YouTube Bans Alcohol, Gambling, Politics from Masthead Ads

Google’s YouTube announced that its masthead — which appears at the top of its app and website — will no longer run ads related to alcohol, gambling, “prescription drug terms” or politics. Gambling includes sports betting and casino games, and politics references ads that endorse political candidates. According to Google, the move is aimed to “lead to a better experience for users.” The masthead is a very visible rectangle across the top of YouTube’s homepage and is usually the platform’s most expensive and desirable ad unit. Continue reading YouTube Bans Alcohol, Gambling, Politics from Masthead Ads

Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Address Dominance of Big Tech

The House unveiled five bills aimed at curbing Big Tech companies, including the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, that requires “structural separation of Amazon” and makes it illegal for an online platform to own a business that uses said platform for “the sale or provision of products or services,” that “sells services as a condition for access to the platform” or that “owns businesses that create conflicts of interest.” Another bill would ban platforms from giving advantage its own products and services over those of a rival. Continue reading Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Address Dominance of Big Tech

Government Establishes Task Force to Promote AI Innovation

The Biden administration has formed the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force with plans to “develop a roadmap to democratize access to research tools that will promote AI innovation and fuel economic prosperity.” The task force, composed of 12 academic, government and industrial members led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), will establish the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR). The task force is charged with drafting a strategy to create an AI research system about Americans and finding enough computing power to analyze the data.  Continue reading Government Establishes Task Force to Promote AI Innovation

Netflix to Launch Online Shop for Show-Branded Merchandise

Streaming giant Netflix has plans to open an e-commerce shop to sell branded goods tied to its many popular shows. The effort is led by Netflix vice president of consumer products Josh Simon, who held a similar position at Nike. Thus far, Simon has grown his team to 60 people (from 20) and inked deals with Amazon, Sephora, Target and Walmart to sell beauty kits, clothes, toys and other products related to its series and films. The online store — which Simon dubs a “boutique” — was created with e-commerce tech company Shopify. Continue reading Netflix to Launch Online Shop for Show-Branded Merchandise

Google Changes Ad System to Settle with French Regulators

Google and the French Competition Authority reached an agreement whereby the American tech giant will pay a $268 million (220 € million) fine and change some “unfair” online advertising practices. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire noted the country’s success in “apply[ing] our competition rules to the digital giants who operate in our country.” Google will also stop giving its services preferential treatment and make its advertising system easier to work with other services. Google parent company Alphabet made $41 billion last year. Continue reading Google Changes Ad System to Settle with French Regulators

Facebook Will No Longer Offer Politicians Special Treatment

Facebook revealed that former President Donald Trump’s suspension from its platform would last for at least two years. Trump will be eligible for reinstatement on the social network in January 2023, before the next U.S. presidential election. At that time, experts will decide “whether the risk to public safety has receded.” Further violations would trigger “rapidly escalating sanctions” and potentially a permanent suspension. The company also announced that it would end its policy of treating the posts of world leaders and other politicians differently than those of other Facebook users. Continue reading Facebook Will No Longer Offer Politicians Special Treatment

Google to Allow Android 12 Users to Opt-Out of App Tracking

Google will reportedly soon let Android users opt out of being tracked by apps, a move recently taken by Apple. Industry watchers were tipped off by a Google support page detailing the new option and an email to developers announcing a Google Play app store policy change to be introduced later this year. The feature will turn off sharing for the advertising ID, which Android users can already manually reset, and also allow users to opt out of any alternative device identifiers used to track activity across apps. The news leaked several days prior to Apple’s June 7 WWDC21 event. Continue reading Google to Allow Android 12 Users to Opt-Out of App Tracking

Huawei Pushes Its HarmonyOS for Mobile, Aiming at Android

Huawei Technologies debuted HarmonyOS, its self-developed operating system, for mobile phones after introducing it for other devices in 2019. The Chinese company is attempting to free itself of U.S. suppliers, in particular Google. Since the U.S. imposed sanctions, Huawei has not been able to access updates to Google’s Android operating system or its Google Mobile Services package of smartphone software. Currently, Samsung Electronics, Xiaomi and other top phone manufacturers (except Apple) use Android. Continue reading Huawei Pushes Its HarmonyOS for Mobile, Aiming at Android

Coalition Says No to Internet Company Shields in Trade Deals

Public Citizen, Color of Change and the Center for Digital Democracy are three of the 16 public interest groups that sent a letter to President Joe Biden warning that liability protections for Internet companies in trade agreements will cripple efforts to hold such companies accountable for user content. At the American Economic Liberties Project, which also signed the letter, policy director Morgan Harper said that such a ratified trade deal could confirm and propagate controversial legal protections for Internet companies. Continue reading Coalition Says No to Internet Company Shields in Trade Deals

Apple Still Leads Wearables Market, Small Rivals Fuel Growth

IDC reported that 100+ million wearables — including smartwatches, fitness trackers and AR glasses — shipped in Q1, a record-breaking number, especially in what tends to be a slow period. Q2 this year has also seen a 34.4 percent increase in sales year-over-year. The research firm revealed that Apple leads the sector, with a market share of 28.8 percent, followed by Samsung at 11.3 percent, Xiaomi at 9.7 percent and Huawei at 8.2 percent. After that, the next player is India’s boAt, which has a market share of 2.9 percent. Continue reading Apple Still Leads Wearables Market, Small Rivals Fuel Growth

Russia Amps Up Demands, Threatens to Throttle Social Media

Russia’s Internet regulator, Roskomnadzor (Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media), has increased demands that Facebook, Google and Twitter remove “illegal” content and restore blocked pro-Kremlin content or face restrictions. Since anti-Kremlin protesters used the platforms more recently, Roskomnadzor has upped the frequency of its demands. This week it told Google to block “thousands of pieces of illegal content” or risk throttling. A Russian court also fined Google six million rubles ($81,000) for not removing another piece of content. Continue reading Russia Amps Up Demands, Threatens to Throttle Social Media

DC Files Lawsuit Against Amazon Alleging Antitrust Violations

Attorney general for the District of Columbia Karl Racine filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, claiming the tech giant abuses its monopoly power by artificially raising product prices. The suit adds that Amazon blocks vendors from charging lower prices for the same products elsewhere, which results in higher prices for these products on Amazon and other marketplaces. This marks the first time a U.S. government entity has filed a suit against Amazon. Racine stated that, “Amazon has used its dominant position in the online retail market to win at all costs.”

Continue reading DC Files Lawsuit Against Amazon Alleging Antitrust Violations

Facebook Plans to Expand Live-Stream Pay-Per-View Events

Social giant Facebook wants to transform its live online events into a pay-per-view opportunity for the sports leagues already streaming games on its platform. The company sees the possibility of smaller leagues and even high school sports teams using the model to make money on “virtual” attendance and plans to invest in the live-streaming events that collects money for a “virtual” ticket. The social platform’s plan is similar to the long-standing practice of media networks like HBO charging pay-per-view fees for boxing events. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Expand Live-Stream Pay-Per-View Events

Big Tech Fights Right-to-Repair Legislation at the State Level

Big Tech companies have long regulated who can fix their devices, keeping components in short supply or simply providing them only to authorized repair shops. Now, a group of independent repair shop owners and activists are promoting right-to-repair legislation across the United States. Although such bills were put before state legislators in 27 states in 2021, more than have of them have been dismissed or voted down, often with the help of powerful lobbyists for Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft among others. Continue reading Big Tech Fights Right-to-Repair Legislation at the State Level

Google I/O: Android 12, Remote Working Tools, Wear Update

At this week’s Google I/O developer conference, the company unveiled its Android 12 mobile operating system with numerous visual changes and new privacy features. The company also showcased Project Starline, a prototype virtual meeting booth that could replace Google Meet. In addition, Google is tweaking its smartwatch Wear OS and has improved Photos’ discovery and Chrome’s built-in password manager. More remote working tools and new natural language skills were debuted. Google also tweaked Maps and shopping tools. Continue reading Google I/O: Android 12, Remote Working Tools, Wear Update

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