The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has just opened an inquiry into whether Amazon unfairly uses data gleaned from third-party sellers. The investigation has no deadline and could go on for years. At issue is whether Amazon has an unfair advantage by selling its own goods on the site, in competition with its third-party sellers. Amazon stated it will “cooperate fully” with the investigation as well as “continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.” Continue reading The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Facebook’s Instagram began testing a new approach with users in Canada two months ago and this week expanded its efforts to include users in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. The experiment removes emphasis on the “Like” feature to minimize the pressure to compete, while hopefully creating a more personal and enjoyable experience. Users are still able to see who liked other people’s posts or watched their videos, but there is no longer a running tally of the number of likes and views (however, users can still privately see the counts for their own posts). Continue reading Instagram Expands Tests of Hiding Likes to Reduce Anxiety

Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

Republican and Democratic lawmakers excoriated tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google this week on Capitol Hill. Chief among the critics were Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who oversees the Constitution subcommittee, and Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) who leads an antitrust subcommittee. Although the companies acknowledged the upheaval their technology has created in many industries, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded that, “every time Americans trust you, they seem to get burned.” Continue reading Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

Dish Releases AirTV Mini, its Next-Gen 4K Streaming Stick

Dish Network’s AirTV subsidiary has launched the AirTV Mini, a 4K streaming dongle powered by Android TV that promises more memory and a faster processor than similar devices from competitors such as Amazon, Google and Roku. The Wi-Fi-enabled, HDR-compatible stick offers Dish’s Sling TV, Netflix, OTA channels, and apps created for Android TVs — all accessible via a single interface. It also provides support for Google Assistant and Google Play. When teamed with an OTA antenna and AirTV Wi-Fi network tuner, the palm-sized $79.99 device provides a streaming solution for TV viewers and cord-cutters that includes OTA feeds from networks. Continue reading Dish Releases AirTV Mini, its Next-Gen 4K Streaming Stick

Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

The Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook about $5 billion for privacy violations, but the sum is considered a slap on the wrist since it neither hurt the company’s bottom line nor limited its ability to collect data. But, since 2016, 43+ countries have passed or introduced laws regulating social media and the spread of fake news, and U.S., European and Canadian regulators have initiated investigations and proposed regulations that will likely be much more draconian. Congress is considering a federal privacy law. Continue reading Facebook in Global Crosshairs for Privacy, Antitrust Issues

New YouTube Policy Enables Easier Copyright Claim Fixes

YouTube just made it easier for video creators to handle manual claims of copyright infringement. With the updated policy, copyright owners will have to say where in the video their material occurs, making it easier for creators to determine whether the claim is legitimate and then to edit out content if it is. In the past, creators would have to search through their videos to find the offending material, uncertain as to where it was, making it difficult to find and fix or dispute. Continue reading New YouTube Policy Enables Easier Copyright Claim Fixes

Privacy Concerns Grow Over Facial Recognition Data Sets

Social networks, dating services, photo websites and surveillance cameras are just some of the sources of a growing number of databases compiling people’s faces. According to privacy advocates, Microsoft and Stanford University are among the many groups gathering images, with one such repository holding two million images. All these photos will be used to allow neural networks to build pattern recognition, in the quest to create cutting edge facial recognition platforms. Some companies have collected images for 10+ years. Continue reading Privacy Concerns Grow Over Facial Recognition Data Sets

France Inks Law to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Threatens Probe

France’s Senate has approved taxing Amazon, Google and other large technology companies, despite the threat of a U.S. probe into discrimination. In fact, the vote came hours after U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said he would investigate the French legislation based on the same law President Trump used in the trade clash with China. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire responded that, “France is a sovereign state. It makes sovereign decisions on tax matters and will continue to make sovereign decisions on tax matters.” Continue reading France Inks Law to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Threatens Probe

AI Development Accelerates, Chips Speed Model Training

At VentureBeat’s Transform 2019 conference in San Francisco, Intel vice president/chief technology officer of AI products Amir Khosrowshahi and IoT general manager Jonathan Ballon discussed the evolution of AI adoption. A Lopez Research survey revealed that 86 percent of companies believe AI will be strategic to their business, but only 36 percent of them report having made “meaningful progress.” Khosrowshahi pointed out that more companies than ever have access to the necessary data, tools and training. Continue reading AI Development Accelerates, Chips Speed Model Training

Social Media Summit Excludes Top Social Media Platforms

President Trump convened a Social Media Summit without Facebook, Twitter, Alphabet or YouTube, which he has accused of stifling conservative voices. Instead, he invited supporters such as former White House advisor Sebastian Gorka, James O’Keefe from Project Veritas, and activist Ali Alexander. Speakers included Trump supporters Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, known as Diamond & Silk, who have a large Facebook following, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri). Continue reading Social Media Summit Excludes Top Social Media Platforms

Tech Expands its NYC Foothold, Investors Build Film Studio

Although Amazon bypassed New York City for its second headquarters four months ago, the Big Apple has attracted numerous other high-tech companies that are renting office space and creating jobs. Google inked a deal to lease 1.3 million square feet in lower Manhattan, with plans to add 7,000 jobs over 10 years. Facebook is also in talks to lease one million square feet of office space on the far West Side. Now, actor Robert De Niro and his son are part of an investment team building a film and TV production studio in Queens. Continue reading Tech Expands its NYC Foothold, Investors Build Film Studio

Firms Pursue Frontline Workers, Walmart Expands VR Use

Microsoft, Google and Salesforce are now targeting the use of their technologies to an estimated two billion workers who don’t sit behind a desk. Microsoft, with its HoloLens, has been the most aggressive in pursuing so-called frontline or firstline workers who do production, sales and service work. Its chief executive Satya Nadella noted the potential growth in this sector. Walmart now uses virtual reality to assess the skills of an employee and determine if she is ready to move up to middle management. Continue reading Firms Pursue Frontline Workers, Walmart Expands VR Use

IBM to Take on Competitors With Its Hybrid Cloud Strategy

IBM has a new strategy to compete with Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Alibaba in cloud computing: it spent $34 billion to acquire Red Hat, which specializes in open source software tools to write cloud computing applications. Red Hat already has partnerships with all the major cloud providers. IBM, a latecomer to this highly competitive sector, is presenting itself as a neutral party to those concerned about becoming too dependent on a single player. For this reason, Germany also has plans to build its own cloud infrastructure. Continue reading IBM to Take on Competitors With Its Hybrid Cloud Strategy

Amazon-Google Truce Offers More Cross-Platform Access

Google and Amazon, which reached a truce in April after months of wrangling, opened the door to multiple cross-platform compatibilities: Amazon Fire TV streaming platforms will now carry Google’s YouTube, YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps — and Google Chromecast platforms and Android TVs will carry Amazon Prime Video. In addition, users will be able to request YouTube content on the Fire TV via the Alexa voice assistant. Not available yet is the ability of Google Assistant to work with Amazon Prime Video on Chromecast. Continue reading Amazon-Google Truce Offers More Cross-Platform Access

G20 Summit: President Trump Partially Lifts Ban on Huawei

At the Group of 20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, President Trump stated that U.S. products can again be sold to Huawei Technologies, allowing the Chinese tech company to buy the U.S. components it needs to stay afloat. Trump added, however, that his move does not lift the ban on goods related to national security. Much of the U.S. concern about Huawei has centered on claims that its products are security risks, and the Commerce Department has been hesitant to remove Huawei from its blacklist. Today, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said the U.S. will issue licenses for companies wanting to do business with Huawei as long as there is no threat to national security. Continue reading G20 Summit: President Trump Partially Lifts Ban on Huawei

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