwide. Continue reading EU Court Rules Facebook Can Be Forced to Delete Content

Amazon Music to Introduce HD Service for CD-Quality Sound

Amazon is debuting an HD version of its music service, which means its digital sound quality will henceforth be on a par with that found on CDs. Music executives, some who have pushed for different tiers of subscription beyond Apple Music and Spotify’s typical $9.99-per-month, said Amazon’s move is “a sign of the music-streaming market’s maturation.” Although Tidal offers an HD sound service, Amazon Music, at the No. 3 spot by subscription numbers, will be the first major service to offer comparable quality audio. Continue reading Amazon Music to Introduce HD Service for CD-Quality Sound

FTC Begins Amazon Probe by Talking to Third-Party Vendors

The Federal Trade Commission has begun its investigation of Amazon by trying to determine if small businesses do in fact have alternative marketplaces. Several attorneys and “at least one economist” have been conducting 90-minute interviews with some of Amazon’s third-party vendors, to see if they do earn revenue from eBay, Walmart or other shopping sites. According to former FTC staffer Michael Kades, the length of the interviews and number of staff dedicated to the task indicates the agency is doing a “serious job.” Continue reading FTC Begins Amazon Probe by Talking to Third-Party Vendors

Companies Call on U.S. Government to Up Its AI Investment

The U.S. federal government has come up with $973.5 million for multiple agencies that have requested funding for non-defense-related artificial intelligence pursuits. (Spending on AI for national defense is classified.) This is the first time the government has done so, but numerous industry executives are already saying that it’s not enough to “maintain a competitive edge.” The Trump administration stated that the figures they are putting forward are more transparent than those from China, which aims to dominate AI by 2030. Continue reading Companies Call on U.S. Government to Up Its AI Investment

GlobalFoundries Claims Taiwan Chip Giant Violated Patents

Chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries requested the U.S. International Trade Commission impose an import ban on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), part of a multi-front attack. An import ban would impact iPhones, Lenovo laptops and other electronic devices. The company has also filed 25 complaints in courts in the U.S. and Germany, alleging that TSMC violated 12+ patents for chips and chipmaking methods. Apple, Google, Qualcomm, Cisco Systems, Nvidia, Broadcom, Xilinx, Lenovo and Motorola are also named in the suit. Continue reading GlobalFoundries Claims Taiwan Chip Giant Violated Patents

Google Stops Human Review of Assistant Voice Clips in EU

Google is pausing Google Assistant voice transcriptions in the European Union for at least three months. In mid-July, it admitted that about 1,000 private communications were made available to human contractors evaluating Assistant’s speech recognition accuracy, revealing personal and private information. A Google spokesperson reported that the company ceased voice transcription involving human moderators after learning of additional leaks in the Netherlands. Amazon will allow Alexa users to opt out of the human review of recordings and Apple has halted its program allowing human contractors to listen in on Siri recordings. Continue reading Google Stops Human Review of Assistant Voice Clips in EU

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