Big Tech Companies Make Progress on AR Smart Glasses

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Magic Leap, Microsoft and Snap are among the Big Tech companies working on creating smart glasses that we can wear everywhere — and that may even replace our smartphones. Currently, glasses are too big (and expensive), but in time are expected to achieve a sleeker form factor and come down in price. Smart glasses promise to dramatically shift how we engage with the world, and some advocates believe we will eventually be able to replace every screen we use with a single pair of glasses. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Make Progress on AR Smart Glasses

Google Culls Patient Data to Build Healthcare Search Tools

Google and Ascension, the second-largest health system in the U.S., have been collecting the personal health data of tens of millions of people in 21 states. Project Nightingale, the tech giant’s effort to enter healthcare, has culled lab results, diagnoses and hospitalization records, which include patient names and dates of birth. No doctor or patient has been notified, which has sparked a federal inquiry, but some experts say the initiative is permissible since Google is developing software to improve the healthcare system. Google explained that its partnership with Ascension is not a secret and was first announced in July during a Q2 earnings call. Continue reading Google Culls Patient Data to Build Healthcare Search Tools

In U.S. and Europe, Some Oppose the Breakup of Big Tech

Many public figures have called for the breakup of leading technology companies, but the European Commission’s head of competition Margrethe Vestager is not one of them. She stated that breaking up such companies should be a remedy if it’s “the only solution to [their] illegal behavior.” “We don’t have that kind of case now,” she said, although she didn’t exclude a future possibility. In the U.S., conservatives and libertarians, who often oppose antitrust measures, are also pushing back against the move to break up Big Tech. Continue reading In U.S. and Europe, Some Oppose the Breakup of Big Tech

California Attorney General Sues Facebook For Documents

California attorney general Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court to obtain Facebook documents and email correspondence between chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Becerra revealed that, over an 18-month period, Facebook has “ignored or resisted” his dozens of requests for these documents. Meanwhile, internal Facebook documents recently made public revealed the company was more interested in defeating rivals than improving customer privacy. Continue reading California Attorney General Sues Facebook For Documents

Microsoft Plans to Launch Quantum Computing in the Cloud

Microsoft’s cloud computing platform will soon offer select customers access to quantum computers. More specifically, the three prototype quantum computers are from Honeywell and two startups, IonQ (spun out from the University of Maryland) and QCI (spun out of Yale University). Quantum computing isn’t ready for any real work, but Microsoft, like its rivals IBM and Google, wants to stake out a presence in the nascent field. Microsoft Quantum general manager Krysta Svore noted, “we need a global community.” Continue reading Microsoft Plans to Launch Quantum Computing in the Cloud

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 $2.1B Acquisition of Fitbit to Face Antitrust Scrutiny

Google is buying wearable fitness-tracking company Fitbit for $2.1 billion. But the deal already faces antitrust scrutiny as well as concern about the massive amount of personal private health data that Google will gain with the purchase. Google stated — and Fitbit chief executive James Park reiterated — that health data would not be used for Google’s advertising business, but that might not be enough for regulators. The 12-year old Fitbit pioneered wearables before the advent of smartwatches. Continue reading Google $2.1B Acquisition of Fitbit to Face Antitrust Scrutiny

Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

For search engines such as Alphabet’s Google, their algorithms are the secret sauce that they claim gives the best results. Not all consumers agree with that, arguing that these algorithms filter their searches in a way that is tantamount to censorship. Now, a bipartisan group of legislators proposed the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, a law that would require search engines and platforms to provide an optional unfiltered search and force them to disclose the algorithms they use to rank searches. Continue reading Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

G/O Media Faces Autoplay Ad Pushback and Exiting Staff

To boost impressions for Farmers Insurance Group, G/O Media — publisher of the (former Gawker Media) sites including Deadspin and Gizmodo — began showing sound-on automatic video ads on article pages. Employees pushed back against the process, believing that it would drive away users. Meanwhile, at Deadspin, when its owners instructed journalists to only cover sports, the interim editor-in-chief refused and was fired. An estimated nine veteran journalists quit in protest against the unpopular move. Continue reading G/O Media Faces Autoplay Ad Pushback and Exiting Staff

Tech Giants Ramp Up Lobbying as Legal Probes Continue

As lawmakers investigate Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google for antitrust violations, these tech giants are boosting their spending on lobbying. Amazon spent $12.4 million, a 16 percent increase. In the first nine months of 2019, Facebook spent $12.3 million, almost 25 percent more than the same period last year. Apple and Microsoft increased their outlay, by 8 percent and 9 percent respectively. Although parent company Alphabet reduced spending on lobbying by 41 percent, Google spent $9.8 million through September 30. Continue reading Tech Giants Ramp Up Lobbying as Legal Probes Continue

Advertisers Turn to Streaming Services For More User Data

As streaming services proliferate, so does the technology that tracks their viewers. AT&T, Roku, and ad giant Publicis, among others, are harvesting viewers’ email addresses and the devices they use to stream content. Privacy advocates are concerned, with Center for Digital Democracy executive director Jeff Chester calling the practice a “digital daisy chain of data-gathering on viewers.” But advertisers find the opportunity to gather the specific data available with streaming services too appealing to pass up. Continue reading Advertisers Turn to Streaming Services For More User Data

Defense Dept. Taps Microsoft For Cloud Computing Project

Microsoft won a $10 billion, 10-year technology contract with the Department of Defense for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project. Although Amazon was the front-runner, President Trump had upped his criticism of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and stated he might intervene to prevent Bezos’ company from getting the JEDI contract. Google, IBM and Oracle also competed for the contract. A group of Microsoft employees has protested the company’s involvement in the military project. Continue reading Defense Dept. Taps Microsoft For Cloud Computing Project

Facebook Will Pay For News, But Will Not Mine or Sell Data

Facebook, which has had a mixed relationship with news media, debuted Facebook News, a section devoted to news stories from a range of publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and Business Insider. Most notably, Facebook is paying for use of the content, inking some deals that top $1 million, and letting professional journalists choose some of the stories to be published. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg urged all online platforms to support professional news outlets. Continue reading Facebook Will Pay For News, But Will Not Mine or Sell Data

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

Tech Companies, Startups Offer Wireless Internet Options

Some big tech companies and smaller Internet providers are attempting to compete with cable companies by delivering speedy wireless Internet at a cheaper price and with fewer data restrictions. Facebook, for example, is building networking technology that will enable home Internet connection via wireless service. It plans to license the technology to Internet providers and equipment manufacturers for free. These new providers, which are targeting cord cutters, may also compete with new 5G services beginning to roll out. Continue reading Tech Companies, Startups Offer Wireless Internet Options

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