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

Internet Providers Positioned to Mine Data for Targeted Ads

Broadband Internet providers gather masses of data on consumer behavior but thus far have been slow to use that data for targeted advertising. However, as cable and telecom companies feel the negative impact of cord-cutting, they are beginning to look to their broadband units to make up the shortfall. AT&T and Google Fiber already mine customer data, but Altice USA, Comcast, Charter Communications and Verizon Communications have been reluctant to either gather or use personal data, for fear of customer pushback. Continue reading Internet Providers Positioned to Mine Data for Targeted Ads

Spotify Allows Music Labels to Access Data About its Users

Music streaming service Spotify allows users to “pre-save” an upcoming release to their accounts. But users don’t realize that, by doing so, they are also agreeing to let Spotify release more personal data than is typical to the upcoming release’s label. Those labels can access information to track a user’s listening behavior, change the musicians they follow and possibly even control their music streaming remotely. In an era in which data privacy is receiving more consumer attention, Spotify’s practice is likely to become an issue. Continue reading Spotify Allows Music Labels to Access Data About its Users

Twitter Will Warn Users of Politicians’ Inappropriate Tweets

Twitter announced that it plans to hide messages that are posted by politicians who violate the company’s abuse or harassment policies. Such tweets will be hidden behind a warning label, but will not be removed from the service, since Twitter still considers them a matter of public interest. The notices will inform readers if a tweet violates rules regarding harassment or violent threats, and then readers will have the option of clicking through to access the questionable message. The move could complicate the current debate over political bias on Twitter in addition to the balance other social platforms are struggling with between free speech and offensive content. Continue reading Twitter Will Warn Users of Politicians’ Inappropriate Tweets

Consortium Releases New Measurement Benchmarks for AI

MLPerf, a consortium of 40 technology companies including Google and Facebook, just released benchmarks for evaluating artificial intelligence-enabled tools, including image recognition, object detection and voice translation. MLPerf general chair Peter Mattson, a Google engineer, reported, “for CIOs, metrics make for better products and services they can then incorporate into their organization.” Thus far, organizations have been slow to adopt AI technologies, in part due to the plethora of tools and services available. Continue reading Consortium Releases New Measurement Benchmarks for AI

Alphabet Unveils Master Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs project began in 2017 when Toronto invited the company to turn an undeveloped 12-acre lot, Quayside, into a model of the digital city of the future. Now, Alphabet has issued a 1,524-page master plan that, in four volumes, details how it will spend the $1.3 billion earmarked for the project. Among those plans, Alphabet details using environmentally-friendly timber, installing an underground pneumatic tube for garbage removal, and building streets for autonomous vehicles from subsidiary Waymo. Continue reading Alphabet Unveils Master Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

Ad Execs Wrestle Over Objectionable Content, Privacy Laws

At this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, attendees aired their concerns about online data privacy and brand safety. The latter has been highlighted over the last years as advertisements have appeared next to objectionable content on Facebook, Google’s YouTube and other digital platforms. McDonald’s, Clorox, Nestlé, Epic Games and AT&T are among the advertisers that froze ads due to this ongoing problem. Some attendees asked for federal privacy regulations to protect consumers and avert state-by-state legislation. Continue reading Ad Execs Wrestle Over Objectionable Content, Privacy Laws

Change in Antitrust Thinking Could Be Problem for Big Tech

A shift in antitrust thinking is gaining momentum in the U.S. as regulators are increasingly scrutinizing Big Tech. Scholars are examining antitrust issues in a context that focuses on the clout of leading companies. Antitrust regulation has historically focused on consumer welfare and whether or not there is economic impact. In recent decades, tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have experienced massive growth by offering free or cheap digital services. “People might enjoy using the tech platforms but they are also asking, ‘What kind of society do we want?’” suggests Hal Singer of George Washington University’s Institute of Public Policy. Continue reading Change in Antitrust Thinking Could Be Problem for Big Tech

Epic Opens Digital Store with Favorable Split for Publishers

For 10+ years, video game developers have given up 30 percent of their revenue from digital stores run by Apple, Google, Microsoft, Sony and Valve, which also take a percentage of in-game purchases via a revenue-sharing model that has become the industry standard. Now, Epic Games founder/chief executive Tim Sweeney, whose company put out the immensely popular “Fortnite,” opened a digital store that collects only 12 percent of sales. Sensor Tower reports that an average of $114.5 million was spent between the combined top game publishers in Android and Apple stores last quarter. Continue reading Epic Opens Digital Store with Favorable Split for Publishers

Tech Firms and Investors Develop AI Ethics, Best Practices

A growing number of venture capital and technology executives are pushing for a code of ethics for artificial intelligence startups, as well as tools to make algorithms’ decision-making process more transparent and best practices that include open, consistent communication. At Google, chief decision scientist Cassie Kozyrkov believes humans can fix AI problems. But the technology is still under intense scrutiny from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city of San Francisco and the European Commission, among others. Continue reading Tech Firms and Investors Develop AI Ethics, Best Practices

Huawei Ban Is Likely to Impact Phone Sales and Chip Firms

The U.S. government banned Huawei Technologies to target the company’s 5G telecom equipment, but it’s also had the unintended consequence of crippling the Chinese company’s smartphone business. Huawei is the manufacturer of the world’s No. 2 smartphone, and its business will likely be affected without access to components and software. The ban is also expected to impact other companies, including U.S.-based Broadcom, which says it will suffer a $2 billion hit from not being able to sell to Huawei. Meanwhile, Huawei has made it known that it would invest heavily in countries that welcome its products. Continue reading Huawei Ban Is Likely to Impact Phone Sales and Chip Firms

VOD Platform Inks Licensing Deals With Hollywood Studios

Los Angeles-based startup ROW8 has signed licensing deals with Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. as part of its strategy to compete with transactional VOD offerings from the likes of Apple and Amazon. The streaming movie service, which launched last year with foreign and indie titles, is now targeting mainstream audiences with library titles and new releases from major Hollywood studios. It is taking an industry standard approach with $5.99 new-release rentals and $2.99-$3.99 catalog titles, but is also adding a feature that offers customers the ability to receive future credits for movie rentals they did not enjoy. Continue reading VOD Platform Inks Licensing Deals With Hollywood Studios

Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

Uber demonstrated the transport of a McDonald’s meal via its Uber Elevate A4200 drone with custom-designed delivery box. The drone was set to fly only half a mile away, but the trip was canceled due to a 26-knot breeze. The demo is still noteworthy as a practical application of the technology. Uber isn’t the only company pinning some of its high-tech hopes on drone delivery. Google already has the greenlight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make similar unmanned commercial deliveries in Virginia, and Amazon also debuted its drone delivery service. Continue reading Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

Bond’s Meeker Predicts Our Digital Future in Annual Report

At Code Conference 2019 in Scottsdale, Arizona, Bond Capital general partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual, highly anticipated Internet Trends Report. The 333-page slideshow looked at trends from the growth of Internet ad spending to digital delivery services in Latin America. One eye-opening fact she reported is that about 51 percent of the world, equaling 3.8 billion people, used the Internet in 2018, up from 49 percent (3.6 billion) the previous year. Smartphone sales are slowing since so many people likely to be online already are. Continue reading Bond’s Meeker Predicts Our Digital Future in Annual Report

Ubisoft to Launch Its Uplay Plus Game Subscription Service

At the E3 conference in Los Angeles this week, Ubisoft announced its entrance into subscription PC gaming with Uplay Plus, which will offer 100 titles published by Ubisoft. The service is slated to launch on September 3 and is designed as a monthly fee in exchange for unlimited access to the games. Although that model is similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass and EA’s Origin Access, Uplay Plus is more expensive, at $14.99 per month. Among the games available on Uplay are “Assassin’s Creed” and “Rainbow Six” titles, which will also be on Google’s Stadia service next year. Continue reading Ubisoft to Launch Its Uplay Plus Game Subscription Service

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